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MINDANAO KNOW AS THE LAND OF PROMISE
Mindanao, island, the second largest (after Luzon) in the Philippines, in the southern part of the archipelago, surrounded by the Bohol, Celebes, and Sulu seas. Irregularly shaped, it has as area of 36, 537 square miles (94,630 square km) and measures 293 miles (417 km) North to south and 324 miles( 521 km) east to west. The island is marked by peninsulas and is heavily indented by the Davao and Moro gulfs in the south and by Iligan Bay in the north. The long, semicircular Zambaoanga Peninsula (west)extend southwesterly toward the Sulu Archipelago and Borneo, and north, respectively.
Rugged, faulted mountains and volcanoes occur in many areas. Mount Apo at 9,691 feet 92,954), is an active volcano in the southern part of the central highlands: it is the highest peak in the Philippines. The island has narrow coastal plains, and broad, fertile basins and extensive swamps are formed by the Mindanao and Agusan river systems. Lake Lanao, created by a lava an area of 134 square miles (347 square km.) The island has a marsh game refuge is unique to Mindanao.
Mindanao is Muslim outpost in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines. Although Muslims are no longer a majority, Islamic culture is evident; there are many mosques, and distinctive brassware, including the kris, or dagger, is manufactured. Mindanao has the largest concentration of ethnic minorities in the Philippines. They include the Magindanaw, Maranaw, Ilanum, and Sangil; all are Muslim groups known collectively as the Moro. Groups usually found in the uplands include the Tagabili, Subanon, Bukidnon, Bagobo, Manday, and Manobo. Another important group is the Tiruray, whose religion is a mixture of Christian, Muslim, and animist beliefs.
Because of its large expanses of undeveloped fertile land, Mindanao has been considered the nation's *pioneer frontier*. It did not experience substantial population increase until migration was promoted after 1939. The chief crops are corn (maize), rice, abaca, bananas, pineapple, mangoes, and coconuts. Cotton, ramie (a fiber plant) coffee, and cacao are also grown. The timber industry is important, and there include Zamboanga City, Cotabato City, Danao City, Cagayan de Oro and Butuan.
THE MUSLIMS CULTURE, CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS AND THEIR WAY OF LIFE......
When Muslims possess a culture which is different from that of the Christian Filipinos. Their culture has been greatly influenced by Islam. It will be an interesting venture to know more about their culture.
THE MUSLIM SULTAN
When the Spaniards came to Mindanao, they found that the different groups of muslims had organized governments with written laws. Each group had its own separate government headed by a ruler called a sultan. The sultan is similar to a king or an emperor. There is sultan of SuLu, a sultan of Miguindanao and sultan of Lanao. There is one important sultan and other sultans of less importance for each group. There are other lower officials who help the sultan run the government. A datu is a chief under a sultan. A datu may govern thousands of people occupying large tracts of land. The religious instructions are called Panditas. A gadji is a Muslims who has made a journey to Mecca, the holy city of the Muslims. He is a man of importance among the Muslims.
The Muslims sultans were absolute monarchs so were datus with their own territories. The sultans and other rulers inherited their powers. The power of a sultan was inherited by the nearest male relatives. His eldest son succeeded him as a ruler. The power of the sultans has diminished today. Many of the heredity Muslim rulers are now officials in our local and national governments.
ABOUT THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
The Muslims are believers of Islam. Islam means complete submission to the will of Allah. Complete submission means all the affairs that happen to man including his daily affairs be according to the will of Allah, be it business, government, education, social life, arts, and culture. The creed of the Muslims is simple: There is no god but the God; Mohammed is His messenger. God has revealed Himself to different people and in different languages to inspire thinkers such as Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. Muslims believe that Mohammed was the last messenger of God. God's message is written in the holy Al-Qur'an (in English, The Koran).
ABOUT THEIR RELIGIOUS PRACTICES
Muslims practice faithfully five religious duties, The first duty is the declaration of the creed that there is no God but a and Mohammed is His mesenger. Second is the Sa which means prayer. Third is the Sakah, or the giving during Ramadan of about two and a half percent of one's earning throughout the whole year. Fourth, is Fasting during the day throughout the month of Ramadan. The Ramadan is the ninth month of the Moslem year, a period of daily fasting from sunrise to sunset. Muslims are required to fast so that they will be less occupied with worldly matters and to be strong in resisting temptation. The Muslim's fifth duty is making the pilgrimage to Mecca and to the temple of Abraham within once life time, if possible.
