Zakir Naik, a controversial Islamic preacher, is in Qatar during the FIFA World Cup 2022 to sermonise during the course of the tournament, news reports say. On Tuesday, an Indian politician, Savio Rodrigues, said the world’s largest democracy should boycott the global event for giving Zakir Naik a platform. Zakir Naik is a fugitive from Indian law. He was accused of money laundering while in Malaysia. He did not return to India following the charges and took Malaysian citizenship. 

Who is Zakir Naik? 

Zakir Naik, an Indian Islamic preacher, is a Malaysian citizen. Naik was born on October 18, 1965 in Mumbai (Bombay at the time) in the western Indian state of Maharashtra to Abdul Karim Naik and Roshan Naik. 

Naik went on to study medicine at the Topiwala National Medical College & BYL Nair Charitable Hospital and subsequently the University of Mumbai, where he obtained a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) degree. 

Zakir Naik started the Islamic International School in Mumbai in 1991. The school provides scholarships to poor Muslim youth for them to pursue an education. Naik is also the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). His wife, Farhat Naik, is the president of the women’s section of the IRF. 

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In 2006, Zakir Naik founded PeaceTV, a non-profit Emirati satellite television network that broadcasts free-to-air programming. PeaceTV is said to be the world’s largest religious satellite television network. 

Naik launched Al Hidaayah in the second half of March 2021, a platform that creates educational content about Islam

Naik says his goal is to “concentrate on the educated Muslim youth who have become apologetic about their religion and have started to feel the religion is outdated.” In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, Naik pointed out that “despite the strident anti-Islam campaign, 34,000 Americans have embraced Islam from September 2001 to July 2002.” 

One of Zakir Naik’s most controversial views is his denial of evolution. The Islamic preacher maintains that the theory of evolution is “only a hypothesis, and an unproven conjecture at best.” He further claims most scientists support evolution only because it went against the Bible and not because it was true. 

Zakir Naik has been at the centre of multiple controversies on the subject of terrorism. In 1996, Naik gave a speech on Osama bin Laden and said, “Every Muslim should be a terrorist. The thing is that if he [Osama[ is terrorising the terrorist, then he is following Islam.”