The National Fatwa Council's non-binding edict said yoga involves not just physical exercise but also includes Hindu spiritual elements, chanting and worship.
"It is inappropriate. It can destroy the faith of a Muslim," council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin told reporters.
He noted that clerics in Egypt issued a similar edict in 2004 that called the practice of yoga "an aberration."
Though the council's decisions are not legally binding on Malaysia's Muslim population, many abide by the edicts out of deference, and the council does have the authority to ostracise an offending Muslim from society.
The fatwa reflects the growing strain of conservatism in Malaysia, which has always taken pride in its multiethnic population. About 25 per cent of Malaysians are ethnic Chinese and 8 per cent ethnic Indians, mostly Hindus.
Recently, the council issued an edict banning tomboys, ruling that girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam.
The fatwa council took up the yoga issue after an Islamic scholar last month expressed an opinion at a seminar that it was un-Islamic.
But yoga teacher Suleiha Merican, who has been practising yoga for 40 years, called yoga "a great health science" and said there is no religion involved.
"We don't do chanting and meditation. There is no conflict because yoga is not religion based," Suleiha, 56, told The Associated Press.
There are no figures for how many Muslims practise yoga, but many yoga classes have a sprinkling of Muslims attending.
Putri Rahim, a housewife, said she is no less a Muslim after practising yoga for 10 years.
"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," Putri told The Associated Press.
In a recent blog posting, social activist Datin Marina Mahathir criticised the council for even considering a yoga ban, calling it "a classic case of reacting out of fear and ignorance." — AP click Fatwa council bans yoga
Malaysia Islamic body bans yoga for Muslims in a non-binding edict
The Canadian Press, Malaysia -
In its non-binding edict, Malaysia's National Fatwa Council says yoga has elements of Hindu religion that could corrupt Muslims. ...
Yoga forbidden for Muslims in Malaysia: official
The practice will erode their faith in the religion," Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the government-backed National Fatwa Council, told reporters. ...
Malaysian Islamic body bans Yoga for Muslims
Press Trust of India, India -
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Thaindian.com, Thailand -
Putrajaya (Malaysia), Nov.22 (ANI): Malaysias National Fatwa Council has declared that yoga practices which involve physical movements, worshipping and ...
Malaysia Islamic body bans yoga for Muslims
Ely Times, USA -
Bookmarks By EILEEN NG, Associated Press Writer Eileen Ng, Associated Press Writer – 25 mins ago The National Fatwa Council‘s non-binding edict said yoga ...
Malaysian body bans yoga for Muslims
USA Today -
The National Fatwa Council, which has the authority to rule on how Muslims must conduct their faith, issued a fatwa, or edict, saying yoga involves not just ...
Malaysian Islamic council bans yoga for Muslims
Earthtimes (press release), UK -
The National Fatwa Council issued the ban Saturday, saying the practice of yoga involved physical movements, worshipping and chantings which were prohibited ...
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San Francisco Chronicle, USA -
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Fatwa council bans yoga
The Malaysian Insider, Malaysia -
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International Herald Tribune, France -
Malaysia's National Fatwa Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin says yoga involves not just physical exercise but also includes spiritual elements, ...