On Muhammad and death for blasphemy

On Thursday, May 12, a grisly video surfaced on Twitter.

Deborah Emmanuel, a student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State, Nigeria, was stoned to death by a raging Muslim mob and her body was burnt for alleged blasphemy against Muhammad.

Her killers not only dehumanised her in the most agonising way possible, but also revealed their own faces and boasted of their action in the video footage.

Deborah had in a WhatsApp voice note, reacted against the frequent posting of Muslim contents in their class group chat on the social media platform. According to a translation of her voice note, she reminded her colleagues that the platform was created for school assignments and not distracting broadcast messages which she described as “nonsense.”

This stirred up the anger of her Muslim colleagues who then resolved to kill her. In spite of being kept in hiding by the school security, a Muslim mob surrounded the building, forced their way in, dragged her out and killed her. In the ensuing days, Muslims at different stratas across various social media groups and pages lauded the mob action.

It’s also instructive to note that on that same day, ISWAP released a video where 20 Nigerian Christians were executed to avenge the killing of Islamic leaders in the Middle East.

One of the reasons religious violence keeps occurring in Nigeria is because for decades, the fundamentalist form of Islam that justifies, rationalises and endorses the murder of “infidels” has been upheld by institutions that are supposed to establish justice and sanity.

In a society where maniacs are so indulged, why would violence stop? We have had countless instances of religious violence in Nigeria, but we have not had a matching number of trials and sentencing of the perpetrators. And with the present regime, Islamic fundamentalism has received a boost: it has grown wings and extended its tentacles.

Over a period of days, there have been protests by Muslims urging the authorities to release Deborah’s killers and some key Muslims have reiterated that the penalty for blasphemy was indeed death.

Others have said Deborah should have been handed over to a Sharia court for the right judicial penalty instead of a mob action. This is coming from the same people who want us to believe “Sharia has nothing to do with non-Muslims.” Sharia is only operational in 12 Nigerian states and it’s still subordinate to the Nigerian constitution which operates through a democracy.

The remarks of the Kaduna-based Muslim scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, in a video clip translated by PR Nigeria, was quite interesting. He argued that Muhammad didn’t kill those who insulted him.

I am not sure if he actually said this or this was an agenda taken up by the media to misinform others, but whichever way you look at it, it doesn’t stand up to the facts.

Gumi was quoted to have said, “If we think by killing Deborah, people who are not of the same faith with us will stop insulting our prophet, then we are in delusion. Hence, anyone who kills a non-Muslim who they have agreed to live peacefully with, will not smell the fragrance of Paradise for 40 years.”

Gumi, a medical doctor and retired military officer, is the current Mufti and Mufassir at the Kaduna Sultan Bello Central mosque. He has been a major Islamic figure negotiating with Boko Haram and ISWAP in Nigeria seeking amnesty from the government for a band of mass murderers and rapists who have wrought havoc on the lives of many military and civilian victims.

In February 2021, Gumi reportedly told his Muslim terrorist friends that they were being attacked by the Christians within the military.

“What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and non-Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite a crisis,” he said.

You can tell that this man knows the religious currency of hate and understands the stance a real Muslim is supposed to have towards “kafirs.” But he wanted us to believe Prophet Muhammad didn’t murder anyone who insulted him. Is this really true or just another attempt to pull wool over the public’s eyes? Let’s find out.

While the Quran does not explicitly stipulate murder as a penalty for speaking against Muhammad and Allah, it gave some hints of it. For example:

“Those who insult God and His Messenger will be rejected by God in this world and the next – He has prepared a humiliatory punishment for them and those who undeservedly insult believing men and women will bear the guilt of slander and obvious sin…

“If the hypocrites, the sick of heart, and those who spread lies in the city [Medina] do not desist, We shall arouse you [Muhammad] against them, and then they will only be your neighbors in this city for a short while. They will be rejected wherever they are found, and then seized and killed” (Sura 33:57, 60-61)

Verse 63 says “Do they know that whoever opposes God and His Messenger will go to the Fire of Hell and stay there? That is the supreme disgrace.”

The Quran also made it clear that people who speak against Islam are in the same category as those who physically fight against Muslims.

