A 47-year-old Muslim woman does yoga every day and trains others at a government-run training centre in the Madhya Pradesh capital, saying the ancient exercise and meditation routine helps her offer namaz without distractions.
Syed Rubab Fatima’s faith in yoga, which she has been practising for about a year, stands out amid the controversy over participation of Muslims in International Yoga Day celebrations on June 21.
She treats yoga as an exercise to stay fit and healthy, saying it has nothing to do with religion.
Video: Muslim woman teaches yoga
“Yoga is just an exercise. When Hindus are putting efforts to remain fit, why are Muslims opposing it? I practice yoga at the centre but it never hurt my religious sentiments,” she says.
“The Quran says the faithful should not think of anything but Allah while offering namaz. But our concentration is weak and distractions are many. When I do yoga, level of my concentration goes up and that helps me in concentrating better on the Almighty during prayers.”
She is planning to open a yoga centre herself and start imparting training to schoolchildren.
“I have chosen yoga as my career. At present, I teach yoga at the government centre with my teacher. From this academic year, I am going to start it at my mother-in-law’s school in Budhwara.”
She has her own take on the recitation of “Om”, which is considered by several Muslims as anti-Islamic, during yoga workouts.
“Nobody asks you to utter Om. The trainer asks you to take the name of god while performing yoga. People can take names of their own god. If you recite Om, special kind of vibrations generate through your body. Allah has 99 names and I am finding out a name which sounds similar to Om so that similar vibrations are generated in the body,” she says.
What about reciting names of asanas and mantras? “Most of the terminology used in yoga is in Sanskrit. I don’t find anything wrong in using a language. Names of asanas are in Sanskrit because nobody tried to translate them. If people have problems, they should translate it in their own language.”