Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Muslim Clerics Group Says Yoga Ban ‘Unlikely’

The Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, is unlikely to issue an edict banning the practice of yoga among Muslims here, a council leader says.

Council chairman Amidhan said that Indonesians practice a different kind of yoga from the one declared sinful last month by Islamic authorities in Malaysia, which includes Hindu rituals and chanting.

“I think Indonesians practice yoga purely as a form of exercise,” he said.

The MUI, considered the highest Islamic authority in Indonesia, has held discussions with some yoga practitioners to discuss the issue and to examine the reasons behind the decision of Malaysia’s top Islamic body to ban the ancient Indian exercise.

He said the council may come to a final conclusion on the issue at a national meeting in January.

“We are now examining some Indonesian literature on yoga to make sure whether the practice of yoga here is free of Hindu elements,” he said.

The council started its inquiry after the decision by Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council to declare the practice of yoga haram, or prohibited by Islamic law, saying it could be traced back to Hinduism and could erode the faith of Muslims.

Amidhan said the council would ban yoga for Indonesian Muslims only if it included rituals or acts that went against Islamic teachings.

Indonesian yoga practitioners have explained that there are hundreds of types of yoga and that chanting is not mandatory for those practicing the exercise.

Fatwas, or edicts, issued by the MUI are not legally binding on Indonesian Muslims.

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, with around 88 percent of its 222 million people adhering to the religion.

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