JAKARTA - MUSLIMS in Indonesia are now banned from practicing yoga that contains Hindu rituals like chanting, but will continue to be allowed to perform it for purely health reasons, the chairman of the country's top Islamic body said on Monday.
Cleric Ma'ruf Amin said the Ulema Council issued the non-binding ruling following weekend talks attended by hundreds of theological experts in Padang Panjang, a village in West Sumatra province.
Although the ruling is not legally binding, most devout Muslims are likely to adhere to it - as they consider it sinful to ignore a fatwa.
The Ulema Council decided on the ban, which follows a similar edict in neighboring Malaysia, over concerns that the faith of Muslim yoga practitioners would be weakened if they take part in Hindu rituals like chanting mantras, Amin said.
'Those who perform yoga purely for health reasons or sport will not be affected,' Mr Amin said. 'We only prohibit activities that can corrupt Islamic values.'
Indonesia is a secular nation of 235 million people, 90 per cent of whom are Muslim. Most practice a moderate form of the faith, but a vocal extremist fringe has gained strength in recent years. -- AP
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