22 November 2008

Fatwa Council, Yoga and Silat

For critics of the new Fatwa Council's ruling on yoga, I wish to offer my view and defend the rational behind the decision. A quick glance at some of the local news headlines, I think it's The Star which gave the most accurate reporting to it.

TheStar: Fatwa Council says yoga with worshipping, chanting is prohibited

See headline above. It only mentioned yoga 'worshipping' and 'chanting' that is prohibited. Personally, I don't see it as a blanket ban on Yoga. Read what the Fatwa Council Chairman, Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin said.

"..the council has declared that practising yoga when it comes all together with the three elements (physical movements, worshipping and chanting) as haram."

Note that it is considered as haram only if all three elements is being practised. In other words, it is alright if people just practise the physical activity of yoga without the spiritual aspects.

Singapore's Straits Times also carried this news and I must say that I agree with the comments by some of the Singaporean Muslim yoga practitioners. Let me quote some of them.

"Yoga may have its roots in Hinduism. But if you take away the meditation and other spiritual aspects, it becomes just another form of exercise.' - Mohammad Yusri Yusoff, executive imam of the Al-Falah mosque."

In classes, instructors may ask you to say Hindu incantations. I simply did the exercises without all that.' - Teacher, Hafiza Yahya. -- The Straits Times

So, basically as long as only the physical activity of Yoga is being practised, then, it is alright.

Silat Melayu
In Malaysia there are thousands of different forms of Silat groups which many of them are registered with the Pertubuhan Silat Kebangsaan or PESAKA, the parent body of all Malaysian Silat organisations.

While majority of the Silat organisations are clean physically and spiritually, e.g. Silat Gayung, Gayung Fatani, Cekak, Lincah, Sendeng, Kuntau and so on, there are other smaller Silat groups, mostly based in the kampungs which are clearly deviant in its practises or syllabus. And these are the groups that gives bad name to the beautiful Melayu martial art.

Therefore, I feel that the Islamic authorities should also closely monitor some of the deviant Silat organisations too, which some still practises strong elements of tahyul and khurafat. As a Silat practitioner myself, though no longer active, to me, real Silat must involve physical contacts between two or more fighters.

If one could knock out an opponent with just a blink of an eye, then there must be something wrong. That is not silat. (e.g. the teachings of the now defunct group Al-Maunah, or famously known by their raid on the Army Reserve camp in Sauk, Perak and stealing weapons from the armoury)

Senaman Tua
Lastly, for those out there trying to find an alternative practise to yoga, try Senaman Tua, Malay traditional exercise founded by the Guru of Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9 and Seni Beladiri magazine editor, Guru Azlan Ghanie. I've actually tried to practise it once before, but due to work and other personal commitments had somehow prevented me from joining.

Oleh Shahnon
Sumber: http://www.shahnon.com/labels/Yoga.html

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