10 Points Why Yoga Is Halal In Islam
The name "Yoga" is a Sanskrit generally means union or a method or technique. There is a lot of controversy regarding the practice of Yoga among Muslims because it's roots date back to the Hindu Veda, Upanishads, Buddhist and Jain teachings. In this article, I hope to clarify and prove why Yoga is not haram in Islam. Some scholars are of the view that practicing Yoga is haram because it is like following some of the practices of Hinduism. In the Rig Veda, it mentions as follows.
"yoge yoge tavastaraṁ vāje vāje havāmahe" which means “In each yoga, we invoke the Strong (Indra); in each struggle” (Rig Veda-1.30.7)
"Yama: The firm control of the senses, they regard as Yoga. At that time one gets careful, for, Yoga is acquired and lost"
(Katha Upanishad 2.3.11)
Now, the mentioning of Yoga does not relate to any practical poses. The Verses in the Rig Veda and the Katha Upanishad mentions unity by mentioning Yoga. But, there are many verses in the Sveteshvatara Upanishad that mentions about certain Yoga.
"When the fivefold qualities of yoga consisting of the earth, water, fire, air and ether are firmly established in the body, then in that body strengthened by the fire of yoga, there is no place for sickness, old age and death"
"Lightness of being, health, steadiness, improvement in the complexion of the body, perfection in the voice, sweetness of the body odor, slight excretions are said to be the first results of the progress of yoga"
"There, having the mind actively focused upon a single point, with thought and sense activity controlled,
Sitting on a seat, one should practice yoga for purification of the self.
With an aligned body, head, and neck - keeping these steady, without movement;
Focusing the vision toward the tip of one’s nose without looking about in any direction".
(Bhagavad Gita 6.12 - 13)
The Author, Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras outlining the theory of Yoga and let me explain my points on why Yoga is not haram in Islam.
The argument has arisen among Muslims is that practicing Yoga amounts to Shirk and Kufr because the Muslim who practices Yoga would fall to Shirk. This is wrong because Yoga is a broad term and could mean a form of worship, a form of exercise that is derived from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain sources. The Shirk/Kufr argument is stemming from one practice in Yoga called "Surya namaskar" which means sun salutation. This is a form of sun worship but this is not a necessary practice when doing Yoga. Yoga has many exercises which are not at all Shirk or Kufr. Trying to put the entire Yoga practice as Shirk or Kufr based on the Surya namaskar or the "Om" chanting cannot be accepted. You can simply avoid them and practice Yoga
Allah says in the Quran,
"And of His signs are the night and day and the sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostate to Allah, who created them, if it should be Him that you worship"
Allah (Swt) says in the above verse that he created the Sun and the Moon as to show the signs that are the night and day. Now taking this in to context we can understand clearly that Yoga can be used for good health and to keep the mind free from stress which is not haram in Islam without using Yoga as a way to worship the Sun or to chant anything which is Shirk or Kufr.
Let us take the example of incantations. Incantations can be used for black magic and other things which are haram in Islam and you can use incantations which are not haram. The evidence is as follows,
Auf b. Malik Ashja'i reported we practise incantation in the pre-Islamic days and we said:
"Allah's Messenger. What is your opinion about it? He said: Let me know your incantation and said: There is no harm in the incantation which does not have Shirk in them is fine"
When we look at the history of the use of incantations, we find that incantations were used by the Celtics, Anglo Saxons and even the ancient Egyptians and Hindus before the messenger of Allah (Sal) and some of them were used for witchcraft and black magic. Even in such scenario the prophet (Sal) never forbade the use of incantations and allowed the Muslims the use incantations as long as they do not include Shirk or Kufr or anything which is haram. Similarly, the use of Yoga falls in to the same category as the use of incantations because Yoga is a broad term just like incantations.
There is no direct evidence to prove from the Quran or authentic hadiths which says that Yoga is haram. All the fatwas which state that it is haram are based on the various implications drawn by scholars. The Prophet (sal) said, “Verily Allah has obligated the obligations – so do not neglect them. And He has limited the limits – so do not transgress them. And His silence about things is from His mercy, not forgetfulness, so do not investigate them.” (Hasan Sahih-Ad-Darqutni No. 4/199 and Al-Baihaqi No. 10/122)
In this hadith it is clear that Islam is actually silent on Yoga and Allah's silence is a mercy and that proves clearly that Yoga is also halal.
There are many products that are inspired by the ancient medicine call Ayurveda. Ayurveda is inspired by the Hindu Vedas especially the Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. In the Atharva Veda, the use of herbs and plants for medicinal purpose is mentioned as follows
"The tawny colored, and the pale, the variegated and the red,
The dusky tinted, and the black – all Plants we summon hitherward.
