Four thousand three hundred religions exist on this planet, among which Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism are the three main. However, there is also this group of people calling themselves secular- a modern way of not including yourself in any of these traditional religious beliefs.
Over the centuries, there have been a lot of practices started by different religious groups, which have become a global practice. Yoga is one such old spiritual practice born in India, taking the world by storm. So, there’s no point in denying that some religious strings are attached to it. But does that mean it is only confined to Hinduism?
Well, people might get confused. If you are a Muslim who wants to perform Yoga, you might have been told that Yoga is Haram. But is that true? Can’t Muslims perform Yoga? Well, let’s get into the matter and find out more about it.
What is Yoga? Understanding Its Origin and Importance
So, what is Yoga? Most of you know that Yoga is a form of exercise aiming to bring harmony and integrity between your mind and your body. This ancient practice from India dates back thousands of years. According to many kinds of research, the root of Yoga spurted out from the ancient Vedic knowledge.
Through the various postures and practice, we try to accumulate the optimum potential through Yoga. But, it is not only a union but a discipline as well. When we perform Yoga, we need to be calm and controlled. Thus, it helps your mind to relax, even during the most unlikely situation.
So, there’s no denying that Yoga has its roots in Hinduism and later in Buddhism as well. But, the modern-day Yoga practice is somewhat secular. The focus of modern Yoga practice is entirely on its medicinal values. The scientific benefits of Yoga are huge. So, when you see someone practicing, they most likely emphasize the strings of benefits attached to the method.
But, if you are to attach it only to the religious links, you might end up doubting whether your religion, especially Islam, allows performing Yoga or not. And, thus comes the question: Is Yoga Haram?
Is Yoga Haram? – The Different Thoughts
Whether Yoga is haram or not is a controversial discussion. While many Muslims believe that Yoga is a mere physical practice of keeping yourself fit, others share a different opinion. Hence, these two schools of thought end up confusing you on which one to follow.
But, if you want a clear answer, you need to know the whole discussion. It is more about following what you believe than what others think. Again, there is this rational part as well. So, before you stamp a decision, let us take you through the detailed contradictory discussions to give you a clear image.
Thought 1: Yoga Is Not a Haram
The first school of thought we will be discussing believes that Yoga is not haram. This group of people does not see Yoga as a religious practice or anything attached to a particular religion.
However, they do acknowledge that Yoga, more than just being some kind of exercise, is a more spiritual practice. But, whether you take it as a religious practice or not depends entirely upon you.
The thing here is that these people take Yoga as a mere guiding too. According to them, Yoga leads you to a more open sphere of your mind, creating harmony between your mind and your body. So, whether you are going to walk on this path entirely depends on you.
So, this school of thought is kind of more approachable and flexible. Few Muslims believe in this practice of Yoga because they think of Yoga as a way of keeping themselves fit. IT improves the stability of your body, taking the overall physical and mental health to another level.
So, when these people belonging to the Muslim community perform Yoga, they do not see the practice as something other than an exercise or a way of keeping themselves fit. So, it is in no way that Yoga is haram to them.
Furthermore, some Muslims have also pointed out that some yogic postures also resemble greatly with the Muslim poses during namaz. Hence, if such resemblances are present in Yoga, how can those be haram to Muslim practices. Because, if that were so, then these things wouldn’t have been practiced for so long.
Well, if we consider these arguments and put serious thoughts on the logic here, it is fair to say that Yoga is not haram for many Muslims. They merely see it as a physical exercise, nothing related to a religious perspective. But does that mean it is entirely true? What does the other group believe?
Thought 2: Yoga is Haram
Now the second strand of thought believes that Yoga is a haram. And, people belonging to this group have various reasons for that. Let’s start with reason one:
Many Muslims think that Yoga is contrary to Tawheed. And why is that so? Well, according to them, it involves certain activities, which they see as haram. For example, Yoga promotes praying to other deities, such as the Sun in suryanamaskar.
In this style, you offer your prayers to the Sun, believing it to be the source of all energies. So, you repeat Sanskrit chants, which is not permissible in the Tawheed. So, many Muslims consider Yoga to be haram.
The next reason is also related to the worship of idols. In Surah II, Verse 217, it is mentioned ‘Idolatry is worse than carnage.’ So, as you can see, idolatry is equal to crime in Islamic beliefs. And since Hinduism is based on idolatry, any practice related to it is haram.
Also, Yoga follows several postures promoting this idolatry. For example, poses that need all your fours resemble a dog’s style of dog. Copying animal styles is against Islamic norms. And not only postures but some Sanskrit slokas are also related to it (i.e., suryanamaskar).
Some people also think that Yoga is harmful to our health. According to Islam, yogic postures or practicing yoga can bring serious health consequences, making it more harmful. They also believe that some poses in Yoga are not aligned to be any good for health, let alone for psychological functions.
These are some of the reasons behind the strand of the belief that Yoga is a haram. Well, as you can see, some verses in Islamic texts do say against Hindu rituals. But, going forward, it is also something one needs to decide how one would respond.
Is Yoga Good for Health?
Now, what would we get if we kept aside the religious difference between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islamic and solely see Yoga from an entire health perspective? For one thing, many Muslims believe some Yogic postures to be unhealthy for both physical and mental wellbeing.
But let us not forget that Yoga has transcended from becoming a practice of some particular religion or demography to global culture. And the benefits, both physical and mental, are well tested by the top authorities. If one can perform Yoga properly, he will get rid of many complex diseases faster.
So, is Yoga good for your health?
Of course, it is! And there is no doubt regarding this one! It makes your body more flexible, strengthens your muscles, helps you recover your energy, and balances your physical and mental health.
So, from a health perspective, performing Yoga does not cause any issues at all. Instead, if done correctly and regularly, Yoga can be a life-changing experience.
Is Yoga Haram?
So, we have had quite a discussion on whether or not Yoga is haram. And what we have got from it is two strands of beliefs. After this detailed discussion, one pretty clear thing is that it all depends on a person’s opinion. It means that, haram or not, it all depends on your beliefs.
People who belong to the first category (who believe Yoga not to be a haram) see the practice of Yoga as a mere exercise for keeping our body fit. Yoga is easier than most workouts and has more benefits as well. There is no denying that Yoga has long been a practice of people of a particular belief.
So, there are things and practices associated with that religion. Hence, those who believe in Islamic practices might see it as haram. And, it has been creating a lot of issues, especially in the western world among the Muslim citizens.
So, there are some things that can be done to avoid certain issues. First of all, you can practice the postures which are similar to Islamic practices as well. Since both the poses are the same or identical, there is nothing wrong with it.
You can also replace the chants with Islamic tunes or something else which is unbiased and not problematic to Islam. Also, while focusing on something, for example, the Sun during suryanamaskar, you can focus on a different object.
In short, one must never deny the explicit benefit of Yoga over both mental and physical health. It not only helps you regain your bodily power but also keeps your mind fresh and positive.
It is all in our belief whether to follow or not. There are a lot of Muslims performing Yoga daily nowadays. Many Imams have also joined the practices. So, it is better to look at Yoga from a medicinal perspective than a religious one.