Fatwa Bans Yoga for Muslims in Malaysia

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2008 7:15 PM CST
Fishermen practice yoga at an alcohol rehabilitation center in Nagapattinam district on August 30, 2005 in Tamil Nadu, India.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Islamic authorities in Malaysia issued a fatwa today against Muslims practicing yoga, BBC reports. The chair of Malaysia's National Fatwa Council said Hindu elements are essential to yoga and could destroy a Muslim's faith. "We are of the view that yoga combines physical exercise, religious elements, chanting and worshipping for the purpose of achieving inner peace and ultimately to be one with god," he said, the AP reports.

Some activists and yoga practitioners in Malaysia defended yoga as non-religious. "What next? Gyms?" asked one activist. "Most gyms have men and women together. Will that not be allowed any more?" Today's move comes after two other recent edicts, and parliamentary losses by the conservative Malay Muslims. "They are making a stand," one expert said. "They are saying 'we will not give way.'"