Sunday, November 9, 2008

Singapore’s Muslim experts say yoga is okay

SINGAPORE: 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, 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. -- ANN/ The Straits Times

Above is an extract of news from TheStar newspaper.

It had always been a concern for Muslim and Christian about yoga. Yoga had always been misinterpreted as a spiritual form of exercise. No doubt, we all know that Yoga was found in India nearly 6000 years ago. However, throughout the times, Yoga had been practiced by people as a form of exercise for health purposes. Hence, the Westerners had done a lot of researches about Yoga and the Human Anatomy and Physiology. Most of the Yoga practices had been amended from the traditional practices and most of the Yoga practices had eliminated meditations (anyway, do you think that it is so easy to do meditation and keep yourself in a sub-conscious mind? Blah, B*** S***!!) and chants in order to let the world feel the benefits of Yoga. As for the Yoga postures, it were a movements or positions that can be done by our bodies (the postures is not spiritual), a body created by GOD. We’ll be amazed by what our bodies can do and be thankful to God for giving us the freedom to moves, breaths, bends and twists.

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