Monday, November 24, 2008

Why Can't We All just get along ? Religious Conflicts Continue

the article below is a perfect case where newly generated rigid religious attitudes/Dogmas are causing fear-driven over-reaction. Yoga as a form of well-rounded exercise has been practiced for more than a century by practitioners of various faiths, without major conversions to Hinduism because the physical components are universal.

My question is why would a faith that has strongly-anchored followers forbid their being healthy? Why do so many practitioners of the Judeo-Christian persuasion fear what is little more than religious broadmindedness among their followers? My only hope is that we one day move pass this notion of insular religious authority among are theistic kindred. . .

I believe that when faith-based community of any persuasion allows their fear of spiritual to generate such intolerance against de rigueur religious diversity (essential to end the current global trend of religious-based conflicts which irretrievably ravage person, life and property) that we dishonor what tends to the Founding Truths that are at the heart and soul of these same religious theonomies.

For those of us who adhere with any theological principles, lets us pray for peaceful change and increased tolerance for our disputing and fearful kin. For those of us who are not of theistic persuasion, let us reason and strive for the furtherance of religious flexibility and tolerance for the religious freedom and tolerance. . .

Many Thanks to Eileen Ng at Associate Press for the sharing. . .Peacefully. . .

Please, do let us know what you think will increase the peace theologically speaking around issues like this ?

A wise man who knows proverbs can reconcile difficulties.    Niger


Malaysian Council Bans Yoga for Muslims KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Nov. 22, 2008)

Malaysia’s top Islamic body, fresh from banning tomboys, issued an edict Saturday
that prohibits Muslims from practicing yoga, saying that elements of Hinduism in
the ancient Indian exercise could corrupt them.

The National Fatwa Council’s chairman, Abdul Shukor Husin, said many Muslims
fail to understand that yoga’s ultimate aim is to be one with a god of a different religion
— an explanation disputed by many practitioners who say yoga need not have a religious

“We are of the view that yoga, which originates from Hinduism, combines physical exercise,
religious elements, chanting and worshipping for the purpose of achieving inner peace and
ultimately to be one with god,” Abdul Shukor said.

News of the yoga ban prompted activist Marina Mahathir to wonder what the council
will ban next: “What next? Gyms? Most gyms have men and women together. Will
that not be allowed any more?”

The edict reflects the growing influence of conservative Islam in Malaysia, a multiethnic
country of 27 million people where the majority Muslim Malays lost seats in
March elections and where minority ethnic Chinese and mostly Hindu ethnic Indians
have been clamoring for more rights.

Recently, the council said girls who act like boys violate Islam’s tenets. The government
has also occasionally made similar conservative moves, banning the use of the
word “Allah” by non-Muslims earlier this year, saying it would confuse Muslims.

Analysts say the fatwa could be the result of insecurity among Malay Muslims after
their party — in power since 1957 — saw its parliamentary majority greatly reduced in
elections because of gains by multiracial opposition parties.

Malay Muslims make up about two-thirds of the country’s 27 million people. About 25
percent of the population is ethnic Chinese and 8 percent is ethnic Indian, most of
whom are Hindu.

“They are making a stand. They are saying ‘we will not give way,’” said Ooi Kee Beng, a
fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Decisions by Malaysia’s Fatwa Council are not legally binding on the country’s Muslims,
however, unless they also become enshrined in national or Shariah laws. But
many Muslims abide by the edicts out of deference, but some, like Putri Rahim, plan
not to follow the latest fatwa.

“I am mad! Maybe they have it in mind that Islam is under threat. To come out with a
fatwa is an insult to intelligent Muslims. It’s an insult to my belief,” said Putri, a Muslim
who has practiced yoga for 10 years. In recent years, yoga — a collection of spiritual
and physical practices, aimed at integrating mind, body and spirit — has been
increasingly practiced in gyms and dedicated yoga centers around the world.

There are no figures for how many Muslims practice yoga in Malaysia, but many yoga
classes have Muslims attending. In the United States, where it has become
so popular that many public schools began offering it in gym classes, yoga has also
come under fire.

Some Christian fundamentalists and even secular parents have argued that yoga’s
Hindu roots conflict with Christian teachings and that using it in school might violate
the separation of church and state. Egypt’s highest theological body also
banned yoga for Muslims in 2004. Yoga drew the attention of the Fatwa Council
last month when an Islamic scholar said that it was un-Islamic.

A top yoga practitioner in India, Mani Chaitanya, said the Malaysian clerics seem to
have “misunderstood the whole thing.” Chanting during yoga is to calm the mind
and “elevate our consciousness,” said Chaitanya, the director of the Sivananda Ashram in New Delhi.

“It is not worship. It’s not religious at all. Yoga is universal. All religions can practice
yoga. You can practice yoga and still be a good Christian or a good Muslim,” he said.
Malaysian yoga teacher Suleiha Merican, 56, who has been practicing yoga for 40
years, also denied there is any Hindu spiritual element to it. “It’s a great health science
that is scientifically proven and many countries have accepted it” as alternative
therapy, said Merican, a Muslim.

Associated Press writer Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur and Muneeza Naqvi in New Delhi contributed to this report

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