Have you ever come across a headline so absurd you can’t help but laugh? I had that experience today. “Top Islamic body: Yoga not for Muslims” read the headline. This surely couldn’t be true. Of course I had to check it out. And it was for real. The National Fatwa Council in Malaysia ruled against Muslims practicing yoga because, according to them, it has elements if Hinduism and that could corrupt Muslims.
Lots of Malaysian Muslims are up in arms about this and I can’t blame them. Even though these types of edicts aren’t legally binding many Muslims acquiesce. And Malaysia isn’t the first country to issue such a ruling against yoga. Egypt issued a similar edict in 2004 claiming that yoga is “an aberration.” These ridiculous rulings or Fatwas, in my mind, only come about out of true ignorance. And Muslims around the world shouldn’t stand for it. It’s these types of things that only hurt the image of Muslims around the world and add fuel to the fire to the haters out there.
Now I don’t practice yoga. Never have. But it’s pretty much common sense that people who do, do it for its health benefits; getting in shape and relieving stress. Whether one is steadfast in their faith or not, practicing yoga isn’t going to make you convert or corrupt you.
Bottom line: you can practice yoga and still be a good Muslim.