A video of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan blowing air into the wind after offering a 'dua' (prayer) has gone viral with a claim that the actor spat on veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar's mortal remains while attending her funeral on Sunday, 6 February.
Among those sharing the false and misleading claims included Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s Haryana IT cell incharge Arun Yadav, and Hindi news channel Sudarshan News that is notorious for peddling misinformation and communally charged information.
However, blowing into the wind after offering dua is a well-known and well-documented Islamic ritual. It is done to ensure that the prayer reaches the person it is intended for and to ward off evil.
WHAT IS THE CONTROVERSY?
Yadav tweeted the viral clip on Twitter on Sunday evening, with a caption that said, "Did he spit?"
The tweet had received 12,000 likes while the story was being written and was still up on Yadav's profile.
Soon after Yadav's tweet, Uttar Pradesh BJP spokesperson Prashant P Umrao, retweeted the same video and said, "SRK is spitting". Umrao has been called out for spreading misinformation several times in the past.
Similar tweets were shared by other verified Twitter handles and were amplified by their followers. Sudarshan News did a show on the viral video and invited callers who made similar claims on live television.
WHAT IS THE CUSTOM?
Several people on Twitter pointed out that Khan was reciting the 'Fatiha', a prayer that is said at someone's funeral, and then blew some air into the wind, to complete the tradition.
We reached out to Mufti Fuzail Akhtar, Imam and Khatib, Jama Masjid, Bhagalpur, to understand the concept better. Akhtar explained that it is a well-known practice that is followed by people and is also referred to as "dum karna", which translates into blowing of air.
"When someone dies, we go to their grave or funeral and say prayers to ensure that Allah blesses their future journey. There are some prayers that said at this point, such as the Surah Fatiha, and then people blow air. There is no logical explanation behind why this is done but it has been a belief in people that blowing air will ensure the prayer goes from the mouth of the person reciting it to the person it is intended for. This practice is documented in books."Fuzail Akhtar
We also reached out to SQR Illyas, founder of the Welfare Party of India, who also dismissed the claims and said that although the practice is not followed by everyone, some people do it to ensure that the dua reaches the person it is intended for.
We also found people pointing out the mention of the practice in popular culture. In the 2010 movie, 'My Name Is Khan', we can seen Khan's character blowing air on his son after reading a dua.
It is not the first time that social media users and members of the BJP have shared misinformation on such Islamic customs.
Several videos have recently gone viral on the internet targeting Muslims for spitting on food during the first wave of the pandemic. The Quint has multiple fact-checks debunking such false claims.
WHILE SOME SHARED MISINFORMATION, OTHERS CELEBRATED INDIA'S DIVERSITY
While some people amplified this controversy, which was based on misinformation, another section of the internet users celebrated India's diversity.
Users shared a photo of Khan reciting a dua while standing next to his manager Pooja Dadlani with her hands folded, and pointed out how it captured India's diversity.
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