Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi moved quickly to contain the damage done by an outright ban on Yoga by Malaysia National Fatwa Council last weekend which drew a sharp rebuke from many Muslims including the sultans.
“I wish to state that a physical regime with no elements of worship can continue, meaning, it is not banned. I believe that Muslims are not easily swayed into polytheism,” the prime said as reported in Bernamawebsite.
Abdullah’s decision ultimately reversed an outright ban that has drawn widespread protests amid concerns over growing Islamic fundamentalism in the multiracial nation.
Just before Abdullah spoke, the eldest son of the ruler of the central Negeri Sembilan state took the government to task over the yoga ruling.
“Islam is a progressive religion and the ulama (scholars) should be confident of the followers’ faith rather than micro-managing their way of life,” Tunku Naquiyuddin told a luncheon.
“If I go to a church or a Buddhist temple, is there any fear of me converting? … Where do we draw the line?” the Star online quoted him as saying.
Fatwas or religious edicts are not legally binding, but they are highly influential in Malaysia, where Malay-Muslims form just over half of the country’s 27 million people.