Yoga Exercises, Halal or Haram

Nov 26th, 2008, in News, by

YogaMuslim yoga enthusiasts are asked to suspend their yoga activities while the MUI examines whether it is haram.

Last week Malaysia’s highest Islamic clerical authority, the Dewan Fatwa Nasional Malaysia (NFC), issued a fatwa condemning the practice of yoga as haram for Muslims, saying that it constituted a form of Hindu religious practice.

The Dewan Fatwa’s counterpart in Indonesia, Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), is currently examining whether to issue a similar ruling against yoga.

MUI headman Maruf Amin said that while the MUI mulls the issue, Muslims should keep away from yoga meditation. In the event that a fatwa were issued against yoga, he said, practising yoga remained a right of Indonesians, while the MUI’s job was simply to advise Muslims on what is the right thing to do. okezone okezone

Maruf Amin
Sore necked Maruf.

Another MUI leader, the fairly liberal Umar Shihab, said however that yoga practice as a form of exercise or fitness training was no problem. detik

Yoga Defender

Indrayana, an instructor from “Yoga Ananda Marga Indonesia”, says she is unconcerned about the issue, considering that Indonesia has a different culture from Malaysia. If yoga were banned, she said her organisation would bring yoga devotees out onto the streets, smiling all the while suaramerdeka

We will hold a smiling demo, those who oppose yoga will be defeated by our smiles.


88 Comments on “Yoga Exercises, Halal or Haram”

  1. avatar Peter says:

    Hmm a “smiling demo” sounds nice. It will be interesting to see how the MUI decides this issue and what their line of reasoning is, especially considering Indonesia’s history. I wonder if they would consider wayang to be haram as well…

  2. avatar Andy says:

    Aint it a shame that sex isn’t haram. Might just stop the breeding process therefore eliminating world terrorism along the way.

  3. avatar diego says:

    Ha ha ha,

    Sore-necked Maruf. Cheeky.

    Anyway, expect to see “Islamic Yoga”, with halal certifications from MUI, to be popping up.

    Wow. Good job, syariahists. You’ve just ridiculed yourself, again.

  4. avatar dragonwall says:

    These breed of people shows outright that his mentality limits to where his eyes could see. When it is they who do it then it must be halal but when others do it, capek no wonder he’s got sore-necked..

    Maybe he thinks that yoga is from Hinduism so no Muslims must go near that as it conflicts with the Islamic teachings I suppose.

    Or perhaps he thinks that when a woman does the yoga moving one of her legs up and down in the air he thinks that is obscene…

    O O sama aja buka lobang tutup lobang….. Itu ma pasti haram…

  5. avatar funny says:

    They should try to see whether breathing is haram or not.

    And asked muslim breathing enthusiasts to suspend their breathing activities till MUI decided they are not.

    What? Breathing uses face muscle that can arouse some people therefore it’s a possibility that it’s haram.

  6. avatar Cukurungan says:

    Maybe he thinks that yoga is from Hinduism so no Muslims must go near that as it conflicts with the Islamic teachings I suppose.

    Or perhaps he thinks that when a woman does the yoga moving one of her legs up and down in the air he thinks that is obscene…

    Not all YOGA but some YOGA meditation would involve what so called “Kundalini awakening” and “raising cakra”, in my opinion this part contains ritual syirik (associating something else with GOD) or the biggest sin according to Islam. If you want to know how big is the syirik Sin according to Islam, if I kill 100 million people and then I repent likely God would still forgive me but GOD will not forgive the syirik SIN.

  7. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Halo !

    Friend, there is a seksi Yoga move called Mula Bandha involving contracting as my colleague Borat would say, the anus !

    It will channel your vital fluids upward, making you more capable of satisfying all your wives, and not just the youngest and most fertile one !

    To Yoga, Friend, I say, Halal !

    Yoga has a move called “prostrations,” I say better to call “prostation,” (as in prostate), or prostration to avoid frustration of the prostate…

    Love your prostate, or if you don’t have one the nearest one, unless it belongs to an Ojek driver, Ah, you get what I mean-lah.

    Va Va Voom !

  8. avatar monyetmerah says:

    This is just getting silly and sillier. Why is the government letting these idiots running wild. Why isn’t there a fatwa on stupidity?

