Monday, November 24, 2008

No more yoga for Halim - mat for sale!

HALIM used to join his friends once, and when possible, twice a week to practise his yoga. This was usually done early morning before he starts work in a Government office. He enjoyed what he was doing, and he made new friends along the way.

But after the practice of yoga in its purest and comprehensive form has been ruled haram by the National Fatwa Council over the weekend, Halim may stop doing the exercise altogether. His yoga mat may gather dust or he might just give it to someone else.

Generally, Muslims will follow that ruling. But Halim and many others like him would tell you that he wasn't into the mantra-chanting which accompanies pure yoga like those practised by Hindu yoga masters.

Th ruling has been widely reported by the media. But what is not adequately highlighted is the fact that Muslims who may want to keep exercising yoga may do so minus the mantras and chantings.

Halim may not have come to the stage where he could do headstand. With this fatwa, Halim may stop practising altogether. I'm sure Halim, like other Muslims who's into yoga, must be asking many questions after the council issued the fatwa.

From my personal observation, Muslims would generally adhere to the fatwa. They may not be doing any of the chanting or reciting the mantras when they were practicing. But the fact that a fatwa on this has been issued, people like Halim would just stop and move on to other forms of exercise.

But what about those who's been into yoga and have become yoga masters themselves? Would they have to "repent" if indeed their 'aqidah' (belief) have been affected? Would there be a dialogue with the council where Muslim yoga practitioners can ask questions and have their fears soothed or confirmed?

In a situation like this, I'm sure many would have preferred the council to accompany its ruling with some specific examples of the YES and NO of yoga. When there's none, the ruling would be subjected to interpretations which may lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

The easiest would be to stop altogether. But some die-hard students may want to continue, and they want to have a fuller understanding of what they can and cannot do, lest they run foul of the fatwa and find themselves emotionally and mentally troubled.

More than that, they may come to the conclusion that Islam is so restrictive and narrow. This, in the larger context of the faith as a way of life, may be unattractive and deters others from joining the faith.


Anonymous said...

My sentiments exactly. I think our Majlis Fatwa did not sufficiently explain to us that Yoga could be practised without mantra. There was even a report today by its secretary asking Muslims who are involved in the Yoga business to change thenature of their businesses. I think its in Kosmo. How stupid can this man be. He thinks changing a business is like changing t-shirt ka? It affects the livelihood of people and you talk about Islam being a religion of compassion? Shouldn't there be some form of understanding and consideration before you utter such idiotic statement?

And there is this notion among the Malays (i say Malays because we are the ones who makes up the most of the confused lot)that a fatwa is the word of God. Proof of this can be found in an article written by a lecturer in Syariah in Utusan Malaysia (the one that has Razak Baginda explaining about Altantuya as its frontpage; its in the Rencana Section) stating that a fatwa is the word of God. What crap!. Every Muslim should know that there is no priesthood in Islam. Fatwas are man made because there were no similar situations during Prophet Muhammad's time. So so called ulamaks were the ones who drew conclusions about that particular situations based on their understanding of the situation. Thats doesn't make them God or what they say as God's words. It just makes it an opinion by another human being. This must be made known to the public before we degenerate into Talibanism as there are similarities in actions during the early years of Taliban's administration in Afghan and what is currently happening now. Muslims must trust their own thinking faculties

Penanak Nasik

Anonymous said...


Arak is also Haram, but that does not stop people from drinking it. Not drinking Arak is also restrictive.

medically speaking, smoking is also bad. Eventhough people beieve in scientific evidence, some segments still smokes. Dia punya suka lah, dia punya body.

So no matter what, people still will go on doing irrespective what the Religion or medical opinion say.

Fatwa is an opinion. At least I know what the "formal" opinion is, as me, a man on the street.

MRSM Kalae Chepo 66/73

Emptynest said...

I would just rename my Yoga classes to "Pilate" and let the Majlis Fatwa do more research work on Pilate! Obviously they they need something to do....

Anonymous said...

the best yoga/exercise is when you go for your 5 times a day pray plus a 'doa'and 'wirid'

Anonymous said...

