India’s Dr. Zakir Naik awarded the King Faisal International Prize

Prembabu Sharma

Dr. Zakir Naik,the renownedIndian public speaker on Islam and comparative religion, has won the King Faisal International Prize 2015 in Service to Islam. He becomes the second Indian to win the prestigious Prize. The Prize was given to Prof. Jeffrey Ivan Gordon of USA in Medicine, Prof. Michael Grätzel of USA and Prof. Omar Mwannes Yaghi (Switzerland) jointly in Science and to Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Abdulrahman Kaki of Saudi Arabia in Islamic Studies.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman presented theaward to Dr Naik at a brief but glittering ceremony at Riyadh’s Al Faisaliah Hotel, attended by foreign ambassadors, members of the Saudi royal family, and senior government officials.

The Annual prize, sponsored by King Faisal Foundation, involves a hand written Diwanicalligraphy certificate, a uniquely cast commemorative 24 carat, 200 gramgold medal, and a cash endowment of US$ 200,000.The Prize is presented to dedicated men and women whose contributions have made a positive difference to humanity andis given in five categories includingScience, Medicine, Service to Islam, Islamic studies, and Arabic Language and Literature.

Dr. Naik has been given the prize for his work in promoting reason and logic in Islam and further simplifying Islam for the masses. Dr. Naik has held innumerable public talks and debates on Islamic issues including terrorism, sectarianism, women empowerment, and growth and modernization. He has published book versions of his lectures on Islam and comparative religion. Dr. Naik also runs the Islamic International School in Mumbai and United Islamic Aid that provides scholarship to poor and destitute Muslim youth.

“Dr. Naik has paid considerable attention to comparative religion, and become a renowned authority on this subject throughout the Islamic nation. His vast religious knowledge is not limited to one faith but to several other religions including Christianity, Hindu, Judaism, Buddhism and Sikhism. He has even established a specialized organization for comparative religious studies and organized several training courses for scholars of this field worldwide,” says the King Faisal International Prize citation.

Notably, Dr. Naik trained as a medical doctor from the TNMC and Nair Hospital and the Mumbai University before becoming a public speaker.He founded the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in He is sometimes referred to as a televangelist because of his work at Peace TV, that is aired in English, Urdu and Bengali languages, and viewers of the English channel are estimated to exceed 100 million.

The Prize in Medicine is given to Prof. Jeffrey Ivan Gordon of USA for his work in Intestinal Microflora and Human Health. Prof Gordon has done seminal work on defining the microbiomes genomic and metabolic role in human health. The prize in Science has gone jointly to Professor Michael Grätzel of USA and Professor Omar Mwannes Yaghi of Switzerland for their respective works in developments of metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and in photo-electrochemical systems for solar energy conversions.

Dr. Naik was ranked 89 on The Indian Express’s list of the “100 Most Powerful Indians in 2010”.He was ranked 82 in the 2009 edition.He is also listed in the book “The 500 Most Influential Muslims” under honourable mention, in the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013/2014editions.