Malaysia's Fatwa Fad - After Fatwa On 'Tomboys' Yoga Gets The Boot Now
The National Fatwa Council issued a religious decree telling the Muslims, who comprise two-thirds of Malaysia's 27 million population, that practising Yoga was 'haram' or prohibited in Islam.
Apart from the physical movements, the yoga practices contain worshipping and chanting, which were prohibited for Muslims, it said.
The ruling came after an Islamic studies lecturer recently advised Muslims, who had taken up yoga, to stop practising it as they could deviate from the teachings of Islam.
Meanwhile, the Sisters in Islam (SIS), an NGO, has hit out at a recent ruling on 'Tomboyish behaviour' by the National Fatwa Council, saying it was concerned with the continuous sexist and discriminatory approach towards Malaysian women, especially those who were Muslim.
"The fatwa on 'tomboys' can lead to arbitrary arrests and undue harassment towards our Muslim women and girls. How do the authorities define a tomboy? A woman with short hair? Wearing pants? Wearing shirts? No make-up?", SIS Programme Manager, Norhayati Kaprawi, was quoted as saying by 'Star' newspaper.
She said the women who did not dress or behave as what certain quarters perceived as not feminine were not a menace to society.
"In fact, many of these women hold respectable positions and actively contribute to our society," she said. She also asked why the fatwa was only imposed on women, saying it was yet another example of "selective prosecution".
"SIS believes it is not Islam's obsession to police people's morality, find people's faults or spy on its followers," Norhayati said.
The Council last month issued the edict saying that 'tomboyishness' where a girl behaved or dressed in a boyish manner, was forbidden in Islam. (Agencies)
***** A religious decree by the National Fatwa Council is a serious matter that cannot be simply ignored. However some Muslims may feel that this particular fatwa could be too much of an unwarranted intrusion into their personal lives and that the choice of practising yoga or not should have been left to the individual to decide. After all there have been no reports of yoga-practising Muslims who have become closet Hindus.
I suppose T'ai Chi Ch'uan is next on the National Fatwa Council's hit list.