Darul Uloom Deoband says ready to accept yoga as an exercise | india | Hindustan Times
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Darul Uloom Deoband says ready to accept yoga as an exercise

The Darul Uloom Deoband, an influential seat of Sunni Islam in Uttar Pradesh, said on Thursday that yoga could be accepted as an exercise to promote better health provided there was no political agenda behind it.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2015 20:35 IST
S Raju

The Darul Uloom Deoband, an influential seat of Sunni Islam in Uttar Pradesh, said on Thursday that yoga could be accepted as an exercise to promote better health provided there was no political agenda behind it.

The remarks from the largest Islamic seminary in Asia comes amid a raging debate over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious World Yoga Day plans on June 21 with a host of Muslim and Christian organisations objecting to the government event.

But the Darul Uloom’s spokesperson, Ashraf Usmani, told HT many Muslims practice yoga in their daily lives and it has been accepted as an effective mode of exercise for centuries.

"We can accept yoga as an exercise but will not accept any politics behind it," he said, insisting that the saffronisation of yoga was likely to distort the secular character of the country.

The celebrations are a pet project of the PM, who appealed to the United Nations last year to observe an International Yoga Day.

The mega event is likely to see Modi leading ministers and bureaucrats in performing asanas at Rajpath in the heart of Delhi but has run into a storm of criticism over the inclusion of certain asanas and shlokas that have outraged minority communities.

The All India Muslim Personal Board on Sunday had announced plans to launch a nationwide campaign against making surya namaskar, which it described as a "Hindu religious practice", compulsory in educational institutions. Muslim leaders have said surya namaskar should not be made mandatory for all faiths. The controversy was further stoked by BJP MP Yogi Adityanath, who said those who were opposing surya namaskar should go to Pakistan.

Usmani also pointed out what he called attempts by the Centre in the past to infuse politics in yoga.

"Initially they tried to make surya namaskar compulsory in schools of BJP-ruled states, then attempted to include the Geeta in the syllabi and now they are doing the same with yoga", he said.

The spokesperson clarified the Darul Uloom has always been apolitical and never involved itself in any political matter.