Mumbai based Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who has an arrest warrant issued for him in India, has been granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia, reports the Middle East Monitor.
The London-based media observer, citing unnamed Arab sources, said on Friday that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud awarded Naik citizenship “to protect him from arrest by the International Police Organisation, Interpol”.
The 51-year-old Islamic preacher, based in Mumbai, is being investigated by National Investigation Agency of India on charges of promoting enmity between groups on religious and racial grounds.
A Mumbai court issued arrest warrant for Naik in mid-April after he had not responded to multiple summons by the Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating alleged money laundering by him and his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).
The recent focus of limelight on Naik came when his name cropped up during investigations into the terror strike at an upscale restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 1 last year.
Naik was in Saudi Arabia at the time and has not returned to India to evade arrest.
In March 2015, he was hailed by Saudi Arabia for his ‘service to Islam’ and awarded the King Faisal International Prize.
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 “comparative religion” Peace TV channel through which he reaches a reported 100 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 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.
Zakir Naik was born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. He attended Kishinchand Chellaram College and studied medicine at 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.
In 2016, during a press conference Naik claimed himself as a Non-resident Indian (NRI).