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Home > News > Science Religion > Egyptian Cleric Proclaims Yoga Anti-Islamic
Egyptian Cleric Proclaims Yoga Anti-Islamic
The practice is deemed part of Hinduism and therefore 'forbidden religiously' 
to Muslims.

BY: Chhavi Sachdev

Reprinted from the November 2004 issue of Science & Theology News. Used with 

A religious edict in Egypt has ruled that the practice of yoga is a sin. The 
ruling by the Grand mufti Ali Gomoa, the highest authority on Islamic law, 
stipulates that yoga "is considered one of the ways of practicing Hinduism."

While Egypt is not an Islamic state, Islam is the main religion. Religious 
edicts, or fatwas, have no bearing on the legal system in Egypt, but they shape 
the ideologies of conservative Muslims. The edict, published in the pan-Arab 
daily newspaper Al-Hayat, called the practice of yoga "an aberration" and said 
it is "forbidden religiously." It continued: "Even if Muslims do not know the 
link with Hinduism, it is a sin."

Yoga, an ancient body of poses and techniques from in India, originated as a 
nexus of spirituality and health. Western scholarship is only now making 
inroads into researching the specific feelings of serenity and wellbeing 
practitioners report. Yoga has become popular in the West thanks to the 
teachers who linked poses with their physiological outcomes and promoted their 
health benefits.

In most parts of the world, yoga has been divorced from its Hindu origins; 
practitioners of all faiths do it for exercise and flexibility. As in the 
United States, yoga classes are offered at many gyms in Egypt. Tourist trips to 
the Red Sea often include yoga retreats.

"On one side of the spectrum, yoga can be steeped in religion and spirituality, 
but sometimes it is just physical exercise," said Jennifer Johnson, director of 
the yoga program at the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Chestnut Hill, Mass. "It 
is certainly taught as a way to decrease stress, condition and stretch the 

When Johnston teaches yoga, "it's about connecting within and not connecting to 
an external dogma," she said. Johnston, who was raised as a Catholic, has had 
students from all faiths and traditions in her classes. "I like to hope that 
the world is moving towards integration and collaboration," she said. "Yoga 
brings you closer to your religious beliefs," said Randa Thompson, a yoga 
practitioner who operates the yoga site, "We cannot assume 
because someone practices yoga, they are going to change their religion. The 
Egyptian ruling is incorrect in its assumption that Yoga converts a person to 
Hinduism. Yoga would calm their bodies to be more open to a deeper Islamic 
spiritual practices in Egypt," she added.

Arif Padaria, a venture capitalist in Boston, said that yoga has never 
conflicted with his Islamic faith. He has practiced yoga off and on for 16 
years, mostly to strengthen his back. His sister in Mumbai, India, does it for 
health reasons, as well. "It's the Hollywood-Bollywood thing to do," Padaria 

Mukesh Kumar, a yoga instructor in Egypt for three years and diplomat at the 
Indian Embassy in Cairo, told the Associated Press, "It is neither a religion 
nor claims to be a substitute for any religion in the world," he said. "I am 
amazed and wonder why this kind of statement is coming."

Kumar explained that the Indian cultural center in Cairo introduced yoga 
classes in 1992, and the center is now operating at maximum capacity - 120 
registered participants. Eighty percent of them, he said, are Egyptian.

Cairo, with a population of 16 million, is one of the world's busiest cities.

Jusfiq Hadjar gelar Sutan Maradjo Lelo

Allah yang disembah orang Islam tipikal dan yang digambarkan oleh al-Mushaf itu 
dungu, buas, kejam, keji, ganas, zalim lagi biadab hanyalah Allah fiktif.


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