That was an hour's late in difference from our Malaysian time. The flight was an hour and ten minutes in length of air travel.
It was my first overseas trip and I was very excited to experience how it actually was at Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam?
All the media hype about Acheh being a strict to the letter Islamic Syaria implementing province needed to be checked as to the authenticity of their reports?
So, there I was with members of the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association whose President, Tuan Haji Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar asked me to join them in the study tour and do what comes naturally to me, which was to record and capture the entire proceedings of the exclusive trip.
One thing I noticed during our arrival at the Bandara Iskandar Muda International Airport was the implementation of the latest high technology identification equipments by their young and efficient plus very friendly and courteous Acheh Airport Immigration personnel.
We were asked to place our 4 fingers on the fingerprint scanner and after that our two thumbs plus being asked to take a step back and have our photos taken for record. Quite impressive I must say!
Along the road towards Banda Acheh, we noticed that the majority of the motorcyclists riding in the same direction of us were wearing full face futuristic looking crash helmets. Very nice looking helmets if compared to the ones usually worn by our Malaysian motorcyclists.
All these talk about the women of Acheh being suppressed by the Syaria Authorities of Banda Acheh disintegrated into thin air when we saw the true picture of how life actually is for the Achehnese with our own eyes? Here, take a good look yourselves!
And to hear or read the media reports painting a gloomy picture of Acheh going back to the stone age was proving to be nothing much but hyperbole spewed out by some most obviously quite Islamophobic media organizations with a clear agenda against the Special Autonomous Province of Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam for trying their best to truly uphold the Islamic Syaria of Allahu Ta'ala within their borders!
Our luggage was not checked by the Acheh Customs (probably because we looked ~ okay? ) and we were respectfully welcomed by the officials with smiles and enthusiastic porters who were milling about looking for clients.
The charge for the services of the porters were 5000 Indonesian Rupiahs which is equivalent to about a ringgit fifty per luggage. Such a service was really unnecessary for the distance between the arrival hall at the terminal and the pickup point at the entrance to the airport terminal was just a couple of meters. :)
Yet I understand if the arriving travelers were elderly, sick or handicapped? Surely, such persons would need a hand with their baggage or they themselves to board their transport.
Our transportation needs were in the form of two Toyota Innova's which must have been arranged by Tuan Haji Zainul Rijal. Bapak Shamsul and Bapak Dedi Setiawan were our trip's official drivers and they took charge of our baggages and handled themselves very professionally.
I was quite impressed by the way they carried themselves well and were always ready to answer our questions about this and that and drove excellently as we headed towards the Mahkamah Syar'iyah Provinsi Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam.
As we drove along the road to Banda Acheh, I observed many new buildings still being built. The devastation of Banda Acheh by the 26th of December 2004 Tsunami has seen almost a third of the infrastructure of the region be washed away by the very powerful Indian Ocean waves! In these past 6 years after the tsunami, Acheh has slowly but surely been rebuilding itself.
To those who might not remember the tsunami's destroying most of Acheh's infrastructure on that tragic day, they could be forgiven if they thought this was how Acheh has always been?
It's truly amazing to see how resilient in spirit and industrious in nature the Achehnese have been in reconstructing all that were washed away 6 years before?
Before long, we reached the rebuilt city of Banda Acheh with its historical landmarks such as the glorious Masjid Raya Baiturrahman standing imposingly beckoning all and sundry to its blessed grounds.
This very noble historical state masjid stood as a sturdy sanctuary for the people of Banda Acheh especially those who managed to seek shelter in its structure when faced with the raging onslaught of tsunami driven toxic ocean brew that swept away everything in its lethal path on December the 26th, 2004 morning following the massive undersea earthquake which measured 9.1 on the Richter scale!
To see it ~ the Masjid Raya Baiturrahman ~ with my own eyes was just an exhilarating experience and I looked forward to our praying there in its blessed halls.
The Mahkamah Syar'iyah Provinsi Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam was located just across the road from the masjid and our entourage arrived safely and entered its compound.
We were greeted warmly upon our arrival by the Ketua Kantor of the Mahkamah Syar'iyah Provinsi Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam and other Ketua Hakim's of the various provinces of Acheh.
Below is the Vision and Mission Objectives of the Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam Syar'iyah Court.
This is the welcoming slide prepared for our visit. :)
I am not at liberty to show and share with you in detail as to all that has transpired between the Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam Syariah Authorities and the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association that morning but believe me when I say that what I learned together with the learned Malaysian Muslim lawyers is actually quite eye opening as far as the differences between our country's intepretation of the Syariah Laws and what the Acheh Authorities really put to practice?
I learned for a fact that the Syariah authorities of Acheh do not have arresting powers of those who contravene the Syariah stipulations there?
I also learned that the Syaria offenders aren't even held in detention and in most cases might only be held overnight for recording of particulars purposes and even that only at the Police Stations.
The Syaria offenders are in fact invited to surrender themselves to the Syaria authorities and ask at their own free will to be punished according to the gazetted Syaria Laws of Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam!
The objective of such a situation over there in Acheh is to cultivate an atmosphere of self regulation of each and every Muslim to be aware that if they are punished according to the Syaria here on Earth, they become clean and free from retribution in the Hereafter!
Which is actually the truth according to Islamic Syaria Laws per se.
The difference over here in Malaysia is that our Malaysia Syaria Justice system plays the 'Catch & Release' system when it involves breaching of the Syaria Laws and Regulations of our Islamic faith!
The Malaysian authorities are just so bloody quick to go and arrest the Syaria offenders and even throw them into jail overnight and be remanded for more than a week or so but when it comes to carrying out the punishment meted out to them by the Syaria Judge, our country's authorities don't have the balls to carry out such punishment so to speak and even if they did, had done so secretly in prison which is contrary to what Islamic Syaria demands of them?
Over there in Acheh, the punishments carried out are in full view of the public and the Syaria offenders come on their own free will to be caned according to their punishment as per the crime they have committed?
Over here, a mere six strokes of the cane to be inflicted upon a Syaria offender who herself asked to be so punished became a major nationwide if not global hullabaloo because ignorant ones amongst the Muslims and Non Muslims and even the screwed up ones amongst the so called NGO's and social activists made a bloody ruckus over the whole damn issue!
It's crazy but this is the scenario over here as far as the subject of implementing Syaria Laws from the Almighty Allahu Ta'ala is concerned with all kinds of smart asses making a donkey out of themselves!
Nanggroe Acheh Darussalam might have been devastated before by that raging lethal tsunami but they have persevered and are rebuilding their society to be in compliance of the Syaria of Allahu Ta'ala.
The crime rate there is so drastically low compared to our country which reeks with the stench of maksiat oozing out of every nook and cranny because the so called rulers of this country are so good with putting up one hell of a show pretending to be the Keepers of the Faith!
Not a day passes without we as a nation having to read of a father who rapes his own daughters or of babies turning up dead in dumpsters or abandoned wrapped in nothing but the newspapers at the local suraus, mosques or just anywhere the fornicators damn well please choose to dump the illegitimate by product of their sinful liaisons?
The abandoned child in turn becomes another unnecessary statistic and proof of our national so called rulers and leaders failure to heed the Commandments of Allah, our God Almighty or to listen to what the Blessed Messenger Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam enjoined?
Would it take a bloody devastating disaster like what smashed into Acheh 6 years ago to knock some sense into the idiots running or ruining this country?