The Second Version

28/02/13

They Dont Hold These Truths To Be Self-evident

From a forum for expatriates in Indonesia:

A man, who is himself a Muslim and appears rather pious, somewhere in Aceh filed a lawsuit against exceedingly loud mosque loudspeakers (calls to prayer, sermons and other assorted blabbering are blasted whenever the mosque people feel like it).

A forum member, who is a westerner living in Aceh and apparently a convert to Islam commented:
It would be best if the mosques administration considered the man's request. They seem to believe that being loud encourages people to be more religious. The message should be clear and should not loudspeakers. We are encouraged to give da'wah through "beautiful" preaching. If it annoys that man and others then it is not acceptable.


Like I said before, the man's argument for a crowd in Aceh should not be based on "it's too loud." People here will interpret that as an attack on their values, an attack on Islam. Pointing out that it is not Sunnah is probably his best bet.
And with disconcerting punctuality, the mortally offended mob acted:
But Hasan, a Muslim, said despite being taken to see the deputy mayor and Muslim leaders, and then being escorted to the court where he was forced to withdraw his legal suit, he had ultimately won a rare victory. “I was forced to withdraw my lawsuit as an angry mob threatened to kill me,” he said. “But after I dropped my case, the volume was significantly turned down by about half.”
Still, the man achieved some success, and his health and property suffered no harm. At least so far...

Another member then remarked:
This last line suggest that it is a problem confined to Aceh due to sharia law. It ain't confined to Aceh, and it ain't due to sharia law.


The article is silent on why--in such a religious and ostensibly spiritual and holy milieu and among a people and religion that values consensus--the request to turn it down was met, not by dialogue or channeled through institutionalized peaceful mechanisms for handling grievances, but rather by intimidation and threats of violence and death. Something doesn't add up here.
I think I know why, pardon my arrogance.
  Most Muslims still have a primitive mindset in which there is no such thing as individual rights. Belief and doctrine and the collective (the Umma in this case) trump everything else.   Trampling over the desires, apsirations and even health of individuals is seen as perfectly fine when belief and rituals* are involeved.   Sadly, it is a fact that a lot of Muslims don't hold these truths to be self-evident, that that all men are equal, that they are endowed by their very humanity with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.**   And to quip:
If you want to deal with Muslims on their own turf you have to deal with them in terms they respect and understand.
Indeed. And when Muslims seem to understand and respect only being arrogant and brutal, what should we do?   Now I can agree with the concept that going off with a lawsuit rather that talking in person to the people involved (but are we sure the man complaining about the noise didn't try do it?) is irritating and can be seen and conflictual. But there's many ways to deal with it before threatening violence.

* Image is everything in Indonesia. You're not rich if you don't show it off; you're not pious if you don't make a spectacle of your piousness; you're not respectful of other people if you don't use the proper words. What goes on behind closed doors... well, that's a different matter.   ** Yes, it is slightly edited. For one with my ideas about life and universe and everything, this version makes more sense.

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