Of yoga and spiritual leap

A few Muslim opposition leaders — apart from Muslim yoga practitioners — have already voiced their concern and unhappiness over what they consider as a blanket ban on Yoga, arising from the fatwa issued today by the National Fatwa Council.

Kuala Selangor MP and also PAS research head, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, said that if the intention of practising yoga was for the well-being of the body, mind and spirit, then religion need not come into it.

‘There is no need for this siege mentality where everything is viewed from the perspective of encroaching on Islam and attacking us,’ he said, adding that if one wanted to stray from Islam, there were other ways besides yoga to do it.

Yes, perhaps the Council may want to consider critically examining other areas in Malaysian life where one’s faith in God might become questionable, if not shakeable. For instance, the apparent obsession among certain Muslim politicians with raw political power and their seeming insatiable desire for material wealth that might just decentre, or marginalise, the Almighty in their scheme of things on this earth.

Here’s an excerpt from The Malaysian Insider report on the yoga issue:

PAS, PKR and ordinary Muslims criticise yoga ruling

By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 – Muslim opposition leaders want the National Fatwa Council to be more specific in its edict so that Muslims can decide what forms of yoga are permissible.

PAS research chief Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told The Malaysian Insider that the council should not make a blanket ban but “lay down what is or is not permissible about yoga.”

“This allows a Muslim to be critical of their own faith and empower them to make judgments based on convictions.”

The Kuala Selangor MP added that if the intention of taking up yoga was for the well-being of the body, mind and spirit, then religion need not come into it.

“There is no need for this siege mentality where everything is viewed from the perspective of encroaching on Islam and attacking us,” he said, adding that if one wanted to stray from Islam, there were other ways besides yoga to do it.

PKR Youth’s chief strategist Yusmadi Yusoff also said that the council needed to be more specific with what forms of yoga it found objectionable as generalising the entire art under a ban was discriminatory and denied Muslims a choice of a healthy lifestyle.

“The form of yoga practised in Malaysia is simply a healthy exercise. If the fatwa is on the basis of religious rituals or inclinations, then it must be more specific and detail what parts exactly,” he said.

The Balik Pulau MP also noted that other martial arts, including those in Malay culture, had religious inclination but were not banned outright and doing so, as with yoga, would sacrifice a lot of benefits as a physical and mental form of exercise.

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18 Responses to “Of yoga and spiritual leap”


  1. 1 Batu Ferringhi 22 November 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I am stunned… speechless. What has Malaysia come to?

  2. 2 shankar 22 November 2008 at 11:18 pm

    While the world is moving ahead Malaysia is sliding down the tube. I think intelligent people should ignore this fatwa and keep on trucking.

  3. 3 shankar 22 November 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Muslims are expected to enjoy the risk of diabetes, asthma and heart-related diseases. Pray away your ailments. Prayer is an exercise?

  4. 4 tiada harapan lagi 23 November 2008 at 12:15 am

    asalamualaikum,
    they r giving islam a very bad name.
    ameen

  5. 5 mamatmural 23 November 2008 at 12:43 am

    Yeah I guess, the National Fatwa should also study from what culture or influence that Silat, Keris, Mak Yong, wayang kulit, Merong Mahawangsa, Joget Ulek Mayang (Terengganu), Puteri Gunung Ledang had derived from. There were ancient religions before that we should not deny their existence, even Muslims in Indonesia are aware that their culture was influenced and infused by other religions. Islam is tolerant and complete religion and why must we worry of being deviant if our faith is strong, and there should be a certain degree of tolerance towards other faiths too that had existed for a very long time while imparting the knowledge of art and culture when we in the other parts of Asia were still in a “naive” stage.

  6. 6 law 23 November 2008 at 12:49 am

    three word ……………… no eye to see

  7. 7 wa kaa pun tek 23 November 2008 at 12:53 am

    aiyoyo ini macam punya senaman pun consider haram arrrrrr

  8. 8 Antares 23 November 2008 at 2:26 am

    It’s unfathomable that anybody – not least those who profess themselves Muslim – would suffer the existence of something as fatuous as the National Fatwa Council! One shudders to imagine the Stygian depravity of the minds of those that issue reactionary rules in order to wield devious power over their fellow humans…

  9. 9 T.Naidu 23 November 2008 at 8:47 am

    I am amazed.Open up and embrace things that are good without renouncing your faith.

