Interview: 'Yoga is a physical exercise attached to Hindu culture'

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The All Indian Muslim Law Personal Board decided to challenge the decision of the government to implement yoga in government schools before the Supreme Court of India.

In a recent meeting that was held in Uttar Pradesh the board decided that it would also challenge the implementation of the Gita and singing of Saraswathi vandana in schools.


The question now is whether Yoga has been given a religious colour? What is the real issue that the law personal board trying to rake up.

S Q R Ilyas, a senior member of the board says in this interview with OneIndia that the challenge is not against Yoga day. Instead, it is the implementation of Hindu customs in government schools that is being challenged.

What exactly is the board challenging before the Supreme Court?

The board has decided that Yoga and Surya namaskar in government schools needs to be challenged. The government is also trying to implement Hindu culture in the syllabus in government schools. This is what we want to challenge.

What does the board have against Yoga?

We have nothing against Yoga day. We want to challenge the implementation of this in government schools. Government schools cannot have one particular religion's preaching.

But, Sir, Yoga is a physical exercise and Karnataka health minister U T Khader too said the same recently.

Yoga no doubt is a physical exercise. However, it is just not restricted to that. There is a part of it which is attached to spiritual teachings in Hindu dharma. We are challenging the spiritual and cultural aspect of yoga which is attached to Hinduism.

However, I want to also add that we are not against Yoga. It is just that it cannot be imposed on the students.

This issue is already before the Rajasthan High Court. What was the need for another petition?

Yes, there is a petition challenging implementation of Yoga in schools before the Rajasthan High Court. There is also a petition in the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

The board feels that there should be one unified decision on the subject and hence it is best to move the Supreme Court.

The government of India says Yoga is not compulsory. Are you aware of it?

Yes, I am aware of what the government has said. Let me remind you that the Government of Rajasthan has made it compulsory. Some students had refused to abide by the decision. They were excluded and targeted.

Would there have been a challenge in the court had customs of another religion been implemented?

Yes, there would have been. We do not believe that in government schools, religion should come into the picture. Whether it is Islamic or Buddhist preaching, none should be implemented in schools.

What about the private schools?

We cannot say anything about private schools. Schools under an Islamic or Hindu trust are free to take their own decisions. Government on the other hand cannot be told to implement religious preaching. Government schools are under a secular government and religion cannot come in the way.

On a different note. What is happening with the Ayodhya case?

The case is stuck in the Supreme Court. The decision of the Allahabad High Court which was passed in the year 2010 has just reached the Supreme Court. You can imagine the pace.

Moreover, the Supreme Court wants some documents translated and this is also taking some time. There are several documents in Persian as well and they need to be translated to English.

Is anyone interested in the case?

Yes, we all still are interested in it.

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