COMMENTARY: Responding to a Misreading of Islam: talking about Cosmopolitanism of Islam Yusuf Roque Morales

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 12 June) — I have come across something written by Patricio Abinales, a commentary on “Why Cosmopolitan Islam will Defeat Islamic Fundamentalism.”

I am much troubled by his seemingly distorted definition of cosmopolitan Islam and using a rural setting, using a rural based individual Bai Tan, much more insinuating that a Moro Lady would watch pornographic material in local Sulu.

Tausugs nor Sama’s much less even the Sama Dilaut would not use such a name. Panglima Sugala is not a place where the powerful Tan family may reside.

As we know Cosmopolitanism is the phenomenon of being at home with the world, a trait Muslims normally have because of their ability to appreciate differences.

Islam has always been cosmopolitan, because when it comes into a community, it enters the soul of a community and infuses Islam in it, indigenizing Islam, localizing it. This can be seen in the barzanjis of the people of Zambasulta the pedjikir (Zikir) of the people of Maguindanao, the concept of Ilmu Kamaasan of the Orang Suluk and Ilmu sa Matoa/Ilmu Minatoa (Sufism indigenized into local Islam).  This character of Islam wherein it localizes Islam and allows it to “Islamize” local customs or Indigenize Islam to local context.

In my experience of Moro culture being a Moro myself, I have not seen any Moro lady disrespectable or otherwise to be dabbling in pornographic movies or in its sale, due to the nature of “Addat,” Tausugs, Sama, Yakan or even Badjao would not entertain the slightest thought of it. This can be traced to the sense of Martabbat that women should avoid such issues.

The cosmopolitanism of trade, the barter trade is but normal for archipelagic people, people of the current cross the seas to obtain culturally simmilar products that cater to their culture and faith and that traversing the Sug (current) to Sabah to buy food, clothes and wherewithal is but normal, as the people of Zambasulta, the current (sug) is bound by the sea of Nusa di Antara (Nusantara- southeast Asia), or the islands yonder.

Traditional Islam is deeply rooted in tradition, multiculturalism and acceptance of diversity of opinions and intellectual tradition. Traditionalist Islam manages to integrate into every community and indigenize Islam, appropriate local customs and Islamize them. Traditional Islam is more than simply being cosmopolitan, it is the antidote to addressing religious and violent extremism, not some imaginary cosmopolitan Islam.

The author is currently, Commissioner representing Muslim Minorities (Sama Tribe) at the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and a member of the Board of Advisers of Al-Qalam Institute for Muslim Identities, Ateneo de Davao University, a Consultant for Muslim and IP concerns of the Social Development Council, Ateneo De Zamboanga University and adviser to the Indigenous Peoples Council of Leaders of Zamboanga city and of Salaam Ateneo de Manila University.  He is currently a visiting lecture to several service academies and schools in the uniformed services of the Philippines)