By Warina Sushil A. Jukuy
By Warina Sushil A. Jukuy
A Catalyst for Proactive Change in Muslim Communities of Sulu
Posted July 29, 2003
Twenty-nine years ago, I understand the Sulu folks most. To be specific that was 1974. I was barely seven years old then. Nine years later, I perceived the island of my soul through the idealistic eyes of a sixteen-year-old. Twenty years later, to be specific, now in 2003, it has turned into a total stranger. The latter is my perception of Sulu as a 36 year old. At seven, I regarded myself as a Tausug Filipino. At sixteen, I regarded myself as a Bangsamoro first, and a Filipino next. It has only been two years that I regard myself as a Muslim foremost and nothing else. To the Supreme Creator belongs the world. The universal world that mankind has warped and perverted when it conceptualized territory, government, and sovereignty. The very same concepts that have deepened the diversity of human life far more than the complexity of Nature itself minus mankind, has ever done. Indeed, a concept of the people, for the people, and by the people. Ironically, each phrase is exclusive to people. Paradoxically, somehow somewhere in those concept must be the Almighty God.
The Province of Sulu of the Southern Philippines is dominantly Muslim. The natives therein are called Tausugs (meaning People of the Current) regardless of religion they profess. Sulu, a component of the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) is comprised of 18 municipalities. The highest official of the land is the Provincial Governor, and under him are the 18 municipal mayors. In 1450, there existed a Sulu Sultanate; and 71 years later the Spanish colonizers came and occupied Las Islas Filipinas but not Sultania de Jolo. By virtue of the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the Sulu Sultanate was ceded by Spain to the Philippine territory through American colonial rule of the archipelago. This is a historical blunder that America needs to rectify in the interest of justice.
Forty-eight golden years of sovereign power under a sovereign Sultan ruler must not be unjustly effaced to oblivion by a treaty to which the Sultanate of Sulu was never a party. Foreign transgressors grossly violated a sovereign right and such violation must be redress and shall be righted.
The dissolution of the Sultanate consequently dissolved the sovereign rights and powers of its constituents. They have been marginalized and been reduced to a minority in their own ancestral homeland. This is tantamount to genocide of their indigenous soul.
Now, I, Warina Sushil A. Jukuy, as a struggling and straggling Muslim and a Tausug individual who belongs to one of the 13 ethno-linguistic groups of the Bangsamoro people of Mindanao, Philippines, do hereby dedicate this column, Jihad-al-Akbar, as a humble initiative by way of the pen and paper. I have no weapon, no wealth and no power to wield. All I’ve got for weapon is my pen; for wealth is my humble ilm; and my power as a human being emanates from Him, Ya Rabb.
I am highly motivated to explore the possibilities of empowering the concept of Jihad-al-akbar as a dynamic medium for an impetus towards whole-rounded developmental change in every Muslim’s life; and using the mimbar/pulpit as a venue for proactive change.
Consequently, by using the mimbar as a medium to generate consciousness, the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the fundamental guidelines within our din or way of life (Islam) shall be essentially re- interpreted and thus re-applied to meet the contemporary challenges of our times. Probably, the interpretation and application of it might in the future transcend beyond the Islamic doctrine but shall imbue into every aspect of our practical lives. Insha’allah.
In this millennium, the term jihad is provocative that even its mere utterance will generally put the speakers in "surveillance spotlight," and the listeners to such spoken term in a "state of paranoia," so to speak. Consequently, the famous quote of "Either you are with us or you are with them," will hound either speakers or listeners.
Lately, jihad has been attributed myopically and indiscriminately to suicide bombers, terrorism, Al-Qaeda Network, Jamaah Islamiyaah, to name a few of those notorious extension terms, and most unfortunately, to Islam and its followers, the Muslims.
The misconception, however inadvertent it may be, is quite appalling; especially as Islam’s root word and conceptual meaning is essentially PEACE. Muslims or not, the term jihad has been established to connote and denote holy war. Historically, the term "holy war" came to being in Europe during the Crusades, the latter to mean as "war against Muslims. Holy war in such Crusades’ context has no counterpart in Islamic glossary.
"Jihad means striving. In its primary sense it is an inner thing, within self, to rid it from debased actions or inclinations, and exercise constancy and perseverance in achieving a higher moral standard."(www.salafipublications.com
Jihad is the struggle of a Muslim by way of his niyat or intention, by way of his hand, or by way of his speech. However, what is disheartening is the fact that Islam and Muslims have been perceived by the world generally to be associated with jihad or holy war, bloodshed and violence. This is an unjust misconception of what Islam and being a Muslim stands for.