I speak to Healing Herbs spreading, and bushy, to creepers, and to those whose sheath is single,
I call for thee the fibrous, and the reed like, and branching plants, dear to Vishwa Devas, powerful, giving life to men.
The conquering strength, the power and might, which ye, victorious plants possess,
Therewith deliver this man here from this consumption, O ye Plants: so I prepare the remedy"
The Hindu Idol Dhanavanthri is regarded by the Hindus as the avatar of Vishnu and the God of medicine and is associated with Ayurveda. Nowadays in some countries, Ayurveda products are in cosmetics, shampoos and even food and drinks. Now does this make all these products haram? No because the term Ayurveda is broad just like Yoga and we have to look specifically rather than giving blanket armchair fatwas stating that it is haram.
The prophet (Sal) said.
"Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended"
(Bukhari and Muslim)
From this hadith it is clear that the action of a person is judged according to what he/or she intended and the performance of Yoga as a form of keeping your body healthy is a good intention and that intention itself proves that Yoga is not haram in Islam.
It was narrated that al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwidh ibn ‘Afra’ said: “After the consummation of my marriage, the Prophet (sal)me and sat on my bed as far from me as you are sitting now, and our little girls started beating the duff and reciting verses mourning my father, who had been killed in the battle of Badr. One of them said, ‘Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen tomorrow.’ On that the Prophet said, ‘Omit this (saying) and keep on saying the verses which you had been saying before.’”
(Narrated by al-Bukhari)
In this hadith, a few little girls started singing and they mentioned the phrase "‘Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen tomorrow.’ and then the prophet (Sal) advised them to omit the saying and to continue singing. Nowadays even whistling to a musical tune is also frowned upon by Muslims but in this hadith the prophet (Sal) did not forbid singing but only told the girls to omit a saying which was wrong because only Allah (Swt) knows about the future and not man. Similarly Yoga can be performed by omitting anything that amounts to Shirk or Kufr.
There is an opinion that is used as an argument to prove that Yoga is haram. This argument is based on the below hadith,
Ibn Umar (Rali) narrated that the prophet (Sal) said,
"Whoever imitates a people is one of them"
(Abu Dawud, Ahmed and other-Graded Sahih by Albani and Ibn Hibban)
It is true that we should not imitate the the ways of the non-Muslims who are kafir but once again this fall under the intention of the person. Let us take the example of a person wearing a t-shirt of denim. Now, if the person is wearing the T-shirt to mimic the ways of a disbeliever then that is haram but if it is done for the sake of pleasing Allah to dress beautifully then that does not become haram. After the battle of Yamama, the need arose to safeguard the Quran in the form of a book by compiling it. Umar (Rali) advised the first caliph, Abu Bakr as Siddiq (Rali) to compile the Quran in the form of the book but Abu Bakr (Rali) refused by saying that such a thing was not done by the prophet (Sal). Umar (Rali) explained to Abu Bakr (Rali) that it was beneficial and the Abu Bar (Rali) became convinced of it because the Quran was already compiled in camel skins, tree barks etc. and now it only had to be compiled in to a book. This story is narrated in various authentic hadiths including Bukhari in his Sahih. The point I am making here is, the Torah and the Bible were also compiled as books by the Jews and the Christians but the Quran was compiled as a book by caliph Abu Bakr (Rali) not to mimic the Christians but because it was something that was needed and would benefit all the Muslims. Similarly Yoga is beneficial for some people with ailments and disease and it can be practiced in that context.
Some Muslims try to say that practicing Yoga has no real benefits and is a waste of time. This is not true because a study published by the journal of clinical psychiatry (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314310.php) proved that performing Yoga helped ease symptoms of depression and Anxiety.
Another research done shows that Yoga helps in improving mind body health and stress resilience. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170822104855.htm
The prophet (Sal) told the Muslims to strive for what is beneficial. The prophet (Sal) said,
"Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless"
Yoga is also something that is beneficial for health if done as an exercise and it is not a waste of time.
Some of the Yoga poses are similar to the five time prayers of a Muslim. Here some examples below.
Some of the Yoga poses are similar to the five time prayers of a Muslim. Here some examples below.
This is not to mean that Salat is a form of Yoga which is wrongly interpreted by some Sufi heretics. What I am saying is that it is the intention that matters and when you go down on Sujud you worship Allah and you are close to Allah (Swt). the Balasana exercise can be done with a good intention and this itself proves that you can perform Yoga. It all is in the intention of the individual just like the use of a knife. You can use a knife to cut a vegetable which is normal and also use the knife to hurt someone which is haram.