  10. 10 Macha 23 November 2008 at 9:31 am

    I feel sorry Malaysia and Muslim brothers and sisters all over. Its decisions like these that creates a general and incorrect perception of what Islam is and isn’t. what’s next? Mandatory Burkhas??

  11. 11 JOHJ 23 November 2008 at 11:00 am

    I wont be suprise, next will be Tai Chi (Buddhism), Aerobics (Christian), Karate, Taekwando (Japanese/koreans). So confusing and complicated.

  12. 12 Samuel Goh Kim Eng 23 November 2008 at 11:46 am

    ENJOY YOUR GOD GIVEN FREEDOM

    You are free to choose as God’s child
    Doing what you consider gentle and mild
    Without being victim of accusations wild
    Do not to unreasonable restrictions yield

    (C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng – 231108
    http://MotivationInMotion.blogspot.com
    Sun. 23rd Nov. 2008.

  13. 13 C P RAMACHANDRAN 23 November 2008 at 11:50 am

    I CANT BELEIVE WE HAVE LOST OUR RATIONALE THINKING.

  14. 14 tom tom 23 November 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Clearly by issuing the fatwa on Yoga, UMNO wants to outbid PAS to see who is more Islamic in the eyes of Muslims…..PAS and PKR Muslims should let the Malays and other Muslims judge for themselves how ridiculous this fatwa is!

  15. 15 Sagaladoola 23 November 2008 at 12:52 pm

    This is a proof that PAS is not extremist. They have researched before coming to a conclusion.
    _________________________

    There are two forms of Yoga.. External Yoga and Internal Yoga

    Most Yoga practised in Malaysia and United States are external, in gyms and such are only physical exercises and telling the mind to cool down. No religion is involved.

    Internal Yoga may involve chanting and to temples and such. These are not done in gyms or yoga centers. Besides, many Malaysian Indians do not learn that form of yoga in Malaysia. It is not a general practice in Malaysia.

    I am surprised that External Yoga is banned in Malaysia as well. Is this an Islam Hadhari move?

    Besides, even Iran, an Islamic State does not ban Yoga. It is allowed only as a physical exercise. We should not just follow Egypt which ban it. We should research before coming to a conclusion.

  16. 16 Totally Unhappy 23 November 2008 at 4:48 pm

    If a person practises his/her religion “correctly” because no religion teaches us anything bad, why are we so afraid? Why don’t we figure out ways more constructive and forward-going than this pooh-pooh. I believe we should guide our followers rightly and be “good examples” ourselves in order to strengthen our belief and not conjure out something like that. To be honest, if my practice is good because there are really good teachers, instead of worrying, I personally believe our followers will be steadfast and grow from there. Any takers here?

  17. 17 surya namaskar 23 November 2008 at 8:58 pm

    sorry, but the national fatwa council is right in this case.

    yoga is a religious discipline and to the hindu it unites body, mind and spirit. you can’t divorce yoga from hinduism by distilling it to just body.

    regardless of their motivation, the indians made an unforgivable mistake in revealing yoga to all and sundry. it was meant to be a secret with preconditions attached for the practitioner. it is no different with hatha yoga – the popular ‘physical’ yoga with all the asanas or postures.

    the indians have injudiously revealed it, especially to the west where they have reduced the gift of god to nothing more than another commercial enterprise with scores of patented rubbish versions (sauna yoga, swimming pool yoga, partner yoga etc etc). and they have certification programmes for those wanting to take the place of a guru!

    yoga is much, much more than postures on a sticky mat.

  18. 18 stan 23 November 2008 at 9:04 pm

    as i understand, detention without trial is also forbidden in islam. Would they have the guts to issue a fatwa against ISA ? Of course not. 🙂


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