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ADAT LAW: A SOCIALIZING FORCE IN A PHILIPPINE MUSLIM COMMUNITY


A Dissertation Review

Presented to: Dr. Ma. Luisa Camagay Dalubguro

Submitted by: Macrina A. Morados PS 302 Strudent October 2011

Overview
The Dissertation titled: Adat Law: A Socializing Force in a Philippine Muslim Community deals with the existing Adat or customary laws among the Tausugs relating to religious, socio-cultural, economic and political aspects of their lives. Many of these adat laws reflect indigenous practices while others find basis from the teachings of the Holy Quran and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). When Islam came to the Philippines the natives were already have their own belief systems and traditions. And upon conversion of these natives to Islam, some indigenous practices were retained. Thus, scholar Dr. Cesar Adib Majul coined the term folk Islam to describe amalgamation of indigenous practices with that of Islamic. For instance, the Tausug ritual of panulak bala does not find basis in the Holy Quran rather it has semblance to Hindu practice of river bathing for purification. But this panulak bala practices has some Islamic element in terms of some prayer using verses and Malay incantations during the ritual. The Adat laws discussed by Dr. Jundam mostly relate to marriage, divorce, succession, local disputes, healing practices, burial and other issues with bearing to the customary laws such as imposing punishments to certain crimes. Finally, the work is very interesting to researchers and scholars wanting to understand the intricacies of the Tausug lifestyle viz a viz the adat laws enforced in their society. The challenge among the Tausugs is to justify these customary laws in accordance with the principles of Islam.

The Author
Dr. Mashur Bin Ghalib Jundam earned his BA in Education degree as a MagnaCum Laude from Notre Dame College, Jolo, Sulu. In 1983 he obtained his Masters Degree in Asian Studies and subsequently his doctorate degree from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. In 1998, the author has served as SPCPD ARMM as adviser on educational affairs. He conceptualized the creation of the Bangssamoro Excellent Student and teachers Academy ( BEST) under this the Islamic and present Philippine educational systems shall form part of the bangsamoro educational administration and curricular offerings with a twofold mission: to bridge the cultural between Muslim and non-Muslim and to enhance the islamicity of Muslims themselves.

Dr. Jundam served as on one of the deans of the Institute of Islamic StudiesUniversity of the Philippines. He is considered a leading expert on Adat Laws in the Philippines.

