Zakir Abdul Karim Naik was born on 18 October 1965 in Mumbai, India. He attended St. Peter’s High School in Mumbai. Later he enrolled at Kishinchand Chellaram College, before studying medicine at Topiwala National Medical College and Nair Hospital and later the University of Mumbai, where he obtained a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS). His wife, Farhat Naik, works for the women’s section of the IRF.
In 1991 he started working in the field of Dawah, and founded the IRF. Naik says he was inspired by Ahmed Deedat, an Islamic preacher, having met him in 1987. (Naik is sometimes referred to as “Deedat plus”, a label given to him by Deedat himself.) Naik says that his goal is to “concentrate on the educated Muslim youth who have become apologetic about their own religion and have started to feel the religion is outdated.” ]He considers it a duty of every Muslim to remove perceived misconceptions about Islam and to counter what he views as the Western media’s anti-Islamic bias in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Some of his articles are published in magazines such asIslamic Voice.
Anthropologist Thomas Blom Hansen has written that Naik’s style of memorising the Quran and Hadith literature in various languages, and his related missionary activity, has made him extremely popular in Muslim and non-Muslim circles. Many of his debates are recorded and widely distributed in video and DVD media and online. His talks are usually recorded in English and broadcast on weekends on several cable networks in Mumbai’s Muslim neighbourhoods, and on the Peace TV channel, which he co-produces. Topics he speaks on include: “Islam and Modern Science”, “Islam and Christianity”, and “Islam and secularism”. Naik is the founder of the Islamic International School in Mumbai.