Yoga in Islam
Yoga has become popular among some Muslims despite bans by certain Islamic scholars on this ancient Indian practice. Some Muslim clerics think yoga’s Hindu links are not ideal for practicing Muslims. But, aficionados say the solution would be to practice yoga poses to benefit physically, while eschewing the Sanskrit chants and meditation aspects. Read on to learn more about yoga in Islam
Yoga in Islam – Ban in Malaysia
In 2008, Muslim clerics banned yoga by issuing a fatwa on the practice. This evoked an outcry with the Malaysian royal family and prime minister voicing their opposition to the fatwa. The deadlock was overcome by allowing yoga exercises but banning chanting. Similarly in Indonesia, Muslim clerics have allowed yoga practice for exercise and sport, but have banned mantra chanting.
Yoga Among Indian Muslims
Yoga practice is becoming popular among Indian Muslims thanks to the efforts of Muslim yoga teachers like Mehboob Qureshi, who has organized a yoga camp for Muslims in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Qureshi feels yoga is a science that can benefit Muslims. His approach is secular and accessible to Muslims. Participants at the yoga camp were excited about yoga. They felt practicing yoga offers many benefits and wish to learn more to enhance their proficiency at this ancient art.
Muslim Yoga in Iran
In Iran, yoga in Islam has become more popular and there are many magazines to advertise its appeal. Across Iran, thousands of classes are held every week catering to the overweight, elderly and even children. Yoga centers mingle harmoniously with mosques in this nation. Even women have taken to this gentle indoor sport. Muslim yoga is marked by veneration of Prophet Mohammed and therefore believers throng to yoga classes.
Yoga in the Middle East
In the Middle East, yuppies have made yoga popular. In Cairo, Egypt, yoga classes are attended by expatriates and Egyptian nationals who have returned after living in the West. In Lebanon, gym yoga is the rage. In many countries in the Middle East, yoga in Islam attracts ministers, pop stars and other members of the glitterati.
Muslim Yoga Dilemma
Many Muslims wonder whether yoga is allowed or forbidden for them. We feel it depends on the individual. Some traditional yoga aficionados may think that yoga practice is not complete without the spiritual aspect. But, Muslim yoga can substitute Sanskrit chants with Muslim verses. The ideal way out would thus be to continue with the poses and substitute Hindu chants with Muslim ones. For this reason, Christian yoga, Jewish yoga etc have become popular among those religions.
Discussions on the Internet reveal the dilemma faced by many Muslims about yoga. But, there is no doubt that yoga in Islam is here to stay and benefit the devout physically and spiritually through Islamic chants and prayer during yoga practice.