COLOMBO, Jan 10: God signed His name in the tsunami that battered Sri Lanka and other countries on Dec 26, and sent it as punishment because humans have been ignoring His laws, Sri Lankan Muslims say.

Proof, according to Mohamed Faizeen, manager of the Centre for Islamic Studies in Colombo, is a satellite picture taken seconds after the tsunami smashed into Sri Lanka's west coast near the town of Kalutara and as it was receding.

"This clearly spells out the name 'Allah' in Arabic," Mr Faizeen said, pointing to the shape of the waves - a gigantic "E" complete with whorls and side waves that do indeed appear to combine to resemble the Arabic script for the name "Allah".

The picture was taken by the Digital Globe Quick bird satellite on Dec 26 at 10.20am local time, shortly after the moment of tsunami impact. It can be viewed at the website, http://globalsecurity.org/eye/andaman-sri-lanka.htm.

"Allah signed His name," Mr Faizeen said. "He sent it as punishment. This comes from ignoring His laws." He likened the tsunami to the Old Testament account of floods being sent by God in the time of Noah as punishment for those who had drifted from His ways.

Like Noah, who according to the Bible was saved when he built an ark and tried to warn people to prepare for the deluge, a foreign tourist in Sri Lanka's east coast village of Ulva had dreams on three consecutive nights that huge waves were coming.

"He warned the villagers but they laughed at him. He left Ulvae on that Sunday morning - 15 minutes before the tsunami struck," Mr Faizeen said, citing locals who have woefully recounted the story.

He added that he had visited the mainly Muslim Ulvae, near the major town of Batticaloa, and found that a madrassa - an Islamic religious school - had been left untouched while 400 houses around it had been flattened with great loss of life.

The shorelines of many Asian countries hit by the waves - including Indonesia - had become playgrounds for Westerners and errant Muslims. Vices such as prostitution and drinking were rife, the cleric said.

"Allah first sends small punishments - like loss of business. If we ignore the warning, He sends bigger ones - loss of life. If we still ignore the warnings, the big punishments, like earthquakes and tsunamis will come."

Mr Faizeen said areas of Sri Lanka mainly populated by Muslims were the hardest hit and that the waves were aimed at Muslims in Indonesia and Sri Lanka who he said had strayed from God's ways.

Sri Lanka is around 70 per cent Buddhist, 15 per cent Hindu, 7.5 per cent Muslim and 7.5 per cent Christian. Another Muslim leader, Mohammed Fawmey of the International Islamic Youth Front, said he too believed the tsunami was sent by God. -AFP

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