“But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and attack your religion with disapproval and criticism, then fight (you) the leaders of disbelief (chiefs of Quraish pagans of Makkah) – for surely their oaths are nothing to them – so that they may stop (evil actions).” (Sura 9:12)

“They (the disbelievers, Jews and Christians) want to extinguish Allah’s light (which Muhammad has been sent – Islam) with their mouths, but Allah will not allow except that his light should be perfected even though the kafirun [infidels] hate it” (Sura 9:32)

In the hadiths and Muhammad’s biographies, we find several examples of how he countenanced or directly called for the assassination of his critics.

“A Jewess who used to insult the prophet and disparage him was strangled to death by a man. When the case was reported to Muhammad, the apostle of Allah declared that no recompense was payable for her blood” (Sunan Abu Dawud 38:4349).

“Now al-Nadr b. al-Harith was one of the satans of Quraysh; he used to insult the apostle and show him enmity. He had been to al-Hira and learnt there the tales of the kings of Persia, the tales of Rustum and Isbandiyar. When the apostle had held a meeting in which he reminded them of God, and warned his people of what had happened to bygone generations as a result of God’s vengeance, al-Nadr got up when he sat down, and said, ‘I can tell a better story than he, come to me.’ Then he began to tell them about the kings of Persia, Rustum and Isbandiyar, and then he would say, ‘In what respect is Muhammad a better story-teller than? (Alfred Guillaume, ed, The Life of Muhammad [translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah], Oxford University Press, pp. 135-137).

Al-Harith was one of two prisoners who was captured after the battle of Badr and was not allowed to be ransomed by his clan (which was often the usual practice among the Arab tribes). He was beheaded by Ali at the behest of Muhammad.

Uqba bin Abu Muayt mocked Muhammad and wrote derogatory verses about him in Mecca. When he was captured at the Battle of Badr in 624 AD, Muhammad ordered him to be executed. “But who will look after my children, O Muhammad?” Uqba cried with anguish. “Hell,” retorted the prophet coldly. Then the sword of one of his followers cut through Uqba’s neck (Bukhari 4:2934).

A blind man also had a slave mother who used to insult Muhammad. The man tried to stop her but she didn’t quit:

“One night she began to slander the Prophet … and abuse him. So he [the blind man] took the dagger, placed it on the belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who was between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there.” When Muhammad heard this and that the victim used to insult him, he said “Oh be my witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood” (Bukhari 3:4348)

One of his victims was Abu Afak, a 120 year old Jewish man who opposed Muhammad through poetry. When a call was made for his murder, Salim ibn Umayr said:

“‘I take a vow that I shall either kill Abu Afak or die before him’. He waited for an opportunity until a hot night came and Abu Afak slept in an open place. Salim placed the sword on his liver and pressed it till he reached his bed. The enemy of Allah screamed…” (Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir 2:31).

When Asma bint Marwan heard of this evil, she began to speak out against Muhammad with her poems. Muhammad said to his thugs:

“Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter? ‘Umaryr bin Adiyal Khatmi who was with him heard him and that very night he went to her house and killed her. In the morning, he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he [Muhammad] said, ‘You have helped Allah and his apostle Umayr!” (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulallah, translated by A. Guillaume, 1955, pp. 675-76).

After the battle of Honain, Abbas, one of Muhammad’s soldiers, complained about how the booty was shared and recited some little, nasty poems. “The Apostle overheard him and said with a smile, ‘Take that man from here and cut out his tongue” (Sirat, p. 595).

In another instance, Ka’b Al-Ashraf was reciting poems to criticize Muhammad. He asked his henchmen, “Who will help me get rid of this rascal?” then “Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying ‘O Allah’s apostle! Would you like that I kill him? ‘The Prophet said ‘yes.’ Muhammad bin Maslama said ‘Then allow me to say a (false) thing (to deceive Kab). The Prophet said, ‘You may say it.’ This man went on to Kab and acted like a friend till he killed him (Bukhari 5:369).

When Muhammad conquered Mecca, he said: “There are four persons whom I shall not give protection” He identified them as the “two singing girls of al-Maqis; one of them was killed and the other escaped and embraced Islam” (Abu Dawud, 2684).

In Sunan an-Nasai (Book 37, Chapter 14), we read this same narration, this time with the names of six victims:

“On the day of the Conquest of Makkah, the Messenger of Allah granted amnesty to the people, except four men and two women. He said: ‘Kill them, even if you find them clinging to the covers of Ka’bah.’ (They were) ‘Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl, ‘Abdullah bin Khatal, Miqyas bin Subabah and ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d bin Abi As-Sarh.

