The Coming of Islam in the Philippines


Islam was referred to as mohammedanism when I was growing up in the Philippines. There were several religious sects in the country and one of them was mohammedanism, not Islam. Mohammedans (Muslims) practiced mohammedanism. Most of the muslims lived in Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago. Spaniards called them moros because of their perceived resemblance to the Moors of North Africa.

The first Arab merchants to reach the Philippines were non-Muslims, but it’s believed that foreign Muslims had established a trading settlement on Jolo before 1300. Muslim missionaries had come from Arabia to Southeast Asia during the 13th century and were then aided by converted traders and adventurers.

Unlike the Chinese settlers who exercised substantial commercial power but little political influence, the traders that came from the south 200 years later introduced Islam, an influence that swept through the Sulu Archipelago.

By the mid-14th century, Islam had spread from Sumatra…

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