Considering it was already shown on BBC a few days ago, I suppose the whole world already knows about the fact that Malaysia has once again flexed its secular right of religion and state and declared fatwa over the practice of Yoga. This means that Yoga is now illegal for all Muslims in Malaysia.
The thing is, usually, I would be one of the first ones to be up in arms over things like this. When beliefs clash with a choice of lifestyle, I tend to get a little iffy about it. However this time, I’m not all over it, because the one thing that I am reminded about Yoga, is that it’s roots aren’t just a simple lifestyle choice. While the new-age yuppie culture (mostly people who have too much time on their hands) promotes Yoga as just a way to stay physically fit. People forget that Yoga is still part of a belief system. It’s meant to help you achieve a state of mind that connects you with a higher plane of existence. While I have no problems with that, I can see how that interferes with other belief systems that want their own way of doing things.
However, before you think that this is just an Islam thing, I know for a fact there are a lot of Christian denominations in Malaysia itself that abhor the practice of Yoga, telling their parish not to stray from the path of God by practicing Yoga. The reasoning stands as well, in that Yoga is part of a belief system that does not agree with their own and as such isn’t tolerated among the more fundamentalist of believers. I’ll bet they are dancing their little joy at this decree, even if it is just for Muslims.
Personally, I have practiced Yoga before as a means of meditation that helps me focus my thoughts whenever my mind was all over the place. While I have replaced it with a method that’s more in tune with my own lifestyle, I know how powerful Yoga can be, if done right, in helping a person reach a state of mind far beyond what they can do consciously. Yoga is not something that people who aren’t ready can accept off the bat. Religious nutters have all the reason in the world to fear something that can open their mind to a world beyond their own.
How would you like it if the world you believe in sudden doesn’t make sense anymore? I’m not saying that Yoga can do this to everyone, I’m just saying I can understand how the possibility that Yoga can do this would affect people who aren’t open to it. People are trying to protect their belief and no matter how silly some of us may think it is, it’s something we’d all do as well if we were in the same position.
So as much as I think it’s a move of catatonic stupidity, this is however one move I have to respect in its decision and I would ask people to respect it as well. More than enough people have a valid point against it and when it comes down to belief against belief, I’d like to stay as far the hell away as possible. No, the fatwa against Yoga is the least of the problems in Malaysia.
That worries me is that they also declared fatwa against tomboys for the fear that it will turn women into lesbians. Lesbians. Really now. What do you really say to something like that? Where do you even start?