January 30, 2009

Yoga banned by Indonesian Muslim clerics

by David Masters

Religious leaders in Indonesia have banned Muslims from practicing any form of yoga that involves Hindu chants and mantras.

The fatwa was issued by the Indonesian Council of Ulema (ICU), the group of 700 clerics responsible for interpreting Islamic law in the country.

The ICU’s declarations are not legally binding, but most Muslims in the country are expected to abide by the ban for fear of committing a sin.

“Muslims should not practice other religious rituals as it will erode and weaken their Islamic faith,” said Ma’ruf Amin, ICU chairman.

He added that Muslims are still allowed to practice yoga, but strictly as exercise.

Yoga is restricted in two other Muslims countries – Egypt and Malaysia – where clerics also argue that it undermines Islamic faith.

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