Steve Salgra Rema

Fellow, Dismislab
Claim of British Billionaire Funding Ayodhya Mosque is false
This article is more than 2 months old

Claim of British Billionaire Funding Ayodhya Mosque is false

Steve Salgra Rema

Fellow, Dismislab

Recently, a claim has been widely circulated on social media that British billionaire Asif Aziz has donated 5,000 crore Taka to help build a mosque in Uttar Pradesh, India, following the Babri Masjid court ruling. However, verification reveals that the information is false. Zufar Ahmed Farooqi, the chairman of the Sunni Waqf Board in charge of the mosque’s construction, has also stated that the claim of the donation is baseless.

Various posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) have been seen circulating on social media platforms YouTube, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook, featuring a picture of British billionaire Asif Aziz along with the proposed design of the Ayodhya Mosque planned by the Government of India.

A Facebook reel posted from an Instagram account on February 23 claimed: “Mashaallah, this is our brother Asif Aziz, he is a resident of London. He has donated 5,000 crore Taka for the construction of a mosque in Ayodhya. Mashaallah.” The video had 3.3 million views at the time of writing this report. It had 121,000 likes and 401 comments and had been shared more than 7,000 times.

A look at the Instagram account shows that two more similar videos were posted on February 26 and February 24, claiming that Indian actor Aamir Khan has donated 25 crore and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has donated 45 crore for the mosque. No verification of these claims has been found either.

On February 27, a user on Facebook wrote, “Asif Aziz, after buying the most luxurious royal house in London with 22 thousand crore Taka, has donated to masjid and Islamic center, Alhamdulillah, he is donating five thousand crore Taka for the construction of Babri Moshjid in Ayodhya, Hopefully this will be the biggest mosque in India InshaAllah.”

Similar information has also been spread on social media platform X (formerly Twitter). On January 22, a user posted, “Asif Aziz ji, who lives in London has given 5000 Crore for the mosque to be built in Ayodhya.I salute you for your noble work.”

On verification, the oldest post found about Asif Aziz’s donation to the Ayodhya mosque dates back to January 17. It was found on an Instagram handle called allmuslimsisone (all muslims is one). The post stated, “Recently, Asif Aziz donated Rs 5,000 crore for the Ayodhya Mosque. He also has decided to donate bricks to every mosque; and a chip would be attached with his name written on each brick; and they would survive for 200 years, so that people of other religions do not try to capture them. May Allah Pak always keep Asif Aziz Bhai happy and bless his career #Asif_Aziz.”

Similar claims were also posted on several Indian YouTube channels (1, 2) and Facebook pages. However, none of this was reported in the mainstream media.

Who is Asif Aziz?

According to The Muslim 500, Asif Aziz who lives in London, is a billionaire and philanthropist. He was born in Malawi, a country in East Africa, in 1967. He is the founder and CEO of Criterion Capital and the founder of the Aziz Foundation, a charitable organization. The foundation works to expand higher education opportunities for British Muslims. Although no response was received from the Aziz Foundation when contacted by Dismislab, their official website contained no information about donations to mosques.

The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board is responsible for the construction of the Muhammad bin Abdullah Mosque, also known as the Ayodhya Mosque. When contacted by Dismislab, Zufar Ahmed Farooqui, the chairman of the board, whose email address was obtained from the website of the Central Waqf Council, said that the claim about Asif Aziz’s donation that is circulating on social media is false. He said, “THIS IS ABSOLUTELY FALSE. With all due respect to Mr Asif Aziz, we have not yet approached him for any donations so there is no question of having received any donations from him. I may further clarify that we are in the process of applying for Government permission to receive funds from outside India, once we apply and receive the said permission, then only we can receive donations from abroad.”

However, circulation of false information about Asif Aziz is not new. Previously, misinformation was spread online about him claiming to have converted a part of an old building in London into a mosque. Then again, the claim that Asif Aziz converted the Trocadero building in London into a mosque is also not correct.

Vartha Bharati, an Indian news outlet, mentioned in their report that, “As of now, there is no credible evidence supporting the claim of Asif Aziz’s donation to the Ayodhya mosque. The lack of official confirmation suggests that the reports may be speculative or potentially inaccurate.” 

It is worth noting that in 1528, Mir Baqi, a general of the Mughal emperor Babur, built a mosque in Ayodhya, which later came to be known as the Babri Masjid. In 1992, the mosque was destroyed in an attack by Hindu extremists, sparking Hindu-Muslim riots across the subcontinent. In November 2019, the Supreme Court of India allocated the site for the temple in a ruling on the ownership of the disputed land. The same verdict instructed The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board to be given five acres of land in Ayodhya to build a new mosque.

On January 22, 2024, the newly constructed Ram Temple was inaugurated. On the other hand, the Muhammad bin Abdullah Mosque is to be built in the allotted place in Dhannipur village, about 25 kilometers from Ayodhya city, in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict. The construction work of the new mosque is scheduled to start in May of this year.

Dismislab Fellow Neeti Chakma has played a role in gathering data for this article.