The 'Unconquered' & Muslim Aspirations; (from Dr. Cesar A. Majul's Muslims in the Philippines (UP, 1977), the Following Excerpts on the History of the Muslim South Up to the End of Spanish Rule Is Reproduced Briefly in Substance.)

Manila Bulletin, October 12, 2007 | Go to article overview

The 'Unconquered' & Muslim Aspirations; (from Dr. Cesar A. Majul's Muslims in the Philippines (UP, 1977), the Following Excerpts on the History of the Muslim South Up to the End of Spanish Rule Is Reproduced Briefly in Substance.)


Byline: ALMARIN CENTI TILLAH Spokesman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and former governor of the province of Tawi-Tawi in Sulu

In observance of Eid'l-Fitr

THE Christianizing spirit of the Spaniards, their awareness of the centuries of struggle against the Arabs and Moors, and their meeting Muslims in the Philippines after circling half of the earth made them aware of the war against the Moros as a continuation of the old war between Christians and Muslims. Seventy-five years before Legazpi came to the Philippines; the Spaniards finally ousted the Muslims from Granada, their last stronghold in Spain and continued the crusade against the Moriscos. The same crusading spirit imbued them in the Philippines. The Moros, as the Spaniards called the Muslim in the Philippines, reacted by developing keen awareness of their own faith and heightened patriotism to defend and preserve it against threat from the foreign invader. A Spanish author in 1884 quoted by Majul referred to the subsequent conflict with the Moros throughout the Philippines as one "between two irreconcilable forces."

By adapting Islam, a segment of the Philippine population became a part of a larger religious community extending from the Pillars of Hercules to the borders of China. They also acquired a high sense of religious community, new laws, a more developed political organization, a new system of writing, and a new ethical outlook of life. Eventually, they acquired a new sense of history and culture of their own and growing awareness of all the benefits Islam had brought to them. Without this consciousness they would have been swept away by Western colonialism as "conquered people."

Despite relentless efforts, the Spaniards failed to eradicate Islam from the Muslim South and succeeded only in creating enmity between peoples in the Philippines on the basis of religious differences. The crusading spirit and hatred for the Muslims inculcated among Christians by the Spaniards, coupled with fear of them, are still evident today. On the other hand, the Muslim response of sheer hatred and contempt for the natives, used by the Spaniards against them, has generated the suspicion Muslims invariably held for all Christians. Ignorance of Islam on the part of Christians and Muslim indifference as well for anything Christian tended to focus on differences between people who basically share something in common in both history and culture long before the advent of Christianity in the islands.

To the Muslims, frustrations over their relative socioeconomic backwardness have been soothed by the fact that, at least, they have preserved the Faith. To this consolation is added the realization and conviction that more serious attention to, and understanding of Islam might lead them to discover the inspiration to improve their economic lot and further enrich their cultural and intellectual life. …

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