Today in Malaysian news, the National Fatwa Council (actual name, we didn’t make that up), the same organization that just issued a fatwa on “tomboyism” and women wearing pants, cutting their hair short for fear of lesbianism, will soon announce a ruling on the fate of yoga in the country. Of the over 25 million people who live there approximately 60 percent are Muslim, and according to Zakaria Stapa, a lecturer at University of Kebangsaan’s Islamic Studies Centre, the practice of yoga is a threat and should be deemed deviationist. OK Zak, do we really have to get into the whole yoga religion debate again? Geez.
What isn’t entirely clear is their definition of yoga. Is it pranayama? The physicality of Hatha yoga? Unfortunately, it sounds like it may be anything and everything to do with yoga altogether.
For incredible insight on the situation head over to “I am Malaysian” a blog covering Malaysian politics from the perspective of a native 22-year-old studying abroad in New Zealand.
She makes an excellent point:
“If this is the line of thinking that they are going along, then maybe they’ll start issuing fatwas on Tai Chi as well, since Tai Chi has it’s roots in Chinese Qi Gong and all that.”
Also, further perspective at RantingsByMM:
“I’m just waiting for the National Fatwa Council to come out with fatwas against corruption, violence against women, cheating etc. Instead they have these.
Do they know anything about yoga or is this a classic case of reacting out of fear and ignorance? Yoga may have spiritual roots but most of us do it for the exercise, both for the mind and body. It helps you to focus and in fact helps you to focus when you do your prayers. The one thing it does not do is make you want to beat up anyone, call people nasty names or issue fatwas on things you don’t understand.”
Meanwhile, the world of yoga awaits.
After trousers, Malaysia Muslim body targets yoga [Reuters UK]