Rais Kasam Shaikh, a councillor from Mumbai Central, challenged the civic body’s August 23 decision making Surya Namaskar and yoga mandatory for students.(HT PHOTO)
Rais Kasam Shaikh, a councillor from Mumbai Central, challenged the civic body’s August 23 decision making Surya Namaskar and yoga mandatory for students.(HT PHOTO)

‘Surya Namaskar opposed to fundamental concept of Islam’

A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak will hear this PIL
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON SEP 25, 2016 12:31 AM IST

Surya Namaskar — a yoga routine known as ‘sun salutation’ — is opposed to the fundamental concept of Islam and is therefore a violation of the fundamental religious rights of students studying in Urdu medium schools run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), a municipal councillor has contended in his Public Interest Litigation filed (PIL) in the Bombay high court. 

Rais Kasam Shaikh, a councillor from Mumbai Central, challenged the civic body’s August 23 decision making Surya Namaskar and yoga mandatory for students studying in 1,285 civic schools during their morning prayers. Shaikh said that of these 1,285 schools, 400 schools are Urdu medium institutions, in which about one lakh students study. A majority of these are followers of Islam, he added.

By making yoga mandatory, the BMC is attempting to impose upon these students “a system and practice completely foreign to the followers of religions such as Christianity and Islam,” read the PIL.

“Articles 25 to 28 of the Constitution of India guarantee a fundamental right to every citizen to preach, practice and propagate the religion of their choice including the practices and systems adopted by such religions,” it stated.

“The resolution — so far as it makes it compulsory to follow a particular system or practice — is therefore in violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution,” it added.

“The fundamental concept of Islam affirms that God is one and incomparable,” Shaikh has asserted in his PIL. “It disowns any other God except the one God (Allah),” it stated. The sun is considered to be a god in Vedic literature and thus, a sun salutation is in opposition to Islam under Article 25 of the Constitution, stated Shaikh.

A person following Islam, if mandated to perform surya namaskara — a Hindu Vedic system and practice — he or she will be required to do something opposed to his or her religious beliefs, Believers of Islam cannot be complled to follow such a practice, read the PIl. 

A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak will hear this PIL, along with another one filed by a Kurla resident, which challenges this same resolution.

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