Muslims in Malaysia to be banned from yoga classes

via published on November 3, 2008

Malaysian Muslims will be barred from practising or propagating yoga from next Friday when the National Fatwa Council will issue a ruling.

The ruling or fatwa is related to the faith of Muslims who practise yoga,

Department of Islamic Development Malaysia Director-General Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz said his department had carried out an in-depth study on the issue over six months and
regretted the attitude of Malaysian Muslims who were ‘easily influenced by foreign cultures to the point of affecting their faith.’

“When those involved take them as trends, such cultures can lead to a serious crime according to Islamic law and this can destroy the family institution,” he said.

Many Muslim practitioners and teachers of yoga have opposed the ruling.

The Hindus, the settlers from India from whom most of the yoga practitioners come, say it is open to the instructors and practitioners to keep religion out of yoga.

Yoga, they say, has been accepted as a science for physical and mental wellbeing in many countries across the world.

The debate in Muslim majority Malaysia was triggered after a lecturer, 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.

Yoga, related to health, has been practised since 3,300 BC and is said to help slow down ageing, reduce risk of diabetes, asthma and heart-related diseases.

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