Saturday, November 29, 2008


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said that Non Muslims should not feel hurt or slighted by the announcement of the yoga fatwa by the National Fatwa Council, as it was only applicable to Muslims.

Yes, the fatwa is applicable to Muslims and that is comforting. Nevertheless, Non Muslims will be concerned by the implications arising from the fatwa. Though the National Fatwa Council edict is restricted to yoga excersises which involved chanting of mantras and acts of worship which is deemed haram and against Islam, the implications of the edict could result in yoga centres and particularly commercial yoga centres in the near future facing various obstacles and restrictions.

The real concern is that Local Authorities and their "little Napoleans" may soon draft new rules for compliance before licence for yoga centres and particularly for commercial yoga centres is issued. In the Auditor General's Report for Johor a new phrase has creeped in - "perniagaan sensitif'". Now with "perniagaan sensitif" appprovals and consent from various authorities is required. Would Yoga centres may be added to the list of "perniagaan sensitif" ?.

It is also possible that those who run yoga centres or intend to open up yoga centres particularly commercial yoga centres will need to first "isi borang permohonan" and then wait for the local authorities licensing officers to visit and inspect the yoga centre and wait for their "lapuran" before licence is issued. There is a real possibility that in future yoga centres applications could be rejected due to the surrounding's "sensitiviti". The operators of commercial yoga centres may have to forward "untuk diluluskan" by these "little Napoleans", the course manuals and paraphernalias to ensure that the yoga practice do not contain any religious or spiritual elements and importantly there are no chanting of mantras. Yoga instructers may even be required to attend "kursus" and obtain"sijil' before they can operate a yoga cente. There may be restrictions in how many yoga centres can be opened in one area. Lastly, yoga centre operators may be asked to put a sign "untuk orang bukan Islam sahaja or "Orang Islam Di Larang Masuk". The licence for yoga centres and particularly commercial yoga centres may contain "syarat-syarat" to be adhered.

All these may be far fetched and work of an imaginary mind but taking into account the obtacles and hurdles one has to go through before a pub can be opened, I would not be surprised if commercial yoga centres will meet an almost similar fate. I pray that I am proved wrong.

Thus, although the fatwa may be meant for Muslims only, Non Muslims still have every reason to be concerned.

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