Saudi Arabia has long been criticized for its extreme religious beliefs as part of its devotion to Wahhabism. Now the Kingdom has generated more controversy by giving one of Saudi Arabia’s most prestigious prizes to Zakir Naik, an Islamic school who said that the Koran (Quran) “allows Muslims to have sex with female slaves” and seemed to support Osama Bin Laden, at least to the extent to which he was “fighting the enemies of Islam.” Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman gave Naik the King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) 2015 personally.
Naik, 49, has been barred from travel to Britain because of what the country cited as “unacceptable behavior.”
The statement on slaves came when the Indian Islamic scholar observed that “There are many verses in the Quran which say you can have sex with your wife and with whatever your right hand possesses. . . . Right hand possesses . . . which means your slaves.”
The King Faisal International Prize recognises the outstanding works of individuals and institutions in five categories — Service to Islam, Islamic Studies, Arabic Language and Literature, Medicine and Science. Naik received his award for awarded the KFIP for his services to Islam for a lifetime’s teaching about Islam, including his work founding of the Peace Channel, a comparative religion TV channel. He was given a handwritten Arabic certificate on the laureate’s achievements, a commemorative 24-carat 200-gram gold medal and a cheque of USD 200,000.
While Saudi Arabia has opposed such extremist groups like ISIS, the country continues to maintain medieval laws that deny women basic freedoms, deny basic freedoms of speech and religion to other faiths, and impose extreme Sharia law on its citizens.