A viral message on social media claims that in Tamil Nadu, Muslims have said that the meaning of 'halal isn't complete unless the cook spits on the food'. The text goes on to warn people against eating such food, and advocates against 'ordering food from any Muslim-owned hotel'.
The text, along with a tweet link, is being shared on social media platforms advising people against eating at 'halal hotels', and adds that Muslims follow this practice for religious reasons. The attached tweet also carries a video which is being used "as evidence" to push the narrative.
However, we found that no such admission had been made by any Muslim body or individual. In fact, the excerpt was from a petition filed in the Kerala High Court by a person named SJR Kumar, who had made this claim, attributing it to the Muslim community.
A portion of the text that is being shared massively on WhatsApp reads, "In a court case in Tamil Nadu, Muslims held that the meaning of Halal is not complete until the cook does not spit in it. Therefore food prepared by Muslims is not complete without spitting. In a court case they admitted that spitting is what made Halal complete, thru out the Nation including TN [sic]."
This message carries a tweet by a user named Indu Makkal Katchi, who shared a video posted by Mahesh Vikram Hegde, founder of Postcard News – a platform notorious for spreading disinformation.
In the tweet, he wrote, "In a court case they admitted that spitting is what made Halal complete, thru out the Nation including TN [sic]."
The Quint received multiple queries for verification of this claim in English, Hindi, and Marathi on its WhatsApp tipline.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
The case that is being referred to in the viral text is an ongoing one at the Kerala High Court, filed by SJR Kumar against the Travancore Devaswom Board (TBD), the authority that manages the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
Kumar had filed a case against the Board, holding them responsible for using spoiled jaggery in their offerings to devotees and raising objections against using halal-certified jaggery at the Hindu temple.
We looked the case up and found a text copy of the hearing uploaded to Verdictum, which contained the text verbatim.
Here, we found that the screenshot shared by the user actually showed statements made by the petitioner's legal counsel in the plea, and not by any Muslim body or individual.
The petitioner, SJR Kumar, was the president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in the state.
He currently holds the position of general convener of the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, a body formed to protect the customs and traditions at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, and has been working with Hindu organisations for a decade.
As per the petition, spoiled jaggery could possibly spoil the devotees' health, whereas 'halal jaggery' was unsuitable to prepare the offerings as the ingredients used must be made in accordance with Hindu practices, which halal is not.
The News Minute reported that the High Court questioned Kumar's understanding of halal, noting that he "should have gone deep into the concept" before challenging the use of halal-certified products.
A division bench of Justices PG Ajithkumar and Anil K Narendran are hearing the petition, and have stated the necessity for a more detailed hearing before passing any judgment on the matter.
What is Halal Food?
In the hearing, the Travancore Dewaswom Board (TDB) argued that the temple uses jaggery procured from a seller who exports their product to Arab countries and carries a 'halal' mark.
The petition stated that since the ingredients sourced were halal, they were not suitable for Hindu devotees, who must consume "satvik" food before and during their pilgrimage to Sabarimala.
We reached out the SQR Illyas, founder of the Welfare Party of India, to better understand the concept of halal and the religious practices associated with it.
"Basically, in Islam, there are certain things which are prohibited. There are very few things. For example, drinking wine is haram, pig meat is haram. Secondly, there is a procedure in Islam: Suppose we want to eat goat or chicken meat, there is a proper way of slaughtering the animal. The person doing it must take the name of God and say "Bismillah". That is all halal is."SQR Illyas
When asked about reports on certain sects of Islam spitting and blowing into food, Illyas said that they were "wrong".
Calling it "unfortunate", Illyas said that such issues were being politicised in a "cheap way" and were "harming the society."
As per TNM, many Muslim clerics noted that the practice of blowing or spitting into food was followed by a certain section of clerics on religious occasions, adding that it was only done during private ceremonies.
It further said that Dr Suhaib Moulavi, the Imam on the Palayam mosque in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, had issued a statement that the Prophet had said that one should not blow into food, denouncing fellow clerics who do so.
Such claims are made in the backdrop of several videos that have gone viral on the internet targeting Muslims for spitting on food. Some of these videos were found to be unrelated and untrue. The Quint has debunked them in multiple fact-checks.
.... And What About the Video?
The man in the video, who appears spitting, has been identified as an employee at a Muslim hotel in Loni, Uttar Pradesh, and has been detained for questioning.
We came across multiple news reports on the video, and found a tweet by Ghaziabad police's verified Twitter account, wherein the Circle Officer of Loni police station noted that the man was an employee at a hotel near Banthla flyover in Ghaziabad.
While we can't independently confirm what exactly happened in the video, we have verified that the accompanied text which claims that 'Muslims have admitted that halal is incomplete without spitting' is misleading and that no such admission has been made in the court.