Who is Dr Zakir Naik?
Zakir Abdul Karim Naik (born 18 October 1965) is an Indian Islamic preacher,and the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).
He is also the founder of the Peace TV channel through which he reaches 200 million viewers.
He has been called an
“authority on comparative religion”,
“perhaps the most influential Salafi ideologue in India”,
“the rock star of tele-evangelism and a proponent of modern Islam”
and “the world’s leading Salafi evangelist”.
Unlike many Islamic preachers, his lectures are colloquial, given in English, not Urdu or Arabic, and he usually wears a suit and tie.
Before becoming a public speaker, he trained as a physician. He has published booklet versions of lectures on Islam and comparative religion. Although he has publicly disclaimed sectarianism in Islam, he is regarded as an exponent of the Salafi ideology, and by some sources as a radical Islamist promoting Wahhabism.
His preaching is currently banned in India, Bangladesh, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Zakir Naik was born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. He attended Kishinchand Chellaram College and studied medicine at the Topiwala National Medical College & BYL Nair Charitable Hospital and later the University of Mumbai, where he obtained a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS).
In 1991 he started working in the field of Dawah, and founded the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). Naik’s wife, Farhat Naik, works for the women’s section of the Islamic Research foundation (IRF).
Naik said in 2006 that he was inspired by Ahmed Deedat, an Islamic preacher whom he met in 1987. (Naik is sometimes referred to as “Deedat plus”, a label given to him by Deedat.)
Naik founded the Islamic International School in Mumbai. and United Islamic Aid, which provides scholarship to poor and destitute Muslim youth. He is also a board member and adviser of iERA.
The Islamic Research Foundation website describes Naik as “the ideologue and driving force behind Peace TV Network”.
Zakir Naik’s channel is to promote “Truth, Justice, Morality, Harmony and Wisdom for the whole of humankind”, mentions its website.
The Indian government banned the Peace TV channel in 2012. According to The New York Times in 2015, quoting an anonymous Indian journalist, the Mumbai police have barred him from holding conferences “because he stirs controversy”, and Indian satellite providers have refused to broadcast his television channel, Peace TV.
In 2016, during a press conference Naik claimed himself to be a non-resident Indian (NRI). In 2017, according to the Middle East Monitor, Naik was granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia.
On 18 July 2017, India revoked Naik’s passport following a recommendation from the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
On 28 July 2017, the NIA declared Naik an offender and initiated a process to attach his assets.
Naik currently resides in Malaysia, where he has permanent resident status.
In July 2018, India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) was reportedly looking to extradite Naik despite Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stating that the federal government would not deport Naik without cause.
Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had also said previously that Naik is subject to Malaysian law and he would have to answer to the authorities if he broke any of the nation’s laws.