Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Cancer survivors dismayed by blanket ban on yoga

By SA’ODAH ELIAS


PETALING JAYA: Many Muslim cancer survivors who practise yoga to promote general wellbeing are disappointed and confused over the National Fatwa Council’s edict on the ancient form of exercise.

National Cancer Society of Malaysia’s advisor Datuk Zuraidah Atan said she had been inundated with calls from the survivors who were confused and apprehensive over the edict or fatwa.
“An overreaching fatwa like this is not good for them as unnecessary worry can have a negative effect on them psychologically and physically. Some are already feeling guilty for practising it.
“There is a need for the Fatwa Council to explain their edict properly so that Muslims who practise yoga, including cancer survivors are not made to feel guilty,” she said.

Zuraidah said the council organised a weekly free yoga session for cancer survivors, especially those who were over 40 as a form of relaxation and breathing exercise.
“Besides yoga, we also have qi gong sessions. Is the Fatwa Council going to ban qi gong, too, because it has its origins in Buddhism? Then how about line dancing? We also organise that as a form of light exercise for cancer survivors,” she said.

She said yoga, qi gong and line dancing were good for cancer survivors because they were group dynamics which also helped promote positive thinking and unity among survivors of different race and religion.
She said there were many levels of yoga and only yoga in its purest form involved religious chanting.
“Most Muslims know this. The yoga that is being taught in yoga centres nationwide only concentrates on techniques and has nothing to do with the promotion of Hinduism,” she added.
The National Fatwa Council on Saturday declared that yoga is haram (prohibited) in Islam and Muslims are banned from practising it.

Chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin said yoga had been practised by the Hindu community for thousands of years and incorporated physical movements, religious elements together with chants and worshipping, with the aim of being one with God.
He noted that while merely doing the physical movements of yoga without the worshipping and chanting might not be against religious beliefs, Muslims should avoid practising it altogether as doing one part of yoga would lead to another.
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