November 21, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10331

Qatar Welcomes India's Wanted Radical Islamist Preacher Dr. Zakir Naik At FIFA World Cup, Taking Advantage Of Tournament To Proselytize For Islam

November 21, 2022
Qatar | Special Dispatch No. 10331

Hours before the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup in Doha on November 20, 2022, it emerged that India's wanted radical Islamist preacher Dr. Zakir Naik had arrived in the Qatari capital at the invitation of Qatar to deliver da'wa-related "religious lectures."[1] Da'wa, proselytizing and inviting non-Muslims to convert Islam, is an Islamic practice. From Urdu and Arabic media reports discussed below, it appears that da'wa is an unannounced goal set by the state of Qatar for the FIFA World Cup tournament.

Zakir Naik is a controversial Islamist who currently lives in Malaysia. He is wanted by the Indian government for money laundering and hate speech against non-Muslims and is barred from entering Canada and the United Kingdom. In the past, Naik has been welcomed to Doha personally by Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of the State of Qatar, according to a 2019 social media post by the radical preacher that was retweeted on social media platforms as he arrived in Doha for the FIFA World Cup.[2]

In 2019, Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani welcomes Zakir Naik

Faisal Alhajri, a television host at Qatar's state-run sports news channel Alkass, said in an Arabic-language tweet: "Preacher Sheikh Zakir Naik is in Qatar during the World Cup and will give many religious lectures throughout the tournament."[3] Several video clips available on social media showed Zakir Naik arriving at a FIFA venue.[4] In another video, the Indian preacher is seen together with Qatari sheikhs sharing a meal at a dining table.[5]

Zakir Naik's arrival in Qatar is not surprising because the Qatar's royal family, the Al Thanis, has been known for the past several decades for sheltering Islamists, jihadi commanders, (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, "the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks" – according to the 9/11 Commission Report[6]), and other religious organizations.[7] A Twitter handle, which impersonates Zakir Naik and has his image as its profile picture, tweeted as he arrived in Doha: "Thank you Qatar, the country and the people..."[8]

Zakir Naik's name has been a familiar for years in the towns of Qatar, for his role in da'wa, especially in converting non-Muslims to Islam. For example, in a 2016 video available on the internet, Zakir Naik assists in the conversion of four non-Muslims to Islam at an event organized at the Katara Cultural Center in Doha. In the video, Zakir Naik recites the Kalimah (the words recited to proclaim one's faith in Islam) and the four converts declare: "I bear witness that there is no god, but Allah..."[9]

In a 2016 video, Dr. Zakir Naik assists four non-Muslims in converting to Islam.

For the duration of the FIFA World Cup tournament, the Qatari government has planned a major da'wa campaign. Qatari officials and government-funded institutions have recruited at least 2,000 volunteers to convey the message of Islam directly to soccer fans arriving from around the world as well as through thousands of books, posters, and pamphlets to be distributed on the occasion to advance this religious goal, according to a detailed report published by a pro-Taliban Urdu-language daily published from Pakistan.[10]

Commenting on the religious mission at the FIFA World Cup, Qatari journalist Ebtesam Aal Saad also tweeted that Sheikh Zakir Naik and Sheikh Omar Abdelkafy, an Egyptian Islamic cleric, "came to Qatar to fulfil the superior religious mission, which Qatar has set as one of its goals for the success of the World Cup on the religious level."[11]

In a video posted on social media by Dr. Omar Abdelkafy and republished by MEMRI TV, Abdelkafy enters a large living room where Zakir Naik meets with him and brags about converting non-Muslims to Islam.[12]

Dr. Zakir Naik welcomed at a FIFA World Cup venue

Zakir Naik is a leading figure of the global Islamist movement. In 2021, when the world was going through the Covid epidemic, a group of Islamist leaders from different countries led by Zakir Naik collaborated to establish a grand mosque and da'wa center in Oslo, Norway.

Da'wa turns problematic when non-Muslims do not convert to Islam. Eminent scholars of Islamic theology and jihadi groups have declared that non-Muslims must live as dhimmis, second-class non-citizens, and cannot share power with Muslims if they decide not to convert to Islam. For example the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA, i.e., the Afghan Taliban) has observed that Islam protects non-Muslims, meaning that non-Muslims must agree to live as dhimmis to be offered protection under Islamic shari'a.[13]

Journalist Ebtesam Aal-Saad's tweet.

Led by Zakir Naik, the global campaign to build the da'wa center in Oslo was launched with an explicit mission to convert Norwegians to Islam. A poster released on the occasion revealed that "around 2,000 Norwegians" had already converted to Islam as part of the da'wa movement.[14]

The internationally known Islamist leaders who joined Zakir Naik to build the da'wa center in Norway included: Imam Siraj Wahhaj (U.S.), Sh. Hussain Yee (Malaysia), Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi (U.S.), Ali Da'wa (UK), Mohammed Hijab (UK), Sh. Assim Alhakeem (Saudi Arabia), Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman (Australia), and Sh. Alaa Elsayed (Canada), and Sh. Yusha Evans (U.S.).

