Senior clerics and Muslim community leaders have opposed the state government order asking schools to remain open on June 21 to mark International Yoga Day and demanded that the celebrations be made optional.
“Yoga may have many health benefits, but observing International Yoga Day in schools should not be made compulsory. The order is undemocratic and amounts to infringing on the rights of a group of citizens who don’t worship anyone except Allah who is formless and omnipresent. Like other religious groups, Muslims revere their mothers and believe that heaven is at mother’s feet. Yet, they don’t bow to their mothers or touch their feet as they are mandated to only bow to Allah,” said Dr Zahir Kazi, president of Anjuman-I-Islam, which runs a chain of schools and professional colleges in the state.
“We have nothing against those who worship the sun, the moon, the seas or the mountains. But Muslims believe that all these things are creations of Allah, who alone deserves worship,” said Azmi.
“The government cannot force citizens to do what it thinks is right. The Constitution guarantees its citizens complete religious freedom. If yoga also involves surya namaskar, which monotheistic Islam doesn’t approve of, it should not be made compulsory. The government must amend its order before it snowballs into a major controversy,” said MIM MLA advocate Waris Pathan.
“The NDA government came to power on the slogan of ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’. But in the last one year, we have witnessed deliberate attempts to promote and popularize one type of culture. The government should be more concerned about improving the infrastructure of schools than making yoga day compulsory,” said Aslam Ghazi, legal cell coordinator of Jamaat-e-Islami (Maharashtra).
On Monday, the education and sports minister Vinod Tawde had urged schools to have students in attendance on June 21, a Sunday.