  9. avatar fullmoonflower says:

    @ Kang Cuk,
    It’s fine if you said that Yoga is syirik, so that’s why MUI issued a fatwa for it…

    But how about :
    1. Begging to makam para wali or other figures?
    2. “Ngalap Berkah from Pusaka” in every 1st Muharram in Kraton Yogya and Solo?
    3. “Labuhan” event in every 1st Muharram in South Sea?
    4. Tumpengan (it’s Hinduism!!)?

    You’ve known those are Syirik (maybe except the last one), but why no fatwa for those such??

    You should know that Tumpeng is full of symbols :

    1. It has to be prepared with 3 elements of Natures : Air, Water, and Land
    a. Air => symbolized by Fried Pigeon or Fried Chicken
    b. Water => symbolized by Salty Fish
    c. Land => symbolized by Vegetables

    2. It has to be coloured in Yellow => means Gold and Glory
    3. It has be shaped in Cone Shape => means way to Nirwana

    You’ve must known that Islam has no Nirwana. No Nirwana in Qur’an!!
    Nirwana is belongs to Hindu… Islam has Jannah…!!

    But why Muslim people still make Tumpeng for their events? and perhaps YOU too 😛

    Tumpeng is not Islamic for sure…!!!
    Hmmm… but I guess some MUI Ulamas still make tumpeng for their events, so that’s why no fatwa “HARAM” for Tumpeng… 😆

    Come on, Kang Cuk…
    Open your eyes…. There are still many unfair fatwa around!!!

    Don’t talk easily about syirik
    You know :
    1. When you loved someone and said that you’ll love her and like to die for her… You’ve been SYIRIK!
    2. When you lost your children and crying a lots, even get unconscious… You’ve been SYIRIK!
    3. When you lost your money, and sad too much… You’ve been SYIRIK!
    4. When you left your ponsel at home, you’ll feel that you’ve lost your life… You’ve been SYIRIK!
    etc..

    Aduuh, I think there are many simple things made us being a musyrikin in 1 second…!!

    Antara Syirik dan Beriman itu batasnya sangat tipis, Kang…. 😕

  10. avatar Cukurungan says:

    But how about :
    1. Begging to makam para wali or other figures?
    2. “Ngalap Berkah from Pusaka” in every 1st Muharram in Kraton Yogya and Solo?
    3. “Labuhan” event in every 1st Muharram in South Sea?
    4. Tumpengan (it’s Hinduism!!)?

    Those syirik is acceptable because our people do not need to spend their money to pay YOGA course on Guru Yoga India (money is still here)

    Come on, Kang Cuk…
    Open your eyes…. There are still many unfair fatwa around!!!

    Bu Wulan,

    Do you know that fatwa is only bond to person who ask the fatwa and not the other people who never ask the fatwa, ……therefore I never ask fatwa to Ulama so no fatwa bond to me

  11. avatar fullmoonflower says:

    Those syirik is acceptable because our people do not need to spend their money to pay YOGA course on Guru Yoga India (money is still here)

    1. Begging to makam para wali
    => giving money to the Juru Kuncen => spent money
    => buy kembang tujuh rupa and water => spent money
    => buy dupa and kemenyan => spent money
    2. Ngalap Berkah from Pusaka
    => Kraton buy stuffs to clean Pusaka => spent money
    => People buy boxes to keep the dirty water => spent money
    3. Labuhan event
    => Kraton threw foods to the sea => spent money
    4. Tumpengan
    => Tumpeng is EXPENSIVE!! It’s Rp. 300.000 – Rp. 1.500.000 => spent money

    Money is still talking, Kang…
    They are supposed to not acceptable…. 😆

    Those syirik is acceptable because our people do not need to spend their money to pay YOGA course on Guru Yoga India (money is still here)

    Well, as I guessed : why Tumpeng is not haram but Yoga is haram…..
    That’s because Ulama MUI still need Tumpeng for their events, and Tumpeng is still cheaper than Yoga Course 😛

    But wait until if 1 Nasi Tumpeng Komplit price is Rp. 10 millions… I guess, there will be a new fatwa that Tumpeng is Haram…. hahahahaha

  12. avatar fullmoonflower says:

    @ Seksi Pakde Achmad

    I’m agree with you…
    I think Yoga as an exercise is still Halal…

    Another MUI leader, the fairly liberal Umar Shihab, said however that yoga practice as a form of exercise or fitness training was no problem.

