Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Tsunami and Islam

Today's Washington Post reports on Indonesian Islamic reaction to the tsunami.

"God is angry with Aceh people, because most of them do not do what is written in the Koran and the Hadith," the collected sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad, explained Cut Bukhaini, 35, an imam. "I hope this will lead all Muslims in Aceh to do what is in the Koran and its teachings. If we do so, God will be merciful and compassionate."

Bukhaini, surrounded by refugees camping on the grounds of his Baitush Shakhir Mosque in Banda Aceh's Ulee Kareng district, said people here were guilty of forgetting their obligation to pray five times a day and of concentrating too much on earning money rather than living according to their religion. Moreover, he explained, they offended the Almighty by entering into a conflict in which "Muslims killed Muslims" in contravention of Koranic strictures.

The statement implies that the Koran has no problem with Muslims killing infidels (non-Muslims). We know that large numbers of Muslims believe the Koran tells them to conduct holy war against infidels.

Some in the United States naively hope that by giving hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to Islamic tsunami survivors, Muslims will suddenly start loving us for our charitable deeds. But maybe the opposite will happen, they will have new fervor to fight holy wars against us.


TWM said...

If giving aid to people resulted in being popular, the United States would be worshiped by the whole world.

Unfortunately that is not so, which makes the statements about how we should have donated much more at the beginning so we could make a good impression by liberals, the main stream media, and the UN all the more nonsensical.

TWM said...


I hit post instead of review on that previous comment!

What I was trying to say was that all those statements about how the US is stingy and Bush did not move fast enough are pure politics. We could give our entire GNP and the rest of the world would not love us. If for no other reason that everyone resents handouts sooner or later - it makes them look weak and needy and no one likes that.

Mr. X said...

As I posted yesterday, Colin Powell is one of the people who thinks that there is an opportunity to change some minds with our aid. Tom Knapp thinks that's wishful thinking.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...terrier on war...

matt said...

"Islamic tsunami survivors, Muslims will suddenly start loving us for our charitable deeds. But maybe the opposite will happen, they will have new fervor to fight holy wars against us."

I respect your right to say stuff like this, it is just damned cold. What ever happened to the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have do unto you." What kind of fulfillment are you going to get out of life if you only ever do what is in your own best interest. Maybe all those people gave money not to be loved, but instead because they genuinely wanted to help people less fortunate than themselves improve their lives following a disaster...

Keep on writing, I hope you grow a soul.

Paul Snively said...

I'm at a loss to understand how observing that some people might wish that charity would affect the recipients' feelings about the giver but that there might be the unintended consequence of resentment is "cold" or "soulless." LG is neither advocating giving in order to be loved (in fact, she's on the record as objecting to charity on Objectivist grounds) nor claiming that the recipients will hate us, and therefore we shouldn't give. So what's cold or soulless about it?

Omar Masry said...

Subject: Opportunity as the seas recede....

It’s often been said that out of disaster comes hope and out of chaos comes opportunity. The Tsunami’s that ravaged Southeast Asia this last week exemplify both. Most notably they give the West a chance to bring hope to a forgotten people and an opportunity for the United States in the War on Terror.

For so long the third world has seen Western Powers, most notably the United States, through the prism of its ability to wage war and ability to create an exclusionary civilization. Now hundreds of sailors and marines aboard aircraft carriers, akin to floating cities are embarking on the largest operation of its kind in Southeast Asia since the Vietnam War, only this time not to wage war but to fan out and provide hope through airdrops to remote areas and clinics to save hundreds from dying of simple infections.

As rebuilding begins and entire cities start over, the opportunity arises not just to rebuild but to do so in a manner that raises up communities and improves their access to proper shelter, preventative health care, and strong civic institutions. One of the most formative pioneers of building upon disaster relief to help communities leapfrog ahead was a maverick humanitarian expert named Fred Cuny. In Guatemala, following a massive earthquake in 1976. Cuny taught villagers how to rebuild their houses with simple low cost techniques that would increase their resistance to earthquakes. In a city under siege by snipers Cuny built water purification systems in the tunnels surrounding Sarajevo that helped save the city from falling to Serb forces. He later disappeared in the Russian province of Chechnya, but the ideas he spearheaded can be applied to helping tsunami victims with great effect.

Instead of handing out aid after initial relief efforts a smarter alternative would be to sell it at a negligible amount to existing merchants. By doing so you keep the commercial sector viable in the face of new imported goods and discourage the practice seen in Somalia of merchants financing warlords and bandits as they see their existing turf threatened.

There is also an opportunity for a ravaged infrastructure to leapfrog ahead in communications by using cell phones instead of landlines, or satellite internet access in schools and windup low-power radio as a cost effective way to bring a world of knowledge to the most remote patches of land on earth.

As aid flows in we can distribute it through newly elected city councils advocating the inclusion of both disadvantaged women and religious elements of all faiths. Doing so helps ensure accountability and communal responsibility. As a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom assigned to a civil affairs unit I had the opportunity to witness the formation of the local neighborhood councils where Iraqi men and women, pastors and muslim clerics began the lurching progress toward grassroots democracy, regardless of many policy blunders by senior Department of Defense officials on the national level these efforts have helped elect local leaders that are seen as both legitimate and a refreshing alternative to Baathist rule.

Every touchdown of a navy chopper delivering relief supplies to the Indonesian province of Aceh, ravaged by both Islamic fundamentalism and civil war, is a defeat for the recruiting efforts of Al Qaeda affiliates like Jemiah Islamiya. Each act of humanity by Americans weakens the rhetoric used by fundamentalists as they attempt to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world by painting the West as an enemy to all with little regard for the humanity of others. In parts of India communities of Muslims, Christians, and Hindus that saw tension are now replete with scenes of mosques and temples turned into sanctuaries for all survivors regardless of faith.

As millions of dollars of aid flows in the opportunity to help lift communities out of poverty through micro-loan development is immense. In Bangladesh, Grameen Bank, began giving out small loans to women’s co-ops that started their own small business ranging from weaving to building stores. The program has helped villages and most notably women lift themselves out of poverty and avoid the corruption normally replete in developing countries. It’s foreign aid that even a Republican like Senator Jesse Helms could support.

When Americans resume vacationing in Southeast Asia (an even better deal given the decline of the dollar against the euro) they can help encourage fishing communities to move away from destructive practices like logging and stun fishing to sustainable eco-tourism. Joint US–Host Nation military cooperation can serve not only as a basis for improved diplomatic relations but also encourage increased human rights awareness among local military forces which in turn increases trust between citizens and the military. That trust can increase cooperation on law enforcement and counter terrorism that keeps us all safe.

Hope survives and opportunities abound to surge forward in improving humanity as disaster presents itself. America can continue to shine as the beacon of a city upon the hill but only when it remains ever vigilant that its supremacy carries responsibility to insure the well being of its citizens by being a consistent advocate of remaining committed to its ideals even when it may not be politically convenient to do so.

Omar Masry

Thousand Oaks, CA (Iraq 2.0)

PBS Frontline: The Lost American; Fred Cuny

Jeremy said...

LG is neither advocating giving in order to be loved (in fact, she's on the record as objecting to charity on Objectivist grounds) nor claiming that the recipients will hate us, and therefore we shouldn't give. So what's cold or soulless about it?The problem with opposing charity is that it has nothing to do with Objectivism. Rand opposed the moral code that said charity is mandatory, not the code that said it was nice and made you feel good.

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