The Muslims' Conflict in Mindanao, 489 Years on...
In the year 1380 the land of Mindanao was blessed with the arrival of Shaykh Karim al-Makhdum. He was an Arab trader who called the people of Mindanao to Islam, the true religion of God. By this time Islam had already been established in the neighbouring areas (which correspond today to Malaysia and Indonesia) as early as the 1200s. The religion of Islam spread naturally throught the islands of Mindanao and expanded all the way up to the north of the islands until it was established as far as areas north of Manila.
The first mosque built in Mindanao by Shaykh Karim Al-Makhdum
Islam, as we can imagine would have eventually came to set all the people of the area free from darkness and error and into the Light of Islam as it did in the surrounding areas previously, however this was put to a halt with the arrival of a Portuguese explorer in 1521 named Fernão de Magalhães, or as he is remembered most commonly in the English language - Ferdinand Magellan.
Magellan was employed by the Spanish king to travel to the 'spice islands' which were located just south of Mindanao in what is today Indonesia. To do so Magellan and his crew set sail around the world, eventually becoming the first known group of explorers to circumnavigate the globe. These explorers set out though not only to charter routes to new lands or to bring back spices, but they also set out to fulfill the legacy of the Spanish reconquista. Spain at that time was a new nation which had only recently conquered their land from the Muslim nation of Al-Andalus which had been establised in Western Europe for a period of 8 centuries. The Spanish and Portuguese were living on land that was taken off of the Muslims and had attempted to drive its Muslim inhabitants or to persecute those who remained. This bitterness they held extended towards Muslims in all lands that they encountered and their war was also transported to the new lands that they found.
While the Muslims of North Africa continued to fight their Jihad against the Spanish after being expelled from Al-Andalus by raiding the Spanish coast, Magellan and his men had landed on the other side of the world in the Visayas, a group of islands north of Mindanao. They arrived at an island which is named today as Mactan island, situated just east of the city of Cebu. Magellan planted a large cross on arrival to mark that he was not merely an explorer but that he was a Crusader, a warrior detirmined to continue the legacy of the reconquista by eradicating Muslims and converting them to Christianity. Or so he hoped anyway.
The island of Mactan was ruled over by a datu (Malay name for a leader/chief) whose name is remembered today as Lapu Lapu, however historical sources record him as having been known also as Kalipu Laku or Kalipu Pulaka. (the Kalipu part of the name likely derives from the Arabic word Khalifah). Lapu Lapu was a Muslim, he ruled over his land protectively as he lived nearby others who were not yet Muslims, they were animists who followed the pre-Islamic religion of the islands which we know little about today. One of these non-Muslim rulers was Rajah Humabon. This Rajah met with Magellan and saw the opportunity to ally himself with him to defeat Lapu Lapu. To do so Rajah Humabon became a Christian to appease Magellan, had his name changed to Carlos in honour of the Spanish king, then convinced Magellan to attack the Muslims of Mactan island. Rajah Humabon and Magellan sealed this alliance with what is called a sandugo or 'pact of blood' in which the 2 men cut their wrists and allowed their blood to fall into a cup which was mixed with wine and then drank by the both of them.
The Christian army set forward and was met with a fierce band of Muslim warriors led by their datu on the shores of the island. They sent a message to Lapu Lapu that he should surrender himself and his men and to recognise the King of Spain as their own and to obey his orders. If they did so and paid the king a tribute (jizyah) they would be safe. If they were to refuse then they would be attacked. Lapu Lapu responded by saying that they would not accept and that they were ready, armed with lances made from bamboo and stakes hardened with fire. They set traps which were large pits around the island hoping that the Spanish would come searching for them and would fall into the pits, but the Spanish did not attack at once but rather waited until the following morning.
The Muslims came out armed for battle, lead by their datu ready to fight the Christian invaders. The 60 Spanish fighters came charging forward armed with swords, axes, crossbows, shields and guns. The battle quickly ensued and the Spanish found themselves greatly outnumbered by the massive Muslim army of 1,500 mujaahideen. The Spanish chroniclers reported - "When we reached land, [the natives] had formed in three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred persons. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceeding loud cries...". Magellan attempted to divert them in the midst of the battle by sending some of his men to burn down the houses of the Muslims, hoping they would retreat in order to save their homes, but instead the Muslims became even more fierce and stormed upon the Spanish army determined more than ever to defeat them. They shot poisonous arrows at the legs of the Spanish soldiers which were not covered by any armour and they launched a flurry of spears and stones.
The mujaahideen quickly recognised their leader Magellan and set upon him. An arrow was launched which struck Magellan in the shoulder and was stabbed in the leg with a knife. This strike caused Magellan to fall upon his face, allowing the Muslims to easily come upon him and strike him with their spears and knives killing the Crusader as he lay in the shallow water.
A romanticised representation depicting the Battle of Mactan
Many of the Spanish were killed, as were some of the natives who had became Christians who came to assist them. The Spanish quickly withdrew and escaped and the Muslims were victorious. The mission at that point was a failure for the Crusaders, they had failed to defeat the Muslims and to spread Christianity. Rather their leader was killed and they withdrew, humiliated.
The Spanish returned to their 'ally' Rajah Humabon where they believed that they were safe. Some of the Spanish soldiers however had previously raped some of the local women which enraged the Rajah. He invited the soldiers for a feast which he had poisoned, causing many of them to die. Only some of the remaining Spanish managed to escape.
