Ring of Fire, Not LGBT Activities Caused Palu Quake, Zahid Told

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A recipient of a prestigious award and prolific writer on Islam expresses surprise that an “important person” like Zahid presumes the Palu quake-tsunami was a divine punishment.

One of Indonesia’s most prominent Muslim leaders gave a brief lesson in geography to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi after the Umno president blamed the recent earthquake and tsunami in central Sulawesi, which left thousands dead, on the homosexual activities of the people there.

Ahmad Syafii Maarif, the former chief of the 30-million strong Muhammadiyah, the second largest Islamic organisation in Indonesia, also expressed surprise that such a statement could come from an “important person” like Zahid.


“There are people in Indonesia too who argue that way, but these are insignificant individuals. Yet here we have an important person in Malaysia saying this,” Syafii told FMT.

Zahid, who is also the parliamentary opposition leader, had asked Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, about efforts by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to counter the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lifestyle.

The former deputy prime minister said he feared that Malaysia would face the wrath of God if it tolerated the group, adding that what happened in Sulawesi was divine retribution for the increase in “LGBT activities”.

“As a result, the entire area was destroyed. This is Allah’s punishment,” Zahid told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The 7.5-magnitude quake on Sept 28 triggered 11m-high tsunami waves that smashed into the coastal city of Palu. More than 2,000 bodies were recovered with 5,000 more believed to be buried in the ruins.

As of Sunday, Indonesian authorities said some 220,000 people had lost their homes, with an estimated loss of US$1 billion.

Syafii, 83, who has written extensively on Islam and is a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, regarded as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, reminded Zahid that Indonesia was located within the “ring of fire”, an area covering some 40,000km in the Pacific Ocean which is active with earthquakes and volcanos.

“There are geographical factors involved,” he said.

He also said it was not right for Zahid to conclude that the earthquake was a divine punishment, adding that it should instead be seen as an opportunity to help fellow humans by channelling aid and assisting the thousands of victims in rebuilding their lives.

“If we have sinned, we seek forgiveness from God. But never link it to the tsunami,” said Syafii.

He acknowledged that Islam considers homosexuality a sin, and that the Quran tells of nations that were punished with natural disasters. However, he said it was wrong for anyone to make presumptions about divine actions.

“No one can claim to know God’s intentions,” he added.

Earlier report: Oct 23, Zahid: LGBT Activities Risk Incurring God’s Wrath