Agence France Presse January 10, 2005
God signed name in tsunami, sent it as punishment: Sri Lankan Muslims
God signed His name in the tsunami that battered Sri Lanka and other countries on December 26, and sent it as punishment because humans have been ignoring His laws, Sri Lankan Muslims say.
Proof, according to Mohamed Faizeen, manager of the Centre for Islamic Studies in Colombo, is a satellite picture taken seconds after the tsunami smashed into Sri Lanka's west coast near the town of Kalutara and as it was receding.
"This clearly spells out the name 'Allah' in Arabic," Faizeen said, pointing to the shape of the waves -- a gigantic "E" complete with whorls and sidewaves that do indeed appear to combine to resemble the Arabic script for the name "Allah".
The picture was taken by the DigitalGlobe Quickbird satellite on December 26 at 10:20 am local time, shortly after the moment of tsunami impact. It can be viewed at the website http://globalsecurity.org/eye/andaman-sri-lanka.htm.
"Allah signed His name," Faizeen said. "He sent it as punishment. This comes from ignoring His laws."
He likened the tsunami to the Old Testament account of floods being sent by God in the time of Noah as punishment for those who had drifted from His ways.
Like Noah, who according to the Bible was saved when he built an ark and tried to warn people to prepare for the deluge, a foreign tourist in Sri Lanka's east coast village of Ulva had dreams on three consecutive nights that huge waves were coming.
"He warned the villagers but they laughed at him. He left Ulva on that Sunday morning -- 15 minutes before the tsunami struck," Faizeen said, citing locals who have woefully recounted the story.
He added that he had visited the mainly Muslim Ulvae, near the major town of Batticaloa, and found that a madrassa -- an Islamic religious school -- had been left untouched while 400 houses around it had been flattened with great loss of life.
The shorelines of many Asian countries hit by the waves -- including Indonesia -- had become playgrounds for Westerners and errant Muslims. Vices such as prostitution and drinking were rife, the cleric said.
"Allah first sends small punishments -- like loss of business. If we ignore the warning, He sends bigger ones -- loss of life. If we still ignore the warnings, the big punishments, like earthquakes and tsunamis will come."
Faizeen said areas of Sri Lanka mainly populated by Muslims were the hardest hit and that the waves were aimed at Muslims in Indonesia and Sri Lanka who he said had strayed from God's ways.
The island is around 70 percent Buddhist, 15 percent Hindu, 7.5 percent Muslim and 7.5 percent Christian.
Another Muslim leader, Muhammed Fawmey of the International Islamic Youth Front, said he too believed the tsunami was sent by God.
"He clearly signed His name in the waves," said Fawmey, who said the Arabic script in the waves had suddenly "appeared to me as in a vision" when he was staring at the satellite picture.
"The Koran says people can be punished through water or through fire," he added, referring to Islam's sacred scripture.
The Muslim leaders have a 2,000-year-old precedent when it comes to ascribing a tsunami to the punishment of angry deities.
According to local tradition, the ocean has overflowed several times in the past two to three thousand years, submerging large areas of Sri Lanka.
The most popular account involves King Kelanitissa who, in the second century BC, furious that his wife was having a love affair with his brother, had an innocent Buddhist monk boiled in oil.
This part is apparently based on fact but local legend then holds the guardian deities of Sri Lanka were incensed by the unjustified execution and sent the sea pounding inland by some 40 kilometres (25 miles).
To appease the gods, the king's daughter, princess Vihare Maha Devi was placed in a boat and sent into the raging ocean as a sacrifice, whereupon the seas immediately receded.
The princess survived and was washed up on another shore where she married local King Kavantissa and bore a son Dutugemunu, one of Sri Lankas most heroic kings.
Scientists, of course, have a more rational explanation for the December 26 tsunami -- an undersea earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale off the west coast of northern Sumatra.
"Near the source of submarine earthquakes, the seafloor is 'permanently' uplifted and down-dropped, pushing the entire water column up and down, the US Geological Survey says on its website.
"The potential energy that results from pushing water above mean sea level is then transferred to horizontal propagation of the tsunami wave (kinetic energy)."
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