Even as the BJP and RSS gear up to observe the International Yoga Day on June 21 across the country, the saffron party’s minority cell chief in Bengal, Shakeel Ansari has decided to “stay away” from the event and “ask other members of the minority community to also do the same”.
“Things such as Surya Namaskar and chanting of shlokas are an integral part of yoga but strictly prohibited in our religion. So I would keep away from it and would ask other Muslim members to refrain from it as well,” Ansari told The Indian Express on the sidelines of the BJP’s law violation programme on Thursday.
He argues that since the month of Ramzan would begin from Friday, and which would involve offering a special namaz besides the five prayers offered in a day, “Muslims do not need to do yoga separately” as “namaz is one of the best forms of exercises in the world” Muslim leaders in the state lauded Ansari’s views.
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“It is very good to see that Ansari has managed to keep politics and faith separate. I appreciate his views. One has the right to support any political party in the country but it is good to see that people like him are there who would not part with their faith in the process,” said Syed Md Nurur Rahman Barkati, Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid.
Shafique Qasmi, Imam Nakhoda Masjid, too, echoed similar views. “Ansari is a good example of how someone, in the process of supporting a political party and pleasing its leaders, should not compromise with one’s faith. What he has done is exemplary,” Qasmi said.
BJP’s national general secretary and Bengal observer Siddharth Nath Singh said that it was not compulsory for anyone, including party members, to participate in the International Yoga Day. “The practice of yoga (on June 21) has not been made mandatory, not even for the party workers. This goes to show how secular our party is as opposed to the propaganda being created that we are biased towards Hinduism. People from other religion are free to practice their faith and can abstain from practices that hurt their religious sentiments,” he said.