Dubai: Dubai International Holy Quran Award’s Islamic Personality of the Year 1434 Hijri, Dr Zakir Naik, will start the first oversees branch of his Islamic International School in Dubai from 2015, he told Gulf News in an interview before he received the award.

The school will have a unique blend of Islamic and modern studies, following the acclaimed curriculum being taught at his two Indian schools, designed to prepare children for the best of both worlds.

Dr Naik is a renowned orator and Islamic scholar who became only the second Indian to receive the prestigious award, the first being the late Moulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi.

He is now among the league of Islamic luminaries that includes Shaikh Yousuf Al Qardhawi, Shaikh Mohammad Al Shirawi, Shaikh Abdul Rahman Al Sudai, Dr Alija Izetbigovic and many others.

“It’s pleasure and honour to be awarded Dubai International Holy Quran Award. It is a blessing and mercy of Almighty Allah to be in this league. It is with His help that was able to do whatever little I did and I thank His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktourm for appreciating my humble efforts,” said Dr Naik speaking to Gulf News ahead of the awards ceremony.

Quoting a tradition of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) Dr Naik said: “I pray [] that He doesn’t hold me accountable for what they think about me and forgive them for what they do not know about me and make me better than what they think.”

He also thanked his parents, his elder brother and his wife, all of whom work closely with him in the field, for their immense support.

Dr Naik’s real claim to fame is his ability to give impromptu lectures on Islam and comparative religion and quote verbatim verses from religious scripture of all major religions of the world including the Quran and provide convincing answers to trick questions through scientific analysis and logic.

A medical doctor by training, Dr Naik took to Dawah (propagation of Islam) work as a fish takes to water, winning thousands of hearts through his public lectures across the world. For someone who used to stammer as a child and had never taken to the stage until he started the Dawah work, it is incredible.

“We always thought Zakir would be the last person to succeed as a public speaker because he used to stammer a lot. But, amazingly, the moment he started his Dawah work whatever skills he had enhanced drastically and we realised that he stopped stammering during the lecture,” said the orator’s elder brother Dr Mohammad Naik, who also played a key role in his rise.

But the man who really inspired Dr Naik is the world renowned Islamic Scholar from South Africa, the late Shaikh Ahmad Deedat.

“Shaikh Ahmad Deedat visited Mumbai in the year 1986 and his words really touched my heart, he visited again a couple of years later and inspired me to take up Dawah work. When I started my work he encouraged me a lot and had kind words for me which further energised me,” added Dr Naik, who founded the Islamic Research Foundation in Mumbai in 1991.

Talking about his future projects, Dr Naik, who also runs a network of satellite channels and educational institutions, said: “We are planning to expand Peace TV in 10 major languages of the world, which is currently relayed in five languages. We will also set up our first overseas school in Dubai from September 2015.”

Dr Naik also has authored several international bestselling Islamic books, while at least four of them are under print currently.