Share Mohamed Nazim (left/standing), who declared his atheist status to the public, questions Dr Zakir Naik during the Q&A session.
MALE, May 29, 2010 (HNS) – A Maldivian man was assaulted Friday evening, after he declared his atheist status to the public during the Q&A session of a lecture given by visiting Indian scholar Dr Zakir Naik.
Mohamed Nazim, 37, said although he was born to a practicing Muslim family and his parents taught him Islam, he was “struggling to believe in religions,” and asked Naik about his “verdictin Islam.”
“Dr Zakir Naik. I am a Maldivian. I am still struggling to believe in religion. That is why I just came to the front of this row. I was born a Maldivian. My parents taught me the religion of Islam. They are good practitioners, actually. I read a lot of books. I have read the translation of Quran. Yet, I still do not believe in a religion. So what do you say, [about] my verdict in Islam? Because Maldives is definitely a Muslim state,” Nazim asked.
When the moderator asked to repeat the question, he said, “My question is I am a Maldivian. I do not believe in religion. What do you think my verdict would be, since Maldives is 100 percent Muslim, as many claim? But I do not believe so.”
Nazim’s question sparked comments of hatred from an angry crowd of around 11,000 with many calling to kill him and attack him, while Naik was answering the question.
Several people rushed towards Nazim, who was sitting at a back row after moving away from the microphone, as an official of the Islamic Ministry tried to escort himout. Police, however, came between Nazim and the crowd and escorted him into custody.
“I held his hand and escorted him away from the ground, when people came towards him. When a person came jumping at him, I held him by the waist. At that moment, I lost the grip. Police intervened and took him into custody,” the official said.
A Police media official said Nazim received several minor injuries. He is in custody at an undisclosed location, the official added Saturday afternoon.
When Police took Nazim to the second block of near by police building Iskandharu Koshi, the crowd gathered outside the place and demanded his handover. They shouted anti-atheism slogans and called for Nazim’s beheading.
The constitution stipulates Maldives citizens must be Muslims.
Responding to Nazim’s question, Naik said Nazim should ask the government about his status, as he was claiming that he was a non-Muslim, despite the government telling Naik that Maldives is a 100 percent Muslims country. When Naik asked Nazim “are you a Muslim?” he replied “I am not.”
When Nazim asked “Does the [penalty] of apostasy come on me?” and “Do you think I was a Muslim because I was born to Muslim parents?” Naik said that according to Prophetic traditions, every child is born as a Muslim and that a Muslim is one who submits his/her will to God. In Islam, death penalty should not necessarily be evoked on every person who leaves Islam, but to those who propagate the non-Islamic faith and speak against Islam, he added.
Naik stressed that Nazim was “deviated from Islam” by reading the “wrong books.” He requested Nazim to read the correct books on Islam and translation of Quran and said that by the grace of God, he will come back to the right path.
When Naik asked about the part of the Quran, which Nazim did not agree with, he challenged the scholar saying “first of all I have to find a reason to read the Quran to believe in a religion.” He also said he has to study all the religions to find out which is the best religion for him.
Naik said in response, “if you want to eat food, you want to taste all the food, and then you will say which is the best food to have.” However, when Nazim said “no,” Naik declared, “you are an illogical man.”
“The problem with you is that you are extra-smart. Being smart is good, [but] being extra-smart is not good. So that means you are changing your logic. If you have particular fixed principles, you should always be the same. Why do [you] change your principle for food and you are changing your principle for religion? Why you are changing? So you are saying that you require a reason to read [Quran],” Naik said.
When Naik finished answering Nazim’s question by saying, “Hope I answered your question,” Nazim said that Naik did not answer his question.
Naik, however, came back to the microphone and advised the audience to be patient and to maintain Islamic principles, when the crowd began to shout angry comments at Nazim. State Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed also advised the audience to be patient.