Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has remained busy propagating his teachings. Naik has been a fugitive from Indian authorities, who accuse him of money laundering and links to extremism, since 2016 and moved to Malaysia.
Despite India seeking his extradition, Naik has continued disseminating his teachings via social media. Naik's Facebook channel, for instance, has 22 million followers, while his YouTube account has around 2.55 million subscribers. Naik uses these platforms to give his views on questions by Muslims and others on a range of topics.
Now, Naik has seemingly decided to join the 'streaming' bandwagon.
For months now, Naik has been promoting a new streaming venture, Al Hidaayah. On Thursday, a video describing Al Hidaayah was uploaded on Naik's YouTube and Facebook pages. Interestingly, the video had been in circulation since at least early March.
In the video, Naik responds to a listener who compares Al Hidaayah to Netflix. Naik says, "It would not be wrong to call Al Hidaayah the Halal (permissible in Islam) version of Netflix... Majority of the programmes on Netflix are Haram and not in line with teachings of Quran and Hadith (words and actions of Prophet Mohammad)." Naik claimed Al Hidaayah was "not only Halal", but would get users closer to Allah.
Naik noted Netflix was primarily an entertainment platform, "whereas Al Hidaayah is a spiritual edutainment platform", providing content on religion and education and also have entertainment.
The website for Al Hidaayah claims the platform is the "Largest and Best-Quality Platform for Islamic Courses and Islamic Video on Demand. It has thousands of hours of videos of more than 40 Authentic Islamic Speakers from all over the world".
Al Hidaayah offers subscriptions starting from $11 up to $30 per month. The platform will have an entire section devoted to the teachings of Zakir Naik and his son and another section covering other Islamic teachers.
According to the website, "At the time of launch in April 2021, there are more than 2,000 videos of Dr Zakir Naik on Al Hidaayah... By the end of April 2022, there will be over 3,200 videos of Dr Zakir Naik on Al Hidaayah..."
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The content would include "debates, lectures, workshops, group discussions and talk shows".
In the video, Naik noted the advanced quality of technology on Netflix and said "technology was not Haram". Naik boasted the content on Al Hidaayah would feature similar technology and was recorded in 4K and 8K.
Views on entertainment
In June last year, Naik had declared support for former Bollywood actor Zaira Wasim after she posted a verse from the Quran on social media. Wasim had ended her acting career in 2019. Naik had then claimed, "most of the part of Bollywood is not appropriate for a practising Muslim" and added "It takes a lot of courage and sacrifice for a person famous in Bollywood to quit Bollywood."
Curbs in India
Access to Naik's YouTube channel is banned in India. Interestingly, Facebook had seemingly removed the 'blue tick' sign showing verified status for his Facebook account recently.