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C1 The Manila Times The Moro Times FRIDAY October 27, 2006 Philippine Muslims celebrate Eid as Ramadan bids goodbye BY AMINA RASUL, NASSER SHARIEF and SAMIRA GUTOC E ID’L FITR is the biggest celebration among Muslims. On October 23, the end of Ramadhan was an- nounced by leading Muslim clerics such as Aleem Mahid Mutilan of the Ulama League of the Philippines and Ustadz Abdulbaki Abubakar, Grand Mufti of Sulu, TawiTawi and Basilan. In spite of government warn- ings, successive gun blasts and M16 rifle shots rend the air as early as 4 in the morn- ing to mark the end of fast. After the month long fasting, Eid’l Fitr is a time to relax and en- joy. Most Muslims had been awake for the 10 nights, praying from midnight to the wee hours of morning, with the belief thatthe Gates of Heaven are open and all prayers are heard. The drone of takbir (chants of ‘Allahu akbar!’ God is great!) fills the closed-in space of the neigh- borhood with an almost electric charge. On the speakers of the minaret , the prayer is reaches a crescendo and the imam’s voice cracks in an emotional temblor. Another Ramadan bids goodbye and every faithful hopes the les- sons will last them until the next one comes along. This is typical Eid’l Fitr, end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The event is replicated through- out the world wherever Muslims livefrom Argentina to the tip of Canada, from Madagascar to the Alps of Scandinavia. Ruben Guiling, a veteran martial artist from Lanao del Sur and a bicycling buff never missed a day of fasting in Ramadan since he was a teenager. “Ramadan had always been a staple in my regi- men and I hope to maintain fast- ing even in old age, insa’llah. The body is like an engine drained of its bad substance much like a car getting its periodic check..” But the wisdom of Ramadan goes beyond the mere physical and the material. Datu Zamzamin Ampatuan, Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commis- sion, called on all Muslims in the country to offer the last Friday of Ramadan (1426 Hegira) for the overcoming of extreme poverty. “For Muslims who are not well- off enough to offer their zakat on Eid, the least that they can do is offering their prayers along with their dikrs.” Here are snapshots of the Eid BY SAMIRA GUTOC and GANDHI KINJIYO DAVAO CITY: Civil society and government leaders convened by the Bishop Ulama Conference came together for an “emergency meeting” in the ALL- MINDANAO LEADERS’ PEACE CONSULTATION last October 9- 10 at Royal Mandaya Hotel to help break the impasse over ancestral domain and territory in the peace talks between the government and the MILF. Military leaders led by GRP Adhoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) chairman Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino meanwhile also met security forces – the International Monitor- ing Team (IMT), Joint GRP-MILF Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, Local Monitoring Team (LMT), AFP ground commanders and their MILF counterparts in Iligan City to maintain the ceasefire. Fears of renewed clashes were of concern when the government and MILF panels were held back on a consensus in exploratory talks last Sept. 6-7 in Kuala Lumpur on the technical aspect of territory, particularly on the delineation and demarcation of areas to be included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, which require both validation and collection of additional data. It was agreed that both the GRP and MILF panels refer back to their principals to review their positions and submit their final proposals through the Malaysian Secretariat after Ramadhan, the Holy Month. Invoking the search for a “new formula” agreed to by the MILF and the GRP in the 2001 Tripoli Peace Agreement, MILF panelist Michael Mastura said, “The Bangsamoro question is not a mere administrative problem. It involves defining the final status of the Bangsamoro people with options, ending in referendum re- sults or closure.” Acknowledging a bogging down of the talks, Mastura presented lessons learned in past agreements in that “constitutional processes” were a narrow framework to negotiate the political settlement of the Mindanao conflict for self- determination.” See SEEKS C2 Civil society seeks ways to break GRP- MILF impasse Mindanao Halal Certification Board Launched BY MAYA ABDULLAH STEPS toward entering the glo- bal halal market pegged at $10B are getting closer as the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board, Inc. (MMHCBI) was formally launched by the De- partment of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Canadian-funded Local Governance Support Program in ARMM (LGSPA) at the Dusit Nikko Hotel, Makati City last October 16, 2006. The MMHCBI, a joint cre- ation of the DTI-ARMM, ARMM Business Council and Worshippers annexed the streets around Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila for the last rites of Eid’l Fitr marking the end of Ramadan. Here, a young man unlaces his shoes as he claims for a headroom in the crowd. The regulation segregation of men and women was temporarily suspended to accomodate more people coming in to pray. The official logo of the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board is unveiled before reporters and participants at the Dusit Nikko in Makati. the Darul Ifta, will be fully re- sponsible for ensuring that food and non-food products pro- duced, catered, served or dis- tributed in the region are halal. “We have tapped people who know Shariah and science and technology to promote hy- giene and good health to the ummah (Muslim communities) in particular and for the broader health-conscious Filipino com- munity in general,” said Ustadz Esmael Ebrahim, the Board’s Managing Director. The 15-member Board will certify products and services and accredit facilities which are deemed in full compliance with Halal regulations. The 48-page Operations Manual and Technical Guide- lines finalized last August will be the primary instrument of the Board to ensure that food and non-food products made available to the Muslim ummah are halal. These guidelines, said DTI-ARMM Secretary Ishak Mastura, may soon be adopted as the Philippine National Halal Standards through the coopera- tion of the DTI’s Bureau of Products Standards and the ARMM Government. Mindanao business leaders hailed the board’s creation as a ‘signal’ that ARMM is going to be a major player in the estimated $10 billion worldwide halal market “The ASEAN halal market is one of the biggest in the world, and the Philippnes is losing out in terms of investment,” said Mastura. “We are now marketing and branding ARMM as the Halal-based food production and processing center as envisioned in the 2004- 2010 Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP).” Mastura also noted that the Board is also supported by Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia, particularly the JAKIM, Malaysian Standards . Moro women demand greater participation in peace process BY AMINA RASUL and SAMIRA GUTOC BAI ZENAIDA is the third wife of Commander Tropical, who con- trolled the MILF bastion inbarangay Polomolo, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat. She may not be a combatant herself but she suffers just as well. She had given birth to her three kids in the forests and had stayed beside her husband throughout the GRP-MILF clashes in 2002. Fears of renewed clashes, if the peace talks fail, consume Zenaida. Women suffer the most in conflict. Zenaida recounted her harrowing experience: “Kinakailangan naming matulog sa damuhan sa tuwing may operasyon ang mga military. Nung panahong iyon all-out-war cam- paign po sya ng gobyerno taong 2002.” The desire for peace has pushed women in Muslim Mindanao to embark on novel projects. Women involved themselves in setting up peace zones, where parties in con- flict pass through without fight- ing. Women are active in post-re- habilitation work in the commu- nity and in capacitating rebels, vital in translating peace agree- ments into real terms. Following the demands of women to be involved in the peace process, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has taken steps to involve women thru the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), a government- acknowledged agency through which the MILF will conduct de- velopment programs in the South. Unfortunately, women leaders like Dr. Cabaybay Abubakar patiently await the ap- pointment of a woman director. The Muslim Women Peace Ad- vocates (MWPA) of Sulu have or- ganized MWPA Councils in Indanan, Patikul and Jolo. MWPA Sulu Council President Norma Abdulla said they have conducted training in conflict transformation for baranggay women leaders thru a grant from the US Embassy. Former Senator Santanina Rasul, the founder of MWPA, said “Women are natural mediators whose potentials have not been fully utilized”. Last year, the MWPA pushed for the cessation of hostilities between the MNLF and the government after fighting broke out in February. The MWPA will be meeting on October 28 to organize their conflict transfor- mation work . Women like Zenaida and Cabaybay continue to look forward for a negotiated peace settlement. As of the moment, they await participation from the periphery. Muslim OFWs contribute more remittances on the average BY ABDULRAHMAN ISMAIL THE Philippines is the world’s third highest net remittance re- cipient country after India and Mexico. In 2005, remittances were officially recorded at $10.7 billion representing about 10% of GDP, according to Dr. Ernesto Pernia of the UP School of Eco- nomics. Studying remittance flows from 1994 to 2004, Pernia noted the pattern of average remittances per OFW by region is higher in poorer regions such as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, East- ern Visayas and the Bicol region compared with those in Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon . Last 2004, ARMM ranked first in average remittance - about 1.4 times higher than the national average: higher than Metro Manila, Central Visayas, Southern Tagalog, Southern Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Central Luzon and the Bicol Region. celebrations in various places of the country: Quiapo, Manila The Globo de Oro street and a few adjacent streets are closed to traffic as hundreds of Mus- lims spill over into the streets beyond the mosque, their prayer rugs or broadsheets of newspapers spread over crunch of asphalt. There were the octogenarians hunched on their worry beads, supplicating in silence, their lips twitching in takbir , praising Allah for making it through another Ramadan year. There were the bleary-eyed children that kept tugging at the pants of their elders, the tag price on their brand new shirts still attached on the collar, flipping in the mild breeze. There were the medical students with their books attending the thanksgiv- ing prayer before heading out to their classes. Greenhills, San Juan Over 2000 Muslim businessmen and women, their families and children had taken break from their daily routine and gathered at the parking building of the Greenhills Shopping Center where the musala or prayer room is situated to celebrate the Eid feast, ending Ramadan. Since the musala is small, the imams con- ducted the prayers in the parking area itself, laying blue plastic sheets in rows on the rough ce- ment floor. Blue plastic sheets also served as makeshift dividers be- tween the men and women’s sec- tions. Blue plastic sheets also shielded the faithful from cars ar- riving to find parking space. Businessman Pandao Ali, when asked how the Ramadan affected everyone in Greenhills, says that “We did have to make adjustments especially because we have to break fast at sunset. But, alhamdulillah, it’s no big deal.” The Greenhills Shopping Center is famous for its South Sea pearls and jewels. Marawi City, Lanao del Sur Ahmad Ali (not his real name), detained for 10 years in the Marawi City jail, had never been happier. It was the first time he felt a joyous Eid in jail with donated items from Lanao NGO Maradeca’s network. Canadian NGO volunteers Yanik and Genevieve were also reveling in the Eid experience. They visited Maranao homesright after the early morning Eid prayersand were served sumptuous feasts at each stop. The khutba sermon focused on thanking God for the blessings. At the Mindanao State University (MSU) Oval grounds where almost 5,000 gather, respected aleem Maulana Faisal touched on the social factors that makes fasting relevant. “What is the role of Ramadhan to solve poverty?” he posed. He said the yearly fast reminded Muslims to remember the poor who go thirsty and hungry. Fasting also reminded man of God, death and the Hereafter. But he said, this does not mean passive worship. “We must lead a productive life. Work in line with Islam, which means sup- port goodness. Unfortunately, throughout the Muslim world, the beauty, peace and sweetness of Islam is ignored by Muslims themselves. There is no peace and order, economy and development.” Other sermons in congregations focused on forgiveness, mririlai tanu (let us forgive one another) and faith. Muslim faithful were encouraged to shake the hands of people around him after the prayers. The provincial government arranged a traditional kulintang celebration at the entrance of the province capitol. But most families preferred celebrating in their own homes, with their own feasts. Get-togethers were arranged, and outings in nearby Iligan beaches and Cagayan de Oro malls. The departure of Ramadan may be back to the grind for the many, preached an aleem, but the lessons learned moderation, humility, kindness and patience should be practiced the whole year through.
Page 1: The Manila Times The Moro Times C1 - Muslim Mindanao Times/2006/moro times oct 27 2006.pdfThe Manila Times The Moro Times C1 FRIDAY October 27, 2006 Philippine Muslims celebrate Eid

