Fatwa reflects growing swing toward conservative form of Islam in Malaysia
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.
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“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.