Zakir Naik v. Pervez Hoodbhoy: “You cannot prove that Islam is true”


1 May 2013

Miracles / Ijaz

Zakir Naik

Pervez Hoodbhoy

This clip is part of a debate in which Zakir Naik is trying to refute Pervez Hoodbhoy’s statement that scripture (in this case the Qurʾān, although Hoodbhoy means it generally) cannot be verified through science.

This clip presents a number of “facts” from the Qurʾān that Naik describes as being scientifically proven (iʿjāz), including the theory of probability, mountains preventing the earth from shaking, and pain receptors.

This clip is taken from the 2007 Peace Conference talk titled “Is the Qur’an God’s Word?,” held in Mumbai, India at Somaiya Ground. The full talk is available here.


Naik incorrectly gives the measure of the Earth’s radius, claims that mountains prevent the Earth from shaking and describes a “barrier” between salt water and fresh water, none of which correspond to contemporary understandings of geology and geography.

The Qurʾānic material is generally properly referenced, although the interpretation of verse 25.61 may not conform with other Islamic scholars.

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

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.

About Pervez Hoodbhoy

Pervez Hoodbhoy is a physicist born July 1950 in Karachi, Pakistan who, aside from his career as a scientist, is known for his efforts to make education more accessible to everyone in Pakistan while  popularizing science. Hoodbhoy holds two bachelors degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics, a masters degree in physics – all of which he received in 1973 – and a Ph.D. in physics that he received in 1978, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a physics professor for 37 years at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, beginning his career there in 1973. As of 2015, Hoodbhoy is the Zohra and Z.Z. Ahmed Distinguished Professor of physics and mathematics at Forman Christian College-University in Pakistan.

Hoodbhoy’s activism for education in Pakistan led to his creation and anchoring of TV programs aimed at discussing the Pakistani education system and popularizing science. In addition, he is the head of Mashal Books, Lahore, Pakistan that works to translate books into Urdu about contemporary issues such as women’s rights, education, the environment and a variety of other topics. Hoodbhoy has been the recipient of various awards, most notably UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for the popularization of science in 2003.

A complete list of Hoodbhoy’s articles divided by topic can be found on the Eqbal Ahmed Centre for Public Education’s website and as of 2015, he operates an active Facebook page with thousands of followers.

Selected Bibliography:

About Pervez Hoodbhoy.” Eqbal Ahmad Centre for Public Education. EACPE, 16 Jan. 2014. Accessed 10 June 2015.

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy.” Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning. Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning, n.d. Accessed 10 June 2015.

Hoodbhoy, Pervez. “Articles by Pervez Hoodbhoy.” Eqbal Ahmad Centre for Public Education. N.p., n.d. Accessed 10 June 2015.

Hoodbhoy, Pervez. Facebook. Facebook, n.d. Accessed 10 June 2015.

Mashal Books. Mashal Books Pakistan, n.d. Accessed 10 June 2015.

Pervez Hoodbhoy.” Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Accessed 10 June 2015.