Fatwa reflects growing swing toward conservative form of Islam in Malaysia
A top Islamic council in mostly Muslim Malaysia has told Muslims to avoid yoga because it uses Hindu prayers and encourages a union with God that is blasphemous.
The latest edict from the National Fatwa Council reflects a growing swing towards a conservative brand of Islam in the multi-ethnic country that has prompted worries among non-Muslims.MalaysiaWhile Malaysia has a secular legal system, the country is ruled by a ‘moderate’ Muslim majority.“Muslims in Malaysia come under the purview of religious courts that are not part of the secular federal legal system. Any attempt to deviate from Islamic teachings, or to leave the religion, can bring harsh penalties from the religious courts.” [Source]
“There are other ways to get exercise and a peace of mind,” council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin said in Putrajaya, the country’s administrative capital, today.
“You can go cycling, swimming and eat less fatty food.”
“For us, yoga can destroy a Muslim’s faith. But this is not a matter for the non-Muslims to be concerned about because its not imposed on them. We are looking out for the Muslim community,” he said, noting Egypt and Singapore had issued similar rulings.
Fatwas or religious edicts are not legally binding, but they are highly influential in Malaysia.
The new ruling comes hot on the heels of another edict against young Muslim women wearing trousers.
The National Fatwa Council said that by wearing trousers, girls risked becoming sexually active “tomboys”.
About 40 per cent of Malaysia’s population of 27 million are non-Muslim, including sizeable minorities of Christians, Buddhists and Hindus.
Complaints of religious discrimination have mounted along with the turn towards Islamic conservatism.