Aceh Sharia Laws on Female Dress

Jan 26th, 2006, in News, by

Sharia laws in Aceh on female dress.

Sharia alert from the province of Aceh. As of this month, January 2006, Muslim women in Aceh will be required to cover their heads and will not be allowed to wear tight-fitting clothes. These sort of laws have sometimes been promulgated before, on the local level, in other parts of Indonesia, and then widely ignored but in Aceh the religious authorities have the manpower and the will to enforce the new legislation.

Below is an article by a fellow in Aceh who makes some good points, bolded here.

This division [between moderate and conservative Islam] has given rise to an often hidden war between moderates and conservatives throughout the Muslim world. Sadly, this is increasingly the case in the devout province of Aceh. Healthy competition between conservatism and moderate interpretations is on the wane as Islamic conservatism gains ground. Moderates, conversely, are on the defensive, scared to speak out, and increasingly unable to get their voices heard.

If we take as an example a new qanun (local regulation issued by the Sharia authorities) implemented as of this month, the new prohibition legislates that Muslim Acehnese women must wear head scarves and may not wear tight clothes. The foundations of this ruling lie in extremely conservative interpretations of Islam. This is not the moderate Islam that has existed in Aceh for centuries. The majority of Acehnese have long believed — and practiced — a faith that is based on persuasion rather than top-down enforcement of a restrictive interpretation of the faith.

Historically, Acehnese Islam was a tool for combating injustice and oppression. If you look at pictures of Aceh’s heroine Cut Nyak Dhien, you see a women that took up arms against colonial oppression in defense of Acehnese cultural and religious identity, yet she did not wear a jilbab (head scarf). Historically, Islam in Aceh was about living by core values, not the superficial appearance of principle.

In contrast to their self-proclaimed agenda of defending Islam, in reality today’s conservatives are actually diminishing Islam, reducing it to small things that are inadequate or irrelevant in the face of the challenges of modern life or development. Ask the conservatives questions that reach beyond their favorite topics of gambling, alcohol and head scarves, for example about how their interpretation of religion can promote or support the reconstruction of Aceh, or Aceh’s political and economic development and they are unable to answer.

So how, given this lack of substance, have conservative interpretations of Islam come to dominate public discourse in Aceh, to the extent that conservative interpretations are being adopted in law and imposed on the majority — the moderate Acehnese? Why are the conservatives taking centre stage and representing themselves as mainstream Acehnese?

The rise of the conservatives can be attributed to multiple factors. One important element is that rising conservatism reflects national trends in religious and political discourse in Indonesia. This nation-wide trend is largely attributable to the dominant position given to Middle Eastern interpretations of Islam. What can be seen to be happening in Aceh, as well as other places in Indonesia, is not actually “Islamization” as it is often called, but actually “Arabization”. If we give them the space, Aceh’s unique experience of Islam is being subsumed by conservative elements of the Arab world. This conservative view is now even being challenged by moderate Muslims in the Middle East.

The dominance of this approach has, in the large part, been driven by the influx of outsiders entering Aceh with an agenda to promote Arabic interpretations of Islam. This agenda has been strengthened by local religious conservatives with an eye on the opportunity to gain political power for themselves and their allies. The central government’s tacit encouragement of these groups has also allowed them to flourish, thereby distracting attention from more important social, development and justice issues.

In Aceh the Islamic conservatives are setting restrictive limitations in all areas of discussion. They are ultimately closing the space for public debate about more important issues and damaging our ability and prospects for ijtihad (critical thinking mandated for Muslims in the Koran) about our own development and future.

It is important to help moderate Muslim voices in Aceh. Support must come from Indonesia’s other Muslim communities and other non Acehnese, given that the current conservatism in Aceh is an import, not simply a provincial issue. It is a problem for all of us, whether in Aceh, or elsewhere in Indonesia.

If conservative Islamic groups go unchallenged in Aceh, not only will this promote oppression of the Acehnese, particularly woman, but it will also prevent development within a cultural and historical framework that is appropriate to Acehnese Islam. Other Muslims in Indonesia should be aware that this imported, conservative view not only insults the Acehnese people, but our collective history and Islam itself.

He’s clearly pointing the finger at Saudi Arabia and saying the unique Indonesian harmonisation of Islam with earlier beliefs is losing out to the arid desert brand of Islam. Aceh, or ache as I keep typing it, was the first place in what is today Indonesia to be stricken with Islam. One wonders if what takes place in Aceh is the eventual future for all of Indonesia.

4 Comments on “Aceh Sharia Laws on Female Dress”

  1. JACK says:

    Some Bible Verses that say
    “Jesus is God”
    Some people claim to believe that Jesus was a “good prophet”, but they deny that Jesus is God. If that is you, I would like to encourage you to consider some of these Bible verses:

    Matthew 1:23 – “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

    Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    Isaiah 43:10,11 – “You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no Savior.”
    Revelation 1:17-18; Revelation 2:8 – (Jesus is the First and the Last)

    Isaiah 44:6 – (God is the Redeemer)
    2 Peter 1:1 (Jesus is the Redeemer) – “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”

    Isaiah 44:24 – (God created the world by His self alone)
    John 1:3; Colossians 1:16 – (Jesus made all things)

  2. Oigal says:

    Speaking of Jesus Jack

    Always been a bit confused by things like this…

    (1:6-16) “David the king begat Solomon.” There are 28 generations listed from David to Jesus in Matthew’s genealogy, while Luke’s (3:23-31) has 43. Except for David at one end and Jesus at the other, there are only three names in the two lists that are the same.

  3. Oigal says:

    Is there anything more tiresome than a religious hypocrite (which pretty much all of them) and for reason I always feel the need to wash my hands with soap after coming in contact with the freaks.

    A case in point the Aceh hypocrites, quick to flog the poor ojek driver for playing cards, whip teenage girls in some bizarre form of sexual frenzy, plenty of hired two bob thugs ready to harass defenseless teenagers for holding hands or worse drag some poor girl off to detention where she gets raped by these sexually dysfunctional guardians of the faith. Yet top level criminals, parasites and other sponsored creatures never get touched by the cowards. Anyone who has been to Aceh know there are dozens of “protected” people and places where the foul guardians fear to tread.

    This article made fools of the freaks internationally.

    I did so love this quote ..

    ”The military owns it,” Fauzi says, ”so the sharia police never disturb you here.”

    Ain’t that a ever repeating story…

    “Still, all the ”vices” are available if you know where to look. Some places offer alcoholic drinks as long as a friend introduces you.

    A sweet local herbal drink, tuak, is also known to ferment in the bottle if it is left out for a few days, and is sold in this state under the table. Gamblers can bet on cockfights and dominoes. Men seeking a prostitute can find the hairdressing salons offering that service.

    Fauzi says that if you polled the public, only 10 per cent would say they wanted sharia, ”and they would all be over 50″

  4. stevo says:

    Awwwwwwwww bible quotes. I love quoting the bible. So lets us sinners seek some moral guidance from the good book:

    Judges 21:10-24 So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children. “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.” Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.

    Deuteronomy 22:23-24
    If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

    Where would we be if we did not have this sort of instruction to set our moral compass …?

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