ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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How Zakir Naik Appropriated Liberalism’s Flaws—and Won

If Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik is symptomatic of religious fundamentalism, we have to pin which part of his rhetoric accounts for it, and how it is different from other secular affirmations of truths. Any attempt to rerun the old narrative of the irrationality of religion, and of Naik’s supporters being blinded by unexamined religious passion, falls flat on its face. Naik’s religion, in fact, is an embarrassingly evolved version of how a rational religion was conceived post-Enlightenment, and his justification of punishment and justice in Islam strikingly mimics the operation of the modern secular world. This is also how he has been able to gain legitimacy amidst an audience which sees itself as modern.

How Zakir Naik Appropriated Liberalism’s Flaws—and Won

If Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik is symptomatic of religious fundamentalism, we have to pin which part of his rhetoric accounts for it, and how is it different from other secular affirmations of truths. Any attempt to rerun the old narrative of the irrationality of religion, and of Naik’s supporters being blinded by unexamined religious passion, falls flat on its face. Naik’s religion in fact, is an embarrassingly evolved version of how a rational religion was conceived post-Enlightenment, and his justification of punishment and justice in Islam strikingly mimics the operation of the modern secular world. This is also how he has been able to gain legitimacy amidst an audience that sees itself as modern.
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