DUBAI: The Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) has named Dr Zakir Naik of India as the Islamic Personality of the Year for 2013, replacing the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayyeb, Gulf News reported.
The decision was announced by Chairman of DIHQA's organising committee Ebrahim Bumilha on Monday.
Bumilha said that the decision was taken due to Shaikh Al Tayyeb's inability to travel because of the worsening security situation in Egypt.
"Shaikh Al Tayyeb is unable to travel due to the situation in Egypt, which is very sensitive. Compelled by the situation, the organising committee has made a decision to name Dr Zakir Naik, renowned Islamic scholar and preacher as the Islamic Personality for the 17th session," Bumilha said.
Mumbai based Dr Naik is a medical doctor but has made a name as an orator on Islam and comparative religion.
Dr Naik has held many lectures and debates around the world, several of them in Dubai, and is popular for critical analysis and scientific explanations of religious subjects in the Emirates.
The 48-year-old scholar, who is a disciple of the late South African Islamic scholar Ahmad Deedat, has also authored several best-selling Islamic books.
Britain had earlier banned Dr Zakir Naik from entering the country in June 2010. Dr Naik had been due to give a series of lectures in London and northern England but new Home Secretary Theresa May decided to bar him for some of his ‘unacceptable behaviour’.
Naik had been filmed on a website making inflammatory comments, interior ministry sources told the newspaper.
According to the Telegraph, in a web posting from 2006, he said: “Beware of Muslims saying Osama bin Laden is right or wrong. I reject them… we don’t know. “But if you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him. I don’t know what he’s doing. I’m not in touch with him. I don’t know him personally. I read the newspaper. “If he is terrorising the terrorists, if he is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, every Muslim should be a terrorist.”