KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters Life!) - Not content with banning women from wearing trousers, Malaysia's top Islamic council now wants a ban on yoga, according to a report on state news agency Bernama.
The National Fatwa Council's Deputy Director-General Othman Mustapha told reporters after a seminar on Islamic jurisprudence on Thursday that the announcement would be made soon.
"This is not a case of syncretism between two religions (which would be spiritually invalid). Yoga is not a religion. Rather, it is a set of techniques and skills that enhance the practice of any religion. A French author named Jean Déchanet discovered this in regard to his Catholic faith and wrote the book Christian Yoga (New York: Harper, 1960). In my case, I have found that Islamic yoga is a reality. It is possible to employ the skills of yoga to worship Allah better and to be a better Muslim".
"Yoga originally stems from polytheist beliefs and worship rituals. I think it is Hinduism. However, many martial arts, languages, foods and other cultural acts have some sort of background to them. This doesnt mean that they are forbidden to Muslims".
"Interestingly, for the millions of people enrolled in yoga classes, the Islamic form of prayer has provided Muslims for fourteen centuries with some of yoga’s same (and even superior) benefits. This simple form of “yoga” offers physical, mental, and spiritual benefits five times a day as Muslims assume certain positions while reciting Qur’an and athkar (remembrances)".