  13. avatar Farah says:

    hemmmm… i should pending my yoga class then……

    i thought things like yoga wont change what i believe… how can it be haram..hmmmmmm….

  14. avatar EF says:

    Extreme paranoia is always extremely hilarious.

  15. avatar Peter says:

    I suppose everything depends on what one’s definition of syirik is. For the case of praying at makam2 to roh wali or the labuhan ceremony, these might be better described as “ascribing helpers to Allah” rather than “ascribing partners to Allah”.

    ~

    A major objection raised about analyses of local versions of Islam is that there appears to be an endless number of versions.

    – Varisco 2005, 141

    Certain scholars – some of whom may be influenced by ideas maintained by Christian missionaries among Muslims during an earlier period of missiological thought – hold that the average Indonesian Muslim wears his creed like a veneer that fails to disguise the underlying substance of pure heathen character. Their main argument is that in their daily lives these Muslims observe all sorts of customs and act according to all sorts of ideas that are, fundamentally and practically, alien or even at variance with Islam.

    – Nieuwenhuijze 1958, 40

    ~

    Many of the rituals associated with Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, for example, appear wholly un-Islamic, but are actually located in a completely Islamic framework, placing God and His law above all else. Consider that:

    1. Ratu Kidul is said to be immortal until the Day of Judgement.

    2. Most visitors at watu gilang at pantai Parangkusumo will tell you that they are either praying directly to God, or that Ratu Kidul is an intermediary (“perantara”) – bukan Tuhan.

    3. Islamic chants such as “La ilaha illa Allah” are chanted during nyekar rituals.

    4. There are Islamic prayers held periodically at the mosque at Parangkusumo to pray for blessings for the souls of Panembahan Senopati and Ratu Kidul. This illustrates their dependence on Allah.

    5. Ziarah is not generally conducted at Parangkusumo during Ramadan because during this time, according to Islamic thought, Allah has “locked away” the spirits. Again this shows the supremacy of Allah in this matter.

    6. Gusti Yudhaningrat, brother of Sultan Hamengkubuwana X, explained to me that the Kraton Jogja and the Kraton Ratu Kidul have an understanding where each will assist the other in times of need. Ratu Kidul, he said, helped protect the Kraton Jogja during the Dutch bombings, and, he continued, when Kraton Ratu Kidul is in need of help, people in Kraton Jogja will pray on its behalf. Again, God ultimately supercedes any power held by Ratu Kidul.

    7. Certainly not least importantly, the people who perform these prayers most always self-identify as Muslims. Who the hell are we to question their niyyah (Ind. niat)? That in itself could be considered syirik.

    Because Clifford Geertz’s Santri-Abangan-Priyayi tripartite has gone unchallanged by so many authors (western and Indonesian), thinking like this often permeates much of the literature on religion in Java:

    I was made to realise that to understand Indonesia, one must understand Javanese mysticism. An elite of perhaps 2,000 men manipulate Indonesia’s politics. Many of them are abangans or nominal Muslims who are Muslims and yet not entirely Muslims with their own beliefs…these abangans believe in kebatinan, that is, the spirits which dwell within the kris; they believe in the existence of Semar, the guardian spirit of Java; predictions of Joyoboyo; and Lara Kidul, the Queen of the Indonesian Ocean.

    – Lee 1999, 7 (emphasis mine)

    Lee, Khoon Choy. “A Fragile Nation: The Indonesian Crisis.” Singapore: World Scientific, 1999.

    Nieuwenhuijze, Christoffel Anthonie Olivier Nieuwenhuijze. “Aspects of Islam in Post-colonial Indonesia: Five Essays.” The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958.

    Varisco, Daniel Martin. “Islam Obscured: The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation.” New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

  16. avatar Gunung Batu says:

    After communism, and then porn, now Yoga. What next tomorrow?

