Islam

The Islam reached the Philippines in the 14th century with the arrival of Malay and Javanese merchants and Arab missionaries from Malaysia and Indonesia. According to the 2006 census the Muslims of the Philippines numbered approximately 4,300,000. There are Sunnis of the Shafi’ite school at any rate in theory, for some ancestral practices have been incorporated in the obligations of the Islamic faith, a faith which came from far afield and was sometimes propagated in the Philippines by indirect routes. A striking example of this is provided by the method of observing the Ramadan fast among the Yakans on the island of Basilan, who compel their domestic animals to take part in the fast, although the very possession of these animals is prohibited by Islam. There are many variants of the rituals of worship on the basis of Sunnite tradition; each tribe has assimilated the Koran but has adapted it in accordance with local conditions and the teachings of the village imams. The Koran is now being translated into Maranao. There have also been local developments in religious practices in towns, although the main religious festivals are of course observed the New Year (Amon Jaded), the Birth of the Prophet (Maulidin Nabi), the Ascension of the Prophet (Lailatul) and the end of Ramadan (Bid ul-Fitr).

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