With all these world record yoga events and baited sun breaths waiting for the Eat, Pray, Love merchandising avalanche, have we really forgotten about the Fatwa? The wha? Hey, watch your language! No, really, at the end of 2008 and early ’09 we had fatwas flying out from every direction. OK, mostly the east. To be specific, the Muslim regions of Indonesia and Malaysia. Just to bring us all up to speed, a Fatwa is otherwise recognized as a religious edict, a kibosh, or ban on things that are deemed ‘haram’ or harmful. The Fatwa Councils of both Indonesia and Malaysia made news by slapping one of these fatwas on our beloved yoga, inciting outrage by practicing yogis who also practice Islam. In short, both cases saw retractions on the ban so that asana was eventually permitted so long as the freaky chanting and “mind body connection” remained absent. Turns out Indonesians didn’t care anyway. (Note the Bali Spirit Fest, formerly Yoga Fest, 2010 went off without a hitch).
We’d all but forgotten about the yoga ban in Malaysia until we heard from Ninie.
Ninie Ahmad is as close to a Malaysian yogi rock star as they come, her image gracing oodles of magazine covers, appearances on numerous TV shows and a role as an official Adidas ambassador. So why was her most recent moment in the spotlight cruelly edited in accordance with the F-word?
“(On Sunday, July 4) I was informed that Astro [Malaysian Satellite TV] will not air my episode of Project Alpha that is scheduled tonight because the Quality Control (QC) department said that under Fatwa law, they could not air a Malay person teaching yoga.”
For your reference, ‘Project Alpha’ is a reality show like ‘Top Chef’, but about bloggers! Sadly Ninie was denied her time to shine, because of yoga.
That’s ridic! some of you say. Is it yoga censorship?? But Malaysia isn’t devoid of yoga naysayers. So, fairly miffed and confused, Ninie has taken to twitter to defend herself from detractors in 140 characters or less:
We’re no scholars, but we are pretty sure yoga can be practiced in tandem with most religions, or with none at all. (though, due to the sensitivity of the matter might we suggest in our best publicist tone that Ms. Ninie reconsider her ‘about’ section where she mentions attending yoga “religiously” and her decision to “join the cult”… just sayin’)
Anyway, the physical practice is supposedly allowed, so why was yoga cut from programming? We think Astro at least owes an explanation! Dang it, anyhow. Besides, if the country of Malaysia is going to ban public displays of yoga, how’re they going to make bank off this EPL-crazed tourism wave?
Stay strong Ninie. One love.
- Fatwa News: Yoga Ban Reversed! Malaysian Muslims Free to Practice Yoga, without Chant
- Bikram Responds to Fatwa, ‘Yoga has absolutely nothing to do with religion’
- Yoga and Hinduism: Deepak Chopra vs. Aseem Shukla Beef Continues with Fervor, Religious and Non
- Indonesian Muslims to Yoga Fatwa: Who Cares?
Now there’s an idea realty show about yoga blogger. We are counting on you to make it happen Dork.
Indonesia may be predominantly Muslim, but Bali (which is in Indonesia) is predominantly Hindu, thus being able to hold things like the Bali Spirit Fest. Islam bans a lot of stuff, but banning yoga? Oh my. Think we need to get the Fatwa council to take a little yoga nidra each day. Might put them in a better mood to start with!
Indonesia is different, it’s a secular state so if you don’t want to be a muslim you don’t have to be.
Malaysia is an Islamic state.
In Malaysia if you are born a muslim, you stay a muslim – there’s no choice.
That’s the problem with being ruled by a religious state.
Dawg don’t dare me 😉
Thanks Svasti and ShaolinTiger for helping to clear up some the religion/regional stuff.
Still, spose it’s encouraging they are allowing yoga in physical practice and not banning in its entirety? muslims can still maintain a practice, if the results are more than physical, well who needs to know but the student.
Yoga Now Malaysia – a yoga studio based on the island of Langkawi in Malaysia – has just been granted a license to teach yoga after countless delays on the application. The terms of the license specifically state that Muslims may not attend any yoga classes or yoga retreats organized by Yoga Now Malaysia. The municipal council also insists that a sign be placed outside the yoga studio with the wording “For Non-Muslims only”. As far as I know this is the first legal application of the yoga fatwa in Malaysia pertaining to a yoga studio .