Die Zeichen lesend. Islamische Interpretationen und Reaktionen auf den Tsunami in Aceh

  • Werner Kraus (Autor/in)

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The paper discusses different Islamic reactions to explain the misery and death caused by the gigantic earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004 in Aceh/Indonesia. Basically three different models developed: 1. The tsunami has to be understood as a punishment by Allah. Different reasons why the Acehnese had to be punished by the Almighty and Merciful were developed by different religious groups. 2. The tsunami has to be understood as a trial. Allah wanted to find out if the death of hundreds of thousands of his believers would tempt the faith of the survivors. 3. The tsunami taught the believers that nobody has the right to question God's actions. A true Muslim has to accept whatever happens to him since it is part of the Almighty's infinite wisdom. During three visits to Aceh (February and September 2005 and July 2006) the author conducted a large number of informal interviews, collected theological books, poems, songs, novels, and newspaper articles. He shows that in the course of time the "punishment" version was more and more accepted by the ulama and the people alike. The aftermath of the tsunami supported the introduction of sharia law in Aceh and strengthened the Islamic elements in Acehnese society. Acehnese tend now to punish themselves in order to be spared further punishment by Allah.