Fasaad watch: Aceh, Divine retribution and charity

Spencer’s two blogs also have something to say about Muslim responses to the recent Aceh tsunami disaster. The biggest-hit area was the Aceh province in Sumatra, with casualties in six figures, followed by Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and (indirectly) Sweden, and finally Mauritius, the Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania. He quotes an article at Jihad Unspun speculating that the disaster was Divine retribution against Thailand and the “apostate” Indonesian leader, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whom its author accuses of “actively fighting against Islam at home and abroad, by openly supporting the US foreign policy”.

Under the mendacious headline “No Charity for Dhimmis”, Spencer also draws attention to the Live Fatwa at IslamOnline.net, in which the usual point about Zakaat being reserved for Muslims is made. Of course, the amount Muslims give in general charity (not reserved for Muslims) vastly exceeds zakaat, which is a fortieth of one’s disposable income and livestock. Spencer doesn’t like the fact that some of our charity is reserved for our own people. Oh, well. I’m more concerned about the article he links to by “Abu Ziyaad” in Jordan (there’s a spelling mistake which Spencer see’s fit to draw attention to). The effectively anonymous article contains the usual Wahhabi positions about tawheed and shirk and a few misplaced assumptions and speculations. For example, we have this passage:

Indeed, only last week, at the opening of a two-day meeting of Asia-Pacific religious leaders in central Java, the President called terrorism (Islam) the enemy of all religions …

Well, of course, terrorism isn’t the same thing as Islam, and no doubt Yudhoyono didn’t think it was either. Of course, we as Muslims must condemn such actions as deploying troops to assist the occupation of Muslim lands, but neither should we issue loud condemnations when things aren’t exactly perfect. Do we actually want to be ruled by people like OBL - because this would be the consequence if their efforts actually succeeded. The truth is, no we don’t. Of course we want to see Islamic law established in the lands of Islam; we don’t want thugs harrassing our womenfolk and kicking our doors down to enforce their extremist positions. What OBL himself thinks of most Muslims I don’t know, but we do know that jihadi literature is in circulation which effectively declares most Muslims to be idolators. (You can read more about their mentality here.)

The truth is that Indonesia has developed as a democracy since 1998 when Suharto was forced out of office. It may well have surpassed Malaysia in terms of actual freedom to practice Islam publically as well as privately. We’ve not heard of any scurrilous accusations of sodomy against people who campaign for political reform and against corruption, unlike in Malaysia. And Yudhoyono is in nothing like the same league as “Islam Karimov” in Uzbekistan or that Kim Il-Sung wannabe in Turkmenistan.

As for what’s going on in Aceh, the truth is that the campaign to separate Aceh from Indonesia would result in a weak Aceh and a weaker Indonesia. Why should anyone desire a state of affairs like that of the immediate pre-colonial era - one of weak petty states which could be easily played off against each other? If the people are so devout, why can’t they take the opportunity to influence the rest of Indonesia towards Islamic governance, now that a functioning democracy exists? It might not last forever, after all.

I do hope nobody gleans from Spencer’s highlighting of this article that Muslims everywhere consider this disaster some sort of Divine retribution for Thai oppression in the Islamic, Malay-dominated south of the country or for Indonesian government support for the so-called war on terror. It didn’t hit Java, where the Indonesian government is based, nor Bangkok - it hit the west coast around Phuket, an area notorious for every type of immorality. Apparently much of what tourist income Aceh has (given the conflict) is from the west coast beaches, where people no doubt do the same as they do on any other beach.

But in any case, we should hesitate to draw any inference of a message from Allah from this event. It hit all kinds of people, mostly Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists with a relative few of Christian background, and all this in an area with a long history of cataclysmic seismic activity. We’ve yet to hear any of the rumours similar to those which emerged after the Izmit earthquake, such as of soldiers entertained by dancing girls from Israel playing football with the noble Qur’an and people found in collapsed buildings with men on top of women they were not married to. We should learn the usual lessons, and do what we can to help the relief effort.

And Allah knows best.

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