The Sarawak Fatwa Council has adopted the National Council’s fatwa (edict) to forbid Muslims from practicing yoga with immediate effect.

Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Abdul Rahman Daud said yesterday the council had met last week on the matter but had yet to gazette it, reports Bernama on Tuesday.

He said the State Fatwa Council held its bi-monthly meeting an among other things, discussed the National Fatwa Council’s announcement on yoga which is ‘haram’ (forbidden) for Muslims.

Since the National Fatwa Council said it is ‘haram’ for Muslims, it is ‘haram’. But it is up to individuals whether to continue practicing yoga or not.

However action would not be taken against those who chose to practice yoga after the announcement, Daud said.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Nov 26 waded into a row over a ban on yoga for Muslims, saying they could practise the exercise as long as it had no spiritual elements.

‘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,’ Mr Abdullah told Malaysian media recently.

Mr Abdullah said Muslims who performed yoga exercise without chanting Hindu mantras could carry on with their activity as it was good for their health.

‘What I understand from the decision of the National Fatwa Council is that it was aimed at explaining to Muslims the implications of yoga practice,’ he said.

He also said that the ‘fatwa’ or religious edit banning yoga would only be implemented if it received consent from a council of state rulers.

Once a state gazettes the fatwa, it will become part of the law.