  17. avatar Barry Prima says:

    Asslamualiakum Peter,
    Excellent post so far, may I ask are you a Muslim or a Tim dog alter ego? (that’s a compliment Tim not insult)

    Because Clifford Geertz’s Santri-Abangan-Priyayi tripartite has gone unchallenged by so many authors (western and Indonesian).

    Geertz work has met serious objection since the 70’s not just amongst Islamic intellectuals in Indonesia but from western anthropologist as well. Tim our resident ethnographic expert has also challenged (although not directly) the Geertz Kejawen/animism/Islam compatibility issue very intelligently on this forum. A lot more intelligently than dare I say, some indo kejawen romantics like AA.
    Some like Ross have posted less intelligently with their glorified hankering after Java’s quaint and imagined garden of animistic magic.

    Here’s a quote:
    For one who knows Islam his (Geertz) data shows that very little has survived from the Hindu past even in inner java and raises the question of why the triumph of Islam was so complete.
    (Hodgson 1974)
    The best book I have come across on this subject is:
    Between normative piety and mysticism in the sultanate of Jogjakarta (Mark Woodward)
    This is a great piece of Literature not just as anthropology but as an exploration of the relationship between mystical cosmology/social structures in the traditional worlds. The book is a very compelling beat down of Geertz simplified and rather unjust work.
    If you drop off at Singapore on occasion I would also highly recommend you pick this up:
    Monto Rahman: Pushed Forward Far.
    The book is really hard to find, even in Malaysia, and in Indonesia I don’t think it was ever released but I think you can still find copies in Singapore. To ALuang Anack, I would also suggest you read this.
    (It’s a novel, but is more truthful/insightful than any nonfiction/anthropology you might ever read)

    Getting back to the point of Yoga:
    I think the MUI’s position here is a very intelligent one can’t really argue with the logic of these words:

    ` In the event that a fatwa were issued against yoga, he said, practising yoga remained a right of Indonesians, while the MUI’s job was simply to advise Muslims on what is the right thing to do’

    Cuk :

    Not all YOGA but some YOGA meditation would involve what so called “Kundalini awakening” and “raising cakra”, in my opinion this part contains ritual syirik

    Pretty much spot on as far as I know, apart from as Peter explained earlier the objection on the point of Shirk. Even then I do think your cautiousness about Shirk is somehow right too.
    Shirk is unavoidable, the Quran’s absolute monotheism is a matter of emphasis in order to maintain the authority of the absolute over the relative as matter of principle and metaphysical priority, but on a deeper level even the Quran recognises that it is unavoidable and accuses most Muslim of committing it.
    Absolute trust (Bhakti/Iklhas)is an absolutely difficult station (Maqqam/hal) to achieve. The formal adherence to oneness or unity is usually just that a formal one, shirk comes even in small things, money, love etc.

    On the level of everyday reality, in the world of manifestation with its complicated web of cause and effect, people cannot rely on god to solve their problems, as they have not really even submitted to him. Their problems can only be solved by the forces they have submitted to, some of which are closer to god, some which are far from him, but every positive force has its negative counterpart, hence the problem of shirk and its description as the only unforgivable sin, as it deprives us of the actualisation of Allah’s unity.

    Rejection of Shirk, can only be feasible absolutely if one is prepared or already dead to this world. Maybe only on that level there is no need for Pusaka, Keris etc etc. However the overuse of Keris etc is also a huge detriment to the religious life of people, hence the Quran’s aggressive Monotheism.
    The Rahma in Islam is that its basic formula, or just the first part of it `La ilaha Illahla’ is sufficient on its own to rescue man from his persistent shirk. The Sahahdah is a formula much like the nembutsu of honen/shinran in amidism (Namu amida butsu) in that it reintegrates the dissipated soul into the unity of god. One only has to believe in it /trust in it completely, regardless of whether one can actually comply with its truth on the level of everyday life.

    Personally I do practise both yoga and chi kung, but only at an elementary level, not on the deeper levels where I think they are undeniably harmful to anyone who is practising them outside the spiritual/religious framework in which they are formulated. Like practising Wirid/Zhikr for one who is not a Muslim or living a pure life can be disastrous or practising Sufism without the regard/reverence to shariah can also lead to bigger problems for someone on the way than someone who is a simple Muslim following the lahir path.
    Both Internal forms of Yoga and chi kung can help a person to cultivate explosive power/energy, but for one who is cultivating such power without the protection of a religious tradition/framework that is holistic, the energy is usually dissipated in ways (sexual indulgence is one example) that are harmful and ultimately injurious to the very aims for which they were developed.

