Muslims can take Allah’s name in place of shlokas: Minister

NEW DELHI: After dropping ‘Surya Namaskar’ from the official yoga programme to “avoid controversy”, the government on Thursday said chanting ‘shlokas’ during ‘International Yoga Day’ was not “compulsory” and appealed to Muslims to participate in the event. 

Shripad Naik, minister for Ayush, the coordinating ministry for the event at Rajpath on June 21, said Muslims can “take the name of Allah instead of reciting ‘shlokas'” during the event. 

While some minority groups have objected to the holding of the event by government, especially inclusion of Surya Namskar, representatives of some Muslim organizations who met Naik today said those opposing yoga were “enemies of humanity” and yoga has nothing to do with religion. 

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had said a committee which decided the common yoga protocol had not included Surya Namaskar “because they wanted easy asanas (exercise) in it, which can be performed by anyone.” 

Naik on Thursday said, “We did not include Surya namaskar to avoid controversy. And, moreover, it’s difficult to do it. But Surya Namaskar is not religious. We want the whole event to go smoothly.” 

“Shlokas are not compulsory. Shlokas are merely prayers but it is not compulsory. They can even take the name of Allah instead of chanting shlokas. I request the Muslims to participate and unite the country,” Naik told reporters after meeting a delegation of Muslim organizations.

Opposition has been voiced by some organizations, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, against performance of Surya Namaskar, saying it is against their faith. 

“We did not make anything compulsory. Even the HRD ministry has merely appealed to the educational institutions. 

Few parties are opposing it for the sake of politics,” Naik said. 

Noting that yoga is a matter of pride and has “nothing” to do with religion, the minister said that yoga unites people and is done for fitness. 

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