There’s a saying “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan. ” In the case of understanding the Muslims, and the case of the Muslims in the Philippines, we have to look back on their history to be able to understand why there still is an ongoing conflict between our Muslim brothers and how it affects the development of Islam in the Philippines. Muslims are followers of the religion Islam, they are regarded as part of a sophisticated civilization wherein they have an established form of government, alphabet, and way of life.Even before the Mulims and Spaniards came to the Philippine Islands, there are already habitants, which we call indigenous people or the tribal Philippines.
These natives have participated in trade with other South East Asian countries since time immemorial. According to Cesar Majul, in 878 A. D. , the Muslims were expelled in China because of an anti-foreign policy and that hundreds of Muslims were massacred in the uprising against the Celestial Empire.The Muslims who were able to escape moved to the Malay Peninsula.
Due to the fact that Muslims rely on trading, when the foreign merchants were allowed again in China, the Muslims found a new route to China. This route is through Philippine waters as was said that Arab ships were seen coming from an island of the Philippines. During the tenth century some Muslims in Borneo were believed to have settled in Sulu, since Borneo is very close to Sulu.The proof of Muslim settlement in the Philippines can be read in tarsilas.
Tarsilas are genealogical accounts of the habitants in Mindanao. One tarsila had written that a Tuan Masha’ika arrived in Maimbung, Jolo and married the daughter of the ruling family. The marriage of Muslim to a member of a ruling family is what ignited the spread of Islam, and strengthened the establishment of the Islam as a religion in Southern Philippines.
Also there is a tombstone dated 710 A. H. (1310) in Bud Dato, Sulu.
From observations, those who have seen this tombstone concluded that it must be a Muslim tombstone because it was take care after Muslim traditions, and that the tomb looked like it was imported from Islam countries or were made by local Muslims. The spread of Islam throughout western Mindanao began when a Makhdumin came and married a local of Sulu. Makhdumins are Sufis who are Muslim mystics and seeks direct experience of Allah from Iran who fled from Baghdad to Indonesia. Their aim is to convert people to Islam.
This certain Makhdumin is Makhdum Karim, since he is also called Tuan Sharif Awiya, which is a term used for holy people historians believed that he was the one responsible for the formal conversion of Filipino natives into Islam. Muhammad Kabungsuwan’s predecessors continued the conversion from Sulu to Maguindanao to Zamboanga. They used their merchant skills and the marriage of ruling families which easily converted the Maranaos and the Tausugs and other indigenous Filipinos.
When the Malay Muslims converted Brunei and Ternate, it guaranteed the establishment of the Islam religion in Mindanao.Since the religion Islam believes in brotherhood, they were able to help each other through the struggles against the foreign Christians. Through the course of Islam’s history between the Spaniards, they always had help from their “brothers” in the nearby countries. There is enough proof that Islam is established in the Philippines even before the Spaniards came.
Evidences that Majul gave is that when a Sumatran prince came in Buansa, a province in Sulu, the people agreed for him to be the Sultan in the area when they found out that he is a Muslim.Also the Arab, Sharif-ul-Hashim did not impose Islam or his sultanate among the people of Jolo but rather because of the sophisticated knowledge of the people in Islam they have a high level of Islamic consciousness that they accepted political institutions required by orthodoxy. Sharif-ul-Hashim had a title of Maulana, which suggests that he is a guide or a teacher. All in all, we can say that by the start of the fifteenth century there were already Muslim foreigners colonizing the Philippines.