    Sukarno was an example of someone whose jiwa was very powerful, but it eventually destroyed him as he lacked moral uprightness required to wield these powers in a beneficial way.
    Also Both chi kung and Yoga can certainly lead to interferences from both inside and outside, especially from djinns, many chi kung masters have Djinns which is very much dangerous shirk territory.
    Islam is already a complete and independent spiritual system that has its own formulas, by mixing Islam with esoteric aspects of other religions which are usually in a very degenerate condition(proved by the mere fact that they are marketed to the non religious and non serious)you are mixing and matching formulas that are incompatible and compromise each other.
    For example A chi kung master rejected my family’s attempt to seek his help(without my knowledge i must stress) after he found out i was a Muslim not because he was being prejudiced, it’s just it was dangerous to him and me. Sufi teachers likewise when approached by non Muslims, also do not ask non Muslims to use Islamic rituals, they recommend them to practise rituals in their own religion

    This interestingly brings us to Silat., certain types of Silat, both in Malaysia and Indonesia are like tantric yoga/chi kung involved in acquiring shakti from spirits. Perhaps Pak Achmed, the Ukelelu playing heartthrob who I think has alluded to the practise of Silat in this forum before, might care to share a deeper opinion on this?

    I have to commend MUI for a very intelligent response, and those who have opened their mouths in an automatic display of anti muslimness, are the ones to be condemned for acting like effigy burning Muslim fanatics when they evidently do not know much about Yoga. I am not perfectly clear on this matter myself and hope that MUI can come up with a critique that helps shed some wisdom on this issue.

  18. avatar Barry Prima says:

    Full moon flower:

    You’ve must known that Islam has no Nirwana. No Nirwana in Qur’an!!

    Do you know what Nirvana is, apart from the Seattle legends? Fanah fil Finah is the extinction of self into the absolute and arguably the same as Nirwana. Nirwana is beyond words, a positive that can only be described as a negative.
    The concept of wuhdutul wujud is also exactly the same as Sanyata of Buddhism expressed most eloquently in Dogen’s zen Buddhism.

    Islam is much more developed than Buddhism, it integrates being and non being into a whole in a genius way, that even the most simple person can adopt.

    I think Yoga as an exercise is still Halal…

    Thanks for your opinion but Muslims do not accept the credibility of Fatwas or opinions of non Muslims, regardless of their claim to be descendents of Maulana Malik Ibrahim.

  19. avatar Barry Prima says:

    I do not accept the credibility of Fatwas or opinions of non Muslims

    Must correct myself on that one, I am very much open to non muslim opinions, but not fatwas, in fact I am not open to most fatwas either……unless they show an attempt to explore the topic in a deep and meaningful way, going to the root of the problem.

  20. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Seksi Mr. Prima,

    Firstly, congratulations on your excellent work with the late great Suzzanna, one of the greatest actors of the 20th century.

    On silat, oh yes, friend, my silat kegel exercises are a very special part of my Seksiness !

    Just as the MUI once proclaimed viagra halal as it allowed elderly travelling Kyais to satisfy their additional young wives, so too does silat allow the less-generously endowed like myself to become unstoppable sex machines, like the chariot of Arjuna at the final battle of the Mahabharata.

    Indeed, the original sex machine James Brown met with me and learned the special technique — only later to have it burn out his circuits. But he said that’s how he wanted to go !

    Va Va Voom !

    But just as Yoga and Chi Kung has it’s levels and initiations, you must master my tips on picking up chicks in malls before the inner secrets of sexual silat are revealed. Otherwise, Seksi Friend, you’ll be, as they say in Australia, “Getting off at Redfern” * and going through a lot of Kolor.

    On the ancient hindu-buddhist past, maybe those anthropologists should get their noses out of books and into the real world. When every second Javanese family is still doing slametan and Muslim kids have names like “Dharma” or “Sita,” or “Budiman,” how can they say there’s no trace ?