Abdullah bin Khatal was killed because he “joined the pagan Arabs as an apostate. He was never repentant at this heinous crime but rather employed two women singers and incited them to sing satirically about the Prophet (Safiu Rahaman al-Mubarakpuri, ar-Raheeq al-Makhtum, pp. 396-397).

Under Sharia law, a Muslim can receive a death penalty for uttering statements of unbelief; sarcastic comment about Allah’s name or command; slander against Muhammad; denying any part of the Quran; reviling Islam or being sarcastic about Islamic laws (Ahmad al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveler, 597-98).

Some jurists stipulate death for non-Muslims who insult Muhammad or attempts to lead a Muslim away from Islam. Generally, the punishment ranges from imprisonment, paying fines, hanging, beheading or immediate conversion to Islam to avoid death.

The facts are clear and Muslim leaders should stop speaking from both sides of their mouths. If they truly believe Muhammad was a mere human and has not been deified, then he can’t be blasphemed. You can’t blaspheme a human being, only God, or a Divine Being (such as the eternal Holy Spirit) can be blasphemed.

Furthermore, the idea of “blasphemy” against Muhammad is not (and should not be) a crime because we are not in a theocracy. In fact, Muslims gratuitously blaspheme Jesus each time they say He was only a human messenger of Allah and no one had put their necks on a chopping block over this.

There are some places where the Quran says what Christianity would regard as blasphemous against Jesus Christ. A few examples are in order:

1. Sura 21:98 says, “Certainly! You (disbelievers) and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! (Surely), you will enter it.”

This is not only referring to non-Muslims such as Christians,  but also includes Jesus Christ, the Divine Person whom Christians worship. It’s blasphemous to declare that He will burn in hell.

2. Sura 5:17 says, “Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely, Allah – He is the Messiah, son of Marium. Say: Who then could control anything as against Allah when He wished to destroy the Messiah son of Marium and his mother and all those on the earth?…”

For whoever is speaking in the Quran to declare that he wished to destroy Jesus Christ the Messiah is regarded as another blasphemy.

3. Sura 3:59 says, “Verily, in the sight of God, the nature of Jesus is as the nature of Adam, whom He created out of dust and then said unto him, ‘Be’ and he is.”

Jesus is not “dust.” Even the Quran calls him “God’s Word” (4:171) and tells us that He was taken to heaven alive. Of course, Muhammad was dust and went back to the dust. Therefore, to denigrate Jesus to the level of a mere dust is blasphemous.

So we can draw the following conclusions:

Fact 1: Blasphemy is speaking against God/Divine Persons.

Fact 2: Muhammad is a mere human, not God or a Divine Being.

Fact 3: The idea of “blaspheming” a mere human long dead and gone is either shirk (polytheism) on the Muslim side or absurdity on the Christian side.

Fact 4: Islam actually blasphemes the divine persons of other religions not only by its authoritative texts, but also by word-of-mouth and in literature.

Fact 5: Christianity does not prescribe death for actual blasphemy of its own Divine Persons. It is a sin, but not a crime.

Fact 6: Since Christianity does not murder people for blaspheming Jesus or the Holy Spirit, Islam has no right to kill any Christian for allegedly blaspheming a mere human who died 14 centuries ago. This is true equity and fairness which must be instituted.

Mama mysterioso

The following is a reply I got from Mark in my combox to the post The Myth of Mary’s Assumption. His words will appear in blue.

Why non Catholics spend inordinate time picking apart our Catholic faith is beyond me!”

If your ‘faith’ is a distortion of the “original gospel that was once for all handed down to the saints,” then every Christian has a spiritual and moral obligation to contend for that undefiled good news (Jude 1:3).

If you are convinced that your hallowed beliefs are being ripped apart, perhaps you might want to place them under the scrutiny of Scripture and history to see where the truth lies. This is about the eternal fate of souls not emotions.

Billions of Catholics over the world venerate Mother Mary Our Divine Mother who was ever-present at her Son’s side at his most uplifting and darkest moments.”

That billions of people subscribe to a myth doesn’t make it true. God is not a respecter of numbers. If Mary is your ‘divine mother’ and God is your divine father, what are you insinuating?

Go to the Old or New Testament, where in either covenants do you find any arrangement for a ‘divine motherhood’ much less a hint that Mary – a mere mortal – contributed anything to the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross?

The only places you’d find such patterns of beliefs and rites are ancient paganism and modern witchcraft. It’s time you admitted that at some point, pagan horses had been switched mid-stream within Catholicism.

