MARGINALIA: Mindanao history: A Muslim perspective

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(Author’s note: A modified transcript of eight-minute presentation under the panel “Mindanao History from Muslim Perspectives” at the “Conversation of Mindanao History and Its Integration into the Philippine Education System,” August 8-9, 2018, Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City, Philippines.)

Salamun ‘alaykumand good morning to all of you!

As you may easily agree with me, I’m fortunate enough to be asked to present after the presentations of Kaka Aboud (Prof. Aboud Syed Mansur Lingga of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies), Kaka Guiamel (Mr. Guiamel Alim of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society), and Kuya Cos (Prof. Musa Unos of Mindanao State University-Maguindanao). They have already dealt with the ‘flesh and bone’ of the issue, and what is only left with me is the ‘cosmetics’. Of course, the exception is [the other presenter] Ma’am Star (Ms. Star Lamalan of the Salaam Movement) who is my fellow millennial.

In dealing with this ‘cosmetics,’ I shall first talk about the ‘target profile’ to be followed by the ‘course framework’. Then I will proceed with the ‘themes’ and ‘objectives’ and finally make a summary of the presentation.

Target profile 

As some of us know very well, the first step in the curriculum development process (CDP) is the definition of the ‘target profile’. By definition of the ‘target profile’ we mean an attempt to define what should be (‘target’) the characteristics (‘profile’) of a graduate from the College or University. As such, it embodies what our expectations of the College/University graduates are.

Now, granting that a sound definition of ‘target profile’ provides both a comprehensive and a holistic blueprint that can be potentially implemented in the College or University, what then is our ‘target profile’?

In broader terms and just for the purpose of this discussion, we may say that our target profile is a graduate with ‘a balanced worldview’.  In the words of a Muslim scholar, “Worldview means a kind of understanding, an interpretation and a kind of analysis that a person has about existence and the universe as well as man, society and history… Worldview informs us of what exists and what does not exist; what law governs the universe and man; what law governs society; which movements and motions lead to which direction; how nature moves; and what is the very thing called “existence” (Murtada Mutahhari, The Theory of Knowledge, pp. 12-13).

Course framework

The conventional framework for history (tarīkh) course is chronological. The course is treated as if historical events are statically placed in a timeline and happened in a purely linear manner. Those who are into teaching history courses may realize two fundamental drawbacks of a chronological framework: (1) It is as if history suddenly begins or ends at a particular ‘great’ event, and (2) Historyessentially transforms into a study of selected events in the lives of great personalities, while common actors are reduced to near irrelevance.

In view of these drawbacks, our proposed framework for history is “toward the establishment of a just and an equitable society”. As stated in the Qur’an, LAQAD ARSALNA RUSULANA BI’L-BIYYINATI WA ANZALNA MA‘AHUMU’L-KITABA WA’L-MIZANA LIYAQUMAN-NASU BI’L-QIST “Certainly We sent Our apostles with manifest proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance, so that mankind may maintain justice.”(Sūrat al-Ḥadīd57:25)

By ‘justice’ we mean the enactment of law based not on the interests of individuals or a class, but based on human wisdom guided by divine revelation, while ‘equity’ refers to the treatment of individuals based solely on their ethical behavior without regard to their social class or position in society.

With this framework, our proposed approach is ‘thematic/chronological’ such that in a given timeline, the series of events is discussed while bearing in mind the common theme/s. The ‘thematic’ designates the emphasis, in this case, on an overarching theme, while the ‘chronological’ denotes a timeline. So, the course’s focus is the common thread (interplay of players – pros and cons – toward the establishment of a just and an equitable society).

The analogy to this proposed framework (thematic/chronological) is that of the pattern of railroad tracks, bifurcating after leaving the station and converging again at a destination.

Themes

Taking this framework into consideration, the themes may consist of (1) the preliminaries, (2) biography, and (3) history. The preliminaries may include the literal and figurative meanings of history, philosophy of history, as well as epistemology and pedagogy. The biography covers the account of prominent actors while ‘history’ pertains to the series of events.

Objectives

After laying down the proposed framework, the following may be suggested as objectives of the course on Mindanao history: (1) To know our history as Muslims and as part of a greater community (Philippines); (2) To learn key lessons from history; (3) To recognize prominent players in this history; (4) To appreciate the after effects of events; (5) To apply the principles learned in history to the contemporary society.

Summary

In sum, identification of the ‘target profile’ is the first step in curriculum development process (CDP), and identification of the framework and themes are among the other steps. While the ‘chronological’ is the common framework, what we propose is a ‘chronological/thematic’ framework toward the establishment of a just and an equitable society. With such framework and themes, certain objectives can be proposed for the course on Mindanao history.

Thank you!

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Mansoor L. Limba, PhD in International Relations, is a writer, educator, blogger, chess trainer, and translator (from Persian into English and Filipino) with tens of written and translation works to his credit on such subjects as international politics, history, political philosophy, intra-faith and interfaith relations, cultural heritage, Islamic finance, jurisprudence (fiqh), theology (‘ilm al-kalam), Qur’anic sciences and exegesis (tafsir), hadith, ethics, and mysticism. He can be reached at mlimba@diplomats.com,or http://www.mlimba.comand http://www.muslimandmoney.com.]

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