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Egyptian Cleric Proclaims Yoga Anti-Islamic
The practice is deemed part of Hinduism and therefore 'forbidden religiously'
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
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, www.YogaFinder.com. "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.