A controversial examination question involving Dr Zakir Naik (“DZN“), allegedly from an Ethnic Relations paper, recently surfaced. The English translation of the question, found in the said paper, is as follows:

“Zakir Naik is one of the icons of the Islamic world, he is very active in spreading true Islam and following the Quran and Sunnah of Rasulullah S.A.W. He is able to reason and to answer every question that is asked to him. However, in Malaysia, he is no longer allowed to deliver his preaching. In your opinion, as a Malaysian, why does this happen?”

The question, controversial in and of itself, goes further to provide multiple choice answers to the question namely:

“1) Malaysians do not bother to receive information

2) Malaysians were sensitive and feel threatened for no reason

3) Malaysians just follow the crowd without verifying any information

4) Malaysians are ignorant about their own religion.”

This is, unfortunately, an example of nothing more than pure indoctrination. The examiner’s opinions about DZN are presented as facts and the examiner’s biases and presupposition pervade the multiple choice answers provided. Actual facts about DZN, on the other hand, are not taken into account.

DZN and Malaysia

In a speech in August 2019, DZN had made the following incendiary remarks:

If you want the new guest to go first, ask the old guest [i.e. the Malaysian Chinese] to go back.”

… So much so that they [i.e. Malaysian Hindus] support the Prime Minister of India but not Prime Minister of Malaysia.”

DZN publicly apologised, however, the ensuing backlash against him lead to the police ordering that he be barred from giving any public talks.

DZN and India

In 2016, “the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), a leading organization of Sunni-Sufi Muslims, has demanded ban on controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s institution Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Peace TV and action against him.”

Sunni clerics in India have also called DZN out “for misinterpreting the Quran and misleading Muslims.”

Earlier this year, DZN was charged in India with money laundering. It is no secret that the Indian government has been attempting to get Interpol to issue a Red Notice for DZN and have repeatedly requested the Malaysian government extradite DZN back to India.

DZN and other Islamic countries

In 2016, DZN’s Peace TV was banned in Bangladesh (a Sunni majority country) after Peace TV’s content allegedly inspired the gunman who opened fire and killed 22 people in Dhaka.

Hossain Toufique Imam, political advisor to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has indicated that “Bangladesh will never allow its territory to be used by elements hostile to New Delhi.”

Just recently, according to Maldives’ Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, DZN allegedly attempted to enter the Maldives (also a Sunni majority country). The latter was, however, refused entry.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once put it, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

It must be made clear that it is not wrong for DZN to be the subject matter of an Ethic Relations question. What is wrong is the indoctrination found in the question and multiple choice answers provided, which defeats the very function of education.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared on The Malaysian Insight