Sunday, November 23, 2008

This is an article related to the news below

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You Can Do It As Long As You Don't Move

Fatwa Council says yoga with worshipping, chanting is prohibited (updated)

PUTRAJAYA: The National Fatwa council has declared that the yoga practice which involves three elements of physical movements, worshipping and chanting as haram (prohibited) in Islam.

Its chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin said although merely doing the physical movements of yoga minus the worshipping and chanting might not be wrong in the eyes of the religion, it should be avoided as “doing one would lead to another”. (How do they know this? Is evidence unnecessary?)

He said yoga has been practised by the Hindu community for thousands of years and incorporates physical and religious elements and chants and worshipping, with the aim at “being one with God”.

“Because of this, we believe that it is inappropriate for Muslims to do yoga and the council has declared that practising yoga when it comes all together with the three elements as haram.

“We discourage Muslims to do yoga as a form of exercise because it will ultimately lead to religious worshipping and chanting which is against Islam.

“In Islam, one must not do things which can erode one’s aqidah or faith. Doing yoga, even just the physical movements is a step towards an erosion of one’s faith in the religion, hence Muslims should avoid it,” he told a press conference. (Ahh...that we are so weak-willed when we exercise that our faith collapses so easily...)

He added that the council had come up with an edict on yoga as the matter was brought up to them following growing concerns whether it would be against the religion if Muslims do the exercise.

Recently, a lecturer Prof Zakaria Stapa of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Islamic Studies Centre advised Muslims who had taken up yoga to stop practising it for fear that they could deviate from the teachings of Islam.

Shukor said the declaration of yoga as haram was done after serious and indepth discussions were made by the council members who met last month.

He added after studying the matter, including the history and purpose of yoga where the ultimate aim was to “be one with God”, the council decided that it was inappropriate for Muslims as it could affect one’s faith. (But obviously they never went to observe a class?)

Asked if the decision would draw flak within the Malaysian community, including the non-Muslims, he said the ruling was only meant for Muslims and the rest were free to practise yoga. (Lucky them...)

“The fatwa (edict) is meant solely for the Muslims to follow. The non-Muslims need not question or debate about this because they are free to do whatever they wish. It is the Muslims who have to adhere to this,” he added. (Whereas us Muslims are not free to think for ourselves...)

Shukor said once the edict was gazetted, it would be up to the state governments on how they plan to implement and enforce the ruling as religious affairs come under its purview. (Now this will be interesting. Which state will enact such laws and HOW do they plan to implement them? Raid yoga centres? Raid private homes?)

“Malaysia is not the only country which declare yoga as haram in Islam. Singapore and Egypt have come out with the same edict as well,” he said. (Not true. See below.)

He said Muslims must be careful as to not do things which could erode their faith, adding the religion strongly advocates “prevention is better than cure”. ( But we can't use condoms for prevention of HIV?)

“There are many other forms of exercise that Muslims can partake especially when the religion promotes healthy living and lifestyle. Performing prayers for example is a good form of exercise,” he said. (But we're supposed to pray anyway, not just for exercise.)


The global jury is still out on this though:

Nov 9, 2008

Yoga is okay

KL cleric had voiced concern about the exercise's Hindu origins

By Nur Dianah Suhaimi, Singapore Straits Times

A MUSLIM cleric in Malaysia has called on Muslims to

stop doing yoga exercises, but some religious experts
in Singapore do not share that sentiment.

They are largely of the opinion that yoga
is harmless as long as its spiritual aspects
are not practised.

Professor Zakaria Stapa, a lecturer at University
Kebangsaan Malaysia's faculty of Islamic studies,
said recently that yoga is based on Hindu elements
and could affect the faith of Muslims practising it.

That sparked a nationwide debate and the Malaysian
National Fatwa Council may issue a fatwa, or decree,
on yoga soon.

The country seems to be alone in its concern.

Yoga centres are flourishing in more orthodox
Muslim countries
such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In Iran, yoga is so popular that there are classes for children.

In Singapore, Mr Mohammad Yusri Yubhi Md Yusoff, 33,
executive imam of Al-Falah mosque, said:
'Yoga may have its roots in Hinduism.
But if you take away the meditation and other spiritual aspects,
it becomes just another form of exercise.'

Veteran religious expert Pasuni Maulan, 64, agreed. The former
registrar of Muslim marriages said spiritual elements
in exercises are not exclusive to yoga. Silat,
which has its roots in Malay culture, can
sometimes involve hailing spirits, a practice not allowed in Islam.

'Those who are not sure about what is allowed may want to
do other exercises,' he suggested.

As a rule of thumb, avoid the spiritual forms of exercises and embrace
only the physical aspects, said religious teacher and counsellor Abdul
Manaf Rahmat, 50.

Teacher Hafiza Yahya, 26, who studied yoga through books five years ago,
has been doing just that.

'In classes, instructors may ask you to say Hindu incantations. I simply did
the exercises without all that,' said the mother of two, who shed more than
30kg through yoga after each pregnancy. She now weighs a trim 46kg.


I was hoping for a 'can-do' fatwa instead of a 'can't-do' fatwa for
a change. A more measured fatwa might have said that if you're
uncomfortable with any chanting, then choose a class which doesn't
have one (of which there are plenty). And it is simply insulting to
the very many Muslims who have done yoga for years and have
not felt their faith weakened to be now told this. Is this fatwa
retroactive as well? Do longtime yoga practitioners now have
to go for rehabilitation?

Funnily enough I found a website for 'Islamga' or Islam Yoga.
It's from Egypt; so much for the banning of yoga in Egypt.

The bigger question is this: if Islam Hadhari is meant to be
this great 'civilisational' Islam that is progressive and able to
cope with modernity, is this the way to do it? When our leaders
proudly claim that other countries want to import Islam Hadhari,
do they tell them that this means also 'thou shalt not do yoga'?

Meanwhile, read this.


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