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Conflict and Natural Disasters
 
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
This is a discussion about this project in the ArchNet Digital Library: Masjid Baturrachman
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Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Was this site in Aceh Province damaged or destroyed in the tsunami? Aceh province was where Islam first came to this area.
Marcus Oliver
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Marcus-I think it survived as you can see from this picture taken three days ago.
Shiraz Allibhai
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Dear Marcus,

You may also be interested to know that the US/ICOMOS has just launched a Tsunami Heritage Recovery Fund. Here's from a letter they sent to their donors:

    Overwhelmed by the images, sounds and stories of the ongoing tragedy in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other Indian Ocean countries, and inspired by the solidarity that has always marked ICOMOS, US/ICOMOS will be accepting donations immediately to the US/ICOMOS Tsunami Heritage Recovery Fund. We call on all our members and friends to be generous in their tax-deductible donations to this fund. The Fund will be destined to support recovery and reconstruction initiatives and projects defined by the ICOMOS National Committees in those countries affected by the recent tsunami in the Indian Ocean, as approved by the Board of US/ICOMOS.

    In the face of such an unprecedented catastrophe, US/ICOMOS realizes that basic humanitarian relief must remain the first and foremost priority. In fact, we trust that continued massive support for those efforts will shorten the period of extreme need, paving the way to full recovery and reconstruction.

    It is in this spirit of helping to re-build for a better future that US/ICOMOS has launched this effort, whose need has been confirmed by our colleagues in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. The Fund is based on the firm belief that the collective memory embodied in the built environment is a basic part of community life, and essential to sustainable recovery in the traumatic aftermath of such loss and devastation. The establishment of the Fund also recognizes the limited funding available to heritage sites, whether during emergencies or normal times.

    Every dollar received in this Fund will be destined for the recovery purpose; no administrative, overhead or staff time charges will be levied by US/ICOMOS on any of the donations received.

Ozgur Basak Alkan
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
UNESCO World Heritage Center has also sent out a news item regarding world heritage sites in areas hit by the earthquake and tsunamis:

http://whc.unesco.org/pg.cfm?cid=82&id_news=102.

Ozgur Basak Alkan
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
High-resolution satellite photos showing the town of Banda Aceh (Atjeh) and its Great Mosque, taken before and after the Dec. 26 tsunami, can be found online on the Digital Globe website: Quick Bird images of tsunami sites -- click on the thumbnails to see large image files.
Andras Riedlmayer
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
The architect of Islam is noone but only Almighty Allah, who is the creator and knows better how to protect his true and faithful buildings. It was a real miracle that the Masjid Baturrachman survived in Banda Aceh in such a huge storm.
Alamzeb Akhund
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Alamzeb,
The Masjid survived because it had thick yet flexible walls and a strong foundation. Many of 'God's buildings' were destroyed or badly damaged in similar disasters; did God not care for those?
Ozgur Basak Alkan
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
With the discussion turning to God.
I thought the other night that My God, the Lord Jesus Christ moved the plates in the Indian Ocean to begin with. He created them at the beginning.
Marcus Oliver
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Ozgur that argument is a valid one but a very weak one in general!

Okay let us say that because the Masdjid was built strongly that it withstood the Tsunami! But it doesn't take away from the fact that Muslims built the Masdjid the way they did! People placed values in the house of god and built it with notion for it to have the right to exist forever! If any building has the right to be built strongly and to last forever, it is the house of God!

If you can only see the reality of the strength of the masdjid in this storm, than you make the choice of denying the ayats/signs of God!

Science is not the only way of understanding meaning! Why do we read Shakespeare, Plato, St. Thomas Aquinos etc. Meaning doesn't need facts/proofs all the time, if you can disproove God, than attempt to do so.

Let us not deny the realities of this Miracle of this masdjid(s) but if it gives you succour to your heart than do so, who am I to deny you this or who am I to change your mind!

Best,
Abdul Basit Mukri
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Abdul, I could not disagree with you more. Ozgur's argument is the only one that makes sense. The masjids were constructed to be permanent buildings and built with greater resources. This is why they withstood the tsunami that wrought so much destruction on so many other structures.

