A video of Muslim students learning Sanskrit at the Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies (ASAS) in Thrissur, Kerala is being shared on social media with a false and communal claim that students are being coached to take up roles as temple priests in Kerala.
BOOM found that the viral claim is false and that the Sanskrit teacher seen in the video is a Hindu. ASAS confirmed to BOOM that the Muslim students are being taught Sanskrit to introduce them other ancient languages.
In the 5.29 minutes video, Muslim students at inside a classroom are seen learning Sanskrit. The video was posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) with the caption when translated reads, "Kerala's education model. Muslim teachers are training a section of Muslims to learn Sanskrit in order to attain temple priest positions in Kerala!"
(In Hindi - केरल का शिक्षा मॉडल. केरल में मंदिर के पुजारी पद हासिल करने के लिए मुस्लिम शिक्षक मुसलमानों के एक वर्ग को संस्कृत सीखने के लिए प्रशिक्षित कर रहे हैं!)
The same viral video is being shared on Facebook with the false claim.
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BOOM found that the claim that Muslim students are being taught Sanskrit to take up posts as Hindu priests in the temples of Kerala is false. Additionally, the teacher teaching Sanskrit in the video is a Hindu and not a Muslim as being claimed.
We found that the original video has been taken from a news report from November 2022 by news outlet The Fourth. The report is on Sanskrit being taught at Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies (ASAS), a Muslim educational organisation in Thrissur district of Kerala.
The video report has quotes from the institute's coordinator, students learning Sanskrit, and the teachers teaching them. There is no mention of the language being taught for students to become temple priests as being claimed in the viral post. The video contains the same visuals as the viral clip.
The headline when translated to English reads, "Sanskrit Studies in Arabic College. Mahabharata and Ramayana in syllabus"
We also found several news reports from November 2022 on ASAS which is run by Malik Deenar Islamic Complex (MIC) teaching Sanskrit. A PTI report from November 13, 2022, quotes the principal Onampilly Muhammad Faizy stating that the objective behind teaching Sanskrit is to inform students about other religions.
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BOOM then reached out to ASAS, which dismissed the claim that students were being taught Sanskrit to become priests at temples in Kerala. The institute also confirmed that the teachers who teach Sanskrit at the institute are Hindus.
"The reason behind adding Sanskrit to the syllabus is to introduce the students to historical and traditional languages," Advocate Hafil Aboobacker, Coordinator of ASAS told BOOM.
The institute has been teaching Sanskrit since 2016-17 and is planning to add other languages such as Latin and Suriyani to its syllabus, he said.
The coordinator further said that the principal of the institute - Onampilly Muhammad Faizy has an MA in Sanskrit from Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit and wanted his students to learn the language.