C1The Manila Times

The Moro TimesFRIDAYOctober 27, 2006

Philippine Muslims celebrateEid as Ramadan bids goodbyeBY AMINA RASUL, NASSERSHARIEF and SAMIRA GUTOC

EID’L FITR is the biggestcelebration among

Muslims. On October 23, theend of Ramadhan was an-nounced by leading Muslimclerics such as Aleem MahidMutilan of the UlamaLeague of the Philippinesand Ustadz AbdulbakiAbubakar, Grand Mufti ofSulu, TawiTawi and Basilan.In spite of government warn-ings, successive gun blastsand M16 rifle shots rend theair as early as 4 in the morn-ing to mark the end of fast.

After the month long fasting,Eid’l Fitr is a time to relax and en-joy. �Most Muslims had beenawake for the 10 nights, prayingfrom midnight to the wee hoursof morning, with the beliefthat�the Gates of Heaven are openand all prayers are heard.

The drone of takbir (chants of‘Allahu akbar!’ God is great!) fillsthe closed-in space of the neigh-borhood with an almost electriccharge. On the speakers of theminaret , the prayer is reaches acrescendo and the imam’s voicecracks in an emotional temblor.Another Ramadan bids goodbyeand every faithful hopes the les-sons will last them until the nextone comes along.

This is typical Eid’l Fitr, end ofthe fasting month of Ramadan.The event is replicated through-out the world wherever Muslimslive—from Argentina to the tip ofCanada, from Madagascar to theAlps of Scandinavia.

Ruben Guiling, a veteranmartial artist from Lanao del Surand a bicycling buff never misseda day of fasting in Ramadan sincehe was a teenager. “Ramadan hadalways been a staple in my regi-men and I hope to maintain fast-ing even in old age, insa’llah. Thebody is like an engine drained ofits bad substance much like a cargetting its periodic check..”

