Dr Zakir Naik is a Mumbaibased medical doctor and a dynamic orator on Islam and comparative religion. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: The Shaikh Saeed Hall of the Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday night ‘was on fire’ with visitors’ questions answered by prominent Islamic scholar Dr Zakir Naik for the third Dubai International Peace Convention (DIPC).

Thousands of visitors crammed into the hall for the highly anticipated exclusive open question and answer segment of Dr Zakir Naik, a Mumbai-based medical doctor and a dynamic orator on Islam and comparative religion.

The three-day convention is being held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Organisers added Dr Naik’s Open Q&A segment last year following huge demand from the public. The audience erupted in thunderous applause when Dr Naik pointed out the masses of people still waiting to get into the already cramped hall just before 9pm. Long queues were spotted as early as 7pm.

“I believe the love of the people of Dubai [for Islam] has defeated the organisers. Thousands are still waiting outside to get in,” Dr Naik said.

Dr Naik gave priority to non-Muslims to ask their questions about Islam, Jesus, prayers and many others. He even entertained a question about his opinion on Islamic banking.

“In Islam, a Muslim cannot give or take interest. In Islamic banking, they deal in such a way that interest is not involved,” Dr Naik said, adding that riba, the Arabic word for usury or interest, is haram or forbidden in Islam.

Several others asked why Muslim women wear the abaya or hijab, a veil covering parts of a woman’s body, and about Jesus Christ. Others asked why Muslims pray five times a day.

“If you ask a medical doctor, he will advise you eat three times a day. Same with Islam, the Quran prescribes you to pray five times a day,” Dr Naik said. “Prayer is the wrong translation for salah. Prayer in Arabic is dua.”

Dr Naik said when Muslims perform the salah, they are actually communing with God, not just praying. “When we do salah, we don’t just ask. It’s a programming towards righteousness.”

Earlier in the evening, Dr Tawfique Chowdhury discussed the ideal Muslim who, according to the Quran, shows piety, self-sufficiency and full dependence on Allah, and has mercy for his brothers and sisters.

American Muslim speaker No’man Ali Khan led a light-hearted session on the linguistic miracle of the Quran. He stressed the perfect symmetry of some of its verses and how stories can be told “from just a tense of the verb”.

During the four-hour session led by the three speakers, a number of attendees embraced Islam.