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Blogwatch

November 25, 2008
Malaysian Islamic body bans yoga

Muslims in Malaysia are prohibited from practicing yoga, which is said to be at odds with Islam.

Islamic leaders in Malaysia have banned yoga, claiming the practice combines physical exercise with chanting and spiritual elements that are at odds with Islam.

The fatwa, or edict, angered some Muslims, including a Malay sultan.

A post at “Islam Web” explains the reasons for the fatwa, writing that yoga goes beyond physical exercise and is an atheist form of worship.

Malaysian blogger “Ahmad” writes that many Muslims in the country will continue to practice yoga, minus the mantras and chantings.

Blogger “Nuraina A. Samad,” a self-professed fitness lover and Muslim in Kuala Lumpur, writes that she is aware of the un-Islamic elements of Yoga but finds the ban insulting, saying, “Am I that weak or stupid to go astray?”

The “Footsteps in the Mirror” blog asks that people respect the edict, arguing that yoga is part of a belief system and even Christian denominations in Malaysia have warned against yoga.

A blogger at “Blogpastor,” a Christian who abstains from yoga, writes that opposition to yoga does indeed have roots in Romans 14:23, though the Christian church has been less firm in forming an official position.

Malaysian blogger “Praba Ganesan” disagrees with the fatwa but tries to assess why Islamic leaders would issue such a divisive ban.

Blogger “Gabriele,” an anthropologist studying Muslim communities, writes that such fatwas are becoming political tools to appeal to the electorate, pointing to their increased frequency.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user j / f / photos under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments

3 comments

#3

Hallo my friends.
Ihope we can be friend and visited each other to blog.

#2

Yoga, according to the World Book lexicon is, ‘A system of Hindu religious philosophy that requires intense mental and physical discipline as a means of attaining union with the universal spirit.’ (World Book p. 2421).
Trying to strip away religious context from a Hindu practice does not make it non-Hindu. If this were not popularized in the West, it would be outright condemned as Hinduism and forbidden. Because this Hindu practice (and meditation) is so beneficial, leaders from the non-Hindu communities attempt to de-Hinduize rather than recognize the truth and either accepting it for a Hindu practice that they are participating in or saying our followers are not allowed because it is Hindu.

If it was found that celebrating Diwali, Holi or Navratri, going to Garba, or to Hindu temple was beneficial for the health and people started doing it.. would you then remove the Hindu connotation and say it’s not Hindu so it’s ok? See it for what it is instead or trying to make things fit together. You may say Hinduism does not contradict the Koran so you can practice it?

#1

Thank you for such timely news. Here is my take on yoga and Islam.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita both form the core text around which yoga is founded upon.

Patanjali taught in the Sutras that yoga is the practice of stillness, deep meditation and surrender to God. The Sutras go on to teach us that one can go beyond their own ego and find inner peace and nearness to God, through that very practice of surrender. (see: Yoga Sutras 1:23)

Krishna gave humanity the same teachings in The Bhagavad Gita. He said that man can attain a place that is eternal peace (18:62), and that we can acheive this state of peace through constant surrender to Him (8:14).

The word “Islam” means submission and total surrender to Allah (God). Similarly, the Holy Qur’an states that, “Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God: for without doubt in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction. For those who believe and work righteousness, is (every) blessedness, and a beautiful place of (final) return.” Surah 13:28-29 In other words: Those who follow the path of Islam can attain inner peace through the practice of surrender to God.

For these reasons, I see no contradiction between Yoga and Islam; but I do see a profound unity which brings them together!

Best,
White Lightning

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