Sepatutnya isu fatwa tidak perlu disensasikan dan jangan ada yang cuba-cuba ulas jika tak tahu. Kalau nak ulas, fahamkan dulu apa itu fatwa. Kemudian barulah kaji serba sedikit berkenaan yoga dan fahami kenapa fatwa pengharamannya dikeluarkan. Yang seelok-eloknya, akur sajalah dengan fatwa berkenaan. Tak rugi pun. Kenapa perlu dipertikai. Takkanlah kerana Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan ada kaitan dengan kerajaan, maka tindakan mereka keluarkan fatwa pun dihentam disebabkan kebencian terhadap kerajaan. Inilah sikap bangsat pembangkang. Kenapa perlu pertikaikan. Hanya yoga sajakah senaman yang terbaik dalam dunia ni? Kita masih ada alternatif lain. Jangan terlalu taksub pada yoga. Kalau malas nak buat senaman yang lain, amalan solat sekurang-kurangnya 5 waktu sehari pun sudah terkandung amalan senaman di dalamnya..


Sdr Pahit Manis,

1. I have no problem with the fatwa. It was clear. Yoga in its totality -- the physical exercise, the mantra and chanting and the objective of seeking unity with God -- is clearly against Islam.

2. I had (in past tense) family members who attended yoga classes. Since the centre is owned and operated by a Chinese and the participants are of various races and faiths, the "Hindu" and spiritual aspects were not practised;

3. Also many Muslim owned yoga centres and spas are offering the non-Hindu type yoga exercise;

4. To avoid confusion and its association with Hinduism or any form of spiritualism, maybe it's proper to drop the name yoga and call it by a more neutral name;

5. I think its dangerous for anybody, especially a non-Muslim, to use the fatwa to challenge the authority of the National Fatwa Council and to insult Islam;

6. The current situation sugggests the failure of the government and its bureaucracy to manage information flow and to ensure that the media do not sensationalise Islamic religious issues; and

7. I wondew what role the Minister responsible for Islamic religious matters, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is playing.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I had the very debate with my husband last night because I was just contemplating going for yoga class. Many of my friends do and they are very devout, 5-times praying Muslims.

Frankly I am offended that the muftis thought we Muslims are so weak that we can change our beliefs just because of an exercise!

And my challenge to the well intentioned faith police -- can you come up with a fatwa on the following:

1 cigarette smoking that obviously is harmful to health and is a definite trigger to some huge number of Muslim youths to fall prey to drug addiction

2 support for wives and children of Muslim men abondoned by their husbands. In such cases why not pass a Fatwa that it is automatically the other 'waris' responsibility to support these children?

Many other ills in Malaysian Muslim society that need looking into, and Yoga is not top of my list!!

Sal said...

I totally agree with Dollah Yankee. And Tahajjud is the best type of meditation. You can gain clarity and peace by performing Tahajjud at 3:00 am in the morning. Muslims should promote 'praying' as a form of exercise. I've attended Dr Amir Farid's Chi Qong class and he prescribed 5x sembahyang wajib, all the sunats, and the max number of tahajjud for cancer patients.

Anonymous said...

Setakat ini hanya Tun Dr Mahathir saje yang membuat ulasan terbuka yang mempertahankan pengumuman Fatwa yoga.
Bila saya dengar lapuran berita itu di TV, saolah olah nya beliau PM de facto,kerana PM di Uzbek dan TPM di Peru,sibuk kerja luar negeri.
Syed Amid diam yang lain Rais ade di Argentina ,Zaid Hamidi tengah cekin LUTH di Mekkah.
Pembidas pembidas sorak sakan sebab ta da orang jaga rumah.
Terima kasih TDM.
arjuna waspada.

Anonymous said...

Tell halim to keep his mat datuk.
Ini Malaysia.
All that is required now is for some smart aleck to introduce some new elements here and there and rename the discipline.
Gunalah nama lain - seriously, u don't need to call it yoga do you?
carilah nama-nama glamour lain.

- hitman -