Saudi Arabia approves Yoga as a ‘sports activity’ – but Jamiat says ‘not permissible’

The Jamiatul Ulama KZN has said that the practice of yoga is impermissible in Islam and is considered as “shirk”.
Al Qalam approached the Jamiat KZN to clarify the position after news sources reported that Saudi Arabia has now allowed Yoga to be approved as a “sport activity” after a Saudi national, Nouf Marwaai, campaigned in the Kingdom to view yoga as a beneficial sport activity.

Her efforts finally paid off. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia officially approved Yoga as a sporting activity under its Ministry of Trade and Industry. According to reports, those who wished to practice or teach yoga can now do so by applying for and procuring a licence.

However, Marwaai, who teaches yoga in Saudi Arabia, said she an uphill task to make the profession official. She started approaching the authorities in 2005 but to no avail. She finally approached Princess Reema Bint Bandar Alsaud a member of the Royal Council – who started basketball for women in Saudi Arabia – who assured her that things were changing and they will soon approve sports for women.

“Princess Reema Bint Bandar Alsaud was chosen to be the Deputy of the General Sports Authority and she welcomed all leaders in any sports for women to approach her directly. Sports have been allowed for women this year – and driving as well.”

Marwaai said she was introduced to yoga to cure an illness naturally: “I do yoga and naturopathy, my disease is stable and my doctors are surprised. That is why I became a champion of yoga and have been promoting it in Saudi Arabia.”

The news that Saudi Arabia has approved the practice of yoga as a sport was widely reported on all major media networks in India.
In an answer checked by Mufti Ismaeel Bassa, the Jamiat said Tawheed (Oneness in Allah) is the foundation of Islam.
“As Muslims we guard our Imaan and distance ourselves completely from any association whatsoever with kufr and shirk.

“Yoga, according to the World Book lexicon is a “a system of Hindu religious philosophy that requires intense mental and physical discipline as a means of attaining union with the universal spirit.” (World Book p. 2421). Hence, even though Yoga is used only as a fitness programme, it is not permissible, due to its close links with the Hindu religion.

“The fact that it is recorded that yoga has its origin in Hindu philosophy which is based on shirk, it is not permissible for us to practice yoga even though it is now recorded only a form of physical exercise. And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best.”

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