Filipino Muslim

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This article is concerned with the religion of Islam in the Philippines. For ethnicity and culture, please see Moro people.

Islam is one of the oldest organized religions to be established in the Philippines. Its origins in the country may be dated back to as early as the 14th century, with the arrival of Arab and Malay Muslim traders who converted some of the native inhabitants in the southwestern Philippine islands. Filipino Muslims form 5% of the country's population, while the rest of the general population are mostly Roman Catholic (84%) and Protestant (8%).



In 1380, Karim ul' Makhdum, the first Islamic missionary to reach the Sulu Archipelago, brought Islam to what is now the Philippines. He arrived in Jolo by 1380. Subsequent visits of Arab Muslim missionaries helped strengthen the Islamic faith in the Philippines, mostly in the south but as far north as Manila. Vast sultanates were established, these were the Sultanate of Maguindanao and the Sultanate of Sulu. Since the first people who established themselves as sultans in various parts of the Malay ArchipelagoMalaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines — were usually of Arab descent, most people of royal lineage claim Arab descent, some going as far as claiming descent from the Prophet Muhammad himself. In any event, any descent from Arabs or Muhammad among those of royal lineage would be extremely diluted, and the majority of Filipino, Indonesian and Malaysian Muslims who are not of royal lineage could not make either claim.

Since the early 1990s, Filipino Muslims were already firmly rooted in their Islamic faith. Every year many go on a pilgrimage (hajj) to the holy city of Mecca; upon returning men would be bestowed with the honorific title "hajj" and women the honorific "hajji". In most Muslim communities, there is at least one mosque from which the muezzin call the faithful to prayer five times a day. Those who responded to the call to public prayer removed their shoes before entering the mosque, aligned themselves in straight rows before the minbar (niche), and offered prayers in the direction of Mecca. An imam, or prayer leader, led the recitation in Arabic verses from the Qur'an, following the practices of the Sunni sect of Islam common to most of the Muslim world. It was sometimes said that the Moros often neglected to perform the ritual prayer and did not strictly abide by the fast (no food or drink in daylight hours) during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, or perform the duty of almsgiving. They do, however, scrupulously observe other rituals and practices and celebrate Islamic festivals such as the end of Ramadan (Eid ul-Fitr); Muhammad's birthday; the night of his ascension to heaven; and the start of the Muslim New Year, the first day of the month of Muharram.

Since the world resurgence of Islam after World War II, Muslims in the Philippines have a stronger sense of their unity as a religious community than they had in the past. Since the early 1970s, more Muslim teachers have visited the country and more Filipino Muslims have gone abroad — either on the hajj or on scholarships — to Islamic centers than ever before. They have returned revitalized in their faith and determined to strengthen the ties of their fellow Moros with the international Islamic community. As a result, Muslims have built many new mosques and religious schools, where students (male and female) learn the basic rituals and principles of Islam and learn to read the Qur'an in Arabic. A number of Muslim institutions of higher learning, such as the Jamiatul Philippine al-Islamia in Marawi, also offer advanced courses in Islamic studies.


Circumcision is practised to the influence of Islam. A strong Islamic legacy is the custom to circumcise (tuli) young boys. When the Spaniards arrived, circumcision was justified as being Christian. Filipino Christians are generally circumcised for hygiene reason due to American influence. To this day, being uncircumcised is stigmatized in Philippine society.

Islam in the Philippines has absorbed indigenous elements, as much as has Catholicism. Moros thus make offerings to spirits (diwatas), malevolent or benign, believing that such spirits can and will have an effect on one's health, family, and crops. They also include pre-Islamic customs in ceremonies marking rites of passage — birth, marriage, and death. Moros share the essentials of Islam, but specific practices vary from one Moro group to another.

See also

Other religions


Original Source

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