I have heard the argument before that God saved them because they were holy buildings. This argument is an emotional one and might give some people comfort. I, for one, find it discomforting that God would save a mosque but take the life of all those who worhip in it. After all, a mosque with no worshippers is just an empty building.

Man, I believe, has freewill. I do not look for God's message in drive-by shootings, random acts of violence, or war. The planet too is a living thing, and thus, has free will within the bounds of physical laws. God did not cause this event, a series of natural occurances did. Look for God in the hope that remains, the outpouring of aid and generosity, in the acts of ordinary people performing extraordinary service. You will find Her there.
Shiraz Allibhai
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Shiraz,

"Abdul, I could not disagree with you more."

I hope it is not on everything!

"Ozgur's argument is the only one that makes sense."

It is not much of an argument!

"The masjids were constructed to be permanent buildings and built with greater resources."

Why were they? It is just a house of God, not worthy of having been built for permanence and not allowed to have greater resources put into them!

"This is why they withstood the tsunami that wrought so much destruction on so many other structures."

Do you really believe this is the only reason?

"I have heard the argument before that God saved them because they were holy buildings."

And what was your first reaction to it? Before you started explaining the Tsunami scientifically!

"This argument is an emotional one and might give some people comfort."

And what a bad thing to have comfort in God!

" I, for one, find it discomforting that God would save a mosque but take the life of all those who worhip in it."

And since when have you been the interpreter for God?

"After all, a mosque with no worshippers is just an empty building."

An empty building like any... after all, lets not forget it is a house of God!

" Man, I believe, has freewill."

Do you know or do you believe?

" I do not look for God's message in drive-by shootings, random acts of violence, or war."

Are you assuming that I and many of this simplistic notion do?

"The planet too is a living thing, and thus, has free will within the bounds of physical laws."

I agree but science can��t explain everything! It hasn't even figured out a remedy for the common cold!

" God did not cause this event, a series of natural occurances did."

Again you are God��s interpreter? And don��t you think man greatly affects the natural occurrences! It is we that have put hole in the ozone and killed off many species but man has nothing to do with the way the earth acts!Right?

"Look for God in the hope that remains, the outpouring of aid and generosity, in the acts of ordinary people performing extraordinary service."

I agree but does it only take an act of this proportion to show aide, generosity and hope for an economically imbalanced world? And lets see how long this aide will last!

"You will find Her there."

God is many things besides just a Her!

---------------------------------------

And what say you about the animals surviving the Tsunami? I imagine there is a logical explanation for this as well... discluding God of course!

Like I said before; I cannot change what gives you comfort and I cannot change what is in your mind but is it such a bad thing to have God in a conversation or is it better left for the old ages, something that has no bearing on our present discourse about life!

Salaams and a belated Eid Mubarak to all!
Abdul Basit Mukri
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Abdul, what I post are my own opinions. I am not trying to be Gods interpretor. You do a great disservice to this forum when you begin to think that any opinion other than yours is the only correct one. I know that I won't convince you, but I hope that in further discussions you won't resort to claiming people are attempting to speak for God when all they are doing is expressing themselves. This method is used too often in the Muslim world to silence debate and thinking. It has no place here.

You know, I read that there was an entire village in Aceh which survived because they remembered an old tale that taught them to seek higher ground when the earth shakes. The villagers were saved because they went inland before the waves hit. Nothing more, nothing less. If you choose to stand in front of a moving train and you are killed. Its not because God wanted you to die, but rather its because the train hit you.

Back to architecture-I personally [not speaking for God] do not place any sacred quality to a mosque. It is just a building. Where ever a Muslim decides to pray, that space is their mosque. The mosque may have value as a cultural product, as a historic marker, or as an object of beauty, but is it sacred? Its a man-made structure, what makes it sacred? There exists some beautiful mosques where I, as a Muslim, am ashamed by some of the attitudes and sermons of the Imams. Are these buildings sacred? I do not look to the form- I seek the essence.

