Yoga banned for Muslims in Singapore?

MC emailed a link to Singapore Straits Times rebutting the claim by the chairman of the National Fatwa Council Datuk Dr. Abdul Shukor Husin when announcing a ban on yoga for Muslims that “Malaysia is not the only country which prohibits Muslims from doing Yoga” and that “Singapore and Egypt have come out with the same edict”.

The Singapore Straits Times report “Yoga is okay” dated Nov. 9, 2008 reads:

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, Mr 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.

Has the National Fatwa Council been misinformed about the ban in Singapore when deciding that yoga is haram (prohibited) in Islam and Muslims are prohibited are banned from practising it?

AFP has filed the following story:

Agence France-Presse – 11/23/2008 4:22 AM GMT

Malaysia Muslim council under fire for banning yoga

One of Malaysia’s highest Islamic bodies was under fire Sunday after its chairman said yoga was forbidden for Muslims because the practice would weaken religious faith.

Devotees of yoga and moderate Muslim groups criticised the ruling by Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the government-backed National Fatwa Council. Yoga is hugely popular in mostly-Muslim Malaysia.

“I don’t think it had caused any Muslim to convert to Hinduism, neither has it weakened their faith,” said Norhayati Kaprawi, an official with Sisters of Islam, a private group which champions the rights of Muslim women.

“It is just an exercise like tai chi, which has its roots in Buddism,” she told the Sunday Star newspaper. She said her group’s staff had been holding yoga classes for the past year and that they would continue.
Rulings by the Fatwa Council are not legally binding on the country’s Muslims, and there are no laws to punish those who ignore Council decisions — but it is an enormously influential body.

Abdul Shukor decreed that yoga was forbidden because it involves the recitation of mantras and that it encourages a union with God that is considered blasphemy in Islam.

“The practice will erode their faith in the religion,” he said on Saturday. “It does not conform with Islam.”

A veteran opposition lawmaker, Lim Kit Siang, said that the edict showed that Malaysia was heading towards a conservative type of Islam which could divide the multiracial country.

“It is sending a most unfortunate message that Malaysia, instead of moving towards a moderate and universal Islam, is moving towards an opposite direction which will create divisions,” he told AFP.

Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, where more than 60 percent of the population of 27 million are Muslim Malays who practice a conservative brand of the faith.

About 25 percent of the population is ethnic Chinese and eight percent is ethnic Indian, most of whom are Hindus.

Yoga, an ancient Indian aid to meditation dating back thousands of years, is a popular stress-buster in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
Muslim yoga teacher Siti Suheila Merican said that while yoga practice should not involve worshipping, the physical movements were good for improving health.

“Worldwide it has been accepted as an excercise for health benefits,” she was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper.

  1. #1 by backStreetGluttons on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 8:11 pm


    sadly we have to live through it

    if only we can see no evil , hear no evil and say no evil

  2. #2 by de_Enigma on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 8:15 pm

    I can only relate this issue to Sports Toto being classified as sport.
    Double standards is a norm here in this bolehland.

  3. #3 by cemerlang on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 8:37 pm

    Multiple standard. Either it is pure Islam or set the Malays free to believe in any religion they think is the truth. [deleted]

  4. #4 by bc on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 8:51 pm

    At once time, the UMNO trying pass a policy that if anyone left the UMNO is a traitor of Malay.

    You can see people using unwelcome policy to rob your freedom.

    Don’t you see it! Well, I see it.

  5. #5 by veddy.lum74 on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 9:27 pm


  6. #6 by veddy.lum74 on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 9:31 pm


  7. #7 by Eric Teo on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 9:34 pm

    I knew a Yoga Instructor which happens to be Christian himself.

    In his session, he mentioned that although Yoga was started way back in India which many things related to religion of Hinduism, but modernized Yoga has separated it’s spiritual & cultural elements well.

    To him, practising Yoga is only knowledge & sports. I agreed with him. It’s no way for me for reading Bible and further embrace Christianity.

  8. #8 by cintanegara on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 9:36 pm

    We don’t understand why DAP must question about this when Majority Muslim in Malaysia support the decision made by Majlis Fawta. Muslim in Malaysia respect other religions and never question what they believe. Furthermore, the fatwa is meant for Muslims only. Why can’t you respect instead trying to be the champion?

  9. #9 by cintanegara on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 9:44 pm

    Hi veddy.lum74, I personally think your comment is too much and could hurt your Malay/Muslim friends.

  10. #10 by ReformMalaysia on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 9:52 pm

    Instead of declaring Yoga as ‘Haram’,

    the Mufti should declare ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ as ‘haram’.

    Malays, Indians, Chinese, Iban, Kadazan , Orang Asli, Penan are all decendants of ‘Adam and Hawa’ . Why the discriminatory practice is not condemned by the Mufti?

  11. #11 by One4All4One on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 9:53 pm

    God must be sad and perturbed by the spate of events in the country which do not serve the rakyat well and good.