It was reported that the Christian king sent an offer to Lapu Lapu to return to them the body of Magellan in exchange for as much goods as they wished. Lapu Lapu however refused stating that he would not do so in exchange for all of the riches of the world.
The Muslims were victorious and had withstood the first assault of the Crusaders. Lapu Lapu came to be remembered as the first Muslim hero of the lands and the Muslims were able to live for a short time in peace, holding their heads high as defenders of Islam.
This encounter was the first instance of Christian imperialism in these lands. The Spanish were driven off this time, but they returned later with bigger forces than were seen with Magellan's small army. 20 years later in 1543 another Spanish explorer named Ruy López de Villalobos came to the islands of Leyte and Samar which were to the east of Mactan island and claimed them all in the name of the king of Spain (who by that time was King Phillip II) and named the islands 'Las islas Filipinas' (The islands of King Phillip).
12 years later in 1565 the Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi began to build the first Spanish settlements in Cebu, just across the sea, west of Mactan Island where Magellan was killed. Legazpi initially was fought off when he arrived in Cebu however he later made contact with a man named Sikatuna who was a leader in Bohol, which is to the south of Cebu. Sikatuna forged an alliance with Legazpi and to seal it they performed the sandugo blood pact, drinking each other's blood mixed with wine. The next year the 2 allies sailed to Cebu and attacked the town of Rajah Tupas, the nephew of Rajah Humabon with whom Magellan had made an alliance with years earlier. Rajah Tupas surrendered and was baptised, joining Legazpi and the Spanish Crusader army. The town was renamed 'Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesús' (Town of the Most Holy Name of Jesus). This became a base for the Spanish Crusader army from which attacks began to be made.
The first main attack by the Spanish was on the Muslim city of Maynila (known as Manila today). The city was located to the far north of Cebu but was decided to be attacked as they heard that it was full of riches and resources. The city was ruled by the Muslim chief Rajah Sulayman II who initially agreed to a peace treaty with the Spanish on the assumption that they were merely wishing to settle in the area, however when he refused to turn his land over to them and to submit to their army the Spanish attacked. This battle took place in June 1570. Rajah Sulayman allied with Rajah Lakan Dula and resisted the Spanish attacks however they were ultimately defeated. Rajah Lakan Dula submitted to the Spanish rule and became a Christian. He was granted rule over his areas by Legazpi but did so under the sovereignty of the Spanish Kingdom.
In 1571, a leader named Tarik Sulayman who some historians believe was the same person as Rajah Sulayman or another Muslim ruler of the Macabebe tribe refused to submit to the Spanish rule as Rajah Lakan Dula had done. He waged war against the Spanish and fought them in the Battle of Bankusay. Sulayman's forced fought fiercely to the death. Sulayman himself was killed and the Spanish were victorious. After defeating this Muslim army they now ruled Manila together with Rajah Lakan Dula.
While the Spanish settlements grew, Rajah Sulayman was succeded by his nephew Rajah Sulayman III. Legazpi had also died and was succeeded by Guido de Lavezaris. The new Spanish leader did not accept the rule of the Rajah Lakan Dula over Manila and took his properties off of him. The 2 Rajahs then revolted and the First Battle of Manila Bay took place in 1574. The Spanish agreed on a peace treaty with the Rajahs and the land disputes were settled. Rajah Sulayman III died not long later and Muslim influence in Manila died out, the land soon came under the complete control of the Spanish.
In time, the areas of Luzon in the north (to which Manila belonged) and the Visayas (to which Mactan island and Cebu belonged) fell under the complete control of the Spanish Crusaders. The only areas which the Spanish did not control were the northernmost areas of Luzon where the native Ifugao and Mangyan tribes reamined independent from the Spanish and also the Muslim areas of Mindanao. The Spanish could never defeat the Muslims in Mindanao and eventually gave up and let the Muslims rule themselves rather than risk an all out war which the Spanish might lose or at least become severely weakened by. This status quo remained for almost 200 years until Great Britain declared war on Spain in 1762 and held the Spanish territories for a period of 2 years up until 1764. No changes were made in relation to the status of Muslim Mindanao which remained independent. Once Spain regained control again after the Spanish-British war and things remained as normal up until the Philippine Revolution began in 1896. By that time, the Muslims in Mindanao had lived independently in their own nation for 322 years since the Spanish withdrew from their attacks against Muslims. The Muslim nation in Mindanao had existed as a state for 516 years with little inteference from any outside power.
To be continued Inshaa'Allaah
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03-Mar-2010 11:54 AM
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
03-Mar-2010 10:35 PM
- Join Date
- Sep 2009
what's the source? JAK for doing this, this issue and these people go under the bridge for many of us. saying that, I will read it tomorrow ia!
03-Mar-2010 11:07 PM
- Join Date
- Apr 2009
- a house
Interesting that Manilla was once muslim.
I came accross evidence that East Timor was briefly muslim as well. There was a short period of time during the 16th century when the Makassans from South Sulawesi captured East Timor and converted the people peacefully to Islam.
Then the portuguese regrouped and sent reinforcements to the island and forced everyone to be Christian again at the point of the sword. There was much bloodshed at the hands of the Christians.
02-Mar-2011 05:36 PM
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
02-Mar-2011 06:44 PM
Good article with good pix
06-Mar-2011 07:15 PM
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
- Perth, Western Australia
As Salaamu 3alaikum
I have heard that the name Manila is a corruption of Amanullah
Wa salaamu 3alaikum