There were many mosques in Aceh which did not withstand the forces of nature. By your understanding, what are we to discern from this?
Shiraz Allibhai
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Shiraz,

I hope you didn't take offence to my previous comments. I was just trying to present an argument and I don't claim that I have the monopoly over knowledge and understanding! Like you I am just expressing an opinion amongst the millions that exist! My intention was not to silence you or anyone. It is a fact that God is not relevant in modern day parlence, it is a shame and a great diservice to humanity in general! Will I be ostricized because I use God/meaning in discourse? Will my opinions be disregared because I use that dirty word "God"...maybe, but I think it would be a great discervice not to have an opposing opinion. What would the world be if everybody agreed...kind of boring and lifeless!

If people are to listen to what you have to say than proof is the great imperative! I feel I do provide proof to my arguments, some may like it/some may not but until you can prove my opinions are wrong/misguided/opinionated, I will use them as my barometer for a valid argument!

Prove me wrong and I will happily accept it! Challenge my thinking and I will embrace it! Present your argument and I will learn from it! I'm not opposed to learning, I want to learn! Teach me....

So with notion, feel free to cut up what I have to say, I take no offence, hopefully you won't as well!

Anyways this is an Architecture site...I understand. So lets move away from world views and learn architecture...

What mateials were used in this Masdjid? Can we learn from this mosques, in how we can make better Tsunami resistant structures? If it resisted the Tsunami...certainly we can learn from its technology!

Salaams,
Abdul Basit Mukri
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Shiraz-I am glad you seek the essence, I hope you can decipher the essence of my argument.

Essence isn't everything, we also live in a world of forms and the forms we choose helps define our essence! You are man amongst men but you choose what to wear, you choose how to think, you choose the things you surround yourself with, you choose...Would you rather pray in a dungy old warehouse as opposed to the Badshahi mosque of Lahore? Forms are important and reflect who we are as a person!

I agree that the attitudes of Imams don't necessarily reflect the architecture! I am not saying that the humans that orient the building are beautiful as well. However, no matter how bad the representatives of the "beautiful architecture" in question is, it still doesn't take aways its beautiful form and the sacredness it emits!!

What do you think is sacredness? Have you deciphered what the essence of things are? If you have, you do need to share this knowledge with all of us. Can essence be described, in the world of forms? What is sacredness and the essence of sacredness?

If I knew essence than I would cease to be form!

"There were many mosques in Aceh which did not withstand the forces of nature. By your understanding, what are we to discern from this?"

Well of course they are to disrepute the existing standing masdjids! If others masdjids have succumed to the Tsunami than the ones standing, really doesn't prove that this omniscient God speaks to us in symbols and ayats/signs...Right! Everything can be explained but what makes you think that Man's mind is capable of explaining everything. If Man was so great he could have provided warning alerts to the Tsunami victims but Man is not great, he only thinks he is!

My claim is not that rationalizing and science are false but they are not the only forms of knowledge. They too could assist in understanding things better but donot provide the full truth of the phenomenon of "Man on earth"! I say seek other sources of knowledge for wisdom and understanding, knowing more is only beneficial to yourself and others!

I hope to hear from you....

Take Care,
Abdul Basit Mukri
Tsunami disaster: Monuments in Banda Aceh
Given that God is unimaginable (not just unknowable) then who can say whether or not God is aware of every single event (good, bad or ugly) that happens in the universe?

For myself, I can believe God made the imperfect world known as Earth and everything upon it and then moved on to create elsewhere, so that when bad or ugly events happen on Earth, this is a manifestation of the imperfect nature of this planet and not a direct manifestation of God.

As to why God made this planet imperfect is because the evolution our species (a species which is aware of itself) happened because of our having to face and overcome the imperfections of this planet, is a conceptual journey which may never be completed.

And as I wrote in a letter to a local newspaper yesterday, if one believes literally in the Bible, then "God made the Earth in seven days", but given that most humans were illiterate when the Bible was written; this statement was an analogy (a conceptual word picture), where` a day` in the life of God could be millions of years in the perception of humans, so the principles and systems of Evolution and Geology do not conflict with faith in God.
Frank John Snelling
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