By: Editorial Staff
We have already presented a comparison between the yoga and the five daily prayers in three separate articles, published on our website. To read them, please, click here:
And now we would like to address the issue of Suryanamskar in Yoga system.
What is the Meaning of Suryanamskar?
The word “Suryanamskar” is composed of two separate words Surya (the sun) andNamskar (saluting), thus the phrase means saluting the sun. Saluting the sun is a form of worship which is known to Hindus because the sun is one of the Hindu gods.
It is also a plain reality that forcing a person to a specific practice or a certain sport of exercise is unacceptable according to the simple human mind, for example, it is not permissible for me to force a person to sit on the chair. However, sitting on a chair is a permissible thing that has no religious prohibition or objection. This is a clear logical ruling that does not need any reasoning or inferring. It is clear for every human being that has even a simple sense or fair mind. But if you are forcing a person on a practice that has religious prohibition, the act would be strictly forbidden. You could learn Yoga from the Marianne Wells Yoga School and also impart your knowledge to others.
Bad Results of Imposing “Suryanamskar”
Since Suryanamskar includes religiously forbidden factor for Muslims and other people it should not be imposed on them especially when we claim following the logic and reason. In addition, there are other religious communities that refuse Suryanamskar such as Jews and Christians; there is no plausible reason for imposing yoga or Suryanamskar for everyone, irrespective of his faith and religion.
In fact, this type of actions leads to some dangerous social and religious problems, because it creates amongst the minority atmosphere of enmity and hatred toward the majority, and it gives them feelings of injustice and humiliation. All these factors are like cancer in the body of social and religious unity and harmony, which lead to the disintegration and decay of human unity and harmony.
I am sure that those who want to impose religious practices of a particular culture on the people of different religions are wrong in their judgment or they are not sincere to their country and people especially in India the country of religious pluralism since thousands of years.
Such practices lead to sectarian strife and serious social problems. I think that the sectarian strife that took place in India after independence and the number of people died because of these communal clashes are more than the strife that occurred during the ten centuries of Muslim rule in India. This is because of such random behaviors of some foolish particularly in sensitive religious issues.
The Daily Five Prayers and Non-Muslims
Question: Would you permit to impose the five daily prayers and fasting of Ramadan on all people: Jains, and Buddhists, Hindus and followers of Aryah Smaj and Snatan Dharma, because the five daily prayers and fasting of Ramadan contain many health benefits as was concluded by many experts, Muslims and Non-Muslims. In addition, the faith in Godgiveshumans the strength of the resistancetosuicidal tendency.Is it logical to be imposed on all people because of these interests?
With all these benefits, Muslims never triedin the days oftheir gloryand strengththroughoutthe longcenturiesto imposethe five daily prayersandthe fasting month ofRamadanontheir non-Muslim subjects. You can not present even a single incidentof this kind. In fact, they were very careful for preserving the religious feelings of non-Muslims; rather,the Moghal Emperor Akbar allowed Hindu worship in his home.
Why is Suryanamskar Important?
There are so many social urgent and critical issues in India that need prompt solutions, for example; do you think if Yoga can solve food problems in India? With 21% of its population undernourished, nearly 44% of under-5 children underweight and 7% of them dying before they reach five years, India is firmly established among the world’s most hunger-ridden countries. The situation is better than only Congo, Chad, Ethiopia or Burundi, but it is worse than Sudan, North Korea, Pakistan or Nepal. This is according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) which combines the above three indicators to give us a Global Hunger Index (GHI) according to which India is 67th among the worst 80 countries in terms of malnourishment. That’s not all. Data collected by GHI researchers shows that while there has been some improvement in children’s malnutrition and early deaths since 1990, the proportion of hungry in the population has actually gone up.
Why so much energy and money are being spent on Yoga and Suryanamskar while there are urgent problems that need attention and solution?
India is a country where many schools of philosophies and religions of the world flourished since ancient ages, and everyone had the religious freedom none has the right to impose the religious rules, regulations or identityof a particular religion on all people. Here all people of all religions stay united and do everything according to their religion. One religion cannot impose anything on another religion.
If a particular community wants to do Yoga and Suryanamaskar, it is well within their rights. But they should not impose on others just because it is believed to be useful. Surya Namaskaris against Christians too. Christians bowed only before their God Jesus and not before any other Gods. It is known that one can perform Yoga at any place or time since Yoga is about keeping oneself healthy and fit.
However, the five obligatory daily prayers in Islam are performed on their fixed times but they can be performed at any place with the condition of purity and cleanliness.
The sun, as “Surya Bhagwan” is a God to the Hindus, and as such is worshiped by them along with the moon and other ‘Nava Grahas’.
In Islam, only Allah is the God! To compel Muslim students to do ‘Suryanamaskar’ is against the principle of freedom of worship. Suryanamskar is not acceptable in Islam because, its asanas and nature defy the basic principles of the Islamic faith. Muslims have to obey the Glorious Qur’an and Sunnah which are their religious authorities. Indian Muslims are natives of India as Hindus are! We speak Tamil,Malayalam,Bengali,Telugu,Hindi,Urdu, and are dark skinned too. They all may have mix parentage through centuries. They are all Indians! They are born in India,live in India and share the same land and its blessings.
Yoga and the Five Prayers
Those who believe in Yoga and Suryanamaskar should not force others who do not believe in it to adopt religious practices of a particular religion that contradict the identities and basics of other religions. We should try to follow the advice “Live and let Live”, we have to defend the right of religious freedom everywhere in the world.Whoever wants to do yoga or Suryanamaskar he is free, but we should bear in our mind that Muslims have their own system of prayers and fasting that are more comprehensive, proper, complete as per the Glorious Qur’an and blessed Sunnah. They listen to five times a day the call for Prayer (Adhan)and perform prayers in congregation every day. The five daily prayers are the best form of spiritual and physical exercise for Muslim men and women in a decent manner. The Muslims have the most comprehensive and accurate system for a healthy life? They do not need neither, Yoga nor Suryanamaskar, the five prayers are the divine gift for all Muslims that can give them all kinds of physical, spiritual and mental peace and fitness.And when someone performsfive times dailyNamaz (the prayer), then there is no need of anything else, Namaz itself has many health benefits.
