Several social media users have alleged that “a top Muslim cleric of the world Aziz bin Abdullah has issued a fatwa saying that a man can eat his wife if hungry.” The claim has been perpetrated using an image of a supposed cleric and a screenshot of a Mirror article titled, Top Saudi Sheikh issues bizarre fatwa allowing men to EAT their wives if they are hungry.” A Twitter user Khushi Singh (@khushi2318) was among the first to make the claim.

Another Twitter user Rushi Vekariya (rushivekariya_) also tweeted the same claim with the identical images. His tweet was retweeted over 300 times at the time of writing this article.

The claim has been circulated on Facebook on a group called We Support Republic.

The Mirror report

We found that the Mirror report used to claim that a fatwa allows men to eat their wives if hungry was published in 2015 and is not recent.

The same news was also published by India Today in 2015. While the title of India Today’s report said that ‘men can eat their wives if severely hungry, says top Saudi Sheikh’s fatwa’, the last two paragraphs of the article included the Sheikh’s statement denying the issuance of such a fatwa. The article also mentioned that the fatwa initially appeared in a sarcastic column.

Website Scoop Whoop had also published a story claiming that such a fatwa was issued.

Fake news

No such fatwa was issued by a Saudi cleric. The misinformation has already been debunked by Alt News in 2017. Ironically, India Today was among those who published the story but India Today Group-owned DailyO reported the fatwa to be ‘fake’.

The original source of the fatwa was a sarcastic column written by a satirist Moroccan blogger Israfel al-Maghribi. This was reported by Al Arabiya, based on a CNN Arabic report. “Despite The Onion-like column carrying the name “Akhbar al-Tanz” (which in Moroccan dialect means ‘sarcastic news’), several media outlets, including various pro -Iranian ones, still went on to report what was meant to be a joke as news,” wrote Al Arabiya.

The Saudi Sheikh, Aziz bin Abdullah, whose name was used to publish the false news was Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti. He had issued a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) at the time, where he rubbished the media reports saying, “Attempts by enemies to distract society from their main cause at the moment, which is standing together behind our wise leadership against attempts to distort the ummah [the world’s Muslims]. This also falls under attempts to distort the image of Islam which has honoured the human-being without discrimination between men and women.”

A sarcastic column which had been debunked in 2015 yet again found a place on social media. Such misinformation related to ‘fatwas’ is often circulated by mainstream media, eventually finding a place on social media. Alt News had earlier debunked the false news claiming that a fatwa was issued against TMC MP Nusrat Jahan for adorning vermillion and mangalsutra.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.