ABOUT THEIR WORSHIP
Wherever a Muslim is, when it is the time for prayer, he turns towards Mecca and prays. This act symbolizes the unity of Muslims throughout the world who are offering their prayers at the same time.
A Muslim's worship begins with an opening prayer and a reading from the Koran and ends with a prayer requesting God to bless film and his people. He bows and touches the earth with his forehead, too.
Muslims may pray alone or in a group except on Friday when the midday prayer is recited in a common gathering place called the mosque.
The Friday prayers are said by an Imam. Anyone may be chosen to lead the prayers if he is known to be the most knowledgeable and the oldest among the group.
The man who calls the faithful to prayer is the Muazhzhin (or Muezzin). He possesses a good voice and his duty is to remind the people that it is the time for prayer. Starting at sunrise, a Muslim prays five times a day.
No images or paintings are allowed inside the mosque. Islam preaches equality, so there are no pews or reserved places inside the mosque, instead there are rugs Muslims line up behind the Imam. The mosque is open to all; there are no private chapels for special people. Collections are not required. Mosques are supported by donations and trust funds.
Women pray at home or in the mosque. While praying they share the same rows with men although many women prefer to pray in certain part of the mosque.
Muslims face Mecca while praying not because it was where Mohammed was born but because that was the place where Abraham built the oldest temple for the worship of one God, the Ka'aba.
THE MOHAMMED AND THE MUSLIM RELIGION
Abul Tasim Mohammed lbn Allah was born the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia about A.D. 570. In the lunar month of Ramadan, in the year A.D. 610, he saw the vision of an angel before him. It was in this event that he was able to formulate the first sentences of the Koran. He had long been bothered by many social and religious questions and these sentences had given him a solution to all these problems. These important sentences are: Man through knowledge will believe that he was created by a great power who is God. Second, his faith will raise him to a position of equality with all other men. He should believe in his dignity and equality with others and resist slavery. Mohammed just like Abraham, Moses and Jesus is a servant of God who had been appointed to bring the message of God to his fellowmen. These men preached the same message of God which was one of obedience to the will of God and his call for a healthy, peaceful and just community.
ABOUT RELIGIOUS RULES ON DIET
Muslims members are not allowed to drink any beverage which makes one drunk. Eating pork, blood and animal flesh which died from natural causes are also prohibited.
ABOUT THE KORAN
The Muslims believe the Koran to be the word of God which Mohammed preached to his fellowmen. The Koran sets down the guidelines of conduct among people as well as the relationship of man with God. It is the basis of Muslim laws and the final authority in many Islamic problem.
ABOUT THEIR HOUSES
The Muslims and the Christian Filipinos use similar materials in building their houses. Those who live near the coasts build houses in tong rows over the water. The interior of the house is similar to the houses in the Northern part of the Philippines. The people use well-woven pandan mats and a thick mattress fitted with kapok for steeping. They use bright-colored mosquito nets which are large enough to cover two to three mattresses. Displayed in the houses of the datus, hadjis and well-to-do families are many brass articles such as gongs, trays and dishes.
ABOUT THEIR FOODS
The Muslim religion has many strict rules about the food the people may eat and the way it should be cooked. The Muslims never eat pork because they believe it is unclean. The Muslims are allowed to eat the meat of other animals if the animal was killed in a manner following their religious practices. They use a lot of coconut oil in their cooking. They prepare a lot of rice flour cakes or wheat flour cakes which can be stored for many months in air-tight jars.
ABOUT THEIR CLOTHING'S
The Muslims have strict rules about their clothing. The women are required to wear long sleeves and have the neck of their coat-like blouse cut high and closed. They wear a sarong as their skirt, The sarong Is a strip of cloth about a meter wide and two or three meters long. The two ends are sewed together. It is wrapped around the body and tucked in at the waist. When the sun is shining brightly, those wearing it may loosen it and cover the head with a portion of the sarong. The sarong is made of cotton material, plaid or striped, in brown and black or other colors. The wealth women wear silk sarongs with beautiful colors and designs. The dress is decorated with by many beautiful pearls.
The men wear tight-fitting jacket with tight sleeves. Their trousers are either tight-fitting or very wide and loose. The pants are made of cotton. They are either black, pink, green. purple or red. A long, bright colored sash is tied around the waist. The men wear a turban or fez on their heads. The nobility wears a red fez. Other Muslims wear a turban. This is made of a Large square piece of cloth folded in such a way that it can be wrapped around the head like a cap. The turban may be white or colored. The men wear a sarok (a hat similar to the salakot when working under the sun. Muslim women are seldom seen in the street as they are required by their religion to stay at home most of the time.