What is yoga?
Since Muslims in Malaysia are now going to be barred from attending yoga classes – and since it is an exercise in futility examining the body passing the fatwa, we are left asking what is yoga.
The fun thing about the Indian sub-continent is diversity. There are clusters upon clusters of beliefs, activities and orientations. The only trick is that there are no limitations on what a person can perceive.
So if you ask if yoga is somewhat Hindu, or Hindu, you’ll be stuck with the bigger problem of trying to diagnose what is Hindu.
Yoga is an activity based method to enable people to understand themselves better through exercise.
Now there will be yoga schools that will agree, and there will be schools that will somewhat agree and there will be those who will be adamant that I am plain loco.
Which is the greater truth about things that come out from India, it is all organic.
Irrespective of yoga not falling into a fixed template and value structure, the choice of what a person can or cannot do is personal, so does article five of the constitution spells out.
That should include people who like to wrap their limbs together in a knot on a mat, and stay that way.
The idea that something like that is deigned dangerous to the faith of a Christian or Muslim is well ludicrous.
But the more salient point is, people don’t have to rationalise their silly choices to other people as long as what they do is legal and they want to do it.
When I mean legal, legal to any Malaysian. You cannot circumvent by saying that there are some provisions in Syariah. That is a subsidiary law to our secular laws.
Our freedoms are enshrined in the constitution, not in the confines of any religious body and its limited judicial province.
The limit of fatwas
Most fatwas are not known by Malaysians in general. They are localised rulings in Malaysia covering what they think (the council members) to be specific to acts that are incongruent with religious edict.
Things like botax, the donating of blood/organs, amateur porn videos – things that you did not have a millennium ago.
How much weight do people give them in a more and more urban Malaysia?
The council might want to not obscure themselves from the reality that their bite might slowly drown into a whimper in the future if they continue to ban everything in sight.
I mean, what next? Ban Mickey mouse because you are starting worship a rat?
How about boybands? Young post-pubescent girls waking up in their cute jammies to walls adorned with young men looking at them with desire.
Maybe not the bands, perhaps just the sticking of posters.
But that would lead to asking why Maya Karin is standing alluring with a phone in hand in billboards all over the place.
The list never ends, and with it comes the issue of “will people listen to you!”.
This is a changing country, with such a large younger population.
Yoga might be tip of the iceberg, or the straw that breaks the camel’s back.