Why are Muslims opposing yoga when Muslim countries are supporting it?

Over 47 Muslim-majority countries have supported the International Day of Yoga, yet some Indian communities, including sections of Muslims, are opposing it, Shripad Yesso Naik, the minister of state for yoga and traditional medicine, has said.

“Over 47 Arab countries have not only supported the event but have also become partners. All the countries abroad want to help us with the event while Indian communities want to oppose it,” Naik told mediapersons in an interview ahead of the International Day of Yoga on June 21.

“We have requested all Indian communities to support the cause and not politicise it,” the minister added.

Rebutting as baseless the allegations that the International Day of Yoga is meant to spread the Hindutva agenda, Naik said one of its elements, the ‘surya namaskar’ (yogic postures for prayers to the sun) has been taken out of the day’s activities.

The ministry has received objections from the Muslim leaders that surya namaskar required everyone to pray to the sun, while Muslims were allowed to pray only to Allah.

“We do not want any controversy over surya namaskar. There is no compulsion to chant any prayer and if people do not wish to say ‘om’ they can chant ‘Allah’,” Naik said, adding that the leaders have extended their support after a meeting with him.

Naik’s ministry, as also the external affairs ministry, have been tasked with organizing the first International Day of Yoga in India and abroad, with the activities expected to be held across 193 countries.

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