“We wouldn’t care either if anyone quote “that is why I will never be Catholic”. Instead of analyzing and over analyzing we in the Christian community would be better off putting the Word into action.”

Speaking of your definition of “the Word,” why not break it down? You believe the Bible, plus Traditions and the Church Magisterium make up the “Word.”

By elevating the words of uninspired men to the level of inspired Scripture (and as we know, even denying the plenary inspiration of Scripture), the Catholic religion has trapped many sincere souls in a tunnel of spiritual darkness in which they are bound to follow rules and beliefs that oppose the Bible and are void of human conscience.

Instead of passing judgement – on a religion thousands of years old built on authentic discourse. “

If a religion’s validity lies on being thousands of years old, then why not embrace Hinduism or Buddhism? Not to mention, the discourses on which Rome’s power sprang up are outright forgeries and layers of fiction. The Donation of Constantine and Isidorean Decretals are some examples.

Religion is not going to get us into heaven. Catholics are mature enough to know that saying 100 Hail Mary’s will not get us into heaven. However as we build to eternal glory with the Father in Heaven we continue to ask our Most Divine Mother to intercede for us – and send our innermost prayers to the Father.”

This is what I call forked tongue rhetoric – denying a belief in three sentences and expressing it in the last one. That’s a symptom of years of systematic mental conditioning; it runs so deep that you’ve found a way to reconcile the inherent contradictions packed into the teachings you’ve embraced. So you say more about what you believe by not actually saying it. Nice job.

Furthermore, by asking this ‘divine mother’ to intercede for you to qualify for heaven, you explicitly admit that the intercession and mediatorship role of Jesus Christ is lacking and there is another you’re trusting in. Thanks for reinforcing our convictions of Rome grafting goddess worship onto Christianity.

The problem critics of the faith people will have with people like us, who are born Catholics and revere our faith is that we do not have to explain and analyze why we celebrate this GREAT feast of the ASSUMPTION, furthermore why we VENERATE Mary! That is why we call it a MYSTERY. Mystery of our faith. It is beautiful as it is a treasure only we as Catholics can hold dear to our hearts. So I as a Catholic won’t explain this mystery and analyze it – I don’t have to.”

This is cultic language politics with which religious groups repeatedly hide their lack of answers by bleating the word “mystery.” But wielding the word “mystery” like a magic wand can’t cover up the egregious falsehood of your Mariolatry.

The Greek word for mystery in the NT is musetrion and it was never used to denote a secret that shouldn’t be revealed. Instead, it was always used to refer to knowledge that is being revealed. For example (all quotes are taken from the Catholic New American Bible):

“I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not become wise [in] your own estimation…” (Romans 11:25)

“Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51)

“…you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, [namely, that] the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier.” (Eph. 3:2-3).


“the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones” (Col. 1:26).


“…I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, the beast with the seven heads and the ten horns.” (Rev. 17:7).

God who wants us to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” would certainly not exalt ignorance by obscuring a core doctrine of the faith behind a complicated maze of “mystery” (1 Pet. 3:15).

As many many other Catholics around the world do. So people like you who find time to criticise will be even more frustrated. You deny Mary you deny Christ. Let’s find time reflecting on the Word instead of bashing other faiths.”

Your final line is a display of relativism. That logical fallacy torpedoes the pillars of the faith you’re alluding to, unless, of course, you’re a syncretist.

I think those who presume that God had glorified a human being and made her the central focus of a faith will come up frustrated whenever they try to read their dogmas into the revealed Word of God.

Your second sentence is quite revealing, perhaps not in a way you intended. To you, Jesus, the Eternal Word who called all men to Himself and even forgave the repentant sinner on the cross without any intermediary cannot be seen without Mary – a mere servant of God who had no redemptive powers whatsoever. This is a diabolic deception. Call that whatever you like, but it’s not true Christianity.

Is there such a thing as “Holy” Yoga?

Yoga has gained a worldwide appeal today because having a slim and healthy body is a current concern.

More people are hitting the gym and turning to health clubs and are being introduced to yoga. In the medical field, yoga is at times prescribed for people suffering from stress and frustration.

However, reflecting the dominant religious and philosophical themes of this post-Christian age – religious pluralism and postmodernism, many Christians are now embracing what they have re-christened as “Holy Yoga” as an integral aspect of physical fitness and a devotional for connecting with God.