    There seems to be a certain negative and sombre aura surrounding the country, where the people do not project positive vibes, and where the mood is generally one of despair and desperation. Something is not quite right here.

    It seems that the human resource and capacity and knowledge pool in the country are being controlled by “unknown hands” which could hand down edicts and commands to dictate their status and development. God forbids!

    What on earth is happening to a beautiful country like Malaysia? Where is the once open, happy and sincere face of the country?

    YOGA is bad for one’s faith?

    How could something borne of purity and well-meaning and intention be construed as having a bad influence on one’s faith, whatever that faith may be?

    A universal religion would not consider the virtues and teachings of other religions as being contradictory and disagreeable.

    On the contrary, if the teachings of other religions are in consonance with one’s own, the teachings are just as good and well-founded and be accorded with equal reverence and respect.

    Who are we to disparage what had filtered down through thousands of years? Who are to disqualify a practice which is so pure and imbued with wisdom and practical usefulness?

    What gave some people the authority to deny and disallow others the right to seek and search for knowledge and teachings which they themselves do not possess or know?

    True religious teachings would encourage one to seek and search for the Truth. A proper understanding of other Faiths which come before and after the one which we subscribe to would only make us a better and all-rounded practitioner of religion, NOT worse, as some would make us believe.

    A true and sincere practitioner of a Faith would not have any doubts or suspicion, let alone harbour prejudices, on followers of other Faiths. He would, on the other hand, extend his hands, heart and mind, and embrace one another as fellow brothers and sisters with love and compassion.

    Muslims, like followers of other Faiths, must look outward that those of other Faiths are their fellow brothers and sisters. Just because we are handed a different Book to read does not make anyone of us less of a man in God’s eyes. We are all born equal, and we must be equally treated and respected.

    No one is above another; all are equal before God.

    God Bless Malaysia.

  12. #12 by juno on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 9:57 pm


  13. #13 by negarawan on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 10:05 pm

    A closed mind will bring about a closed and isolated society and self-destruction.

  14. #14 by calvin_ngan on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 10:07 pm


  15. #15 by ahluck on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 10:15 pm

    why yoga abig hit? [deleted]

  16. #16 by veddy.lum74 on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 10:20 pm


  17. #17 by sms on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 10:25 pm


  18. #18 by katdog on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 10:35 pm

    veddy.lum74, [deleted]

    Yes, yoga with its spiritual hindu teachings definitely qualifies as ‘kepercayaan karut’ by Islamic standards. That goes the same for Tai Chi and Feng Shui which teaches concepts like inner/spiritual energy. On top of that, many Malay Bomoh’s also spread kepercayaan karut.

    At the end of the day, it is a matter of belief. At the end of the day it is something for the muslim believer’s to decide for themselves. I think LKS should avoid getting embroiled in this debate unless LKS has studied the teachings of the Quran himself.

  19. #19 by jz on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 10:48 pm

    It looks like OUR country more and more will become like Taliban rule country soon. How come middle east country didn’t implement this but Malaysia did? Are we more qualified making rules on behalf of God?

    cintanegara, i know its nothing related to non-muslim but doesn’t it sound as an insult to those practicing yoga?

  20. #20 by disapointed86 on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 11:14 pm

    man..wat for talk about this…im not a malay nor a muslim…dont care what they ban or prohibit..i dont care….just a religion anyway..ban this and that…haih…they not going any way better than others also..nonsence..

  21. #21 by fairplay500 on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 11:29 pm

    Quoted by : Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin

    “It combines physical movements, religious elements, chanting and worshipping for the purpose of achieving inner peace and ultimately to be one with God,”

    and that is wrong? for heavens sake it is exercise.


    As your PAS research chief Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said: the council should not make a blanket ban but “lay down what is or is not permissible about yoga.”

    “This allows a Muslim to be critical of their own faith and empower
    them to make judgments based on convictions.”


  22. #22 by imranj78 on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 11:33 pm

    I tend to agree that the ban on yoga might seem a bit too much. But on the other hand, I must state here that the National Fatwa council has the wisdom and the knowledge to make this appropriate decision. It is not up to those of us who are not `well-learned’ in Islam, especially non-Muslims to say otherwise!

    Do I 100% agree to the ban? Maybe not really, at least not now. But will I 100% support it? Yes definitely as I know that at the end of the day it has the interest of Islam and Muslims at heart!

  23. #23 by manusia ada akal on Sunday, 23 November 2008 - 11:38 pm

    One is allow to think for oneself the information one received via audio or visual does make sense or not. One has a brain to think and is allow to investigate that information for clarity. Can one just change the religion by practising a physical movements or drink from a water that has been chanted upon? If one’s faith is strong, it will not be easily swayed. Unless the person sees the truth about the information that being made known. A human is allow to think and cannot be swayed that easily. If one decide to think and investigate the information for pure logic, one is rising to the next level of wisdom.

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