|Entrance to the Golden Mosque
Inside the mosque, people were either praying or sleeping on the cool, glistening tile floor. Even in Malaysia, people would use mosques for sleeping when they should be for praying. But then that's their territory so who am I to say? Some kids walked with me to check out the grounds, and I knew I'd be alright.
The Golden Mosque isn't in anyway as grand as the ones in neighboring countries. After all, there are only about 5 million Filipinos who practice the religion - or 5% of the country's 100 million population. There are ongoing debates about this statistic, declaring that this number is gravely "under-counted", but until proven otherwise, let's agree on that and avoid subjective estimation.
Islam is considered the oldest monotheistic religion to have entered the country between 12th and 14th century, by way of the natives’ trading relations with Muslims from the Persian Gulf, the Malabar Coast in Southern India, and the Malay archipelago. Arab trader Karim ul’Makhdum arrived on the islands of Sulu in 1380. Accompanied by "hui hui" (a term essentially referring to Muslims from mainland China who were also spice traders in Yemen, Egypt and India), he subsequently built the first mosque in Simunul Island in Tawi Tawi; the first in the country - the Sheik Karimal Makhdum Mosque, now declared a "national treasure". Makhdum is credited for establishing Islam in the Philippines. Such is his legend that others believe that he could "walk on water". However, this could be an intrinsic reference on "sufi saints".
Isn't that a crucial page of Philippine history that hasn't been adequately told? One wonders why there's not even a single photo of Makhdum available anywhere.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|My young "guides".
|Uneven coat of gold paints the domes.