Islamic Sufism Spirituality

Why yoga is unlawful

Posted on: March 9, 2009


Fatwa Title: Why yoga is unlawful

Fatwa No. 85297

Fatwa Date: 06 Shawwal 1423

Question: What is Islamic perspective about yoga exercise?

Fatwa answered by: The Fatwa Center at Islamweb – http://www.islamweb.net

Fatwa:

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, may Allaah exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

Yoga is not simply a physical exercise, it is rather a form of worship to the sun instead of Allaah. Collins defines yoga as: ‘A Hindu system of philosophy aiming at the mystical union of the self with the Supreme Being:- a state of complete awareness and tranquility through certain physical and mental exercises’. It is widespread and well known in India since early ages. The original name of this sport in Sanskrit is (Sastanga Soria Namaskar) which means “prostrating for the sun on eight places of the body”. This sport has 10 known states among which the fifth stage where the person lays face down on earth touching the ground with his: both hands, the nose, the chest, both knees and the toes. By this one realizes prostrating for the sun on eight organs of the body.

The yoga exercises start with the first state which constitutes a bowing to the worshipped, i.e. the sun. These exercises must be accompanied by a number of words and phrases, which state clearly the worshipping of the sun and the orientation towards it. This is called (Mantra). It is said in a soft voice and regular tone and pitch. These expressions include the 12 names of the sun and here are some of the things they say:

1) Mitraya Nama which means: I bow my head for you O! Friend of everyone.

2) Rafayer Nama which means: I bow my head for you who is glorified by everybody.

3) Suria Nama meaning: I bow my head for you O! Guider of everyone.

4) Maritchay Nama meaning: I bow my head for you O! Forcer of the disease out.

5) Safitir Nama meaning: I bow my head for you O! Giver of life.

6) Bhasakaria Nama meaning: I bow my head for you O! Source of light.

Some of them add other expressions like:

Um Hram, Um Hraim, Um Hrum, …etc. This means: O! God.

When the Muslims were fighting Hindus, they used to say: Allaahu Akbar and the Hindus used to say: Um Hram (seeking Help from their idol). Longman dictionary defines “Mantra” as “a word or sound that is repeated as a prayer or to help people Meditate in the Hindu or Buddhist religion”.

So, we conclude that yoga is not a kind of sport, it is rather an atheist form of worship that the Muslim should not indulge in under any circumstances. Some might wonder: what if the person practices the physical exercises without facing the sun or repeating the mentioned expressions? The answer is: “If this sport becomes free of atheist expressions and free of facing the sun, bowing for it and greeting it, it is no longer yoga. It becomes some simple physical exercises practiced by all people and there is no harm to practice it provided two things are met:

First, re-ordering the exercises in a way different than the one in yoga and introducing some new situations in it to avoid similarity with yoga.

Second, avoiding practicing these exercises in the times the Hindus observe it like at sunrise. The evidence for these two conditions is the narration in which the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Pray the morning prayer and then abstain from prayer until sunrise and the sun has completely risen, for it rises between the horns of Satan. That is when the unbelievers prostrate to it.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

So, since it is forbidden to perform the prayer at sunset or sunrise to avoid imitating the disbelievers, then doing some other practices that disbelievers devote themselves to do at fixed times is more entitled to be done in different times.

Know also that what some people advertise that yoga brings tranquility and calm is not peculiar to yoga. It is general to anyone who keeps on repeating innovative, polytheist expressions or words with the presence of mind and the concentration on something like a picture.

The scholars mention that the devils land on these people filling their minds and hearts with imaginations and illusions, making them feel a false tranquility which some followers of innovative ways and forms of worship, publicize.

In fact, the true tranquility of the soul and its purity are attained by following the Sunnah and adhering to it as well as remembering Allaah in the way He mentioned in His Book and in the books of Sunnah.

Allaah says (interpretation of meaning): {… Verily, in the remembrance of Allaah do hearts find rest.}[13:28].

Allaah knows best.

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