The Ulema Council of Indonesia has issued an edict to say that yoga that contains Hindu rituals like chanting is haram. Read the AP story:
[Bernama has the story too, h e r e, but the news agency seems to think that the edict on smoking should take precedence as a news item]
Indonesian Muslims banned from practicing yoga
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Muslims in Indonesia are now banned from practicing yoga that contains Hindu rituals like chanting, but will continue to be allowed to perform it for purely health reasons, the chairman of the country's top Islamic body said Monday.
Cleric Ma'ruf Amin said the Ulema Council issued the non-binding ruling following weekend talks attended by hundreds of theological experts in Padang Panjang, a village in West Sumatra province. Although the ruling is not legally binding, most devout Muslims are likely to adhere to it — as they consider it sinful to ignore a fatwa.
The Ulema Council decided on the ban, which follows a similar edict in neighboring Malaysia, over concerns that the faith of Muslim yoga practitioners would be weakened if they take part in Hindu rituals like chanting mantras, Amin said.
"Those who perform yoga purely for health reasons or sport will not be affected," Amin said. "We only prohibit activities that can corrupt Islamic values."
Indonesia is a secular nation of 235 million people, 90 percent of whom are Muslim. Most practice a moderate form of the faith, but a vocal extremist fringe has gained strength in recent years.
Last November, when Malaysia's Fatwa Council issued exactly the same fatwa on yoga, some quarters (here for example) expressed their displeasure. A lot of Malaysian Muslims were unhappy, too.
Now that the Ulema Council has spoken, does it make our Fatwa Council's edict on yoga more acceptable?
p.s. We now have another contentious issue related to Islam and Malaysia, and that is in regards to Using the word "Allah". I'm told the Indonesians are watching with great interest ...