Is Yoga a Source of Supernatural Powers?
Yoga has been considered since ancient times a method to get extraordinary power, even in the present era, many Hindu yogis exercise yoga for this purpose. However, now the experts of yoga began to declare that yoga is means of physical and mental strength. For instance, it teaches that if a man can observe the spirit of non-injury in his thoughts, words and deeds for a period of twelve years faithfully, he will acquire such subtle spiritual power that even the wild beasts of the jungle will forget their ferocity and become gentle in his presence.(1)
If a man practices absolute truthfulness in all that he says, thinks and does, whatever he wills comes to pass; or if he observes complete silence for a certain time, he will gain the power of prophecy. The steadfast practice of continence also will develop the power of healing.(2)
It is true that certain psychic powers may be manifested as the result of the practices, such as clairvoyance (the ability to see things which are hidden), clairaudience, (the supposed power to hear things outside the range of normal perception) and thought-reading, etc.; but these are mere passing consequences, which come to a yogi as his inner organism becomes more purified and susceptible to finer vibrations.
If the yogi is careful not to attribute undue importance to them and move onward, he shall not be harmed or misled by them. The yogi will always be safe so long as he holds firmly before his mind the ultimate goal of all the science and practice of Yoga, which is nothing short of direct vision of Truth and God-union.(3)
Benefits of Prayers in Islam
We note that the daily five prayers have many benefits for a person: the most important of them is that Islamic prayers is a safe method of worship for Allah the Almighty and it is an approved way for attaining the pleasure of Allah. It was stated in the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that who observe the five daily prayers regularly alongside the extra deeds are blessed with the love by Allah the Almighty.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Allah said: ‘I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection (Refuge), I will protect him; (i.e. give him My Refuge) and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him.” (Al-Bukhari)
Union with Ishvar through Yoga
This Hadith explained that when a slave of Allah seeks nearness to Allah and His love through voluntary prayers, Allah (Glory be to Him) protects and saves his legs, hands, eyes and ears from sinful acts and accepts his prayers. However, there is no concept of union with Allah in Islam, but Yoga leads to union with Ishvar as believed by the experts of Hindu yoga. It is noteworthy that the concept of union with the Creator in Hindu philosophy created a lot of religious confusions in the field of divinity; idols of god have been made and many holy personalities have been worshipped because of this concept.
The Physical Aspect of Yoga
The method by which a person gains perfect control and balance in his physical system is known as Asanam or posture. The study of psychology shows that the greatest part of human activity originates in the spinal column, where all the main nerve centers are located.
Through the systematic practice of various postures a person can overcome both physical heaviness and nervous unrest; the muscles and bones can be made more flexible, the flow of the nerve currents more even; and the whole system will gain greater lightness and endurance as well as better health.
The principal points to keep in mind are the back, neck and head must be in a straight line and the chest erect, so that the nerve currents may have free action; there must not be the slightest leaning forward or backward or at any angle.
At first such a posture may seem unnatural, but Yoga declares that what we consider natural may be really unnatural and what is now unnatural for us may become perfectly natural.
We would like to point out here that in every rak`ah of prayer there is a short sitting between the two sajdahs(prostrations),between the two prostrations, it is necessary to sit motionless with the back straight and erect. This is called itmi’nanand it must be done. If you see a Muslim when he performs the prayer, you will find all kinds of physical postures that are needed for a good health of the human body. In fact, the five prayers include all merits and benefits collectively that could not be found in yoga or any worship of any religion in the world.
Self-punishment in Yoga
Some yogis in India exercise severe types of spiritual exercises that may result in some permanent physical defect in order to obtain some supernatural powers.
A yogi in his yoga posture
These mendicants are akin to the class of fanatics in India who assume the title “Yogi”, and who refuse to wash the body, for religious reasons; or who sit with uplifted arm until it is withered; or who allow their finger nails to grow until they pierce their hands; or who sit so still that their birds build nests in their hair; or who perform other ridiculous feats, in order to pose as “holy men” before the ignorant multitude.(4)
A famous English news paper published news about a Hindu yogi claimed to have had no food or drink for 70 years
and Indian military scientists studied the 82-year-old Prahlad Jani who claimed he has not had any food or drink for 70 years.
MrJani, claimed to have left home aged seven and lived as a wandering sadhu or holy man in Rajasthan, is regarded as a ‘breatharian’ who can live on a ‘spiritual life-force’ alone. He believes he is sustained by a goddess who pours an ‘elixir’ through a hole in his palate.(5)
The 82-years-old Hindu yogi Prahlad Jani
Its keynote is the Healthy Man—its main purpose to help people to conform to the standard of the normal man.
However, such un-natural exercise is prohibited in Islam, as these types of acts spoil the physical strength of the body, and makes a person unable to fulfill the social, religious and family duties.
We believe that the human being is consisting of two important elements: the body and the spirit and every one of them has separate requirements and instincts none of them should be compromised for the other. It is neither religion nor logic for humans to leave eating and drinking until his body becomes weak or decayed. It is not permissible for a person to leave his home, parents and independents retiring to jungle or mountain for worship or spiritual enhancement as is practiced by some Hindu yogis. This is kind of worship is not permissible in Islam. Neither the matter would be preferred over the soul nor would the soul be preferred over the matter. The true and straight path lies between exaggeration and underestimation. This principle distinguishes Islam from Hinduism and other religions of the world.
The five prayers are a divine gift for mankind to achieve physical, spiritual, social, moral and religious enhancements in easy and flexible methods that are suitable for all people. The prayer system is based on monotheism with purity of body, garment, place, mind and heart. To understand the nature and postures of prayer you should visit any mosque and ask any Imam. Also a lot of materials on this subject are available on the internet.
(1) Swami,Paramananda, Science and practice of Yoga, La Crescenta, Calif., Ananda-Ashrama; Boston, Mass., Vedanta centre1918, p.12.
(4)See, Hatha Yoga or The Yogi Philosophy of Physical Well-Being with Numerous Exercises, By Yogi Ramacharaka, Yogi Publication Society 4000 Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, 111. 1904, p.13
(5)http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/7645857/Man-claims-to-have-had-no-food-or-drink-for-70-years.html. (Last accessed on 3-2-2015).
(6)Hatha Yoga or The Yogi Philosophy of Physical Well-Being with Numerous Exercises, By Yogi Ramacharaka, Yogi Publication Society 4000 Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, 111. 1904, p.16.