But the wisdom of Ramadangoes beyond the mere physicaland the material. Datu ZamzaminAmpatuan, Lead Convenor of theNational Anti-Poverty Commis-sion, called on all Muslims in thecountry to offer the last Friday ofRamadan (1426 Hegira) for theovercoming of extreme poverty.“For Muslims who are not well-off enough to offer their zakat onEid, the least that they can do isoffering their prayers along withtheir dikrs.”

Here are snapshots of the Eid


DAVAO CITY: Civil society andgovernment leaders convened bythe Bishop Ulama Conferencecame together for an “emergencymeet ing” in the ALL-MINDANAO LEADERS’ PEACECONSULTATION last October 9-10 at Royal Mandaya Hotel tohelp break the impasse overancestral domain and territory inthe peace talks between thegovernment and the MILF.

Military leaders led by GRPAdhoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG)chairman Gen. Benjamin Dolorfinomeanwhile also met securityforces – the International Monitor-ing Team (IMT), Joint GRP-MILFCommittee on the Cessation ofHostilities, Local Monitoring Team(LMT), AFP ground commandersand their MILF counterparts inIligan City to maintain theceasefire.

Fears of renewed clashes wereof concern when the governmentand MILF panels were held backon a consensus in exploratorytalks last Sept. 6-7 in KualaLumpur on the technical aspectof territory, particularly on thedelineation and demarcation ofareas to be included in theBangsamoro Juridical Entity,which require both validation andcollection of additional data. Itwas agreed that both the GRP andMILF panels refer back to theirprincipals to review their positionsand submit their final proposalsthrough the Malaysian Secretariatafter Ramadhan, the Holy Month.

Invoking the search for a “newformula” agreed to by the MILFand the GRP in the 2001 TripoliPeace Agreement, MILF panelistMichael Mastura said, “TheBangsamoro question is not amere administrative problem. Itinvolves defining the final statusof the Bangsamoro people withoptions, ending in referendum re-sults or closure.”

Acknowledging a bogging downof the talks, Mastura presentedlessons learned in past agreementsin that “constitutional processes”were a narrow framework tonegotiate the political settlement ofthe Mindanao conflict for self-determination.” See SEEKS C2

Civil societyseeks ways tobreak GRP-MILF impasse

Mindanao Halal Certification Board LaunchedBY MAYA ABDULLAH

STEPS toward entering the glo-bal halal market pegged at $10Bare getting closer as the MuslimMindanao Halal CertificationBoard, Inc. (MMHCBI) wasformally launched by the De-partment of Trade and Industry(DTI) – Autonomous Region ofMuslim Mindanao (ARMM)and the Canadian-funded LocalGovernance Support Programin ARMM (LGSPA) at the DusitNikko Hotel, Makati City lastOctober 16, 2006.

The MMHCBI, a joint cre-ation of the DTI-ARMM,ARMM Business Council and

■ Worshippers annexed the streets around Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila for the last rites of Eid’l Fitr marking the end of Ramadan. Here, a young manunlaces his shoes as he claims for a headroom in the crowd. The regulation segregation of men and women was temporarily suspended to accomodate morepeople coming in to pray.

■ The official logo of the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board isunveiled before reporters and participants at the Dusit Nikko in Makati.

the Darul Ifta, will be fully re-sponsible for ensuring that foodand non-food products pro-duced, catered, served or dis-tributed in the region are halal.

“We have tapped peoplewho know Shariah and scienceand technology to promote hy-giene and good health to theummah (Muslim communities)in particular and for the broaderhealth-conscious Filipino com-munity in general,” said UstadzEsmael Ebrahim, the Board’sManaging Director.

The 15-member Board willcertify products and servicesand accredit facilities which aredeemed in full compliance with

Halal regulations. The 48-page Operations

Manual and Technical Guide-lines finalized last August willbe the primary instrument ofthe Board to ensure that foodand non-food products madeavailable to the Muslim ummahare halal. These guidelines, saidDTI-ARMM Secretary IshakMastura, may soon be adoptedas the Philippine National HalalStandards through the coopera-tion of the DTI’s Bureau ofProducts Standards and theARMM Government.

Mindanao business leadershailed the board’s creation as a‘signal’ that ARMM is going to

be a major player in theestimated $10 billionworldwide halal market

“The ASEAN halal market isone of the biggest in the world,and the Philippnes is losing outin terms of investment,” saidMastura. “We are nowmarketing and brandingARMM as the Halal-based foodproduction and processingcenter as envisioned in the 2004-2010 Medium Term PhilippineDevelopment Plan (MTPDP).”

Mastura also noted that theBoard is also supported byIndonesia, Brunei, andMalaysia, particularly theJAKIM, Malaysian Standards .

Moro women demand greater participation in peace processBY AMINA RASULand SAMIRA GUTOC

BAI ZENAIDA is the third wife ofCommander Tropical, who con-trolled the MILF bastionin�barangay Polomolo, Columbio,Sultan Kudarat. She may not be acombatant herself but she suffersjust as well. She had given birth toher three kids in the forests andhad stayed beside her husbandthroughout the GRP-MILF clashesin 2002.

Fears of renewed clashes, if thepeace talks fail, consume Zenaida.Women suffer the most in conflict.Zenaida recounted her harrowingexperience: “Kinakailangan naming

matulog sa damuhan sa tuwing mayoperasyon ang mga military. Nungpanahong iyon all-out-war cam-paign po sya ng gobyerno taong2002.”

The desire for peace has pushedwomen in Muslim Mindanao toembark on novel projects. Womeninvolved themselves in setting uppeace zones, where parties in con-flict pass through without fight-ing. Women are active in post-re-habilitation work in the commu-nity and in capacitating rebels,vital in translating peace agree-ments into real terms.�

Following the demands ofwomen to be involved in thepeace process, the Moro Islamic

Liberation Front has taken stepsto involve women thru theBangsamoro DevelopmentAgency (BDA), a government-acknowledged agency throughwhich the MILF will conduct de-velopment programs in theSouth. Unfortunately, womenleaders like Dr. CabaybayAbubakar patiently await the ap-pointment of a woman director.

The Muslim Women Peace Ad-vocates (MWPA) of Sulu have or-ganized MWPA Councils inIndanan, Patikul and Jolo. MWPASulu Council President NormaAbdulla said they have conductedtraining in conflict transformationfor baranggay women leaders thru

a grant from the US Embassy.Former Senator Santanina Rasul,the founder of MWPA, said“Women are natural mediatorswhose potentials have not beenfully utilized”. Last year, theMWPA pushed for the cessation ofhostilities between the MNLF andthe government after fightingbroke out in February. The MWPAwill be meeting on October 28 toorganize their conflict transfor-mation work .

Women like Zenaida andCabaybay continue to lookforward for a negotiated peacesettlement. As of the moment, theyawait participation from theperiphery.

