As I am driving to work, I decide to turn on the radio because I thought, I need to be woken up a little, and what better way than with shock, horror and pure dismay?
And I hear that an Islamic leader of Vision 2020 Malaysia is warning all Muslims practising yoga to stop. Why, you may ask? Is it because it forces people into possibly compromising positions? May a normally modest Muslim unwittingly flash his or her underpants to another yoga practitioner with his or her head on the floor under his or her bum?
No. It is because it will "lead them away" from Islam. I kid you not. Apparently Muslims have no right to practise healthy exercise, peaceful meditation and/or mental or physical application of oneself to perfect one's stamina. Oh, you may laugh at me and pat me on the head and say, but of course Muslims can do any of those things. But I say the real tragedy here is that the only reason yoga has been targeted, despite the fact that its tenets of peacefulness, healthiness and spiritual calm pretty much match Islamic tenets, is because it is someone else's idea. So is this about religion, or is it about insularism? (My view is that some people just can't let go of the steering wheel, even when they are in the back seat).
You may say, but yoga is not just physical exercise, it has a religious aspect. I disagree. Yoga may have a spiritual aspect, but it certainly is not religious. You may have people trying to get you to do yoga in a forceful way, but I would say those people (if any really exist, I mean, come on!!!) simply have a fervour that one could describe as religious.
So, after much spluttering of takeaway coffee and raising of eyebrows and smirking to myself, I hear another nugget of real world news and am astounded by how disparate the two items were, and yet how comical their juxtaposition.
It seems that the Human Rights Commission is about to publish a study on the rights of a child to chose his or her religion. The news even included a statement along the lines of the child having "freedom of thought, conscience and religion".
Well, I cannot hope for the accidental discovery of intelligence in the authority figure in the first news article. But at least I can hope for the freedom of our children.
The sad thing is, people seem to believe they have no freedom of thought, conscience or religion. Even sadder, others are using religion to keep them that way. To me, the pure essence of religion isn't who does what when and how much, but who cares, who loves, and who is mindful about the people and the environment around them. It may be a symptom of the city life for all of us to be so careless with ourselves and others, on the road, in our offices, or in our homes. Our religion is supposed to remind us of our humanity and to keep the thought of being good in our minds. Yet it so easily slips into a game of one-upmanship and bullying. It's like a playground popularity contest. No one really wants to play, but we all do it so that the bossy obnoxious ones would shut up.
I was about to bend down to pick up the newspapers at the door this morning, but then I thought, someone might see me and call me a bad Muslim for invoking the downward dog.