Q: Is it permissible for Muslims to use yoga as a form of exercising the body and mind without using the “Words” but only the “Actions”.
A: The Qur’aan and hadeeth vehemently prohibits us from adopting the ways and styles of disbelievers, more especially when it has irreligious connotations and its roots in their religions. In Surah Baqarah, Allah Ta`ala commanded the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) to refrain from using the word “raa`ina” when speaking to Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Literally, it meant that they were requesting Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) to focus his attention to them. However, the Jews used the same word with the intent of vilifying Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as it had a derogatory meaning in the Hebrew language. Hence, since it had evil connotations Allah Ta`ala prevented the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) from using this word. Similar is the case with yoga exercises. Though, it may outwardly seem to be free from any impermissible element, but it has its roots in the Hindu and Buddhist religions, thus having within it shirki connotations. In the light of this we totally discourage engaging in such exercises.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)