Review and Critique


Dr. Jundam used the standard anthropological approach in conducting his research that employed participant observation, survey, interview, photography and mapping of typical Tausug rural community. He also studied local literary written and unwritten sources like the Tausug traditional songs, fables, addat tabiat (values) which accorded him access to authentic resources. He substantiated his local resources with materials he found in the library, journals and other references. The use of this methodology proved very useful in gathering the necessary data he needed. Since Dr. Jundam is a Tausug and speaks the language, it was so easy for him to elicit first hand data. It is important that the researcher is able to gain the trust and confidence of the respondent. Aside from discussing the basic concepts of adat law, the author also provided the historical context of the development Islamic law that prevailed in the Islands of Mindanao and Sulu. Adat law played a vital part in the political lives of the Tausugs even during the sultanate period. Majul (1970) emphasized this: While the secular authorities of the sultan and Datus gradually declined in the later part of American rule in the Philippines, the local headman in the countryside, who remained untouched by the colonizers, continued to exercise political power using adat law in the administration of justice in a Tausug community. With this, the author was able to present historical proofs of the independence of the Sulu people. The role of the local leaders in the enforcement of the customary law is very crucial in maintaining the power of the local leaders. In the past, the administration of political powers was not complicated as today. There was no bureaucracy though the ruler exercise his authority by delegating some of his functions to the council of elders ( Ruma Bichara). Moreover, the author outlined the application of adat law which varies from region to region depending upon the influences of local customs and traditions. Even among the Tausugs speaking groups in different communities their customs and varies in some aspects. However, he explained that variations, however, are not meant to bring about disunity or confusion. In fact, the degree of these dissimilarities is recognized for purposes of moderating the somewhat harsh hukuman (judgement). This exemplified by the lessening of the multa (fines) against violators, ungsud (brideprice), and bangun (blood money). Such degree of variations is further recognizing for the purpose of supplementing or enriching those practices which are Islam. In other words, there is no fixed application of the adat law, because it is flexible and sometimes accommodates changes in the name of equity and justice.
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To illustrate further, Dr Jundam stressed that the first basic feature of the Tausug Adat law is that which exercises the use of physical coercion. As conceived by hoebel (1959), this is the fundamental sine qua non of law in any given society. It is the legitimate use of physical force. The law has teeth, and teeth that can bite, although they need not be bared. Here the author argued that in order to enforce the law, there must be existing mechanisms to ensure its implementations. For instance, in case of enforcing a punishment, it is incumbent upon the elders to enforce the law despite conflict of interests. I think this is the edge of the customary law compared to the secular law. The people take the decision of the local leader with much respect. And most of the time no one dares to question the judgment. Another point he raised relates to the second feature of the Tausug Adat law which is regularity. Dr. Jundam explained that regularity does not mean absolute certainty. Having been transmitted from one generation to the next generations, law builds on precedents. However, as explained above adat law is flexible, hence, it may be true in a particular case at a particular time. As we shall see new sets of laws are promulgated in order to enrich the existing adat laws of the ancestors, and likewise legal norms of conduct accepted to be universally sound tend to shape the foundation of making legal decision in the future. This makes adat law very distinct from the Shairah law. The discussion on the sources of Adat law viz a viz the Shariah or Islamic law also proved beneficial to the reader as he provided basic knowledge and concepts. However, I see some limitations on the elaborations he made. For example, there were no clear distinctions between the injunctions of the Holy Quran and the Prophetic Traditions and the border line between what is cultural or customary practices. There is I think a need to highlight this, because there have been misconceptions regarding Shariah as source of injustice especially on the status of women. Some western authors blamed Islamic law as oppressive to women and curtailing its basic freedom. The wearing of head scarf or hijab for instance is frown upon. This issue must not be taken solely on one side because from western point of view this may be a limitation but for a practicing Muslim woman she actually considers wearing Hijab as a freedom. This is not only a religious expression but also our way of establishing our own identity. Apart from the issue mentioned above, recently, topics of debate have included questions such as: the compatibility of Shariah with liberal ideologies and institutions, the rights of non-Muslims in an Islamic state, the political implications of Shariah, the degree of consensus between the four schools of Islamic law, and, above all, the possibility and validity of re-opening the doors of legal and theological interpretation in Islam. There is legitimacy in raising these issues because in the case of the Muslims in the Philippines we have noted so many practices that do not really have basis from the teachings of the Quran. The best example is the practice of honour killings, though, this is not widely practiced but there had been cases in the past. A Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim will be disowned
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by the family and worst the man will be killed. Practically, this is not the teaching of Islam but purely cultural. There is difference between the teachings of Islam and the cultural practices. Cultural practices is indigenous but do not all the time reflect the teachings of Islam. Another important issue that needs to be clarified is the concept of Al-Maqasid alShariah, or the Objectives of Islamic Law, is an important and yet somewhat neglected science of the Shariah. The Shariah generally is predicated on benefits to the individual and the community, and its laws are designed so as to protect these benefits and to facilitate the improvement and perfection of the conditions of human life on earth. The Quran is expressive of this when it singles out the most important purpose of the Prophethood of Muhammad (saw): We have not sent you but as a Mercy to the worlds (21:107). This can also be seen in the Qurans characterisation of itself as a healing to the (spiritual) ailments of the hearts and a Guidance and Mercy for the believers and mankind (10:57). This very important objective of Rahmah (Mercy or Compassion), mentioned in these two verses, is further substantiated by other provisions in the Quran and Sunnah (the Traditions of the Prophet) that seek to eliminate prejudice, alleviate hardship and establish justice. The laws of the Quran and Sunnah also seek to promote co-operation and support within the family and the society at large. The objective of Rahmah, therefore, is most clearly manifested in the realisation of Maslahah (Benefit) in everyday communal life. The ulema have, thus, generally considered Rahmah to be the all-pervasive objective of the Shariah, and have, to all intents and purposes, used it synonymously with Maslahah. Adl or Qist (Justice), is indeed a manifestation of Gods Mercy, but may also be seen as a principal objective of the Shariah in its own right. Certainly, the Quran sees it as such when it states: We sent Our Messengers and revealed through them the Book and the Balance so that Justice may be established amongst mankind (57:25). Justice as a value or primary objective of the Shariah is mentioned in the Quran fifty-three times in all. Adl literally meaning to place things in their right and proper place as a fundamental objective of the Shariah, is to seek to establish an equilibrium between rights and obligations, so as to eliminate all excesses and disparities, in all spheres of life. In conclusion, I would say, that any adat law is therefore subordinate to the rule of the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet. In the case of the tausug Adat Dr. Jundam agreed that there are syncretic elements in it, however it would take generations to totally eliminate these un-Islamic practices.