Muslim OFWs contribute moreremittances on the averageBY ABDULRAHMAN ISMAIL

THE Philippines is the world’sthird highest net remittance re-cipient country after India andMexico. In 2005, remittanceswere officially recorded at $10.7billion representing about 10%of GDP, according to Dr. ErnestoPernia of the UP School of Eco-nomics.

Studying remittance flows from1994 to 2004, Pernia noted thepattern of average remittances perOFW by region is higher in poorer

regions such as the AutonomousRegion in Muslim Mindanao, East-ern Visayas and the Bicol regioncompared with those in MetroManila, Southern Tagalog andCentral Luzon .

Last 2004, ARMM ranked firstin average remittance - about 1.4times higher than the nationalaverage: higher than Metro Manila,Central Visayas, Southern Tagalog,Southern Mindanao, EasternVisayas, Caraga, NorthernMindanao, Central Luzon and theBicol Region.

celebrations in various places ofthe country:

Quiapo, ManilaThe Globo de Oro street and afew adjacent streets are closedto traffic as hundreds of Mus-lims spill over into the streetsbeyond the mosque, theirprayer rugs or broadsheets ofnewspapers spread overcrunch of asphalt. There werethe octogenarians hunched ontheir worry beads, supplicatingin silence, their lips twitchingin takbir, praising Allah formaking it through anotherRamadan year. There were thebleary-eyed children that kepttugging at the pants of theirelders, the tag price on theirbrand new shirts still attachedon the collar, flipping in themild breeze. There were themedical students with theirbooks attending the thanksgiv-ing prayer before heading outto their classes.

Greenhills, San JuanOver 2000 Muslim businessmenand women, their families and

children had taken break fromtheir daily routine and gatheredat the parking building of theGreenhills Shopping Centerwhere the musala or prayer roomis situated to celebrate the Eidfeast, ending Ramadan. Since themusala is small, the imams con-ducted the prayers in the parkingarea itself, laying blue plasticsheets in rows on the rough ce-ment floor. Blue plastic sheets alsoserved as makeshift dividers be-tween the men and women’s sec-tions. Blue plastic sheets alsoshielded the faithful from cars ar-riving to find parking space.

Businessman Pandao Ali, whenasked how the Ramadan affectedeveryone in Greenhills, says that“We did have to makeadjustments especially becausewe have to break fast at sunset.But, alhamdulillah, it’s no big deal.”The Greenhills Shopping Centeris famous for its South Sea pearlsand jewels.

Marawi City, Lanao del SurAhmad Ali (not his real name),detained for 10 years in theMarawi City jail, had never

been happier. It was the firsttime he felt a joyous Eid in jailwith donated items from LanaoNGO Maradeca’s network.

�Canadian NGO volunteersYanik and Genevieve were alsoreveling in the Eid experience.They visited Maranaohomes�right after the earlymorning Eid prayers�and wereserved sumptuous feasts ateach stop.

The khutba sermon focused onthanking God for the blessings.At the Mindanao StateUniversity (MSU) Oval groundswhere almost 5,000 gather,respected aleem Maulana Faisaltouched on the social factorsthat makes fasting relevant.“What is the role of Ramadhanto solve poverty?” he posed. Hesaid the yearly fast remindedMuslims to remember the poorwho go thirsty and hungry.Fasting also reminded man ofGod, death and the Hereafter.But he said, this does not meanpassive worship. “We must leada productive life. Work in linewith Islam, which means sup-port goodness. Unfortunately,

throughout the Muslim world,the beauty, peace and sweetnessof Islam is ignored by Muslimsthemselves. There is no peaceand order, economy anddevelopment.”

Other sermons incongregations focused onforgiveness, mririlai tanu (let usforgive one another) and faith.Muslim faithful wereencouraged to shake the handsof people around him after theprayers.

The provincial governmentarranged a traditional kulintangcelebration at the entrance ofthe province capitol. But mostfamilies preferred celebrating intheir own homes, with theirown feasts. Get-togethers werearranged, and outings in nearbyIligan beaches and Cagayan deOro malls.

The departure of Ramadanmay be back to the grind for themany, preached an aleem, butthe lessons learned—moderation, humility, kindnessand patience—should bepracticed the whole yearthrough.

Page 2: The Manila Times The Moro Times C1 - Muslim Mindanao Times/2006/moro times oct 27 2006.pdfThe Manila Times The Moro Times C1 FRIDAY October 27, 2006 Philippine Muslims celebrate Eid

C2The Manila Times

FRIDAYOctober 27, 2006The Moro Times

Fred de la RosaPublisher and Editor in Chief

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Amina RasulEditor

Samira Gutoc-TomawisManaging Editor

Abdulrahman IsmailNasser ShariefMaya AbdullahEditorial Team

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Arnold B. MossChief CopyeditorBrian M. Afuang

Art Director

Telephone 524-5665 to 67Telefax 521-6897 • 521-6872

Subscription 528-1319

URL http://www.manilatimes.netE-mail [email protected]

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The Moro Times is published byManila Times monthly at 371 A.

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Telefax 532-6058E-mail [email protected]

The Manila Times

The Moro Times

“One day, the Prophet (peacebe upon him) while coming backfrom a battle, said: ‘we have comeback from a small war, and weare now facing the big war.’ Hewas then asked: '‘But what is thebig war?’ He answered, ‘it is thewar against the self.’”

�—Sheik Khaled Bentounes�������������������������������������������������������������������������

“Sufism: The Heart of Islam”�Ah, I love solitude: It al-

lows me to reflect upon thedirections of my life; to ab-sorb the lessons I havelearned from day-to-day pur-suits; to write poems andsimple folk songs; to meditateupon the glory of the Al-mighty God/Allah; and toactuate my inner jihad—tocontinue to strive harder toattain a semblance of humanperfection in my thoughts, ac-tions, dealings with my fel-low man, continuing educa-tion, service to mankind, anddaily prayers. The “self”—which shelters laziness, ego,selfishness, anger, intoler-ance, narrow-mindedness,greed, ignorance, etc.—is atough adversary to subdue.

This morning, for example,on a pretext of a grey colddawn, it beckons me not tosay my dawn prayer; it tells meto stay in bed and cuddle upwith my wife. “It’s Saturday,for God’s sake,” it tells me.“Let the clock tick away thehours until midday; stay inbed!” Ah, but if I did that, Iwould be breaking my resolveand discipline to practice myinner jihad: to be a better per-son in both body and spirit.“Be in the moment of thingsand savor every part of thehere-and-now,” a Zen Mas-ter once said. “Wake up! Justdo it!”

�I feel very spiritual, roman-tic, and blessed as I savor thefog’s mist on my face: I feelGod’s presence in this beau-tiful, foggy morning. So I per-form my dhikr (a prayer of re-membering God by repeat-edly saying his name) as I�run up and down/criss-crossthe court, while I dribble thebasketball between my legsand behind my back: “La ilahaIlla Allah…(There’s no godbut God).” This field has nowbecome momentari ly myplace of worship, my sanctu-ary, and my source of spiri-tual and physical strength.And I’m loving every secondof what I am doing!

