This study argues that positive view of religious teachings integrating into risk information is capable to encourage people to take tsunami preparedness. Hence, it is necessary to discuss the negative and positive of Islamic teachings in responding to disaster, the development of tsunami preparedness indicators and how to develop effectiveness of risk information.
Fatalistic Versus Positive View in Islamic Teachings on Disasters
The relationship between religion and natural disasters is often associated with the concept of fatalistic view. The concept of fatalistic view refers to belief that because natural disaster is god’s will so people can do nothing (Ghafory-Ashtiany 2009; Lavigne et al. 2008). Paton and Johnston (2006) describe this concept relates to locus of control in psychology. While people with an internal locus believe that such hazard events can be reduced, external locus of control is associated with the belief that human has limited power to manage such disasters. After disaster happened especially which affected many people killed, debate whether a disaster was caused by god’s punishment or not, has been raised. Duncan et al. (2012) for example, compiled an archive about religious reaction to a major earthquake and volcanic eruption that occurred between 1900 and 2008 in countries predominantly Christian. They found that of 61 discrete events, seventy percent show evidence that people responding using religious frame of reference (Duncan et al. 2012). In addition, after the devastating tsunami 2004 some Islamic clerics stated that God was angry with Aceh people since they abandoned Koran and Hadith (Cody 2005). As to other places, some religious leaders voiced a direct connection between natural disasters and human sins such as in the Greatest Eastern Japan Earthquake 2011 (Horvat n.d), Haiti Earthquake 2010 (Newlands n.d.), Hurricane Katrina in USA (Campbell and Yates 2006), and recent disasters in Indonesia (Oktavinanda 2012). However, another finding showing that the religion plays a positive role in disaster. Study conducted by Gillard and Paton (1999) in Fiji Island among Christians, Hindus, Moslem reported that religious beliefs were helpful during crisis.
Islam is one of the religions among Judaism and Christianity sharing view on natural disaster as god punishment. Kosim (2012) argues that natural disaster is as a God’s punishment because of human sin. He refers the Holy Quran which explicitly mentioned the story about Allah’s punishment and natural disaster such as earthquake, floods, stone rain, typhoon, drought and famine. It is also cited in the Hadith saying that God punishes people who act immoral action (Kosim 2012; Adiyoso and Kanegae 2014a; Adiyoso 2013).
In contrast, there has been argument on positive aspect of Islamic teachings related to disaster. The Holy Qur’an suggests that humankind should learn on natural phenomenon and how to cope with natural disaster (Nahadi et al. 2011: 3; Nasution 2011). Hidayat (2011) argues that such fatalistic view is as a result of the problem in interpreting Holy Qur’an. In Islamic tradition, according to Hidayat (2011), although the field of study on how to interpret the meaning of Holy Qur’an has been developed for a long time ago, there is a gap between common people understanding of the Qur’an. There have been two different categories of interpretation of Qur’an language. The first is called muhkamat or ‘finite or certain meaning’ and the second is mutasybihat or ‘interpretable’ (Madjid 2011: 38).
In addition, the interpretation of religious teachings is sometimes also varying depending on religious leaders. In a traditional community, religious leader is a person who has better knowledge in religious teachings (Hidayat 2011). Religious leaders are an educated person in religion issues who has an authority to deliver religious teachings to the followers. It is acknowledged the important role of religious leaders in shaping social construction in Indonesia history (Sulasaman 2012). Hence, community members are depended on the religious leaders almost of all aspect of their life.
Hidayat (2011) gives a fundamental and important idea on how to understand the religion language from the hermeneutic perspectives. He argues that any Holy book as representing God’ messages to Prophet involved in God’s level and human level (prophet) communication. Human should interpret the meaning of language not only based on the words stating in the Holy book, but it should be understood based on the social context when God’s messages transferring to the prophet (Ghafory- Ashtiany 2009).
In conclusion, although the majority of Islamic interpretations of disaster tend to have a fatalistic view, the newer interpretation of natural disaster event have started to encourage people to protect their life and taking such preparedness efforts are not against God’s will. Evidence from disaster researches confirm that religious interpretation are still important in understanding how people response to such disaster. However, the positive aspects of religious teaching have been rarely studied. The next section examines the development of tsunami preparedness indicators to easily measure the change of tsunami preparedness action.