Mount Sinabung in Indonesia Erupts After 400 Years of Being Inactive

Indonesia Volcano: Mount Sinabung Erupts After 400 Years – Mount Sinabung, a sleeping volcano in western Indonesia wake up today and spews hot lava and sand high into the sky and now, disturbing thousand of Indonesians to spend their night in lot of evacuation shelters.

It was reported that Mount Sinabung, a dormant volcano in North Sumathra, which is inactive for almost 400 years now can no longer hold hot lava and magma inside and finally wakes up this Sunday. Several witnesses said that the smoke and ash shot 1,500 miles into the air and as of this writing, the hot lava was already visible from several miles away.

The Indonesian officials reported that almost more than 19, 000 residences now were being evacuated from the slopes of Mount Sinabung and other surrounding areas.

Apparently, a local resident said that he panicked and ran when volcano started spewing lava “like a ball of fire”. The head of Indonesia’s volcanology and geology agency, Surono said that “We don’t know the character of this volcano because it’s been dormant for so long”

Suruno also added that the volcano had not erupted since 1600 and very little was known about the said volcano. The Indonesia is considered as among those countries which has been included in the Pacific Ring of Fire with almost 129 active volcanoes.

Is ‘Sahur’ in Indonesia too early?

Ramadan, the fasting month, is coming. There are specific activities related to Ramadan. One of them is the predawn meal. Regarding the accuracy of the time limit of the predawn meal, Muslims in Indonesia may have a predawn meal too early. This may happen since the intellectual Muslims had a polemic regarding whether Shubuh (predawn) prayer began too early.

The polemic about the time of shubuh prayer is connected to the validity of two worships at the same time; shubuh prayer and fasting. If the time of shubuh prayer is too early, it is not valid because it is not within its time. If the predawn meal exceeds its time, the fasting is not valid. Therefore, Muslims should have the shared criteria conducting observation of the appearance of fajar shadiq.

In Islamic literature, fajar shadiq is described as the horizontal light, which makes things in the sky and the earth begin to appear. Regardless of its geographical factor, the light cannot be seen except when the real end of the night comes. This means it is the beginning of shubuh and the end time of the predawn meal. As far as the writers believe, this has its root in Islamic law because there were many narrations mentioning that Prophet Muhammad completed shubuh prayer when the light was bright. From this event, there is a question as to whether the prophet performed shubuh prayer for hours.

If the time of shubuh prayer is too early, it is not a problem for Muslims doubtful about the time, because they can perform shubuh prayer at the end of shubuh prayer time, the time that one of the hadiths mentions that the Prophet completed the prayer when it was bright. This hadith brings about the assumption that the beginning of shubuh prayer is not that early if it is the time with the sun height of -19.5 degrees or even -20 degrees. Probably, despite in need of proving, this assumption is in line with the criterion of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) which sets the sun height for the beginning of shubuh prayer at -15 degrees.

In the case of Indonesia, which is in the equator where the sun flash can be stronger, the criterion of -20 degrees is accurate. A group of intellectuals from Yogyakarta a few years ago proved that the criterion of the ISNA is accurate or at least close to the time of the appearance of fajar shadiq, which means the beginning of shubuh prayer and the end of predawn meal.

Therefore, fajar shadiq should be the standard and the formulating point of the sun height to determine the beginning of shubuh prayer time. It should be based on the frequency of its appearance. Although the finding by the ISNA is convincing, the party involved (the authority) seems to ignore it and keeps claiming that the accurate criterion of the sun height for Indonesia is -20, which actually in practice doesn’t exist. The authority always deducts two minutes in Ramadan month and adds two minutes in other months. The authority argues that it is done for the sake of ihtiyath (accuracy) so Muslims don’t eat when shubuh prayer time comes.

The Ramadan timetable (imsakiah timetable) in Indonesia nowadays is varied; experts use a variety of the sun height (-18, -18,5, -19, 19.5 degrees). In practice, the criterion of the sun height at -20, which is claimed by the authority, doesn’t exist because with the addition of two minutes for the sake of the carefulness it actually leads to the criterion of -19 or -19.5 degrees. It means the criterion of -20 degrees doesn’t have a support in practice.

This case is really contrary to the case of the end of predawn meal time. According to the original Islamic teachings, the end of predawn meal is the beginning of the shubuh prayer. However, this doesn’t apply for this case because for the sake of carefulness in order that the Muslims don’t eat predawn meal at the shubuh prayer time, the end of predawn meal time is made 2 minutes faster. So, if the shubuh prayer time is 04:43 West Indonesia Time, the end of the predawn meal time turns to 04:41; and for imsak minus 10 minutes before shubuh time. Indonesian Muslims then must stop eating predawn meal at 04:31 West Indonesia Time.

Based on this fact, if the claim of a group of Yogyakarta intellectuals is not taken into consideration, the end of the predawn meal time is faster by at least 2 minutes and 12 minutes when the imsak is added.

With the time deduction of each criterion at least between the criterion of -20 degrees and -18 degrees (04:45 West Indonesia Time), the end of predawn meal will be faster by about 10 minutes and will be faster by about 20 minutes with 10 minutes for imsak. It will be much faster by about 23 minutes if the criterion of ISNA and claim of a group of intellectuals from Yogyakarta are applied. This means that if the imsak time (10 minutes before the beginning of the shubuh prayer time), Indonesian Muslims will have the end of predawn meal time faster by 30 minutes with the criterion of ISNA adjusted to the condition in Indonesia.

The end of predawn meal is identical to the beginning of the shubuh prayer time because the Koran clearly explains it as the white thread in the dark. Therefore, it is not good to stop eating predawn meal if there is no accurate proof that shubuh prayer time comes; it is not good to perform shubuh prayer at the early time of the shubuh prayer if there is no accurate proof that the time comes. It is necessary that both (the end of predawn meal and the beginning of shubuh prayer time) refer to what is explained by Allah and His Messenger as fajar shadiq.

It is wise if we don’t ignore the opinion that the criterion of ISNA or the sun height of -15 degrees is accurate. Stopping the predawn meal faster (earlier) is absolutely not a problem but performing the shubuh prayer before its time is of course unacceptable (invalid). To solve the problem, Indonesian Muslims must take a thorough study by conducting ruyah (observation) within a long span of time to determine which one is accurate. In Indonesia, the sun height of -20 degrees is not an absolute claim. It actually raises a question as to which criterion is correct, -20, -19.5, -19, -18, or -15 degrees?

It requires intellectual Muslims to do their best to verify again and again since the theory must be based on the true fact. The prophet mentions in a hadith that shubuh prayer is “already at dawn”, meaning that the end of predawn meal time is not that early. The interpretation of this hadith also needs to be adjusted to the real situation of Indonesia, which is located at the equator. Indonesian Muslims are required not to underestimate the difference of time even a few minutes because the prophet says “Eat the predawn meal at the end”.

Since the predawn meal in the fasting month becomes a ritual, it is good that it is made as the moment to wait for the time of shubuh prayer by observing the appearance of fajar shadiq so that Muslims use the criterion that is really recommended by the prophet.