As I recall a Sufi (MysticMuslim) teaching to achieve“perfection” in every aspectof my life, I head home at9AM to drive my wife, who isa Catholic, to her church topray this morning. TheQur’an states: “There is to beno compulsion in rel igion.”(2:256) . “O humankind, Wehave created you male and femaleand made nations and tribes, soyou might come to know one an-other.” (49:13) or “Surely thebelievers and the Jews, Chris-tians and Sabians, whoever be-

lieves in God and the Last Day,and whoever does right, shallhave his reward with his Lordand will neither have fear norregret.” (2:62).

�Thus I did not compel mywife to convert to my faith be-fore and after we got married25 years ago. I believe I wasbeing true to the teachings ofthe Qur’an by not forcing herto do so. After all, faith is apersonal thing; a thing whichhas been nurtured throughchildhood, traditions, andfamily up-bringing.

Islam never left my soul; itlies there patiently inside ofme, waiting for me to wakeup, giving me space to ex-plore other philosophies andreligions. But there is some-thing about the simplicity ofIslam that keeps me anchoredto it; a simplicity that states:There is only one God. Thisone Almighty God sent a to-tal of 1,024,000 messengers tomankind (According toProphet Mohammad. TheMessage says: Do not worshipthe Messengers; worship theone who sent the message).

But let’s get down to thebas ics about j i had . J i hadsimply means “a struggle,”“a s t r iv ing ,” or “a greateffort” in the path of Godand the examples o

�The greater jihad is basicallythe struggle of the soul toovercome its sinful tenden-cies, which precludes himfrom worshiping God, orfrom becoming a righteoushuman being. This type ofjihad pertains to the struggleagainst the evil in one’s life,a great effort to be virtuousand moral; a great effort todo good work not only forhimself, but for his commu-nity as well.

The lesser jihad, on the otherhand, is an exertion (militaryor otherwise) against oppres-sion, injustice and tyranny.And while the lesser jihad isbeing constantly manipulatedby the extremists to give reli-gious sanction to their calloussocial and political agendas,this was not how ProphetMohammad practiced jihad inhis l i fet ime. The Qur ’anclearly states that only defen-sive war is allowed (2:190):“Fight in the way of God thosewho fight you, but do not beginhostilities; God does not like ag-gressor.” The Qur ’an says(22:39): “Permission to fight isgiven only to those who havebeen oppressed…who have beendriven from their homes for say-ing, ‘God is our Lord’.” Thebottom line is: the so-calledDoctrine of jihad does not ap-ply to today’s reality; mostimportantly, it clearly violatesthe peaceful and tolerantteachings of Islam.

PREVIOUS: To a Muslim,Islam is not only a religious

belief but is a complete way oflife. It is also an expression ofhis relationship with the Divine.Islam permeates all aspects ofone’s existence and does notdistinguish between the legaland the moral; neither betweenthe spiritual and the mundanenor the religious and thesecular. Islam connotes a modeof conduct, a political system, acode of law, an economicsystem, and an aesthetic value.Islam governs one’s worldly lifeas an individual, as a memberof the family, society, andhumanity.

PILLARS OF ISLAMMuslim of age must performrequired religious obligations.These are: 1) the euphoniousutterance of the shahaadah or tes-timony of faith: ASH’HADU ANLAA ILAAHA ILLALLAAH WAASH’HADU ANNAM U H A M M A D A R -RASUULULLAAH (I bear wit-ness that there is no deity wor-thy of worship except Allah andI bear witness that Muhammadis the Messenger of Allah). 2)performance of salaat or the fivedaily prayers; 3) payment ofzakat or the required charity orpoor-due; 4) sawm or fastingduring the month ofRamadhan; and 5) performanceof the hajj or pilgrimage toMakkah once in a lifetime forthose who have the strengthand means to do so.

The first pillar of Islam laysdown the principles of tawhidand risaalah, which are ex-pressed in the testimony offaith. The recitation of theshahaadah formalizes member-ship in the Islamic community,estalishing a contract for the

believer to defend his mem-bership in the community andfor the community to defendthe believer from harm.

Since we have just completedRamadan, let us first explore thefourth pillar: sawm or fasting.

Sawm or fasting during the

month of Ramadhan, thefourth pillar of Islam, refers tocomplete abstinence fromfood, drink and sexual knowl-edge with one’s spouse fromearly dawn to sunset. Thedaytime of Ramadhan isspent in fasting while i tsnighttime is spent in prayers,constant remembrance ofAllah, reading and studyingthe Glorious Qur’an and shar-ing ones blessings withothers. Muslims are requiredto learn self-restraint duringthis blessed month.

Ramadhan is significant not

only because it is during thismonth that Muslims are re-quired to fast but also becauseit was during this month thatthe Glorious Qur’an was re-vealed. Thus, Ramadhan is amonth of fasting, of revelationof the Glorious Qur’an, andhence, of Divine revelations. Itis the month when a Muslim istrained to learn patience andperseverance, to practice shar-ing, caring and being compas-

sionate to others. It is also themonth of triumph and victoryfor Muslims as all major battlesfought between the Muslims inpursuance of the truth and theirenemies who tried to block thatstruggle happened during thisholy month. It is the month ofworship and remembrance ofAllah, of learning attitudinalchange. It is a training institutefor self-restraint and Allah-con-sciousness.

Fasting during the month ofRamadhan strengthens in theMuslim the performance ofthe first three pillars of Islam:

My Jihad: AContinuing Effort to

Improve My SelfThe JihadistMorsidy Husin

Islam 101Assalamu AlaykumHamid Barra

testimony of faith, prayers andcharity. When a Muslim testi-fies that he believes only in Al-lah as his God and object ofworship, he thereby creates inhis heart a feeling of submis-sion and surrender to Allah’sauthority. When he fasts, hepractices that faith�when hedoes so without any person orauthority telling to do so.What only requires him to suf-fer the pangs of hunger, thirstand desire for his spouse is thefaith he has for Allah alone.Likewise, when a Muslimfasts, he reinforces his perfor-mance of the second pillar ofIslam, that of prayers, by con-stantly joining the daily con-gregation, by performingsuppletory prayers like thetarawih and the tahajjud. Inthe same manner, the pillar ofzakat or charity is revitalizedduring the fasting season asMuslims are urged to sharewith others whatever theyhave in life. In fact, a Muslimis encouraged to spend in theway of Allah during themonth of Ramadhan. �

Finally, fasting during themonth of Ramadhan teaches aMuslim self-restraint which isthe most important provision aMuslim can have when he per-forms the Hajj, the fifth pillar ofIslam. Allah emphasizes in theGlorious Qur’an that a Muslimshould prepare provisionswhen he performs the hajj butthe best provision to have istaqwa or self-restraint.

