Yet again, there is controversy over the practice of Yoga. This time it is in Malaysia, where a professor of Islamic studies has called for a ban on the practice of yoga. In Islam, this ban is known as a Fatwa, and the professor, Zakaria Stapa, opposes its practices because of its origins in Hinduism and the possibility it may cause some Muslims to deviate from the teachings of Islam.
A fatwa in the Muslim culture is a religious ruling issued by an Islamic authority on issues that can be deemed contradictory to Islamic law. Traditionally, only a Muslim scholar could issue this decree. He would have to provide extensive proof to support the judgment, and show that it is coming from a place of genuine concern without regard for personal or political agenda.
The potential Fatwa had received some intense criticism from the local Muslim population, like the Malaysia Muslim Solidarity Movement who see yoga as an acceptable practice when pursued as a form of exercise. Muslims all over the country have spoken out about the benefits of practicing yoga without affecting their religious beliefs.
A decision on the fatwa is expected from the council this week. It is still unclear whether it will rule in favor or opposition to the practice of yoga. Muslims in Malaysia will be strongly urged to follow the ruling of the council, but unlike the laws of the state, it will be up to each individual whether they abide by it.
What would you do if your faith banned the practice of yoga?