Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has continued disseminating his teachings freely ever since he fled India in 2016. Though India has sought his extradition for alleged links to extremists, hate speech and money laundering, Zakir Naik still commands a massive following on social media. For instance, his official Facebook page has around 22 million followers, while over 2 million people follow him on YouTube.
Earlier this year, Zakir Naik began promoting a streaming service named Al Hidaayah, which he called the "Halal (permissible in Islam) version of Netflix". Zakir Naik said Al Hidaayah is a 'spiritual edutainment platform', providing content on religion and education and also offering entertainment.
Zakir Naik has used his social media handles to promote his teachings on a near-daily basis. But on Friday, Zakir Naik used Facebook to publicly solicit a wife for his son, Fariq Zakir Naik. Fariq is also a preacher like his father, with Zakir frequently posting videos of his son answering questions. In these videos, Fariq is referred to as Sheikh Fariq.
In the post on Friday, which is a two-page advertisement, Zakir Naik specifies that he was looking for a "virtuous Muslim girl of good character, such that my son and his wife can be a source of guidance and strength for each other". Zakir Naik specified both "necessary qualities" and qualities that are preferable for the girl.
In the "necessary" qualities, Zakir Naik specified the girl should be a practising Muslim who is "abstaining from all Haraam (sinful) activities". Zakir Naik stated the girl should be willing to lead a "simple, non-luxurious life" if needed and the couple must "be willing to sacrifice their comfort for the sake of Allah".
He wrote the girl should support her husband in his Daawah (work to propagate Islam). Zakir Naik wrote the girl should preferably hold a bachelor's degree in any field of Islamic studies. In the second page of the advertisement, Zakir Naik gave a biodata of his son, listing his achievements as a preacher and in sports.
Not surprisingly, the detailed nature of the post evoked diverse comments. While many praised Zakir Naik for being a dutiful father, others found the advertisement odd. One user took issue with Zakir Naik using a photograph of himself in the advertisement, instead of his son's image.