Muslim Yoga & its Controversies
By Rajiv Malhotra
Most viewers will be surprised to learn about the rapidly expanding movement among Muslims to appropriate Yoga. Teachers and Islamic experts are collaborating to modify Yoga by removing aspects seen as Hinduism, and by adding links with Islam.
In this episode I analyze video clips from Muslim Yoga teachers in Pakistan, India, Canada and USA.
I survey and comment on many kinds of Muslim postures toward Yoga, such as:
- Outright rejection of Yoga, seen as shrik, meaning it is banned by Allah.
2. Attitudes of blatant Hinduphobia, even in some Western schools of Islam.
3. Demand to remove surya-namaskar because it is seen as idol worship which is banned in Islam.
4. Demand to remove Om because only Allah’s name can be chanted.
5. Demand to remove all mantras because they relate to “false gods” and infidel practices.
6. Replacing silence with chanting Allah’s name.
7. Chanting verses from Qur’an during the practice.
8. Claiming that Yoga was not originally Hindu, but that Hindus hijacked it into their religion.
9. Trying to unite all Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) against features in Yoga that are “not friendly to Monotheism”, and blaming these features on BJP.
10. Digesting Yoga systematically into Arabic vocabulary and claiming that it maps on to Islamic practices.
My analysis in the final few minutes of the episode presents my advice to Muslims as well as to Hindu teachers.
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