Malaysian clerics’ edict on yoga ban needs states’ approval

December 15th, 2008 - 12:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Dec 15 (IANS) The edict forbidding the practise of yoga by Muslims, issued by the National Fatwa Council of Malaysia, is only a “view” and not binding till the states approve it and gazette it, Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin has said. Some of the 13 states have expressed reservations about enforcing the edict issued last month that declared the practise of yoga by the majority Muslims of the country as ‘haram’ (forbidden) as it involved chanting of mantras and acts of worship that are against Islamic teachings.

Husin clarified that the Council has never issued a fatwa (edict) that is automatically binding without the states’ approval. The states could adopt the council’s views or make their own adjustments, The Star newspaper reported Monday.

Noting that there was a lot of confusion over the recent fatwa on yoga, Husin said: “What the council presented before the enforcement is considered ‘pandangan’ (views) after the council held dialogues. The view only becomes a fatwa (edict) once the state governments decide to gazette it.”

Husin said it was “a matter of wisdom” how issues should be managed.

“We realise it is impossible to please everyone (with fatwa),” he added.

Several Muslim practitioners and instructors of yoga have said that there was nothing religious about the way yoga is practised, essentially as a keep-fit regime like many others.

The mantra and the chanting of ‘om’, which has its origin in ancient Hindu rituals, are strictly removed in Malaysia.

The fatwa has been approved by some state-level councils, while a majority of them are still debating it.

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