A video is being shared on social media claiming that the Islamic institutions in Kerala are teaching Sanskrit to their students to make them temple priests across the state. The video shows Muslim students in a class reciting Sanskrit shlokas. Let’s verify the claim made in the post.
Claim: A video from a Kerala-based Islamic Institute shows students being taught Sanskrit to prepare them for roles as temple priests.
Fact: The video shared in the post is from the Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies (ASAS) run by Malik Deenar Islamic Complex (MIC) in Thrissur, Kerala. ASAS Principal Onambilly Muhammad Faizi took the initiative to include Sanskrit in the syllabus with the primary objective of creating an understanding of other religions and their customs among their students. Several news organizations reported about the inclusion of the Sanskrit syllabus in ASAS, yet none of them mentioned that the institution’s purpose for teaching Sanskrit was to train students as priests for temples. Hence, the claim made in the post is False.
On observing the video carefully, one could see the logo ‘The Fourth’ at the left-top of the video. On searching for the video using this information, we found the same video on The Fourth YouTube channel published on 01 November 2022. The news channel reported it is the visuals of Sanskrit teachings taught at the Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies run by Malik Deenar Islamic Complex in Thrissur, Kerala.
At 4:41 minutes of the video, a man says, “The main reason behind including Sanskrit in the syllabus at ASAS is to learn about other religions in addition to our own. When the students understand and speak this language, they come to know the mythologies and histories of both religions. The syllabus aims to make the students capable enough to learn the teachings of the other religion and compare it with their own to see how both can be brought together to give new hope to the new India.” (when translated to English from Malayalam).
Several news organizations published articles reporting about the inclusion of Sanskrit grammar, selective portions of the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Mahabharata, and Ramayana in Sanskrit for their students. However, none of these news sites reported that ASAS had included Sanskrit syllabus to encourage students to become priests in temples.
A statement in an article published on the ASAS official website states– “The primary objective of teaching Sanskrit, Upanishads, Puranas, etc. is to create an understanding of other religions and their customs among students. Faizy, the principal of ASAS, has studied Shankara philosophy and believes that students should learn about other religions.”
To sum it up, the Islamic institution in Kerala’s Thrissur is teaching Sanskrit to create an understanding of other religions and their customs, not with the motive of encouraging students to become priests in temples.