Mumbai-based Dr Naik speaks on the purpose of life at the Ramadan Forum on Sunday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: A huge late-night crowd thronged a giant hall on Sunday night to hear popular Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik speak until Monday morning.

The midnight lecture was held at Dubai World Trade Centre’s Zabeel Hall as part of the Dubai Ramadan Forum’s closing ceremony.

Well over 7,000 people stayed put till 3am, with six people embracing Islam after hearing Dr Naik’s talk on “What is the purpose of life?”

Mumbai-based Dr Naik, 49, who heads the global Peace TV Islamic channel, said mankind was created to worship the One God but most people today had become “work centred” and “money centred” instead of being “Allah-centred”.

He added that the majority of people — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — set goals in life “not knowing exactly what they hope to achieve after they achieve the goal”.

“It’s like shooting an arrow and then drawing a bull’s eye around it,” Dr Naik, who also heads the Islamic Research Foundation in India, said.

He called on Muslims to have an “Islamic intention” in their life pursuits and use their skills to benefit humanity.

Dr Naik added that people should set goals that benefit them “in this life and the hereafter. At least the goals should benefit in the hereafter because that is where we all are going”.

During the course of the long speech, Dr Naik also revealed some little known aspects about himself. The skilled debater said he used to stammer so much as a child he could only say “za za za” when someone asked him his name. Now his lectures have been uploaded 14 million times on YouTube. His point was that even seemingly impossible feats become achievable with the grace of God if the intention is sound.

A physician by practice, Dr Naik said: “I changed from a doctor of the body to a doctor of the soul … Each one of us has some ability. You have to see to it your goals are aligned with Islam … For your children, give them education for both the worlds and make sure they have Islamic friends.”

Responding to a query about reports that he was opening a school in Dubai, the doctor-turned-preacher said “at present the plans to expand the schools have been kept on hold”.

Dr Naik, who has already founded schools in Mumbai and Chennai, said the focus at the moment was to expand Peace TV, which has its uplink in Dubai.