I wrote some articles on the History of Islam in Philippines while I was in Dubai. It never occurred to me that I will have to write about the armed struggle normally associated with my Muslim compatriots in Mindanao. I must admit I wanted to stay silent to respect the positions taken by those closest to my heart, yet doing so is like turning my back to the very people who helped me become who I am today.
Islam is a religion of peace, and the most peaceful way of life. The judgement people passed to my religion because of what some minorities do continue to cripple us in spreading the message of peace and love embodied in the Koran. I don’t blame the media though they contribute a lot in shaping the bad image of Islam, nor do I blame my brothers and sisters who were gone astray for lack of knowledge about the religion because they were just born into and never had the chance of realizing how beautiful and perfect it is. I cannot blame them because it is the system of this imperfect world. All I can do is pray for Allah to give me strength in fighting for what I believe in, and to do what Koran teaches me about compassion, love and social justice. In this regard, I would like to state my position about the Sabah crisis in the most objective way I can, as a Filipino and a Muslim, and as a freedom fighter.
The Sultanates of early Muslim civilizations in Mindanao have property rights over Sabah and the large part of Borneo. These rights were relegated to the government when the families agreed to and supported the Philippines’ assertion of its sovereign rights on these islands against other nations like Malaysia, Brunei and China. This territorial dispute has been around for a long time and is recently elevated to the UN/International Court of Justice, the resolution of which is heavily dependent on the will of the people actually living in that area. I will never condone any aggressive violent course of action in the name of Islam, especially if the issue is not of faith but of worldly things, but I firmly believe that every Muslim should defend his property and honor. The Kirams felt that the government is giving away what they had given to it. They felt not only losing Sabah but the dignity of being its rightful owner because the government continues to turn a deaf ear to their pledges of dialogue. Hence, I am disappointed how Malacanang is handling the crisis and I strongly detest the threats this government has posed against the Sultanate. On the other hand, I wished that the Kirams had consulted their Muslim brothers and sisters on other possible ways of solving the problem. I sincerely hoped that they considered the fact that Malaysia is a Muslim country and most of its inhabitants, filipinos or malaysians, are their very own brothers and sisters in Allah’s Ummah. And my deepest prayer is that their recent and future actions will be driven by faith and not by want of more money from this Sabah property.
The greater part of resolving this crisis is in the hands of President Aquino, as the father of this nation and as someone posing to be pro-Muslim and leading the country to the Tuwid na Daan. Instead of threatening the Kirams, I hope that he will show them good reasons to give up their arms because the government is not abandoning the fight for claiming Sabah. Instead of bowing his head to the Malaysian authorities who are driven by their own country’s interest, I hope that he will dignify our country and talk to our own Muslim leaders and send Muslim emissaries to Malaysia and the Kirams to find a common ground for the resolution of this crisis. Instead of talking on television and wasting his time selling the idea that the Kirams are funded/instigated by opposition forces, I hope that he will unite the country and stand ground on the issues of sovereignty and peace. I hope that he will set aside the past and focus on finding out the truth about claims of abuse and oppression against filipinos in Sabah. This crisis should have an immediate resolution. Don’t let the Manila Hostage Crisis scenario happen again. Act now. Before it’s too late.
To my Muslim brothers and sisters, let us pray for Philippines and Malaysia. Let us pray for the leaders of this world to be conscientious in handling their affairs. But most importantly, let us take a strong and unified stand against any form of oppression and social injustice.
At the end of the day, a true Muslim never gives up. Don’t be silenced. Don’t stop believing this can be resolved through humane and just actions. Don’t be afraid of what the world thinks about us. We know who we are. We know our faith and our God. So let’s just be who we should be – Muslims.
Anything that happens and will happen is by Allah’s permission and greater design, so let’s be firm and strong in the belief that He will not desert us all. Jazzak Allah Khair!