    * Redfern is a train station in inner-city Sydney on the way to the Circular Quay, the main station.

  21. avatar Cukurungan says:

    I suppose everything depends on what one’s definition of syirik is. For the case of praying at makam2 to roh wali or the labuhan ceremony, these might be better described as “ascribing helpers to Allah” rather than “ascribing partners to Allah”.

    Syirik is a black ant who walks on black stone in the middle of night, it is a very delicates issue for a Muslim, however, by reading what had been written in Quran and Hadist, I would conclude as below:

    A Muslim is allowed to ask help to anything as long as the entity we ask for help is a real entity and not an abstract entity one. We could ask help WALI to pray for us (if Wali is still alive) but when Wali is death, his roh is not real entity anymore but become an abstract entity and for a Muslim any request or help or expecting something from the abstract entity is forbidden because this will lead to Syirik, therefore pray must be directly to Super Abstract (GOD Himself) and other than that will likely fall to syirik.

    Please be noticed that this is only my own interpretation could be wrong and could be right.

  22. avatar fullmoonflower says:

    @ Barry

    Thanks for your opinion but Muslims do not accept the credibility of Fatwas or opinions of non Muslims, regardless of their claim to be descendents of Maulana Malik Ibrahim.

    I am Muslim 😉

  23. avatar fullmoonflower says:

    Mr. Barry,

    I am MUSLIM, pray 5 times a day, fasting in the fasting month, pay 2,5% zakat of my salary every month, almost went to Hajj but unfortunately my father was sick, got heart coroner and need surgery, so I used my Hajj saving to pay his surgery…

    No doubt that I am a Muslim, because I did 5 Rukun Islam :
    1. Syahadat
    2. Sholat
    3. Shaum
    4. Zakat
    5. Hajj (hope will be done by 2010)

    How can you say I am a NON MUSLIM regarding to my opinions? Hahaha 😆

  24. avatar fullmoonflower says:

    by the way : It is HARAM to mentioned another muslim as kafir…

    you should know that… 😉

  25. avatar janma says:

    If yoga were banned, she said her organisation would bring yoga devotees out onto the streets, smiling all the while

    you know what they say…..”never smile at a crocodile”….

  26. avatar monyetmerah says:

    Hi fullmoonflower,

    How can you say I am a NON MUSLIM regarding to my opinions

    There’s always people who think that they are holier than thou. This is why sometimes I am considering of abandoning religion altogether. It is a pity that some bad apples are making the rest look bad.

  27. avatar Peter says:

    Wa’alaikum salaam,

    I guess you could call me a Muslim, though I tend not to self-identify with one group at the exclusion of others. There are some great things about Islam, and I also see the value of teachings from other faiths as well. All systems have their own limitations, though. For instance, I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that the Qur’an is completely perfect. Why should I believe this? God gave humans the ability to reflect on our own lives and use reason – why then should we accept dogma that is not evident upon reflection? Besides, how much of the Qur’an is corrupted by human error? Who knows? I guess I’m just sort of an iconoclast in that respect. In the end I think beliefs like that don’t really matter; what is important is how we relate to our fellow human beings and nature.

    Anyway, yes I’ve been eager to read Woodward’s book, but it seems to be out of print and I can only find it online for around $100. It is really frustrating. There is a more recent book by M.C. Ricklefs called “Mystic Syntheses in Java” that is very interesting and relevant to this discussion.

  28. avatar Peter says:

    Sorry, the title is “Mystic Synthesis in Java”, not “Mystic Syntheses…”

  29. avatar fullmoonflower says:

    @ monyetmerah

    Yes… I guess because Mr. Barry ever read my statement that I am not wearing jilbab, and he read my opinions against FPI, munafik “jilbaber”, and munafik bearded men at another threads, based on my experience….
    Maybe that’s why he thought that I am not a muslim as well… hahaha… 😆

    What a narrow sight… 😉

    @ Peter…

    Thank you for your reference… will search it…
    Javanese Culture and everything about Java is always interesting 😉

  30. avatar Alf Janszoon says:

    Yoga is haram. Mass murder, pedophilia, robbery, extortion are halal. What a wonderful faith this is comming from the Arabian Peninsula fourteenth hundred years ago.

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