National Geographic : 2009 Oct
• have arrested at least 200 members of Jemaah Islamiyah in the past ve years, although some dangerous fugitives remain at large. Many rad- icals have shi ed to advocating the establish- ment of Islamic law. Even Abu Bakar Baasyir, since his release from jail in 2006, has distanced himself from more militant factions of Jemaah Islamiyah and begun promoting the struggle for sharia as the way for Islamists to achieve their goal of transforming the democratic nation into an Islamic republic. Baasyir believes that any human-created law- making body---a house of congress, a court of law---is an insult to the sovereignty of God. "Allah has sent a manual on how to treat human beings," he says. " at manual is the Koran." ere s no need, in his view, for any other code. "Islam and democracy," he concludes, "cannot coex- ist." Now that Suharto is out of power and cen- tralized rule has been weakened, local districts the way for Aceh to become the nation s first province to establish sharia as criminal law. Devi Faradila is a fashionable, 35-year-old mother of two and a parliamentarian in Aceh Province. At the time of my visit, she was the leader of the all-women s unit of the Banda Aceh Sharia Patrol, a municipal force in charge of monitoring compliance with local rules in the province s capital. On a typical Friday---a day, according to Aceh law, when all Muslim men must attend mosque---Faradila readied her unit for duty, breaking up a Ping-Pong game in the station house, wagging her nger at a couple of text messaging o cers. Faradila and 13 patrollers donned black base- ball caps to complete their uniforms---black shoes, black slacks, black blouses, and lime green head scarves---and piled into a pickup equipped with loudspeakers. Faradila, in the driver s seat, pulled on leather gloves, added a can decide for themselves whether to institute sharia-based regulations. Where this has been done, Baasyir says, everything is better. Much better. "Go see for yourself," he says. THE PROVINCE OF ACEH, on the western prow of the Indonesian archipelago, is now perhaps best known for su ering a direct strike from the December 2004 tsunami, which killed more than 160,000 Indonesians. But for centuries, the Aceh region has been recognized as one of the most devout Muslim areas in all of Asia. Aceh s uno cial slogan is that it is the "veranda of Mecca," and many of its residents seem to sit on this porch with their backs to the rest of Indonesia, embracing an Islam closer to that which exists across the ocean on the Arabian Peninsula. Here, more than anywhere else in the islands, people observe a strict Islamic code of conduct. In 1999 the national government paved fresh coat of lipstick, and put on mirrored sun- glasses. Her deputy hopped in beside her. e rest of the women sat in the bed of the pickup. e truck moved slowly through the city, Far- adila blasting a constant stream of announce- ments over the speakers. "Hurry up, men! Friday prayers are about to begin." "Stop all activities. It s time to pray." Men on the streets or in shops---a carpet seller, a furniture maker, a fruit vendor, a bricklayer---turned their heads and stared. A few checked their watches. "Today is Friday. It is obligatory for men to pray." Aceh is the only Indonesian province with a sharia patrol unit; a total of 800 o cers, mostly men, police the region day and night. But at midday on Fridays, the Muslim Sabbath, sha- ria enforcement is le to the women, who can pray at home. Faradila wove the truck around the massive ve-domed mosque at the city cen- ter, then toward the shoreline, which was both INDONESIAN ISLAM MELDS WITH A MULTITUDE OF TRADITIONS. ONE GROUP EVEN DRINKS WINE IN ITS CELEBRATIONS, THOUGH THE KORAN WARNS AGAINST IT.