❋ ❋ ❋Hamid Barra is a fellow at the

Philippine Council for Islam andDemocracy, an author of books onSharia, and is currently Dean of theKing Faisal Center for Islam, Ara-bic and Asian Studies, MindanaoState University—Marawi City.


(Human Rights ChairpersonQuisimbing assails human rightsviolations even after P1017 hadbeen lifted with the governmentmoving like it is still in place, withMuslims as the favourite target ofanti-terror groups)

I dream of a giant human secu-rity blanket that will shield theFilipino race from any possiblesource of fear. I dream of a gi-ant human security blanket thatwill serve as a carpet where ev-eryone can live a good qualityof life in dignity, comfort andpeace—free from fear and freefrom want.

The reality, however, isstarkly different.

The whole world is in a stateof emergency where persons,families, communities, and na-tions are threatened by man-made disasters and natural ca-lamities of catastrophic magni-tudes. Measures have to be un-dertaken to stop these. Safe-guards have to be put in placeto ensure that every individualshall be undisturbed in enjoy-ing his/her rights to life, dignityand self-development, and like-wise, every society shall con-

tinuously exercise his/herrights to survive, self-determi-nation and development.

Over the years, the conceptof security—traditionallyviewed as State security—hasexpanded to include humansecurity as well as State secu-rity. The international com-munity “urgently needs a newparadigm of security” becausethe security debate haschanged dramatically sincethe inception of State securityadvocated in the 17th century.In the traditional idea, theState would monopolize therights and means to protect itscitizens. But in the 21st cen-tury, both the challenges tosecurity and its protectorshave become more complex.The State remains the funda-mental provider of security.Yet it often fails to fulfill itssecurity obligations—and att imes has even become asource of threat to its ownpeople. That is why attentionmust now shift from the se-curi ty of the State to thesecurity of the people—tohuman security.

Human security is a conceptthat focuses on the human be-ing and seeks protection fromthreats to human life, liveli-

hood, and dignity, and the real-ization of full potential of eachindividual. It means focusingon individual people and build-ing societies in which everyonecan live with dignity by protect-ing and empowering individu-als and communities that areexposed to actual or potentialthreats.

Respecting human rights isat the core of protecting andempowering people. Humanrights identifies the rights andobligations to be upheld as le-gally binding responsibilitiesas well as moral imperatives.Human security, through theprotec t ion-empowermentframework gives better meansto realize human rights. Itgives equal importance to civiland political as well as toeconomic, cultural and socialrights, and thereby addressesviolations in integrated andcomprehensive ways.

National Human Rights Insti-tution (NHRI) such as the Com-mission on Human Rights ofthe Philippines (CHR) plays anactive role in the realization andattainment of human security.With 15 regional offices, CHRcan facilitate access to justice bymonitoring human rights situ-ations and providing the means

through which members of so-ciety can seek redress for theirloss of human security thatleads to violation of their hu-man rights.

The CHR Region IX has re-mained steadfast in its Consti-tutional mandate in its fightagainst human rights concernsand continuing patterns of hu-man rights violations againstcertain sectors (particularlywomen and children) broughtabout by the armed conflictwithin the borders ofMindanao as well as emergingtrends of possible abuses inboth civil-political and eco-nomic, social and culturalrights. These can be seen in thenumber of cases handled bythe regional office. One ex-ample of this is the case of theSalvin Minors. In this case, theMilitary Inteligence Group’sarrest and eventual neutraliza-tion of a notorious urban ter-rorist leader, led to the arrestalso of several others includ-ing two minors. CHR ensuredthat they were placed at aseparate cell intended for ju-venile detainees and their casein the court is closely moni-tored. Another significant caseis the one of the Subanens.Here, a group of Subanen and

small-scale miners fromZamboanga del Norte stoodagainst a Canadian miningcorporation, which operatesdrilling activities within anarea claimed as an ancestraldomain of the Subanens. TheCHR resolved for the Petitionfor Cancellation and Revoca-tion of an official agreementbetween the mining companyand DENR and further inves-tigation was made to deter-mine possible criminal, ad-ministrative and other appro-priate charges that can befiled. To this day, CHRP con-tinues to closely monitor theplight of the Subanens amidthe threat of development ag-gression.

In summation, let it be em-phasized that all of us shouldbe decisive in ensuring the ef-fectiveness of human securityas a pillar of protection andshare the responsibility in thechallenges that threaten its con-tinued existence. Human secu-rity is one of the prized free-doms that inhere in every hu-man being and any frameworkaimed at placing it at risk mustbe approached head on with thecommitment to uphold funda-mental human rights and hu-man dignity.

Free From Fear and Free From Want

Fasting during the month ofRamadhan teaches a Muslim self-

restraint which is the mostimportant provision a Muslim canhave when he performs the Hajj,

the fifth pillar of Islam. Allahemphasizes in the Glorious Qur’an

that a Muslim should prepareprovisions when he performs thehajj but the best provision to have

is taqwa or self-restraint.

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FRIDAYOctober 27, 2006 The Moro Times

[ MUSLIMS ACROSS THE NATION ]■ World Bank exec ambushedARNEL DAKUTON, 50, the Executive Director ofthe World Bank and Japan Bank of InternationalCooperation-funded ARMM SOCIAL FUND, diedOctober 4 from an ambush. He and his driver weresprayed with M-16 bullets when their car pulledup at a corner in Parang Road, Cotabato City. Hewas shot in broad daylight in a busy intersection bywhat witnesses say was a “motorcyle riding, mili-tary-uniformed, M16 totting assassin.”

■ First Moro women diplomatappointed ambassadorMA. CORAZON YAP-BAHJIN, a Muslim careerdiplomat was confirmed as Chief of Mission ClassII, making her the first female Muslim Ambassadorof the Department of Foreign Affairs. Bahjin is cur-rently the Acting Assistant Secretary for StrategicPlanning and Policy Coordination.

■ Jaycees honor Moro sculptorSCULPTOR JUAN SAJID IMAO will be honored bythe Jaycees Chamber International (JCI) as recipi-ents of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP)of the world for this year, 2006. Awarding will beon November 12, 2006 in Seoul, South Korea atthe 62nd JCI World Congress.

Partly blind, Juan specifically etches designs sothat even the visually impaired can touch them likeBraille, and appreciate the artwork. Incorporatingthis tactile quality to Inquirer’s 90th anniversarymascot Guyito was important for Imao.

■ Filipino filmmakers invited inTehran festivalFILIPINO filmmakers are invited to join the 2ndUrban International Film festival to be held in Tehranon December 16 to 19, 2006. Films may includedocumentaries, fictions and short and feature films.For further information on the festival, interestedparties may contact: Mr. Iraj Taghipoor, festival sec-retariat, thru tel. no. (00-9821) 22264058, fax no.(00-9821) 22260692; or [email protected]. Information is also availablethrough its website: www.urbanfilmfest.org.

