As the Madhya Pradesh government prepares to create a Guinness world record with thousands of school students performing the yogic exercise, Surya Namaskar,, on January 12, Muslim leaders have termed bowing before the sun un-Islamic and idolatrous. Top clerics in the state issued a fatwa against Surya Namaskar on Tuesday.
Alleging that Shivraj Singh Chouhan's government was gently and insidiously saffronising education in MP, the Muslim leaders said if the government went ahead with its mass Surya Namaskar, they would approach the court. But state school education minister Archana Chitins said participation in the mass Surya namaskar was voluntary.
"The sun is neither saffron nor green, It has nothing to with religion or religious ritual or ceremony," she said.
"Surya Namaskar is a healthy yogic exercise. And we are not imposing it. It is not mandatory for all. Those who don't want to participate, are most welcome to drop out. Surya Namaskar is a healthy exercise which has been ratified by scientists and health experts across the world. We want children to adopt a healthy lifestyle. That is our only aim here."
However, the Muslim leadership said Islam did not give them permission to bow before any picture or three-dimensional object. Muslims leaders from various organisations, who jointly held a press meet in Bhopal on Tuesday under the banner of Coordination Committee for Indian Muslims Unit, Madhya Pradesh, urged Muslim students not to participate in the "un-Islamic" event.
State government has issued guidelines to all joint directors of school education and district education officers to ensure the success of the Surya Namaskar event.
The school education department has said that lakhs of text messages would be sent on behalf of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan to invite people to participate in the event.
The state has issued instructions to all district education officers that principals of higher secondary schools be appointed as nodal officers for Surya Namaskar.
The state government is aiming for a world record for the largest aerobics demonstration (multi-location). Currently, Kazakhstan holds the record for the largest aerobics demonstration (multi-location) in which 48,45,098 people participated.
The fatwa was issued in Bhopal on Monday by three shahar muftis Mohammad Abul Kalam Kasmi, Raees Ahmed Khan Kasmi and Mufti Sayyed Babbar Hussain Nadvi, and ratified by shahar qazi Sayyed Mushtaq Ali Nadvi. The fatwa said, " Surya namaskar (suraj ke samney sar jhukana)...mazhab Islam mein iske koi gunjayish nahin hain (Islam does not allow Surya Namaskar)."
Muslim leaders including Jamaat-e-Islami MP president Abdul Latif, vice president of the coordination committee Abdul Wahid Naqvi, Social Democratic Party of India president Sajid Siddique and coordination committee secretary Masood Ahmed Khan, who addressed the press, said even the Madhya Pradesh high court in its order of August 28, 2009, had said that authorities would not compel students to undertake the exercise of Surya Namaskar or Pranayam and would not derecognise any institution if its students do not perform these exercises. Muslims leaders have decided to approach the court if the state government continued Surya Namaskar in schools.