The theory that as long as people are talking about you it is a good thing, is highly debatable. Sayings such as “there is no such thing as bad publicity” and “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right” are also not as straightforward as they may appear to be. Such instances can be seen in the current news hogging the headlines in Malaysia involving renowned non-Arabic speaking Islamic scholar who has been called an “authority on comparative religion”, recipient of the King Faisal International Prize (KFIP), Dr Zakir Naik, of India.
Dr Zakir Naik’s Tour to Malaysia 2016 currently underway from 9th to 20th April involving a number of venues including Terengganu, Melaka and Kuala Lumpur is no short of controversy itself mainly due to inappropriate responses from certain groups in the country. A highlight is the cancellation (later which was given the go ahead) of his public lecture scheduled for April 17 at Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) on the advice of the police.
Malaysia has its own scholars and hence it is unnecessary for a controversial preacher such as Dr Zakir to come to this country and create a mess which the public would have to clean after, said Tourism and Culture Minister Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz. Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on the other hand calls for the Home Minister to immediately revoke Dr Zakir’s visa, deport him and impose a permanent ban on him, said its chief P. Waytha Moorthy, while Penang Deputy Chief Minister II, Prof Dr P Ramasamy described Dr Zakir as “Satan” in his Facebook status, before deleting it three hours later.
Amidst all the obstacles and challenges faced by Dr Zakir and his team in Malaysia, a letter addressed to him, written by a Faridzul Nasaruddin has surfaced on the internet. Faridzul is a young and upcoming lawyer-motivational speaker and in the letter which he wrote on his Facebook page, he claims to apologize on behalf of fellow Malaysians. Below is the full text of the letter.
AN OPEN LETTER TO DR ZAKIR NAIK FROM A MALAY MALAYSIAN
Dear Dr Zakir Naik,
- Foremost, I hope it is not too late to welcome you to Malaysia. I understand that this is not your first time to be here so I suppose you know already the attractions in Malaysia that you can enjoy.
- My name is Faridzul Nasaruddin. I am a Malay (one of the ethnics in Malaysia). And obviously I am a Malaysian. I am a subscriber to Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah and I follow Mazhab Asy-Syafie.
- To be truly honest, I am actually curious what would you feel by now after a few days being in Malaysia. You must have read and heard what happened for the past few days about how some of us have reacted to your tour this time.
- Sincerely from my heart, I would like to apologise. I am not sure whether I can also apologise on behalf of my fellow Malaysians as I am not given a clear mandate to act on their behalf, but, I am confident, most of us would really like to say to you: “WE ARE SORRY”.
- We just want you to know that what was said and done by some of us did not actually represent the majority of us.
- When our IGP said earlier that one of your programmes is banned (which has been lifted, alhamdulillah), it does not at all mean that the majority of us dislike you nor we disrespect you and your knowledge.
- When some of us uttered some hurtful statements to describe you, it does not at all mean that the statements represent our perceptions towards you and your knowledge.
- Please be convinced of the fact that most of us indeed welcome you to be here in Malaysia and share with us your knowledge.
- Malaysia and Malaysians are now undergoing an indescribable transition from one point to another point. None of us could firmly determine whether the process that we are going through nowadays would lead us to a greater level or otherwise. Just please pray for us Dr Zakir.
- Last but not least, enjoy your stay here Dr. I believe that tests and tribulations are not unusual for you. I just hope that you will not generalise the deeds of the few Malaysians to reflect the whole of us and I truly believe you will not.
- Again, I am sorry, Dr Zakir Naik. We are sorry.
Reaction from the internet community regarding the letter varies with the majority voicing out their support behind Dr Zakir. Some internet users took to Facebook thanking the writer for coming up with the letter on behalf of the people of Malaysia. Everyone is entitled to form their own opinion. In fact, that way we are able to train ourselves to become critical thinkers and criticise constructively. Let us as a society move away from the notion of extremism and move together towards tolerance, respect and moderation and continue to uphold our values in life.
Dr Zakir Naik’s Tour to Malaysia 2016 is brought to us by Hidayah Centre Foundation and partners. For those of you in the Klang Valley, don’t forget to book your free seats early to catch Dr Zakir Naik’s public talk live at Stadium Hoki Nasional Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 16th April 2016 titled “Is the Quran God’s word?” See you there.