[This article was published in the 23rd issue of Nida'ul Islam
magazine (, April - May 1998]

Continuous Struggle for Islamic Independence in Southern Philippines

By Sheikh Abu Zahir

Interview with Sheikh Salamat Hashim, Amir of the Moro Mujahideen

The Moroland

The Moroland (presently known as "Southern Philippines") is composed of Mindanao island (the second largest island of the Philippine islands) the Sulu archipelago, Palawan, Basilan and the neighbouring islands.

The Moroland has the area of 116, 895 square kilometres (more than one third of the whole Philippine islands), with the population of more than twenty million of which 12 million are Muslims. The rest are Highlanders (native inhabitants) and the Christian settlers from Luzon and Visayas.

Arrival of Islam

The arrival of Islam at the Moroland was in the year 1210 AC, that is more than three centuries before the arrival of Christianity brought by Ferdinand Magellan (a Portuguese who was then working for Spain) to the region in the year 1521 AC.

Islam was introduced to the Moros by some Arab merchants and Islamic missionaries. Very soon after the arrival of Islam, the Islamic Sultanates were founded under the reign of the Moro Sultans themselves, such as;
the Sultanate of Sulu embracing Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Palawan and the neighbouring islands
the Sultanate of Maguindanao where most of the Muslims are now living.

The Spanish Invasion

The Spanish Invaders, led by Ferdinand Magellan, upon arriving at the Philippines in the year 1521 AC had imposed the 'Cross' and the doctrine of Trinity upon the inhabitants by way of the sword. Consequently, the inhabitants of Luzon and Visayas were all baptized to Christianity. Of course, there had been an Islamic resistance in Manila led by Raja Sulaiman and Lakandula, but that did not last long after the martyrdom of the two said leaders in the battlefield. None of the Islamic relics in Manila were left by the Spanish vandals except for a fort known as "Intramoros."

On the 10th of December 1898 AC, the "Treaty of Paris" was agreed upon by America and Spain by which the latter had to cede the Philippines to the former. What is quite puzzling is that, inspite of the fact that Spain was not able to subjugate the Moros, she included the Moroland in the deal.

The Philippines Annexation of the Moroland

For more than three centuries the Spanish attempted to subjugate or to exterminate the Moro Muslims, followed by the forty seven years of the Americans' attempt, which were all in vain.

The political approach of the Americans seemed effective in winning over the response of the Moro Sultans and Datus to come to agreement, whose conditions included the non-interface of the Americans in the local affairs of the Moro Sultans and Datus. On this basis, the "Kiram-Bates" Treaty was signed on the 2nd August 1899. Similar deals were made with the Sultan of Maguindanao.

On the 2nd March 1904, President Roosevelt of America, without moral and ethical considerations, unilaterally declared the treaty null and void.

On the granting of independence to the Philippines by America in the year 1946, there was a strong objection by the Moros to the inclusion of the Moroland but neither the Americans nor the christianised Filipinos had listened to them, knowing that the Philippines is an American agent in the region. The existence of American military bases in the country is an obvious reflection of this fact. This is not surprising as the Moroland is very rich of natural resources and mines, not to mention the fertility of its soil.

The Moro Jihad at Present

The Moro Jihad has been in three phases:

First Phase: the Moro Jihad against the Spanish invasion (1521-1898) 377 years.

Second Phase: the Moro Jihad against the American colonisers (1898 - 1946) 47 years.

Third Phase: the Moro Jihad against the Philippine crusade (1970 - present).

Since the granting of the Philippines Independence in the year 1946, the Manila government launched "settlement programs" for the Christians from Luzon and Visayas in the Moroland. Prior to that the Moro Muslims had been enjoying the administration of the region by themselves as the Provincial governors, the Municipal mayors and the Barangay captains were among themselves.

The Christian settlers, with the assistance of the Manila government, started to take over the strategic politic and socio-economic posts soon after their influx into the Moroland.

The Question of Genocide

Obviously, the motive of the Manila government behind the influx of the Christian settlers into the Moroland is not a mere settlement but to carry out its genocide campaign against the Muslims. This has been reflected by the organisation of the Christian militia (armed) movement known as "illegal" to strike terror against the unarmed Moro civilians, especially among the rural areas. A large series of massacres and arsons were carried out. The Moro civilians leaving their homes and farms were compelled to seek refuge in the urban areas dominated by Muslims. These are the chances taken by the Christian terrorists to take over farms and lands vacated by the Moro refugees.

The Moro Youth Responded

The genocide campaign of the Manila government had reached an alarming point. So the Moro youth and students, both domestic and abroad, specially those who were studying in Arab and Islamic countries led by Salamat Hashim had no choice but to organise the "Moro National Liberation Front," to face the challenge. While the "Front" was still at the stage of organisation, a conflict between Misauri and one of the then Cairo graduates (a doctor) broke out as both expressed aspirations to the chairmanship of the "Front." Sheikh Salamat Hashim, who was the leader of the whole group did not insist to the chairmanship to avoid further dispute and eventual failure. So Misauri became the chairman of the "Front."

After a few years of the start of the struggle Misauri's inefficiency had unveiled itself and most, if not all, of the field commanders signed a petition that Misauri should step down and give way for Salamat Hashim to assume the chairmanship, but Misauri cunningly insisted to stay and Salamat Hashim has to lead the "front" in accordance with the choice of the majority.

In order to avoid confusion, the members of the Central Committee had decided to replace the word "National" with the word "Islamic" so the true "Liberation Front" aiming at the re-establishment of a sovereign Moro Islamic State was given the title "Moro Islamic Liberation Front."

The Military Strength of the MILF

  • 120,000 men (six divisions) regular Islamic Armed Forces of which more than 80% are well armed;
  • 300,000 militiamen and even more.
  • The Demand of the MILF

    The demand (objective) of the "Moro Islamic Liberation Front" is precisely no less than Independent (sovereign) Moro Islamic State

    Why Economic Underdevelopment?

    The Moroland is rich of natural resources and mines, aside from the fertility of its soil, yet quite behind in economic development because of being neglected by the Manila government. Since annexation of the Moroland by the Philippines, a vast amount of Pesos is being generated by the crusade Philippine government out of the Moro wealth on the account of the Moros themselves.

    Unless the would-be Moro sovereigIslamic State is established, no real economic development is expected.

    Interview with Sheikh Salamat Hashim, Amir of the Moro Mujahideen