In 2012, the Purpose Driven author, Rick Warren’s Saddleback church announced to its members:

Holy Yoga is a worship experience combining the physical benefits of world class yoga with an intentional dedication to God through prayer, scripture, and contemporary Christian music. We breathe in His goodness and grace…and exhale tension and stress. It is coed, noncompetitive, and Christ honoring in fellowship. Come join us…!” [1]

The influx of this practice in the church and its prevalence among Nigerian Christians (many of whom are upwardly mobile and urbane) necessitated this piece.

Yoga: an unholy offshoot from an unholy tree

Many sincere Christians have asked: Is yoga simply an exercise that helps keep the body slim and healthy? Does it have occultic origins? Can it be practiced without its Eastern religious overtones? Is it suitable for Christians just to gain physical benefit without implications?

To answer these questions, one has to dig back to the very roots of Yoga, to the religion from which it sprang: Hinduism.

Once you have a proper understanding of the philosophy and principles of Hinduism, it won’t be difficult to make up your mind about yogic practices.

According to a reference work, Hinduism is ‘‘the major continuing and connected religions of India, which have now spread throughout the world.’’ [2]

Hinduism is not a monolithic or organized religion with a linear chain of history. “The paradox of Hinduism was its ability to adapt itself to a mass polytheism while simultaneously advancing monotheistic tendencies.” [3]

Another source explains it further:

“Hinduism is not really one religion, but many religions that interact and blend with one another. There is no known founder of Hinduism, no creedal statements of faith to sign and no agreed-upon authority. In fact, one can be a good Hindu and believe in one god, many gods, or no God at all!” [4]

Hindu scriptures include the four Vedas; their commentaries, called the Upanishads (also known as Vedanta); the Mahabharata (of which the Bhagavad Gita is a small portion); the Ramayana; and other lesser books.

The early vestiges of the Hindu religion have been found in an ancient text consisting of about a thousand hymns known as the Rig Veda, probably compiled circa 1500 B.C.

“This makes Hinduism the world’s second oldest religion after Judaism, which was established by God’s covenant with Abraham, somewhere between 2000 to 1800 B.C.” [5]

Historically, yoga dates back many centuries. Figures of people seated in various yoga positions appear on seals found in the Indus valley (present day Pakistan).

The Indus valley civilization is dated by archaeologists to 3600-1900 B.C. There have been many seals found at Indus Valley sites which had engraved upon them pictures that some have related to later Hinduism. The Encyclopedia of Hinduism explains:

“One is the ‘proto-Shiva’ seal, which shows a person, seated in a cross-legged position, with a headdress with horns on it and what appears to be an erect phallus. The headdress is said to relate to the later god Shiva’s title of ‘Lord of the Animals,’ … Some see his seated posture as being the yogic lotus position. Shiva is known for his yogic practices.” [6]

Note also that Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism is called “the Destroyer” and the authoritative 15th century text Hathayoga-Pradipika, declares that lord Shiva was the first yoga teacher.

This connection is critical, because the assertion that yoga is a neutral practice that can be utilized by Christians who don’t worship the Hindu pantheon is at best disingenuous and at worst, spiritually dangerous.

The book, Hindu World, calls yoga “a code of ascetic practices, mainly pre-Aryan in origin, containing relics of many primitive conceptions and observances.”

Yogic methods were handed down orally and later put into detailed written form by the Indian yogic sage Patanjali as the Yoga Sutra which is still the basic yoga instruction book today.

The work defines yoga as “a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.” Thus, yoga cannot be separated from the Eastern religions from which it originated.

There are different types of yoga: Raja, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, Tantra and Hatha yoga.

The physical exercises yoga is Hatha yoga. In Sanskrit, ‘ha’ means the sun and ‘tha’ means the moon. These exercises are meant to bring opposing yet complimentary occult forces (yin and yang) into balance to enhance physical health and strength.

A reference work has this to say about hatha yoga:

‘‘Originally a part of Raja-yoga as taught by Patanjali [perhaps second-third centuries A.D.], but now frequently detached as a yoga to seek mental and physical health. Its purpose is to locate and activate the cakras (centres of energy) and thus to raise the kundalini (dormant spiritual power) to life. It works especially through bodily postures (asana) and control of breath (pranayama), uniting the ha (breath of the sun) with tha (breath of the moon). The reputed founder is Gorakhnath.’’ [7]

Uncoiling the Serpent

The physical aspects of Hatha yoga are familiar to many Christians. Like most yoga, Hatha yoga also incorporates breathing, relaxation, and meditation (and there are musicals tailored to this end)

However it is the first five steps of the eight-step process of raja-yoga. It starts with the external and ends with the internal. It’s like peeling off the layers of an onion. A person begins with the physical and ends up with the more spiritual and occultic methods.

