Pakistan is committing shirk (sin) by funding the construction of a Sri Krishna Mandir (temple) in its capital Islamabad, controversial preacher and Islamic Research Foundation founder Zakir Naik has said.
Responding to a question if a temple can be built with Muslim taxpayers money in an Islamic state, the preacher, who fled India to Malaysia in 2016, said in his video channel that “a Muslim cannot donate, support or construct a house of worship of non-Muslims”.
A controversy has broken out in Pakistan over its Prime Minister Imran Khan allocating 10 crore Pakistani rupees (approximately Indian Rs 4.47 crore) for the construction of the Shri Krishna Mandir to serve some 3,000 Hindus living in the Islamabad capital region.
The temple got clearance for construction in Pakistan from the Nawaz Sharif government in 2017. It is the first Hindu temple to get such permission. However, its construction has been hit by various hurdles including administrative delays.
Permission for the temple construction on half an acre land has been given as part of Pakistani’s policy of renovating existing non-Muslim religious spaces and building new ones.
The construction has, however, run into problems with some ulemas (Muslim scholars) objecting to it. Recently, a youth damaged the foundation wall of the temple with the video of the act going viral.
Also, a child, less than five years old, was seen threatening Imran Khan that he would “kill all Hindus” if the temple was allowed to be constructed. Pakistan social media has also witnessed several attempts to run down Khan’s image for allowing the temple's construction.
Naik, in his weekly video programme, responding to questions from his followers and others, said that imams and ulemas were unanimous in their views that a Muslim cannot donate his money to construct a house of worship of a non-Muslim.
“There are several fatwas (rulings) that a Muslim cannot donate or build or support a house of worship of a non-Muslim. Over the ages, scholars have maintained this,” he said.
The Quran while encouraging Muslims to cooperate with non-Muslims “to help righteousness and piety” discourages cooperation “in sins and transgressions”.
Therefore, a Muslim associating with the construction of a house of worship of a non-Muslim was shirk. “How can a Muslim support …?” wondered Naik, who is facing charges of provoking communal disharmony and indulging in unlawful activities inciting terror in India.
Responding directly to the question on Pakistan’s funding, the preacher said it was haram (forbidden) according to Sharia (Islamic law) for an Islamic nation to pay or donate to a worship house of a non-Muslim, be it temple of church.
Naik said fatwas have also stated that a Muslim living in an Islamic nation cannot bequeath his inheritance, say one-third of his property, to a temple or for non-Islamic purpose.
“Even if a non-Muslim living in an Islamic nation bequeaths his wealth to be used for a place of worship, it should not be allowed.
“Fuqaha (experts in Islamic law) have agreed that even a non-Muslim's money cannot be used to build a temple in a Muslim land. So where is the question of using Muslim money or taxpayers money ( to construct a temple)?” he wondered.
Dwelling further on the subject, Naik said that a non-Muslim signs a contract to become a Dhimmi (a non-Muslim seeking legal protection) under an Islamic rule and this provides for the protection of the non-Muslim.
However, no money can be spent even on renovation or expansion of a non-Muslim house of worship.
“If a non-Muslim house of worship is expanded by a Muslim rule, there is full right to destroy it. There is no permission (according to Islamic law) to build a new temple or church. Islamic nations can only protect existing ones,” Naik argued.
Stating that Pakistan was an Islamic nation, the preacher said that “if ulemas and others object to the funding of the temple construction, I am completely in agreement with them”.
“How can Pakistan spend government money in the construction of the temple. The maximum it can do is to protect existing ones,” he said.
Some Islamic countries were allocating land and funding construction of non-Muslim house of worship, which was wrong. It is totally against the preachings in Quran and should be stopped, he added.
Naik now lives in Putrajaya, the Malaysian capital region. His presence there has affected bilateral relations between India and Malaysia.
He is also alleged to have influenced the prime suspect in the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka last year that killed 290 people.
India has sought his repatriation but Malaysia is resisting it since the ruling government there feels it could face a backlash from Muslims, who comprise over 60 per cent of the population.
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