By Ali G. Macabalang
NARRATIVES about the moral governance-focused stewardship of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) can be meaningfully heralded, with the remembrance of the Man, who founded the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) now stewarding the parliament and bureaucracy of the region – Ustaz Salamat Hashim.
I write this article, one of vital informative news I have lined up in my twilight in media practice for dissemination to the knowledge-seeking new generation, in the advent of July – the month during which MILF founding Chairman Hashim was born and had returned to his Almighty Creator, whose mercy I beseech for him and all of us.
Hashim was born in Midsayap, Cotabato (now Pagalungan, Maguindanao) on July 7, 1939 to a religious family in a brood of seven. At age six, he was taught by his mother on how to read the Qur’an. In the 1950s, Hashim received formal elementary and high school education and was an honor student, according to Wikipedia.
In 1958, Hashim joined the hajj and decided to stay in Makkah to be mentored by Sheikh Zawawi. He was a regular attendee of halaqat at the Masjid al Haram. He also underwent studies at the Madrasat as-Sulatiyah ad-Diniyah, the Wikipedia narrative says.
The following year, Hashim moved to Cairo to pursue further studies. He enrolled at the Al-Azhar University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in theology, majoring in Aqeedah and Philosophy in 1967 and a post-graduate master’s degree in the same university in 1969. He pursued a doctorate degree but did not finish writing a dissertation due to his decision to return to the Philippines to help organize a Moro revolutionary movement.
Hashim along with other Muslim militants including Nur Misuari of Sulu, Abul Khayr Alonto and Dimas Pundato of Lanao del Sur founded the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the 1970s. Hashim left the MNLF in the later part of the decade to form the MILF and advance advocacy for Islamic society and governance.
He died on July 13, 2003 while in the MILF camp in Butig, Lanao del Sur, due to health complications. The MILF as a group only publicly confirmed his death on August 5.
The MILF Central Committee chose Ahod Balawag Ebrahim as Hashim’s successor. Ebrahim was more known then as “Hadji Murad” while serving as vice chairman and chief of staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).
The late Hashim fervently advocated for moral or Islamic society and governance, a campaign the Ebrahim-led MILF is pursuing in its transitional stewardship of the BARMM parliament and bureaucracy.
Skepticism about the MILF becoming an effective handler of civil government has been gradually fizzling out when the BARMM governance, in its first three years of reign, started to succeed in development dimensions where past autonomous administrations in Muslim Mindanao had left gray areas.
In honor of the late MILF founding chairman, the BARMM leadership through its Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILF) launched about two years ago the Salamat Hashim Seal of Award program to cite workers in the region known for excellence in their respective jurisdictions and responsibilities.
Initially, the award program covers local government units within BARMM, but MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said it would eventually expand to recognizing professionals excelling in their different callings within the region.
BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua, more known then “Sammy Almansoor” and “Sammy Gambar” in the BIAF which he concurrently heads as chief of staff, told the Philippine Muslim Today news that their administration has already started building community learning centers where Islamic studies would be taught.
One of the centers was completed last April in Barangay Gambar of Kabuntalan, Maguindanao, the birthplace of SM Macacua from which he derived his revolutionary name as “Sammy Gambar.”
BARMM’s Minister of Basic, Higher and Technical Education Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent MILF vice chairman, also envisions inspiring the teaching of moral or Islamic society studies in pilot regular classrooms, according to sources in his ministry. (AGM)