“When this [first five steps is done], one is to begin the three internal steps of raja-yoga. The first five steps of Yoga have been conscious external methods of preparation for the internal goals of raja-yoga.” [8]

There’s also Kundalini yoga, which is supposedly meant to awaken the serpent goddess from the base of the human spine to produce an altered state of consciousness and trigger violent manifestations.

The late El Collie, a Kundalini enthusiast and blogger, wrote:

“When the Kundalini awakens, tremendous power is unleashed. The resulting expansion of consciousness affects every element of our being, from our biological functions to our personal relationships to our concept of reality to our influence in the world. We are irrevocably changed in ways we could not have imagined and in ways we may never fully comprehend.

“For some of us, the risen Kundalini gives us our first or most unmistakable contact with the Spirit… Kundalini is Shakti, the Great Mother Goddess, the living energy that daily make her vibrant presence known in my body and my psyche. She is as fierce and powerful as she is mysterious and enticing.” [9]

However, it’s agreed by all practitioners that:

“All paths [of Yoga] lead ultimately to the same destination – to union with Brahman or God…” [10]

So it doesn’t really matter whether one practices a physical or non-physical yoga, inasmuch as it the overall purpose of yoga is aimed towards attaining a “higher state of consciousness” or “self-realization” with a spiritual force, it opens up the door for one to interact with the spirit realm.

The word yoga literally means “to yoke” or “bind together” or to harness or control. To a Hindu, yoga is a technique or discipline that leads to union with a great supernatural force or spirit (called Brahman).

Its goal is “self-realization” to realize that atman, the individual soul is identical with Brahman, the universal soul i.e. you and god are one

Yoga was not designed or originally practiced for physical fitness. It’s meant to “yoke” a person to the universal force through a stage called moksha or liberation, which we call death.

In an article on ‘‘Yoga and Hinduism,’’ the authors wrote:

‘‘In ancient Indian philosophy yoga was not meant to be a fitness regime. Rather, it was a means to salvation or liberation (moksha) through the isolation of the soul from the body. Out-of-body experiences are still the goal of some popular forms of yoga. Later, after other schools of Indian philosophy had adopted yoga, its goal was reinterpreted as the union of the human self with the cosmic self, or God” [11]

The unholy feet of the Eastern gurus

It must be noted that Yoga was not shipped directly from India to Africa. With the exception of the Kemetic Yoga, much of it was imported to Africa from the west.

The spread of yoga to the west started in the latter half of the 20th century. In 1965, the U.S. immigration law was rewritten to cancel racial qualifications and restore rights of naturalization to Asians.

Through this, many Hindu gurus found their way to America giving rise to the Hare Krishna movement, and Transcendental Meditation, a close adjunct of yoga, which was popularized by Maharishi Yogi and Hollywood stars.

The India-born journalist, Caryl Matrisciana, in her book Out of India: A True Story About the New Age Movement, points out that classic Hinduism was not as mission-minded as evangelical Christianity, but during centuries of British rule learned several effective missionary strategies from British missionaries.

As a result, by the beginning of the 21st century there were over 70,000 yoga instructors active in more than 20,000 locations across America, including business centers, hospitals, and education facilities, spreading Eastern mysticism throughout the entire country.

In a 1993 publication, an American-born Hindu monk named Palaniswami predicted:

‘‘A small army of yoga missionaries – hatha, raja, siddha, and kundalini — beautifully trained in the last 10 years, is about to set upon the Western world. They may not call themselves Hindu, but Hindus know where yoga came from and where it goes.’’ [12]

Holy Yoga’ – an oxymoron

In the 20th century, a large percentage of Western including many American churches, fell prey to the dubious syncretism championed by the ecumenical movement and as more churches were mired in liberalism and pragmatism, the concepts of Hinduism began to find their way in.

These Christians while seeking for means to straddle two opposite concepts and revelations to birth what they call “Christian Yoga,” were also attempting to detach yoga from Hinduism by turning history on its head.

