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ISLAM: Heavy Metal and Indonesia

Life is full of surprises. We were used to Christopher Jones railing against Muslime in Europe, so this from him comes as a surprise: "After I read this article, I confess that I have misjudged Islam. What a civilized religion! To understand my sudden change of heart, please read: "Heavy metal fans in some Islamic countries don't just fear noise complaints from neighbours. They risk being imprisoned as devil worshippers.",7792,968946,00.html

I find myself in agreement with Christopher and this aspect of Islam Heavy metal fans should be shut up in a cell with heavy metal being played 24/7. However, since WAISdom means moderation, I urge Christopher to read the excellent article "Islam in South-East Asia. Incense, silk and jihad" in The Economist (5/31/03). The title refers to the way the Indonesians practised a variety of Hinduism until Islam took over. At first in this syncretism, Indonesian Islam was moderate, but fanaticism has been stirred up by preachers sent by wealthy Saudi Arabians. In other words, they are contributing to anti-Western violence just as al-Quaida is, only perhaps to a lesser degree. This takes us back to the preacher from Yemen whom Simon Winchester mentions as taking advantage of the explosion of Krakatoa to instill in the Indonesians the fear of Allah and the urge to go on a jihad against the infidels.

One thing struck me in the aforementioned article: the lack of precise knowledge about the early history of Islam in Indonesia: "It is not clear when Islam came to South-East Asia, and whether Arabs, Persians or Indians were the main disseminators. But there is no doubt that it was spread for the most part by merchants, rather than the warriors brought it to the Middle East and North Africa". Islam spread as the religion of warriors and successful businessmen, unlike the religion of low-class men and women of peace, early Christianity. Is Ted Turner a closet Muslim? He conducts a jihad against Christianity as the religion of losers.

Ronald Hilton - 6/3/03