■ MSU professor presented casestudy on coral reef resources

Filemon Guerzon Romero, Professor ofOceanography and Environmental Science of theCenter for Oceanographic Studies of the MindanaoState University in Tawi-Tawi and fellow of thePhilippine Council for Islam and Democracy,presented a case study entitled “Development ofCollaborative Mechanism for Sustainable Use ofCoral Reef Resources, A Model of the AutonomousRegion of Muslim Mindanao” at the ThirdInternational Marine Ecosystems Management Sym-posium at the island resort of Cozumel in Mexico onOctober 16-20, 2006.

■ Nationwide Survey on MuslimsTHE Social Weather Station (SWS) will be conduct-ing a nationwide survey on perceptions of Muslimhouseholds with 1200 respondents on the question,“What issues on law and social justice are importantto Muslims nowadays?” The project is an expansionof a survey on the perceptions of influential Muslimson the implementation of the Code of Muslim Per-sonal Laws (CMPL) conducted in the past year.

■ Young Moro Ramadan FairTHE Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) heldits first ever International Ramadhan Fair at theClamshell I, Intramuros, Manila on October 21-26.The first three days of the Fair coincided with thelast two days of the month of Ramadan, hence Eid’lFitr. The fair has the theme: ‘Building A Socially Pro-gressive Ummah, Strengthening The Universal Im-age of Islam.’ The fair is supported by the Depart-ment of Tourism, the World Islamic Call Society,Manila Government, and the Office of Muslim Af-fairs.

■ OMA Post-Eid CelebrationMINDFUL that many of its Muslim employees tookone-day leave from office to extend their Eid holi-days, the Office on Muslim Affairs in Quezon Citytreated its employees to a post-eid celebration. At-torney Metalicop Domado, OMA Bureau Director onMuslim Cultural Affairs, said that among the guestsare all government line agencies linked with OMAsuch as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Depart-ment of Tourism, The Landbank, and many hajj travelagencies. Personalities consist of the movie star RobinPadilla, Saudi charge d’ affaire Mohammad NabelBukhari and Isabel Lopez Tobias, Secretary Generalof the Religious Affaris of the Office of the Presi-dent. The Office on Muslim Affairs is now busy withits hajj operation. It advises would-be pilgrims to reg-ister ahead of schedule to avoid inconvenience andunnecessary delays

■ Moro Stand-up Against PovertySOME 4300 people strong participated in theBangsamoro & indigenous STAND-UP AGAINSTPOVERTY on October 16, 2006 in Marawi City, LanaoDel Sur. The event is sponsored by ASSALAMBangsamoro People’s Association, Kamapiyaan SaRanao Center with Global Call to Action AgainstPoverty (GCAP-Philippines) as part of the WorldPoverty Eradication Day of the United Nation.Pendatun ‘Penny’ Disimban, ASSALAM Presidentsaid “Let the world know that the Bangsamoro andthe Indigenous peoples in Mindanao will continue tostand-up against poverty from now.” According tothe National Anti-Poverty Commission, the agencythat keep tabs on poverty in the country, many Mus-lim provinces are among the destitute areas in thecountry, chiefly brought by the on-and-off war in theSouth.

■ DOLORFINO From page C4

Gen. Ben Dolorfino: Thinking Out of the BoxGeneral Dolorfino came from a devout Catho-

lic family in Dumangas, Iloilo. His parents werepublic school teachers. His conversion was cer-tainly news to the family, but his father, AgustinDolorfino, Sr., took it solemnly and respectedthe decision of the son.

“It was in the U.S. in 1987, that I felt the easytouch of Muslims. I had my Muslim classmates fromall over the world when I was taking up AmphibiousWarfare course with the US Marines in Quantico,VA”. He had lengthy conversations on the faith witha Malaysian classmate and an Afro-American Mus-lim and has fond memories of his first Ramadan inU.S. in 1988.

Will a Christian understand Islam? “The Qur’anis replete with passages about Jesus (Isa) and themiracles about Mary (Mariam). There is even a chap-ter named after the Virgin Mary”. He further said “Ithink Christians can read the Qur’an in good con-science without diluting their faith. I daresay it willeven make them better Christians.”

Did being a Muslim in the military present obsta-cles to his career path?

The General’s grin was patently wide. “Yes,sometimes it does. For instance, when thearmy assigned me in Pikit, Cotabato for therehabilitation of the Boliok complex in 2003,some complained in the hierarchy that I was‘too soft’ on the belly, that there were no bodycounts, no skirmishes with the rebels, and nofirearms recovered. I responded by saying thatI accomplished my mission though, and that’swhat matters. The restoration and rehabilita-tion of the 20,000 evacuees in Pikit andPagalungan.”

“In record two weeks we were able to bring backthe evacuees. Dinky Soliman and Secretary Deleswere surprised that I and my men were able to bringback the evacuees and gain their trust.”

What Ben Muhammad did next became a clas-sic case study in the Marine schools. He workedwith the GMA Kapuso Foundation and they wereable to raise P2.5M for the repair of schools in theBoliok complex. To stabilize the livelihood of thepeople, he asked North Cotabato Governor Piñolfor 1,000 sacks of seedlings and 25 tractors.

“The governor at first was skeptical, even jestedthat these people did not really vote for him. But heobliged.” Today, the area is green with fruit trees. “Ieven planted a few mango trees hoping to eat one ofthe fruits when I come back.” General Dolorfino alsoinitiated the construction of the most beautifulmosque in the area.

“When I went back to Manila, napagdudahan ako.But General Senga heard me out”, mused the Gen-eral. “I think until now Pikit is still one of the morepeaceful places in the area. It’s already been fiveyears and I still get text greetings from the nativesasking how I’m doing and ‘would I visit them some-day?’ Sometimes they told me that they have cropfailure.”

Brigadier General Ben Dolorfino is now the chiefof the National Capital Region AFP Command andhe hopes to use the same template he used in thecountryside. “In the city, it’s a bit complicated be-cause you don’t know where trouble is likely to erupt.My plan is to make various groups interact”. BenMuhammad believes Muslims must show that theyare productive members of the community they livein. “We have to sell ourselves as good members ofthe society”, he said. ”God willing, we will pullthrough.”

There were widespread prayers among Muslimsthat General Ben Muhammad Dolorfino would beonce more assigned a Mindanao Command to helpbring a just peace to the conflict areas. They con-tinue to pray. Folks are awaiting his return. He stillhas to return to eat his mangoes.

■ SEEKS From page C1

Civil society seeks ways to break GRP-MILF impasse“Explore extra-constitutional option,” Mindanao

leaders told the government panel.In response, GRP peace panel chairman Sec.