Brooke Boon, the founder of Holy Yoga Ministries and an active Christian Yoga instructor wrote:

’’…yoga predates Hinduism by at least one thousand years. Yoga was not created by Hindus but was indeed co-opted by Hindus as a major part of their religion.” [13]

Let’s accept for the sake of argument that yoga did predate Hinduism by a millennium, the basic question still remains: did it originate from an Abrahamic worldview or ancient paganism?

The Concise Dictionary of Religion defines Yogic religions as “those religions, ultimately of Indian origin, that have at their core one or another form of the practice of Yoga. The major Yogic religions are Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.” [14]

The same author in another reference work notes that, “Yogic religions are the main rivals to Abramic religions,’’ which he defines as: “Religious traditions that trace their ancestory to the patriarch Abraham. The major religions in this grouping are Christianity, Islam and Judaism.” [15]

Since yoga emerged from a religious system that stands opposed to the Judeo-Christian faith, mixing it with Christian worship doesn’t alter its nature. It’s still unholy. Mixing milk with dung will not produce chocolate fudge.

The Bible directly warns against this adoption of pagan traditions among the nations:

And after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates… ” (Deut. 12:30-31) see also 2 Kings 16:10-16.

It’s interesting to note that Boon admits that yoga opens people up to spiritual influences but claims that by rebaptising it as “holy,” it will somehow connect people to Jesus Christ. Definitely not the Jesus of the Bible.

“Yoga absolutely does open a person up to spiritual influences. But in Holy Yoga, the only spiritual influence we are open to is that of Jesus Christ. … We must completely co-opt the amazing gift of yoga for Christianity. That’s what we’re doing with Holy Yoga.’’ [16]

Proper breathing techniques have always been very important in yoga practice. Traditional, non-Christian yogis teach that deep breathing can translate into deeper meditation and union with a divine being. Christian Yoga instructors also teach that proper breathing skills are crucial to meet with God.

In their desperation to legitimate this with the Bible, they appeal to Genesis 2:7 where God breathed into the nostrils of Adam making him a living soul. But that was describing creation, it is not about relationship with God (which Adam lost later).

Elliot Miller points out the components of yoga that grate against the Christian faith:

“There are some rather sneaky elements in hatha yoga that help explain why enrolling in the neighborhood yoga class would be a dubious decision for the Christian. First, teachers and students typically greet each other with the Sanskrit namaste, which means, ‘I honor the Divine within you.’ This is an affirmation of pantheism and therefore a denial of the true God revealed in the Bible. Furthermore, hatha yoga classes typically conclude with ‘a 10-15 minute relaxation period to relax the body and still the mind.’ As part of this process students often are given a mantra to repeat in meditation or chanting. Hindu mantras are generally the names of Hindu gods and goddesses.” [17]

Not only has Hatha yoga found a place within the body of Christ, Bhakti yoga which had been utilized as a tool of devotion to Hindu deities has also been snagged on as a technique to encounter “the One” (a New Age term for God).

Nancy Roth, an assistant priest at Christ Episcopal Church in Oberlin, Ohio, attempted to describe “an incarnated Yoga theology.”

She said, “[i]t did not matter that we had chanted ‘OM’ or that the exercises had Hindu names. My awareness of my own ‘incarnated-ness’ drew me closer to the Incarnate One … The One I encountered, as I lay on the gym floor with my body relaxed and my mind and spirit attentive, was the God I knew in Christ Jesus.” [18]

The “OM” mantra is regarded as the most sacred syllable in Hinduism. It is said that the syllable contains three sounds, a, u, and m, sometimes written “aum” in English.

“The three sounds stand for very many things, including the three parts of the universe (earth, atmosphere, sky) and the three major gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Siva).” [19] Chanting it is an implicit endorsement of polytheism (Exodus 20:1-3).

The spiritual experiences described by these yogis (whether ‘Christian’ or otherwise) and the beings they encounter measure up with the kingdom of the occult.

