This is a long due post.... I had written somewhere in my other blog 'Jalpari' that I'd be writing on why I dont like being told that Namaaz is just like Yoga....
I received a comment yesterday telling precisely that- This post was written as a comment in reply to that comment but is started gettin lengthy so, i thought of makin it into a blogpost......
I respect your views and agree to the 'cleanliness' aspect of it. But, i fear, i do not conform with most of what you have written with regard to the comparison of Namaz with Yoga.
The points you have mentioned have been told by many many many authors and TV channels that air Muslim stuff have shown many a Zakir Naik lectures on this topic. So, obviously a huge section of Muslims would tell what you wrote and i respect you guys for your intention.
But since i am talkin for myself, lemme say, I personally find this comparison to be degrading to both Namaz and Yoga.
It is very Dawah-centric.
And that too in a silly way.
First coming to Namaz, the very thot of equatin Namaz to any form of 'exercise' irks me big time.
It's almost like telling ppl a better bahana to read Namaz . You know, the kind of ppl who try to combine fasting in Ramzan and 'dieting'.
'ek teer do nishan' can definitely be a good 'outcome' of Namaz but when we PREACH that in the way Zakir Saab does, it's like diluting the intention behind Namaz.
Namaz is a 'conversation' with God. NOT a meditation.
When we read the Fatiha, we are actually 'saying' to Allah ki Allah Paak, saari tareef tumhare hi liye hai. Rabb ho tum pure aalam ke. Rehman ho, Raheem ho. Malik ho tum qiyamat ke roz ke. Hum tumhari ibadat karte hai aur tumse hi madad mangte hai. Hume sahi rah par chalao. Unki rah par jinse tum khush ho na ki unke jinpar tumhari narazgi hai.
And when we are saying THIS to Allah or asking Him to bless Mohammed S.A.W and his progeny as He had blessed Prophet Abraham A.S. and his progeny., THAT IS PRECISELY WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING.
Speaking to Allah.
I seriously wonder why and how can ppl compare the conversation with the Almighty with 'exercise'. We are the closest to Allah during sijdah, kehte hai. . . and at that time if i am concerned bout the position of my knee joint and ankle joint, am i really conversing with God?
One of my biggest difficulties in Islam has been attaining concentration during prayer. I keep wandering to the work that has to be done, the cat nibbling at something behind my back etc etc. If Namaz is an exercise, why am i even bothered bout the 'concentration'?
Repetitive movements of the Namaz can be a form of 'yoga' ppl say. If we know yoga or any form of exercise, we'd know how the position sense and stretch sense in performing those exercises are important. Definitely not possible in Namaz. In Namaz, we keep track of the VERSES. . . The body floats through the movements that we have been performing a minimum of twenty times, every single day of our lives. I also dont understand the cardio comparison of Namaz. Cardio, i think, is from cardiac. Th little cardio that i have done defines the word properly, it increases our cardiac function. Increases the pumping of the heart. The least form of cardio that i can manage without utter exhaustion is brisk walking. And that too leaves my heart Pumping real hard. Where is 'praying' if we are in a 'high' after a work out?
If we say yoga is 'meditation' and then talk bout Namaz being meditation, again, how can a conversation be meditation as well? It's like now while i am talkin to you, i am 'meditating'. Namaz to me is a conversation. In fact, an obligatory conversation which we do to make our lives easier. Both here and in the hereafter. It is for 'gardens beneath which rivers flow'. It is for meeting Huzur S.A.W. at kausar.
My mummy has been praying since God knows when. She prayed standing when she was young. Then she prayed sitting on the floor. Now she prays sitting on a chair. In fact, her sijdahs are only half sijdahs. Had her intention behind prayin been even partly for exercise, wouldnt she be disappointed now ? And now that she can only sit on a chair and pray, what 'exercise' does the Namaz remain ? She prays to be heard by her God. She wants me to pray properly, pray on time coz God is Hearing. She SPEAKS to Allah and that is why Namaz is alive in her heart. Not coz of any 'yoga' in Namaz.
at times after namaz we find ourselves crying or smiling coz of the dua we made to Allah...
in Namaz, I, Almas, try to concentrate on speaking to Allah.
not on either 'meditating' or 'exercise'.
Now coming to Yoga.