Several other Islamist scholars and activists whose name appeared on the poster seeking donations for the Oslo da'wa center included Sh. Muhammad Abdul-Jabbar (UK), Sh. Dr. Saeed Al-Qadi (UK), Sh. Dr. Haitham Al-Haddad (UK), Sh. Ahmed Ali (UK), Ust. Asim Khan (UK), Kamal Saleh (Australia), Ibrahim Jaaber (U.S.), Smile 2 Jannah (UK), Sh. Mansour Al-Salimi (Saudi Arabia), Omar Esa (UK), and Sh. Dr. Ali M. Saleh (Norway).[15]

Sheikh Omar Abdelkafy meets with Dr. Zakir Naik

Of these Islamist leaders, Ibrahim Jaaber is an American-born Bulgarian football player while "Smile 2 Jannah [paradise]" is a nickname of a UK-based Islamist who welcomed Zakir Naik's conversion of non-Muslims and tweeted a day before the FIFA World Cup inauguration: "558 people have reportedly embraced Islam over the past week in Qatar."[16]

Clearly, the Qatari government is using the FIFA World Cup tournament to advance the cause of da'wa, inviting non-Muslims to convert to Islam. As the soccer world cup got underway on November 20, 2022, some videos purporting to be from the FIFA World Cup tournament emerged on the Internet showing that Islamic religious scholars were engaged in converting soccer fans to Islam, though their timing and location could not be ascertained.

A Twitter handle, which calls itself Zakir Naik, has been tweeting his activities, and was created in June 2021, is followed by more than 146,000 people while the number of followers is growing rapidly since he arrived in Qatar.[17] On the day of the FIFA World Cup opening, the account tweeted a picture of seats at the stadium where gift bags containing religious matter were kept for the soccer fans, saying: "A gift to the audience, a prayer rug, a toothpick, a book introducing Islam in 10 languages, a conversational barcode in all languages ​​of the world."[18] In a video, Zakir Naik was seen meeting with Islamic scholars who had travelled to the FIFA World Cup tournament from Morocco, India, Malaysia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other countries.[19]

MEMRI Reports About Zakir Naik From 2006 To 2021

A series of MEMRI reports and MEMRI TV clips, published from 2006 to 2021, documented Dr. Zakir Naik's speeches and television broadcasts. These reports document how Zakir Naik has been consistently delivering controversial and hateful speeches promoting enmity against other religious communities and Western nations. Zakir Naik described George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and George W. Bush as terrorists,[20] while refusing to call slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden a terrorist.[21]

A 2021 poster released as part of the mission to build a da'wa center in Oslo

Even when appearing to reject terrorism, Zakir Naik uses a deliberately convoluted language to ensure that Muslims do not abandon the path of jihad. In a lecture in Singapore, he said: "It's the duty of every Muslim to be a terrorist... [W]hat is the meaning of the word terrorist? A terrorist is a person who causes terror... The policeman is a terrorist for the robber. In the same way, every Muslim should be a terrorist for the anti-social element... I am aware that the word 'terrorist' is more commonly used for causing terror to innocent people; in that context, no Muslim should ever be a terrorist."[22]

The Islamic preacher has also justified polygamy, jihad, and slavery in the Islamic world: "Today, one of the biggest problems that the Western world is facing, which is not so much in the Eastern part of the world, is the surplus of women," he said and went on to justify polygamy and expressed homophobic views.[23] He observed: "New York alone has one million females more than males. Out of the population of New York – the statistics tell us – one third are gay. 'Gays' means sodomites... That means they would not like to have females as life partners. There are more than 25 million gays, sodomites, in America, in the USA. Another problem. Twenty-five million... In the U.K. alone, there are four million females more than males..."[24]

According to a tweet, bags containing Islamic literature for soccer fans

Advancing antisemitic views among Muslim audiences, Zakir Naik has also accused Jews of controlling the world banking system. "Brother, there are Muslim-owned banks, but the major banks are owned by the Jews. And all the banks have gold security, and finally it goes to the Federal Bank [i.e., Federal Reserve]. You know the Federal [Reserve] in the U.S.? The Federal [Reserve] in the U.S. is not owned by the U.S.," he said on his Peace TV.[25]

"Many people think that the Federal [Reserve] is owned by the U.S. government. No. It is owned by seven individual families – and all of them are Jews. J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, all of them. So your friend doesn't know the banking system. He doesn't know how it is controlled by the Jews. So the whole world [of] interest-based banking is controlled by Jews," he added.[26]

Zakir Naik was also barred from entering the UK and Canada, while his television channel Peace TV was fined by the British government for preaching hate and enmity against non-Muslim communities. Qatar's hosting of Zakir Naik at FIFA World Cup shows that the radical preacher remains influential among Islamist governments and Islamic clerics around the world.

Zakir Naik leads top Islamist leaders who supported the construction of a da'wa center in Oslo, Norway


[1], November 19, 2022.

[2], November 20, 2022.

[3], November 19, 2022.

[4], November 20, 2022;, November 20, 2022.

[5], November 20, 2022.


[8], November 20, 2022.

[9], November 20, 2022;, accessed November 21, 2022.

[11], November 20, 2022.

[16], November 19, 2022.

[17], accessed November 21, 2022.

[18], November 20, 2022.

[19], November 20, 2022.

[22] MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 618, Islamist Preacher Zakir Naik, Barred from U.K. and Canada – An Ideological Profile, June 25, 2010.

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