Rabi R. Maharaj, an ex-Yogi who became a Christian wrote:

“Although the peace I experienced in meditation so easily deserted me, the occult forces that my practice of Yoga cultivated and aroused lingered on and began to manifest themselves in public. Knowing that without these displays of the supernatural my following could never be very great, I welcomed this growing spiritual power” [20]

David Purseglove, a therapist and transpersonal counselor mentioned some of the crises common to people who get involved in Eastern meditation:

“Frightening ESP and other parapsychological occurrences… [spontaneous] out-of-body experiences or accurate precognitive ‘takes’… profound psychological encounter with death and subsequent rebirth… the awakening of the serpent power (Kundalini)…energy streaming up the spine, tremors, spasms and sometimes violent shaking and twisting… ” [21]

Gopi Krishna also warned of the dangers of the practice of seemingly innocuous Hatha Yoga:

“In Hatha Yoga the breathing exercises are more strenuous, attended by some abnormal positions of the chin, the diaphragm, the tongue, and other parts of the body to prevent expulsion or inhalation of air into the lungs in order to induce a state of suspended breathing. This can have drastic effects on the nervous system and the brain, and it is obvious that such a discipline can be very dangerous. Even in India, only those prepared to face death dare to undergo the extreme discipline of Hatha Yoga.” [22]

He also stated that the reason why Hatha yoga is very dangerous is because it can cause Kundalini arousal.This arousal typically results in temporary states of insanity, radical changes in the physical body, and possession by a demonic spirit.

Caryl Matrisciana explained that the exercises and breathing techniques of yoga actually do release the same neurological energies that are released by abuse of certain narcotics, and by other mystical practices.

Very often the goal of both drug abuse and Yoga meditation is to escape from the intense pressures of real life. Both produce physiological changes in the body and brain, and euphoric experiences. She pointed out that Christian Yoga meditation brings about the very same state of altered consciousness produced by Hatha Yoga, New Age meditation, and several hallucinogenic drugs. [23]

From the facts presented, it’s clear that Yoga – in whatever guise – opens the door of people’s lives to demonic bondage. Instead of being yoked to vicious spirits, Jesus invites all to Himself:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28)

Yoga constitutes a “pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,” and as good soldiers, we should fight the good fight against all demonic lies, including the one that says that Eastern-born yoga is compatible with Bible Christianity (2 Cor. 10:5)

Christians need to say “No” to Yoga, no matter how popular it may be or whoever is offering it to them.

Notes

[1] https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/saddleback-church-and-holy-yoga/

[2] The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, John Bowler, editor, Oxford Univ. Press, 1999, 430.

[3] Encyclopedic Dictionary of Cults, Sects, and World Religions, Larry Nichols, George Mather and Alvin Schmidt, Zondervan 2009, p. 426

[4] Fritz Ridenour, So What’s the Difference? Regal Books, 2001, p. 91

[5] Ronald Enroth, Evangelizing the Cults, Vine Books, 1990, p. 21 “Hinduism”

[6] The Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Constance Jones and James Ryan, Facts in File, 2007 p. xviii

[7] The Oxford Dictionary, p. 415

[8] Ronalson Carlson, Transcendental Meditation: Relaxation or Religion? Chicago: Moody Press, 1978, 41-42

[9] El Collie, “Kundalini: Danger – High Voltage Kundalini Awakening,” http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/kundalini/id/35190

[10] Lucy Lidell, The Sivananda Companion to YOGA, Fireside Books, 1983, p. 18

[11] Ronald Enroth and Vishal Mangalwadi, A Guide to New Religious Movements, InterVarsity Press, 2005, 45

[12] Stan Guthrie, Hinduism Gains a Foothold in America, Christianity Today, Feb. 8, 1993, p. 50.

[13] Holy Yoga: Exercise for the Christian Body and Soul, NY: Faith-Words, 2007 p. 31

[14] Irving Hexam, Vogelstein Press, Canada, 1993 p. 237

[15] Irving Hexam, Pocket Dictionary of New Religious Movements, InterVarsity Press, 2002, p. 120

[16] Holy Yoga p. 33

[17] Elliott Miller, The Yoga Boom: A Call for Christian Discernment, Christian Research Journal vol. 31, no. 4 pp. 35-36.

[18] An Invitation to Christian Yoga, Cambridge: Cowley Publications, 2001, p. 1

[19] The Encyclopedia of World Religions (Revised Edition), Robert Ellwood and Gregory Alles, Facts on File, 2007, p. 328.

[20] Ravi Maharaj and Dave Hunt, The Death of a Guru, Harvest House, Oregon, 1977, 75.

[21] Naomi Steinfield, “Passages In: For People in Spiritual Crisis,” in AHP Perspective, Feb. 1986, p. 9

[22] Gopi Krishna, “The true aim of yoga,” Psychic (Jan.-Feb. 1973):13, in John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 605.

[23] Out of India: A True Story About the New Age Movement. Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Pub., 2008, p. 187