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Muslims in Malaysia prohibited from Yoga

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    From: http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Sunday/Frontpage/2409541/Article/index_html MUSLIMS IN MALAYSIA PROHIBITED FROM YOGA 2008/11/23 Yoga Ban: Don t
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25, 2008
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      From:
      http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Sunday/Frontpage/2409541/Article/index_html

      MUSLIMS IN MALAYSIA PROHIBITED FROM YOGA

      2008/11/23
      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
      decision yesterday.
      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
      Islam.

      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
      Islam.

      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
      and contemplation.
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