The message given by girls who wear hijab to the world is ‘you are prohibited’ while the message girls who wear skirts send across is ‘you are invited’.
If that sounds like something Dr Zakir Naik would say, it’s because these are the words of his wife, Farhat Naik, preaching to over 6,000 women in one of her many sermons in Maldives.
She is heralded as one of the biggest female Islamic scholars from India and an authority on comparative religion. She has held house-full international sermons on the ways to be an ideal wife, woman and devotee of Allah, with her husband, and on occasion, with her children too.
She has also allegedly used her bank account to launder crores of money received as foreign donations to Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). She was even the secretary of one of six alleged shell companies set up by the husband-wife duo.
Power Talk Mingguan Wanita: Ideal Muslimah by Farhat Naik. Sedang berlangsung perkongsian daripada Aliza Kim. #zakirnaik #farhatnaik #alizakim #idealmuslimah #PowerTalkMingguanWanita #karangkraf A post shared by Sri Diah Shaharuddin (@sridiah) on Apr 17, 2016 at 6:29pm PDT
Yet, while Dr Naik enjoys the kind of publicity that comes easy for men, Farhat remains a mystery.
A rare glimpse of Farhat Naik from a conference in Indonesia as she remains curiously invisible on the web:
Farhat Naik: The International Preacher
Farhat Naik holds a Masters degree in Commerce from the University of Pune. She was teaching in a college in Pune after her degree when she got married to Zakir Naik. Presently, she is the President of the Women’s Wing of IRF. Until recently, she also used to head the Islamic International School in Mumbai set up under IRF. Now, of course, she tours the world holding exclusive seminars for women in English and Urdu.
In 2016, she spoke on ‘Motherhood in Islam’ in Cairo. She had also spoken at the Ideal Muslimah conference in Indonesia and Kuwait, and if Dawah (preaching Islam) was compulsory in Malaysia. She also spoke at the Srinagar International Peace Conference in 2014 to a 4,000-strong audience and holds a women’s night sermon every Wednesday at IRF.
When her husband begins his 10-day long ‘Dr Zakir Naik Indonesia Visit 2017’, Farhat Naik is scheduled to travel with him and address a crowd of 2,500 women on the first day – 31 March.
Farhat Naik: The Dai’e
It’s surprising, really. Books, pamphlets, photographs and video recordings galore Zakir Naik’s sermons. But his wife, partner-in-alleged-crime, multinational phenomenon amongst thousands of Muslim women – she is harder to find, especially in way of Indian reportage. There is virtually no easily accessible video recording of any of her conferences; only lecture notes and messages made by some who attended them. This ‘absence’ of Farhat is odd, but not completely surprising given the Naiks’ relatively rigid interpretation of Islam.
Her views are not as inflammatory as her husband’s, but they come from the same conservative, patriarchal narrative of Islam and are confined to issues related to women only. She has in the past preached about engaging with non-believers to learn about Islam in ‘positive environments’; how women in Islam are more elevated than in other religions; choosing a righteous life partner to raise good Muslim children; how to be a good Muslim mother within the parameters of Islam to ensure the continuity of the Ummah or the Muslim community; and roles and responsibilities of the ideal Muslim woman.
(Photo: The Quint)
Alhamdullilah it was a beautiful event yesterday. I had the honor of MC-ing Sister Farhat Naik’s talk which included sessions with her daughters. The turn out was amazing. The main hall had no seats left and the spill over hall had ladies sitting on the floor and leaning on the wall in the back. So many reminders…I’ll post lecture notes shortly. #karangkraf #mingguanwanita #farhatnaik #idealmuslimah A post shared by Aliza Kim (Official Page) (@alizakim) on Apr 18, 2016 at 10:06pm PDT
A human rights activist, Aishnath Aniya recounted her experience of attending a conference hosted by Maldives’ Ministry of Islamic Affairs in 2010 where Farhat Naik was scheduled to talk about the duties of women in Islam. She begins on a very positive note:
I find Islam enlightening, progressive and intriguing. Social justice is a passionate concept to me as much as I believe it is central to Islam. So I was at the lecture venue 15 minutes before it started to learn from Mrs Naik about Islam. I was lucky to get a seat in the main hall filled with nearly three hundred women […] The Islamic Ministry estimated 6,000 women attended the function. The evening began. One of the daughters of Mrs Naik recited Quran. The next daughter, looking close to ten years recited a poem. It praised the hijab while outrightly insulted those who did not wear it.
Soon, Aniya’s “expectations turned to disappointment. And then, to concern.”
(Graphic: The Quint)
Farhat Naik goes on to talk about how the West, the TV and all non-Islamic TV channels are working together to stop the revolution which the Ummah will bring about the world. On the topic of wearing the hijab, Aniya narrated:
(Photo: The Quint)
Farhat Naik: The Wife
In the ongoing investigation into money laundering of foreign funds for IRF by Naik, it has recently come to light that out of a Rs 200-crore money trail, Rs 50 crore was deposited from Naik’s sister Nailah’s account into other accounts. The largest portion of the fund allegedly went to Naik, followed by his wife Farhat Naik.
She has also been the managing director for Harmony Media Private Limited and director-cum-promoter of Longlast Constructions and Right Property Solutions, three Mumbai-based companies being investigated by the ED and NIA for being shell companies.
Farhat Naik is also intriguingly being investigated for not being an Indian citizen from Maharashtra at all. For instance, the UK-based Universal Broadcasting Corporation Limited is registered under her directorship as a British citizen residing at 33, Forest Road Mosely, Birmingham!
Join The Quint on WhatsApp. Type “JOIN” and send to 9910181818.