The Outside View
By Judge Panambulan M. Mimbisa (ret.)
Of the many religions in the world, Islam stands out as the only one where its adherents; the Muslims, are enjoined in the Glorious Qur’an to hold on to the rope of Allah and be not divided. They are likened to the human fingers that if any part of which is hurt, all the other fingers would feel the same pain.
Sadly, however, this is not the case in the world community of Muslims as it is not, and even more so in the Philippines setting. The Muslims Association of the Philippines, for once the most formidable aggrupation of Filipino Muslims, counting as its members whos who in the social, business, government and political pages of Philippine tabloids, Senators, Congressmen, governors, mayors and cabinet members, name it, you have it, has now all but drained into the doldrum of oblivion. How I wish somebody stands up and correct me on this for indeed, it is my wish that this association remains strong and vibrant. It is only a ghost of the past that keeps coming back in the recesses of our minds, sometimes in our dreams and at other times in fleeting apparitions. It has been a long time ago, when this association, at its glory days would call for a national convention bringing together in the conference table high government officials, business, tycoons and learned ulemas and foreign and local dignitaries. It was feast in the eyes seeing Muslim ladies attending in their colorful and glittering native attires and the gentlemen in their barong Filipinos, suits or in their cultural get ups. But, it is their rhetoric and in their play of words that would mesmerize the audience and gave the public the worth of their money. This writer had the privilege to watch and actively participate in the convention sponsored by the late Secretary of Justice Simeon A. Datumanong in 2004, held at the Ramada Hotel which gathered such political stalwarte as Sultan Governor Ali Dimaporo, the brilliant lawyer Atty. Macapanton Abbas, Jr. , Senator Santanina Rasul and her daughter Amina Rasul Bernardo, Muslim Congressmen and former Regional Governor Lindy Pangandaman and his son, then Undersecretary of Agrarian Reform Nasser C. Pangandaman just to mention a favor.
It maybe that the need for Muslim Unity may not be in the calendar much less in the priority list of our Muslim leaders but it is this writer’s hope who strongly hold on the precept that hope springs eternal that his will soon, in our time register in their consciousness and bang the gong to signal that the convention had been called to order. There is no gain saying in the fact that we have, as of the present an abundance, of well placed Muslim leaders both in government and the private sectors who could pick up the pieces and start rebuilding the structures that once stood as the shining symbol of Muslim Unity. The Supreme Council of Islamic Association of the Philippines organized by the late Governor Sultan Ali Dimaporo have had its brief tryst with history but strong political and classical differences in theological tenets among scholars have taken its toll on this association. There is also the Ansar el Islam but for its combative posture, it has also dissipated.
Let us politics all we can but, after the elections are over, we return to the embrace of friends, brothers or sisters again. As world renowned pundits would say, in politics there are no permanent friends nor permanent enemies, there is only permanent interest. But, believe me, there is no interest higher that the Qur’anic injunction of unity. It would have been ideal if the Muslim Filipinos had one solid voice in these coming elections but since there is none and recognizing that what is ideal may not necessarily be the best, it is my hope, my prayers if you will, that after the elections, we will each find our way back again to the comfort of friends and relatives and then we can talk of unity. Indeed, this is not the end of the road. Far from it, as the giant is just on a slumber and will awake soon at the least expected time.
For now, it will serve us well if we remember that we have Muslim brothers and sisters who are applying to be senators and they are asking for our joint appointment. Maybe, as we aspire for that elusive unity, we can begin mending our fences by giving our votes, our most precious sadqas, to Ms. Samera Gutuc, Mr. Almansil Albani and Mr. Abdulaziz Robin Padilla with our prayers that they smerge victorious and take the cudgel in the building of the edifice for Muslim Unity.