In a letter addressed to the Maldives Police Service on June 16, the Islamic Ministry of Maldives requested the police to stop yoga day related activities in the Maldives.
According to Islamic Ministry, yoga is practiced in the Maldives for meditation, exercise, and healing, but the mutual ruling in islam is that yoga is forbidden. Therefore, all yoga activities must be stopped, the letter read. The letter was signed by Senior Executive Director of the Islamic Ministry Hisham Ahmed and addressed to Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed, clearly stating the decision of the Islamic scholars and fatwa councils on the issue of yoga.
The Egyptian Fatwa Council issued a fatwa in September, 2004 stating that yoga is forbidden to Muslims and is not permissible even as a sport as it is associated with Hindu worship. In 2008, Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council also issued a similar fatwa stating that yoga is forbidden to Muslims and should not be practiced as a sport or as a form of worship. The letter directed police to identify those who practice yoga and take appropriate action in order to uphold Islamic Shariah and Maldivian laws and regulations.
The letter became public amid controversy regarding the event held at the National Stadium on June 21 to mark International Yoga Day. The event was held despite religious scholars calling on the relevant government agencies not to hold the event as it is considered forbidden in islam. However, the Islamic Ministry did not make a public statement on the matter before or after the event.
Maldives Police Service has so far arrested 19 people, including two religious scholars for breaching security at the National Stadium and stopping the yoga day event.