Silvestre Afable proposed to “come-up with a newparadigm in solving the problem to reconcile de-mands of the political structure and demands ofself-determination of Bangsamoro.”

Archbiship Fr. Orlando Quevedo suggested “crea-tivity on both panels. The ball is entirely on the handsof both panels, refining and revising the package ofeach group. Look at what can be sacrificed so thata new whole can be made from both packages.”

Quevedo said, “among the options is to goagainst or beyond the Constitution but not‘violative’ of the Constitution. It seems to me thatextra constitutional measures would be very ap-propriate. For instance, one cannot go without thephrase – the common ground of agreement —recognition of the right of people to self-determi-nation. You will find that in several places in thePhilippine Constitution. Once you accept that,there are many possible options that can followand those options can either be against the Con-stitution or beyond the Constitution but notviolative of the Constitution.”

The BUC and its lead convenor ArchbishopFernando Capalla together with its partners, the Ini-tiatives for International Dialogue and the MindanaoPeoples Caucus gathered multi-sectoral leaders,among them Gov Manny Pinol, Mayor Omar Ali ofthe Muslim Mayors League, Joji Ilagan-Bian for thebusiness sector, Fr Bert Layson for the civil society,Tommy Melanio Ulama for the indigenous peoples,Bishop Hilarion Gomez and Dr Mahid Mutilan forthe ulama.

The participants agreed to hold a broad campaignfor the resumption of the talks. The participants alsosupported a continued ceasefire, avoid setting ofdeadlines and exploring extra constitutional process.

The MILF had agreed with the government onthe five-province and one city comprising the ARMM(Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) as thecore “Bangsamoro Homeland.” The government of-fered 613 Moro-dominated villages, however theMILF wanted 3,000.

Taking the experience on the fate of the “areas ofautonomy” listed in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, the1989 and 2001 plebiscites had reduced the size ofsuch autonomous area when residents voted “no”for its inclusion in the ARMM.

Republic of the Philippines

House of Representatives

Quezon City, Metro Manila


On the occasion of this holy month of Ramadan where the entire Muslim world observes fastingfor self-enlightenment, and for spiritual and divine guidance, we in the LAKAS Christian-MuslimDemocrats, the Muslim congressmen, and the Muslim populace in this country, wish to happilyconvey our sincerest greetings to everyone.

The LAKAS CMD leadership likewise hope that the blessings of the month of Ramadan be uponall the faithful. This Holy month is indeed a moment of recollection that reminds every Muslim notonly of the pains of hunger and thirst, but also the true meaning of tolerance, patience,perseverance and forgiveness as well as repentance and humility.

Likewise, we humbly convey our sincerest greetings to the entire Muslim World in theforthcoming Eid’l Fitr Al Mubarak. And as we move forward in the face of this most challengingworld, we trust that our unity in diversity will steadfastly reign.

Best wishes and may the Almighty bless us all.

JOSE C. DE VENECIA, JR. BAISANDEG G. DILANGALENSpeaker 1st District Maguindanao

GERRY A. SALAPUDDIN ABDULLAH H. DIMAPORODeputy Speaker 2nd District-Lanao del Sur

NUR JAAFAR FAYSAH RPM DUMARPHALone District-Tawi-Tawi 1st District-Lanao del Sur

HUSSIN U. AMIN MUJIV S. HATAMAN1st District – Sulu Party – List, Anak Mindanao


SIMEON A. DATUMANONG BENASING O. MACARAMBON, JR.2nd District-Maguindanao 2nd District-Lanao del Sur

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FRIDAYOctober 27, 2006The Moro Times

Ayala life9 x40

c/o stripping

Yousuf Ledesma: Picking Up the PiecesBY NASSER SHARIEF

OEY LEDESMA was late. The time he set for the in-terview was 7:30 AM. Not that he woke up late. He

had to catch the streak of the dawn to pray the subh, oneof the five daily prayers required of a Muslim.

Born Jose Ernesto Ledesmafrom a prominent family, Joey—or Yousuf—is one of over two-hundred thousand FilipinoChristians who have convertedto Islam. They call themselvesBalik-Islam.

The Balik-Islam communityin the country has collectivelysuffered from suspicions ofsome members’ involvementwith terrorist bombings in thecapital and around the country—an accusation they vehe-mently deny. Yousuf, vocal inhuman rights advocacy forMuslims, did not escape notice.

Ledesma was a Ph. D. candi-date in economics of develop-ing countries at the Universityof Massachussetts. He camehome to gather materials for hisdissertation and was caught inthe maelstrom of anti-Muslimacts. “I just came back from theUS at naputol bigla ang concen-tration ko.” His name was in-cluded in “intelligence reports”on terrorist threats such asOplan Green Archer.

His woes were compoundedby personal problems. Therewere family members whocould not accept his embracing

another faith. Joey comes froma devout Catholic family.

This does not deter Yousufone bit, though. “We must havestrong faith, family and liveli-hood. I worry that some revertsget too immersed in the faiththat they don’t pay attention tothe family”. He believes that asense of balance is necessary.

His vision is to create Muslimcommunities with sustainableeconomy “because this is theweakest link that needsstrengthening.” He sees Mus-lims caught in the vicious cycleof poverty. “The companions ofthe Prophet did not give up ontheir economic pursuit. Theyremained tentmakers, fisher-men, and merchants”.

Yousuf is donating 1 hectare ofhis 12-hectare land in Tarlac Cityto start his model community.

Gen. Ben Dolorfino: Thinking Out of the BoxBY NASSER SHARIEF

WHEN Benjamin DeocampoDolorfino embraced Islam in1981, many of his fellow youngofficers could not help but raisetheir eyebrows. They saw a love-lorn Navy officer. “What theydidn’t know was that as early as1977, I had my first encounterwith a convert, my XO CaptainRobert Bruce. He was the first one,I think, who translated the Qur’aninto Tagalog.” However, it was in1981, when interaction with an-other Balik-Islam in the service,Commodore Ismael Aparri,strengthened his decision to revert.

“I made sure that my decision tobecome a Muslim would be logged

in the records, so I formally re-quested approval of the GHQ. Yes,there were some jittery moments butthen my senior officers were able toestablish that I was really seriousabout my decision.”

Some were skeptical, so to allow

■ Gen. Dolorfino

time for reflection, he was put intoa seminar with the Imam in the AFP.He also had a seminar at theMaharlika Village in Taguig. Heprevailed and emerged BenMuhammad Dolorfino.

Twenty-five years have passed andBen Mohammad and his wife NurAun (Mary Ann) who hails fromParang, Sulu have been blessed withthree sons: Abraham, Jan Michaeland Marvin.

Ben Muhammad went on to becomea navy pilot familiar with the terrain ofMindanao and the fringes of its islands.“I fell in love with the place. I met mywife in Zamboanga. It was the heightof the MNLF’s rebellion in the late 70s.But I was not a bit discouraged.”