Karim ul-Makhdum

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Karim ul-Makhdum was an Arab trader known for introducing Islam in Sulu Archipelago in 1380. However, the tarsila narrates:

Karim ul-Makhdum was the first Muslim missionary in Sulu. The word makhdum in Arabic means master. In India and Malaysia, it is a title for holy people. During the years Karim ul-Makhdum was later called Tuan Sharif Aulia. He was considered as a saint (aulia) due to stories about his alleged magical powers.

The Sulu Genealogy here does not imply that Karim ul-Makhdum introduced Islam in Mindanao for the first time. What it says is that people flocked to him (or people got curious about him) and that Baguinda constructed a mosque in Sulu, which is now considered the oldest mosque in the region. Thus, it can be said that prior to his arrival, there were already some Muslims in Buansa and what Makhdum did was consolidate and reinforce the religion among the natives. Later, he claimed the title Sharif Awliya or Tuan Sharif Aulia which suggests that he was a missionary and a preacher.

Karim ul-Makhdum was believed to be related with the makhdumin and maulanas who converted parts of Java to Islam between the last quarter of the 14th century and the first half of the 15th century. Dr. Cesar Adib Majul, although without solid basis, asserted that Karim ul-Makhdum was the father of Maulana Ibrahim, one of the first successful missionaries in Java, and that Makhdum's proper name was Ibrahim al-Akbar Ibn Jamal id-Din al-Husayni.


  • Lorenzon-Abrera, Ma. Bernadette et. al. "Kasaysayan ng Bayan: Sampung Aralin sa Kasaysayang Pilipino". Adhika ng Pilipinas, Inc. 2005.

  • Majul, Cesar Adib. "Islam in the Philippines." Muslims in the Philippines. Diliman, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1999.



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