Yoga doesn’t contradict Islam, says Indonesian Muslim scholar (Lead)

March 3rd, 2009 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Bali, March 3 (IANS) Yoga doesn’t contradict Islam and is a means to healthy living, a well known Islamic scholar said here Tuesday, barely weeks after a fatwa was issued in Indonesia banning Muslims from practising the ancient Indian technique.

Salman Harun, director of the Centre of Multi Faith Education in Jakarta, came out strongly in favour of yoga and said it simply teaches harmony and unity, and doesn’t believe in any religion.

At the International Bali-India Yoga Festival that began Tuesday, Harun said: “On the first day of this festival, I experienced what yoga actually is. It has nothing to do with religion and cannot belong to any caste or religion or community.

“I am of the very strong opinion that there is no contradiction between yoga and Islam,” he said.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (IUC), the country’s top Islamic body, had banned Muslims from practising yoga in January, saying those aspects of yoga which contain Hindu elements like chanting must not be practised.

Harun said: “Islam nowadays is portrayed as a religion of violence which is not true. The word Islam is derived from the Arabic word ’salam’ which means peace.

“Islam strictly prohibits insulting other religions and hates violence,” he said.

“Yoga is way of life and teaches one a healthy way of life. Indonesian Muslims should practise yoga,” Harun added.

Adding to that, Somvir, an academic who heads the Bali India Foundation, and is the key organiser of the eight-day festival, said: “In the past two years, I have taught yoga to more than a 100 Muslim and other students in my centre.

“The Islamic scholar who issued the fatwa in fact visited us sometime back and after seeing everything, said that Hindu elements like chanting in yoga should be avoided. Well, yoga is anyways beyond religion and anyone promoting it otherwise couldn’t be more wrong.”

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