It is rather unfortunate that we leave religious issues to these “so called Ulama” to issue edicts of such nature that demote Islam as a religion rather than promoting it. The attitude of the religious department has been all that: to make it harder for anyone to practice Islam and for anyone to truly appreciates what the message Islam is bringing to mankind; that is of compassion, tolerance, openness, respect, and furthermore, to learn from all other religion as well as mankind. Islamic civilization was built upon the treasures of knowledge and practice of so many other civilization of the past: the Persians, the Romans, and off course the Hindus, the Buddhists and so on. A clear example in mathematics is how the Arabs (Muslims) learn the usage of numerals, which are the base of today’s numerical systems. It is time that we all speak against these people and hopefully to bring them to centerfold of society.
If we want to carry on the logic that they have applied (and tried) to the case of Yoga, then in Malaysia, we have ample of cases of that should be “banned” as well. A common example is the Malays wedding ceremonies (Majlis Bersanding, etc), is a clear example of whereby it does not conforms to Islamic teachings. What we have is part of “Adat Melayu” which has a strong Hindu tradition imbued in it. Similarly so many of “Silat” are mired with “non-Islamic” rituals and are a pagan tradition that has been inherited through generations. If we talk about “Bomohs” and Shamanism, then the subject becomes even clearer. Why then these “so called Ulama” didn’t speak out against such practices?
The point is, I think they should stop being petty and focus on the main message of Islam first. They should spend more time in understanding Islam itself, and learn on how to bring the message of Islam to all common people. Spiritually speaking Islam has a lot to offer to Muslims and non-Muslim alike. This is where they should start. When Prophet Muhamad pbuh started his message: it was about the message of belief in God, in the midst of a deeply rooted Pagan society. He was the bearer of the message of Mercy and Kindness, in a ruthless and war mongering society; His message was about “cleansing of the souls” against the corruptness of rulers and people; and so on.
This is where they should start.