I havent been a student of yoga, leave alone a master and since i have not even followed the Indian group of religions (that is the parent religion of yoga), i wouldnt consider myself in a stable position to really 'opine' on yoga.
still, based on the little i have read on the topic, helped by my fascination for the religion that is Hinduism, i can say that Yoga is beyond... WAY BEYOND exercise alone, meditation alone or even both exercise and meditation combined together.
yoga being used to keep ourselves fit and healthy and to lose weight is the monetary aspect of it... the commercialized side to the discipline that is yoga.
Yoga, keeps us fit...or attempts to keep us fit, beyond doubt, but is more than just that.
yoga is meditation, beyond doubt, but again, is more than just that.
yoga is CONTEMPLATION. yoga is 'BECOMING ONE'....literally....
Hinduism, like Islam, has many branches....and one of the philosophies in Hinduism (the one that is my favourite) is that of MONOISM... unlike the conventional Islamic MONOTHEISM....
Monoism preaches the existence of God and God alone. All that is, is God. Nothing else is.
based on this philosophy, 'Yoga' is the 'becoming one' with 'God' in that.. it is the realization of 'All that is, is God. Nothing else is.'
it is almost like the realization of "Aham Brahmasami".....
i think this is the Advaita Vedanta school of thought .... am not sure, i apologize.
but, i THINK it is the Advaita Vedanta...
ADVAITA meaning 'a' + 'dvaita'
no + second.
One single existence- God.
this concept is considered alien to Islam. The Salafi school of thought, in fact, calls it Kufr.The very first page of Dr. Bilal Philips' "Fundamentals of Islamic Studies" in its discussion of the Tawheed, refutes Monoism.
How then can a Salafi (*self proclaimed Salafis- I am against the branching of Islam)while reading the Namaz, be doing anything similar to 'yoga'????
The story of creation goes that Allah is a Noor and he wanted to share his beauty with a beloved and so he created the Noor Mohammedi S.A.W. ...out of HIS OWN NOOR.
and then everything that existed, exists and will exist was created out of this Noor Mohammedi S.A.W..
meaning we all have the Noor of Noor Mohammedi in us...and indirectly, the Noor of Allah.
this entire story of creation is not accepted in the literal sense by many Muslim authorities. (no wonder, Monoism is also not accepted. i cant see how someone who believes in THIS story of creation wud manage to disbelieve in Monoism)
however, the Sufi school of thought are pretty Monoistic in their beliefs.
(again, no wonder, that they are called kafirs by many 'other' branches of Islam).
The only single thing in Islam that I personally, very personally, think can be compared to Yoga is the Sufi whirling dance....
very different from the Yoga, definitely....
yet, the closest to yoga that Islam has 'officially' got to. This whirling signifies the Muslim mystics' dance of love....love for the Supreme.. the Supreme that is .... and the only thing that is.
In his love for God, the Sufi annihilates himself... and all that remains is God.
otherwise, i find no comparison of any single 'sanctioned' and 'recognized' Muslim act to be akin to Yoga.
of course, we can always say that Yoga belongs to Allah... coz everything belongs to Allah. Every Prophet came with the message of Islam... any knowledge that ever came to man is from Allah.
in THAT way, Islam has yoga???? ok.. it does!
otherwise, in the Shariah of the Prophet Mohammed S.A.W, the last Prophet of Islam, (excluding the return of Jesus A.S. ofcourse), there is no YOGA.
There is Namaz, which is very very monotheistic.
Yoga, on the other hand can range from monotheism to monoism... depending on how far you can go in the 'yog'.
The Bhagawad Geeta mentions 'Yoga' in ways which I have not been able to understand fully. I need to study that in depth.
however, the verses in Bhagawad Gita do make it clear that Yoga is,like i told, beyond exercise, meditation or both.
There are many verses dealing wid yoga in the Gita, you can search it up.
I again write the two verses which I like the most in the Gita:-
"When thy mind leaves behind its dark forest of delusion, thou shalt go beyond the scriptures of times past and still to come.
When thy mind, that may be wavering in the contradictions of many scriptures, shall rest unshaken in divine contemplation, then the goal of 'YOGA' is thine."
P.S- Readers are free to differ in opinion. We are all individuals, we all have our own minds. We can all have our own opinion.