Muslim Miracles


17 Oct 2013

Miracles / Ijaz

Richard Dawkins

Zakir Naik

This video is a compilation of clips from a variety of sources.  The argument of the compiler is presented through text cards between the clips, which addresses the mixing (or not) of salty and fresh waters.  The perspective of the video is skeptical, closing with “No miracle here, folks!”

The first clip is a segment of Richard Dawkins visiting a Muslim school and asking the girls about education, part of a documentary he did, “Faith Schools’ Menace” (2010). The girls mention salty and fresh water not mixing, at which Dawkins scoffs.

The second clip presents Zakir Naik talking about “oceanography”, in which he interprets the transitional regions between salty and fresh water as “barzakh” or a barrier. The second clip is followed by a text-card critique (starting at 2:05), which includes Arabic and English quotations from the Qurʾān, clarifying the two kinds of barriers that the Qurʾān presents in water.

The third clip starts at 8:28, showing Richard Dawkins as a guest on Bill Maher’s television show (the date is not given). The context is a discussion about the “burka”, and then changes to “what goes on in the schools”.

Clips are included by Richard Dawkins, Zakir Naik, and a discussion between Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher (in which they discussed the material in the first clip). The Zakir Naik clip is from his 2011 Oxford Union address.


There are two layers of criticism of Islam and Muslims here. One layer is presented in the clips themselves by Dawkins and Maher. The other layer of critique is provided in the textcard discussions.

The text cards are openly cynical about Islam, the religion that Muḥammad “invented”. Their author suggests that what the Muslims in the clips present is foolish. However, the perspective that the Qurʾān contains facts of science unknown in the 7th century (iʿjāz) is fairly common among Muslims, although not accepted by all Muslims. The representation that the Qurʾān takes precedence over all scientific knowledge is not accepted by all Muslims.

There are various verses in the Quran that are interpreted as mentioning waters not mixing or having boundaries.  The various densities of water (or more accurately, sea water solutions) has been well known since the ancient Greeks.  The discussion of the mixing of salty and fresh waters seems to be unduly cluttered with discussions of entire peninsulas, which are unlikely although possible interpretations.

There is insufficient historical material on which to base an evaluation.

About Richard Dawkins

Born in Nairobi, Kenya on March 26, 1941, Richard Dawkins is an English scientist famous for his writings on evolution and atheism, his advocacy for the ideas of Charles Darwin, and his critical views of religion. Dawkins moved back to England in 1949, and eventually received his undergraduate degree from Balliol College, Oxford University in 1962. Four years later in 1966, Dawkins had earned his doctorate from Oxford and moved to California to teach zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, though in 1970 he returned to Oxford to teach.

Dawkins specializes in animal behaviour, though the majority of his research has fallen under the field of evolutionary biology since 1965. He is most well known for his first book, The Selfish Gene, which became an international bestseller when published in 1976. In it, Dawkins conveyed his ideas about the co-evolution of genes and ‘memes’ (a term loosely defined as a unit of imitation in regards to culture and society, coined by Dawkins himself) in addition to discussing his ardent atheist beliefs. Dawkins has published several bestsellers since, most notably The Blind Watchmaker (1986) and The God Delusion (2008).

As of 2015, Dawkins still lectures quite frequently around the world, maintains his Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and has millions of followers between his Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition, a large collection of his work is currently being put together on a Wakelet.   

Selected Bibliography:

Dawkins, RichardTwitter. Twitter, n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.

Richard Clinton Dawkins.” World of Sociology. Gale, 2001. Biography in Context. Accessed 13 June 2015.

Richard Dawkins – The Ultimate Collection.” Wakelet. N.p., n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.

Richard Dawkins Bio.” Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Richard Dawkins Foundation, n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.” Facebook. Facebook, n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Richard Dawkins Foundation, n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.

About Zakir Naik

Dr. Zakir Naik is a Muslim preacher and international orator from India. He was born in Mumbai on October 18th, 1965 and studied medicine at Topiwala National Medical College and the University of Mumbai. He has a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS). In 1991 he turned away from practicing medicine to found the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), a non-profit charitable trust in Mumbai, whose operations were closed down by the Indian government in November 2016.  The IRF serves to promote dawah, or the proselytization of Islam. He has additionally founded the Islamic International School, which is managed by the IRF, and is the founder and president of the Islamic educational television network Peace TV.

As a speaker Naik has achieved recognition and awards within India as well as internationally. He was honored with the 2013 Islamic Personality of the Year Award presented in Dubai. He has additionally been recognized twice by Indian news publication Indian Express as one of the “100 Most Influential People in India” and four times by George Washington University’s “500 Most Influential Muslims in the World,” most recently in 2014.

Naik’s subject matter, style and platform have all contributed to his prominence as a fairly well-known and fairly controversial preacher. Naik promotes a strict, literalist version of Islam, and is famous as a preacher for extensively quoting from the Qurʾān. He has been called an exponent of the Salafi ideology, although he himself does not use this label as he rejects any form of  Islamic sectarianism. He has maintained that the only absolute authority is the Qurʾān itself, and has made a name for himself with his Qurʾānic knowledge and memory.

Naik also holds the dubious distinction of being the speaker on science and Islam most commonly spoofed.  One may occasionally find videos using his name in the title in an effort to draw viewers, even if he does not appear in the video.

In July 2016, Naik was linked to bombers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and the Indian government began investigating him.  The IRF in India has closed (including its web sites), and Naik has remained out of the country to avoid arrest.  It has been reported that Naik has taken citizenship in Saudi Arabia.  He continues to give lectures outside of India.

For a longer discussion of Naik, click here.

Select bibliography:

“Dr. Zakir Naik.” Islamic Research Foundation. Islamic Research Foundation, n.d. Accessed 18 Nov. 2014.

“King Salman grants Dr. Zakir Naik Saudi citizenship.”  The Siasat Daily, 19 May 2017.  Accessed 4 July 2017.

“Zakir Naik.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Nov. 2014. Accessed 18 Nov. 2014.

Biswas, Shreya. “Who Is Zakir Naik? Were the Dhaka Attack Terrorists ‘Inspired by Him’?” India Today, 6 July 2016.  Accessed 13 Sep. 2016.

Hassan, Rashid. “Ban on Peace TV Will Be Lifted Soon: Zakir Naik.” Arab News. Arab News, 6 July 2014. Accessed 18 Nov. 2014.