MUSLIMS IN MALAYSIA PROHIBITED FROM YOGA
Yoga Ban: Don't question fatwa, says Council
By : Farrah Naz Karim
PUTRAJAYA: As expected, the National Fatwa Council yesterday announced
that Muslims are prohibited from practising yoga.
In declaring yoga haram, the council said it could be traced back to
Hinduism and concluded that yoga could erode the faith of Muslims.
Council chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin said the decision was
made as yoga involved elements that were against the beliefs of Islam
in its physical movements, chanting and worship.
"Many Muslims in the country fail to understand the ultimate aim of yoga.
"It combines physical movements, religious elements, chanting and
worshipping for the purpose of achieving inner peace and ultimately to
be one with God," he said at a press conference to announce the
Shukor said once the fatwa was gazetted, it would be passed on to the
states to decide on the enforcement.
Malaysia, he said, was not alone in prohibiting yoga among Muslims as
the Singaporean and Egyptian Islamic councils had done the same.
Shukor said renowned Islamic scholars were also of the view that yoga
could erode the faith of Muslims.
Asked if practising yoga with the intention of promoting physical
health was also against the fatwa, he said although it did not include
the chanting and beliefs, it was discouraged.
This, he said, was because the physical movements of yoga were a
component of the practice which was haram.
"In Islam, one must not do things which can erode one's aqidah
(belief). Yoga, even the physical movements, is a step towards the
erosion of a Muslim's belief, hence they must avoid it."
Muslims, he added, should be careful and conduct thorough studies
before embracing rituals and practices that could threaten their faith.
He said Islam had long paved the way for Muslims to achieve spiritual
peace and health and they should stick to these teachings, which
included praying five times a day.
The Islamic Development Department (Jakim), he said, would start a
programme to educate Muslims on why yoga was against the teachings of
Expecting a backlash from Malaysians on the decision, Shukor reminded
non-Muslims not to question the fatwa.
"We respect the harmony and freedom of practice of other races. This
is not something for non-Muslims to interfere in or question as this
matter involves Muslims and their faith.
"It may not be acceptable to other races, but this is about Islamic
teachings," he said.
Yoga practice among Muslims recently became an issue when Professor
Zakaria Stapa of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Faculty of Islamic
Studies said the practice could cause Muslims to deviate from Islam.
He had pointed out that yoga could be traced back to Hinduism and
urged Muslims who practised it to stop and return to the teachings of
Yoga, which dates back more than 5,000 years and is a form of
spiritual practice in India, is one of the six classic systems of
Hindu philosophy that stresses self-control, discipline, postures,
breathing, restraint of the senses, steadying of the mind, meditation