On the other hand, it is disturbing that most Muslims in the Philippines understand most the concept of Jihad as a mode of defense through fighting (Jihad al asghar, the lesser jihad or bunu qital) in the name of Islam. Understandably, Muslims are under obligation to defend Islam as this can never be dissociated from the totality of his life because Islam is more than a religion as it is a comprehensive way of life. What is perplexing is why the concept of the greater struggle which is Jihad al akbar (the Greater Struggle against the Self and all other forms of nafs or appetites) is not as deeply ingrained in the system of the Muslim Filipinos.
Almost 600 years of intermittent war and peace have remained chronicled in the hearts, minds and souls of the Bangsamoro people in their struggle for right to self-determination. Bangsamoro elders, leaders and intellectuals have tried to transcend beyond the trappings of the invincible sovereignty idealism all in the name of Agama (Islam), Hulah(Territory) and bangsa (Nation), to no avail. History has proven consistently that sovereignty issue is far superior from issues of human rights, liberty and dignity of man.
Peace processes thru 1976 Tripoli Agreement, (Organization of Islamic Conference) OIC-GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines), 1996 SPCPD (Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development) that led to the contemporary ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) have been tried and tested to give life to peace and development in the Southern Philippines. Presently, Balikatan 03-1 that involves US-RP Joint Military Exercise looms in Sulu in the name of peace and development. However, peace and development have frozen in the chambers of polemics, and have been reduced to mere euphemistic verbal artifact. No conscious and decisive effort is made to solicit the real meaning of peace and development from the stakeholders of Sulu.
The Muslim folks known collectively as the Bangsamoro people are vigilant in defending Islam and the Muslim communities from any form of unjust aggression but it seems that we are NOT as vigilant in upholding the true meaning of Islam and the real essence of being a Muslim. In layman’s term a Muslim’s duty in this lifetime is to enjoin good and forbid evil. Graft and corruption not only in the government but even in private and public life is ingrained in every aspect of a Filipino life, be he Muslim or not.
Enjoining good and forbidding evil is to put Allah in the center of one’s life. Such goals need not be actualized through autonomy or through secession. A Muslim can enjoin good and forbid evil wherever he is. This goal must start with the self and this is where the Struggle Against the Self and all other forms of nafs or appetites known as Jihad al Akbar comes in. Jihad al Akbar can be a catalyst for holistic change in Muslim Communities. Jihad al Akbar can be inculcated in the Muslim communities of Sulu in order for peace and development to be achieved. Jihad al Akbar teaches that the real enemy is not from without but from within.
The advocacy of Jihad al Akbar in Sulu is timely and relevant. As a proponent of said concept I have implemented this advocacy as an NGO worker in my capacity as publisher-editor of Jihad al Akbar, a Tausug-English Weekly magazine, bearing the slogan: “The catalyst for Proactive Change”. Said magazine 12 pages 11 X 17 came off the press on its maiden issue last Eid ul Fitri of 2002. It consists of 3 sections: Agama, Hulah, and Bangsa.
This magazine can “somehow” clear local and possibly global misconceptions about Jihad, Islam and Muslims among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. If Islam can properly and meaningfully be inculcated through Jihad al Akbar then Muslim communities in the Philippines and the rest of the world can actually benefit from its universal practical teachings within Islamic perspective by upholding al-Qur’an and Sunnah.
“Conquering the self” might prove to be financially advantageous to world economy; a huge bulk of military budget allocations could be apportioned to basic social services.
The mimbar and madaris will be the media of instruction to promote peace and development of one’s self among the jamaah (congregation) via Jihad al Akbar as a catalyst for proactive change.
The Muslims and non-Muslims in Sulu shall understand the practical meaning and application of Islam as a way of life via Jihad al Akbar. All levels of the Sulu strata shall benefit from Jihad al Akbar (Struggle via Self-Purification), government officials, ARMM officials, military, academe, NGOs/People’s Organizations and or civil societies, barangays, families, youths, and jamaahs in Sulu, spiritual leaders and the madaris.
It shall serve as impetus for subsequent in-depth studies on the merits of Jihad al Akbar on one’s personal life regardless of race, creed or religion.
The Greatest Struggle Against the Self and all other forms of Nafs or Appetites
Tausug-English Weekly Mag
The Catalyst for Proactive Change
telefax:992-63-65/992-66-85 Zamboanga City