Indian constitution gives its citizens the Right to Religion. Article 25 of the constitution clearly says that Indian citizens have the right to Profess, Practice and Propagate their religion. This constitutional guarantee cannot be misinterpreted or subverted in any manner. The recent ban on Mumbai based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) is totally un-constitutional as this organisation has been undertaking its work within the parameters of Indian Constitution from last 26 years. Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) headed by DrZakirNaik who is an authority on Islam & comparative religion has been holding debates and discussions on Islam & other religions from last several years. He is playing a pivotal role in clearing doubts and misconceptions about Islam and this not only being appreciated by Muslims but even non Muslims are very much influenced by DrZakirNaik’s speeches. Article 25 (1) of Indian constitution gives four important rights to its citizens:
- To establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes
- To manage its own affairs in the matters of religion.
- To own and acquire movable and immovable property and
- To administer such property in accordance with law
Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has been established as an institution which undertakes religious and charitable work. This foundation has acquired movable and immovable property and the same is being audited every year. IRF gets donations from Muslims living across the world and the same is being monitored by various Government authorities from last almost two decades. So what prompted Modi Government to ban activities of DrZakirNaik through his organisation IRF ?
MHA’s Gazette Notification :
After the decision of Union Cabinet to ban Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) for 5 years, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)few days back issued a gazette notification to ban Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The notification dated Nov 17th 2016 says that IRF and its members, particularly its President DrZakirNaik, has been encouraging and aiding its followers to promote or attempt to promote, on grounds of religion, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious communities. The gazette notification reads as :
“The central government has received information that the statements and speeches made by Zakir Naik, the President of IRF are objectionable and subversive in nature as he has been extolling the known terrorists like Osama Bin Laden, proclaiming that every Muslim should be a terrorist and claiming that if Islam had indeed wanted, 80 per cent of Indian population would not have remained Hindus as they could have been converted “if we wanted” by sword, justifying the suicide bombings”
I have been a regular listener of Dr Zakir Naik’s speeches on Peace TV. I can say with authority that he has never encouraged disharmony , hatred or ill will with different religious groups . In-fact Non Muslims are given preference during his public lectures to ask questions and clear their doubts about Islam. IRF keeps inviting noted Hindu ,Christian, Jain and other religious scholars to its programmes. Hindu scholars like ShriShri Ravi Shankar has attended several conferences organized by IRF. It is true that Islam was not spread through sword in India. Had Muslims forcibly converted Hindus into Muslims during their rule, then population of Muslims in India should have been more than Hindus as on date because Muslims ruled India for around 500 yearsfrom 13th century onwards….
I would sincerely appeal people especially my Hindu brothers and sisters to go through different speeches of Dr Zakir Naik on You-tube and compare the same with speeches of Praveen Togadia, who is the President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). After listening both of them , kindly decide who is creating hatred and encouraging disharmony in India ? We may disagree with the views of Dr ZakirNaik , but for God’s sake don’t try to label him as a sympathizer of terrorism ? By banning IRF ,Narendra Modi has made it clear that his Government follows the dictation of Sangh Parivar. This also authenticates the recent speech of RSS Sarsangchalak Mohan Bhagwat in Jammu wherein he reiterated Sang Parivar’s objective of converting India into a Hindu Rashtra.
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is Social Activist and Columnist from Srinagar Kashmir