The people of Aceh especially men are encouraged to marry from outside their region. To face this problem, they should go beyond their boundaries and geographical setups. It is the duty of Muslim governments to encourage inter-marriage and facilitate it to end such problems.
Zainab Al-`Alwani, Instructor of fiqh and Islamic studies, Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences, Leesburg, Virginia, states the following: What can be relevant or close to this issue is the way the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and Muslims dealt with war, which would leave many orphans and widows. Allah Almighty says in Surat An-Nisaa’, (To orphans restore their property (when they reach their age), nor substitute (your) worthless things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by mixing it up) with your own. For this is indeed a great sin. If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess. That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice) (An-Nisaa’ 4:2-3).
After asking a number of people who just came from Aceh and have been working with the tsunami-stricken people, I got to know that there are a number of problems that need to be tackled along with solving the issue of gender imbalance.
First, the people of Aceh are suffering from a state of trauma. They are very frustrated and psychologically ill. There should be a team of Muslim psychologists and experts to treat those cases and help them through their crises.
Second, the people of Aceh are very isolated, even within Indonesia itself, and they are very connected to their land. They do not marry from outside their family circles; they do not leave their towns and move to different areas. This behaviour will have a negative impact when it comes to solving the issue of gender imbalance. Therefore, I would suggest the following:
1. Relief organizations should focus on education, especially of teenagers and youth, so that they can marry from outside the towns or move to a different city.
2. Scholars and imams should visit the area to spread religious knowledge and educate people about Islam and its teachings, thus strengthening their faith in the face of trials and tribulations.
3. People should support the boarding schools that have been recently established in Aceh, where teenagers are well educated and raised in an Islamic environment. Relief organizations sh
ould call upon all donors to support these schools and even establish more, as the existing ones cannot accommodate all the youth.
4. A security system should be established to protect girls and women from being harassed or sexually abused.
In addition, men should be greatly encouraged to marry from outside their communities; this is a state of emergency. Also, young ladies that have reached the age of puberty and are ready for marriage should be encouraged to get married. Furthermore, there should be women’s institutions to teach young ladies the basic skills of marriage, parenting, motherhood, house management, and so on.
As for the role of Muslim governments, they should be very involved by sending relief delegations to study and analyze the situation and evaluate so that we know what and how much is needed. According to the evaluation, they should send as much as they can. And as we know, some Muslim governments are capable of helping to build institutions, schools, orphanages, and hospitals. They should not leave Muslim orphans with no support to be taken to different countries where they will be subject to missionaries, because we as Muslims, both governments and people, will be responsible before Allah for that.