No, this video does not show soccer fans converting to Islam at the Qatar World Cup

Rumors have circulated online that four soccer fans who came to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup converted to Islam after watching a presentation by controversial Indian televangelist Zakir Naik, who has publicly supported former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Since November 20, 2022, they have shared a video as “proof”. While the video does indeed show people converting after one of Naik’s conferences, it is actually from May 2016 and is thus an old video unrelated to the ongoing World Cup.

If you only have a minute

A video showing four people converting to Islam has been circulating online since 20 November 2022, with posts in English, Arabic and French claiming that the people in the video are football fans who came to Qatar for the World Cup. One of the posts, in English, received more than 140,000 views. The posts with the video say this scene allegedly took place after a conference organized on the sidelines of the soccer tournament by a controversial Indian televangelist named Dr. Zakir Naik, who is accused of money laundering and has publicly expressed his support for Osama bin Laden. A keyword search revealed that the original video is from 2016. The scene really took place during a conference by televangelist Dr Zakir Naik held in Qatar and a number of people converted after watching him speak. Several media outlets have reported that Qatar actually invited Dr Zakir Naik to hold conferences on the sidelines of the football competition.

The fact check, in detail

Did soccer fans who came to Qatar for the World Cup end up converting to Islam? It’s a rumor that has spread on social media, often linked to a video that has been circulating since November 20, the day the competition started. The footage shows a man standing behind a microphone and four men repeating his words in Arabic and English.

First in Arabic and then in English, the man says: “There is no god but Allah and I bear witness that the Prophet Mohammed…”

The video cuts off at this point, but the end of his English phrase, if it’s the same as the Arabic, is likely “Prophet Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah.”

This phrase comes from shahada (“ٱلشَّهَادَة” in Arabic, which roughly translates to “testimony”). All who embrace the Muslim faith must repeat these words.

“They are coming to watch the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. After heeding the call of Allah, they converted to Islam. Allahu Akhbar!” posted this Twitter user. His post has since been shared more than a thousand times.

This post in French explains that the man leading the shahada in the video is Dr Zakir Naik, a controversial Indian televangelist accused of money laundering and hate speech.

The video was also posted on Facebook. A post in English received more than 140,000 views and more than 10,000 “likes”.

This tweet, in French, roughly translates as “A few minutes ago … four people announced their conversion to Islam during a conference held by Dr Zakir Naik in Qatar. © Observers

A conference from 2016

If you type the keywords “Qatar islam Zakir Naik” into Google and add that you only want content that was first published online before October 31, 2022, you will find a video published in May 2016 showing the same event as the film that has recently circulated. The background is the same: a blue star on the ground, green decor in the background and a red and gold chair on the stage. The people are also wearing the same clothes.

The video is called in English “Does God (Creator) exist? By Dr Zakir Naik Doha Qatar”.

There are other videos showing the same conference, including one titled, in English, “4 people accept Islam in Qatar by dr zakir naik 2016-05-26”. In this video, you can hear the exact same words as in the video that has been circulating recently.

If you do an advanced search on Google, you will find videos documenting the same conference shown in the video that has recently circulated online. © Observers

If you type the name of the conference, “God Exists” and “Zakir Naik” into the Facebook search bar, you will find a post by Dr. Zakir Naik himself, dated May 25, 2016, promoting this event.

“Dr Zakir Naik’s Qatar Tour, May 26, 2016, 8:00 p.m. Does God exist? at the Katara Cultural Village Amphitheater, Doha, Qatar,” the poster reads.

Screenshot of a May 25, 2016 post by Dr. Zakir Naik announcing the conference where the video that has been circulating was shot. © Observers

Al Sharq, a pro-government Qatari media outlet, also documented Naik’s conference in an article published in May 2016. “The Katara Cultural Village Foundation welcomed renowned Indian preacher and debater, Dr Zakir Naik […] The conference ended with eight people converting to Islam,” the article said.

But Zakir Naik is indeed in Qatar

Although this video was not taken during the 2022 World Cup, media outlets including India Today have reported that Dr Zakir Naik is indeed in Qatar right now.

Several journalists shared a video they claimed showed Naik at one of the stadiums where the World Cup is being held, although it is impossible to verify that it is indeed the preacher in the video.

“Preacher Sheikh Zakir Naik is in Qatar during the FIFA World Cup and will hold many religious conferences during the FIFA World Cup,” wrote Faisal Alhajri, presenter of the Qatari television channel Alkass, in a tweet published on November 19, 2022.

This is a screenshot of a Twitter post by Faisal Alhajri dated November 19, 2022, where he says that preacher Zakir Naik is in Qatar during the FIFA World Cup. © Observers

Zakir Naik is a doctor by training and the creator of the Islamic Research Foundation. He is also the person behind Peace TV, a television channel that has more than 200 million viewers, but has been banned in a number of countries, including India, Pakistan, the UK and Canada – because it was filled with hate speech and incitement to terrorism. Naik frequently holds conferences on Facebook Live and his page has amassed more than 22 million followers.

The preacher has publicly announced his support for the former leader of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden. Charged with money laundering in 2016, Naik currently resides in Malaysia.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept

Privacy & Cookies Policy