While the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is set to start a campaign against yoga and surya namaskar, an NGO run by a Muslim couple has been selected by Union Ministry of Ayush’s Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy to conduct a month-long camp in Balrampur district ahead of International Yoga Day on June 21.
Mohammad Sayeed Memorial Welfare Society is the only organisation in UP that has been selected for conducting the yoga camp. While Akhtar had applied for organising a camp in Barabanki, his NGO was selected for Balrampur. The ministry will give financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh to organisations and institutions selected for the camps.
Since May 21, around 100 people — including 26 Muslims — are practicing yoga at a camp being conducted by the NGO in a school in Balrampur. A camp for a larger gathering will be organised in a stadium on June 21.
Since the recent controversy, NGO head Mohammad Akhtar (38) is not forcing Muslim participants to recite ‘Om’ while practicing surya namaskar. He has also asked his two instructors — Rupendra Srivastava and L N Tripathi — to make recitation of ‘Om’ optional. Muslim participants have been asked to either recite ‘Allah’, ‘ayat’ or any word they wish to or not say anything at all while practicing surya namaskar and meditation.
“I have convinced all, including Muslims, that yoga and surya namaskar are not linked to any religion and their practice is vital for removing illness and keeping oneself fit,” said Akhtar, a supervisor in a private firm in Lucknow. Akhtar said he himself has recovered from chronic respiratory illness by practicing yoga.
“Religion does not decide who will get what disease. Both diseases and treatments are same for every person. I learned yoga in a Kerala institute from a Christian instructor. But he never forced me to recite any auspicious word of his own religion in surya namaskar,” Akhtar said.
Akhtar, who had set up the NGO four years ago and named it after his father, has also taught yoga to his wife Shaista Akhtar.
At their home in Barabanki, where they shifted a few months ago from Lucknow, Shaista runs a camp for girls where they are taught embroidery, stitching, painting and basics of computer education free of cost. She also runs a yoga camp for women, which is mostly attended by Muslim girls. “These girls come from backward areas. I teach them surya namaskar but do not tell them the name because they may connect it with Hindu religion and avoid practicing it,” said Shaista. She is set to join the camp from Wednesday.
On Muslim groups opposing yoga, Akhtar said: “They are opposing because it has received international acclaim following PM’s efforts. If any Muslim leader had done the same, no organisation would have opposed it.”
Govt banks on staff turn out
New Delhi: As the government gears up to hold the Yoga Day celebrations at Rajpath on June 21, it is banking on central government employees to turn up in large numbers.
“We are getting requests from various employees working in different ministries for participation in the Yoga Day celebrations,” said Union Minister Jitendra Singh here on Sunday. The DoPT is already in the process of preparing a list of government officials who are likely to participate.
Stating that DoPT has been conducting yoga classes for central government staff and their family, Singh added that it is not mandatory for the government employees to attend the June 21 event. ENS
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