The Sun as a Hindu God
Hindus worship Sun, Wind, Water, Earth and Space (Panchabhut- Agni,Vaayu,Jal,Bhumi and Aakash) how can a Muslim participate in an exercise that includes salutation to the Sun? Muslims worship the Creator of the sun and regard it as a creation of God and worship the Creator alone. Yoga is a Hindu spiritual exercise that is believed to be a source of union with divine world. In fact, the working people in villages who awake early morning and walk in clean air never needed yoga and livehappily.It is the stressed community, who lived on other people’s hard works discovered yoga to suit their own needs. One can live happily without it like millions of physically hardworking villagers.
When the farmers work hard and run behind their duties their respiratory system becomes stronger and healthier, perhaps, that health and strength could not be gained through Yoga. Rather, many people will regard it a kind of wasting of time.
A Muslim man has to go to the mosque five times every day, as congregational prayers are more meritorious for a Muslim man than his lonely prayer. Concentration on the sublime power of God and His Majesty is the essence of the prayer, if you think in the conditions of the prayer, its positions, postures, timings, the recitation of some verses from the Glorious Qur’an you would be sure and convinced that the system of the five prayers is more perfect, simpler, proper, practical, healthier than the system of yoga.
In fact, the philosophy of yoga is an invention by an Indian philosopher Patanjali. However, the system of the five prayers according to the Islamic faith is a divine gift that was given to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during the miraculous night journey of the Prophet (peace be upon him). And there is no comparison between what was gifted by the divine and what was invented by human thought.
In fact, Muslims failed to introduce the unique system the daily five prayers and their benefits while Hindus managed to introduce their yoga to east and west, therefore, we see many non Hindus practice yoga all over the world including the West? And many scientific studies have been done and countless articles and books were prepared to validate the use of yoga for many diseases.
If the Islamic system of the five prayers and the fasting of the month of Ramadan would have been introduced properly to the people it would have been a source of attraction for many people in the world, perhaps, more than the attraction to the yoga.
A Muslim is not allowed to practice Suryanamaskar, they connect their mind with Allah while performing the five daily prayers, why a Muslim is forced to follow a system that is contrary to his basic belief? Muslims don’t do Namaskara to anyone. Why do Hindus want to force it upon Muslims and followers of other faiths? If it is good then they are free to do it no one has the right to object.
Even Christians cannot do namaskar to anything that has been created by God (surya, chandra or anything, else) but only to God Himself. God is the Creator of all things and everything, so worship God and not His creation. We should not think only of our Physical well being (health, wealth, knowledge etc.) let us think of our spiritual well being (love, forgiveness, truth, purity etc.). The question is: By doing yoga can I stop telling lies? By doing yoga can I stop loving money? By doing yoga can I stop hating others? If not then consider how we may seek for God and His truth because God can help us overcome our sins. No one should ever be forced to do anything against their will or religion. If Muslims do not want to do it, they must never be forced. This is against the religious and personal freedom.
Even if yoga is good it cannot be imposed on others.Meat eating is good for health but one can’t force others to eat it.Forceful imposition is harmful for democracy and therefore it should be left to the wisdom of the people to decide. The daily five prayers and the fast of Ramadan have been proven scientifically useful for human spiritual, physical and mental health can you allow to be imposed on other faiths?
If somebody does not like to do particular thing then it’s his freedom we cannot force them especially when it goes against his faith and religion.
In addition, sun is a creation of the Creator,so prostrating before the Creator makes sense, but prostrating before the sun or moon has no justification. India should focus on the development and other urgent issues of its people,far from imposing Hindu religious practices on the minorities. People claim that yoga is a sort of mental and spiritual exercise if it is so it should be practiced by will not forcibly; forcing some kind of religious identities and practices always lead to detrimental effects. Everyone like their religious practices and try to stick to it. Hurting their religious sentiment will never bring peace to the mind or soul. Forcing Yoga is not the way. many scientists have woken up to the benefits of the daily five prayers (concentration, heart health, uplifted & centered feelings etc) and prisoners are known to the benefits and good impacts of the daily five prayers and fasting of Ramadan.
In Hindu religion sun is worshipped as a God but Islam places immense emphasis on the oneness of God, and worshipping Him Alone. Suryanamaskaar involves praying to or bowing to sun which is against the basic faith of Islam.
As well as, Muslims don’t have to worship cow to use its milk. It doesn’t matter to them if somebody else worships cows. However, many Hindus, especially the Hindu women worship the moon as a God. The brilliant stars are also worshipped as ‘Rishis’ by many Hindus.
Paganism in Yoga
I also support the view that basically some aasna of Yoga is good for health and for the respiratory system, but the system of Yoga in general has been spoiled by including mythical gods and paganism in it.
As a Muslim I would say that prayer (Namaz) is the best form of spiritual and physical exercise in Islam as it revitalizes the body thoroughly five times a day. Islam is the monotheistic religion; it forbids its followers to bow before anyone or anything except their God. So technically, Suryanamaskar is against this rule.
Suryanamaskar should not be made mandatory in government schools, because Muslims bowed only before ‘Allah the Almighty.’
This is not the first time that such a row has erupted. There was a similar propaganda last year when some Hindu ruled states tried to make singing of Vande Mataram compulsory in schools provoking Muslim protests.