Monday, January 10, 2005

Muslims Leaders React to the Tsunami Horror

The horrendous death toll from the Indian Ocean tsunami has prompted an outpouring of generosity from the Western world, which has collectively pledged billions of dollars in emergency aid to the suffering people of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Only after independent Arab media outlets (see below) began pressing their governments did the Muslim kingdoms and emirates of the Persian Gulf - their coffers swelling since the recent increase in oil prices - increase the aid sent to the the affected region, home to tens of millions of Muslims. Still, the contribution from the Muslim world is dwarfed by the contribution of either Australian, Japan or the U.S. taken by itself. But if Muslim governments have been reticient to react to the crisis (dare one say, stingy?), Muslim clerics have been more vocal.

The Middle East Media Research Institute has cataloged some of the more interesting responses. They are worth reading in full, but some excerpts consisely convey the general tone.

On Al-Majd TV, Ibrahim Al-Bashar, an advisor to Saudi Arabia's Justice Minister, said, among other things:
"These countries, in which these things occurred – don't they refrain from adopting Allah's law, which is a form of heresy? Man-made laws have been chosen over Allah's law, which has been deemed unsuitable to judge people?! Whoever does not act according to Allah's law is a heretic, that's what Allah said in the Koran. Don't these countries have witchcraft, sorcery, deceitfulness, and abomination?"
In an interview on the same Al-Majd TV, Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajjid charitably offered:

"The problem is that the [Christian] holidays are accompanied by forbidden things, by immorality, abomination, adultery, alcohol, drunken dancing, and … and revelry. A belly dancer costs 2500 pounds per minute and a singer costs 50,000 pounds per hour, and they hop from one hotel to another from night to dawn. Then he spends the entire night defying Allah.

"Haven't they learned the lesson from what Allah wreaked upon the coast of Asia, during the celebration of these forbidden? At the height of immorality, Allah took vengeance on these criminals.

"Those celebrating spent what they call 'New Year's Eve' in vacation resorts, pubs, and hotels. Allah struck them with an earthquake. He finished off the Richter scale. All nine levels gone. Tens of thousands dead.

"It was said that they were tourists on New Year's vacation who went to the crowded coral islands for the holiday period, and then they were struck by this earthquake, caused by the Almighty Lord of the worlds. He showed them His wrath and His strength. He showed them His vengeance. Is there anyone learning the lesson? Is it impossible that we will be struck like them? Why do we go their way? Why do we want to be like them, with their holidays, their forbidden things, and their heresy?
Of course, these comments don't accurately portray the attitudes of most Muslims, but they do suggest the sort of mindset that runs deeply throughout most of the Muslim world, a mindset that sees a conspiracy behind every event and takes pleasure in the suffering of "infidels." It's hardly unique to the Muslim world; any number of fundamentalist Christian preachers have done exactly the same thing - witness Pat Robertson's prediction/plea that God would might destroy the city of Orlando, Florida, among other irenic utterances.


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