by Datu Albi Ahmad Julkarnain Chairman, Council of Royal Datus
Not known to many, Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim is an acknowledged Filipino Great man. His inclusion as among the Filipino great men may be due to the fact that Sultanate of Sulu was colonized by the Philippine Commonwealth Government in 1935. In his book entitled “SILENT STORMS, Inspiring Lives of 101 Great Filipinos”, author Fernando A. Bernardo described Sultan Abubakar (Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim) as the “Kindled Light of Allah: Founder of the Sultanate of Sulu”. He was recognized as among the Filipino Great Men during the Pre-19th Century, officially recorded by the National Historical Institute (NHI) along with Sultan Kudarat, Lapu-Lapu, Mother Ignacia Incua, and Francisco Dagohoy.
Fernando A. Bernardo wrote that when Luzon and the Visayas were sprinklings of small barangays, along sea shores, rivers, hills and valleys, led by datus, rajahs or chieftains, they lived and worked separately growing like thin brittle sticks without a common thread binding them together. The Spanish Conquistadores had little difficulty breaking the sticks one by one. But Sulu had a different story. For the barangays (Muslim Ummahs) of Sulu grew like thin and long sticks, bound together as a sturdy pillar, that the Spaniards could not break.
Through his wisdom and efforts, Sayeed Abubakar Abirin founded the Sultanate of Sulu. He assumed the political and spiritual leadership of the realm, and was given the title of the SULTAN, who became popularly known by his regal name as SULTAN SHARIF ul-HASHIM, the first Sultan of Sulu Sultanate. The failure of Christian Spain to conquer the Islamic Sultanate of Sulu for three centuries of war was due, in large measure, to the freedom warriors of the Sultanate of Sulu. With the efforts of his successors, the Sultanate of Sulu expanded its territory as may be seen from its flag, consisting of five stars in a circle on a light-blue background, representing Sulu archipelago (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi), North Borneo (Sabah), Palawan including Puh Panagatan (Spratly Islands), Zamboanga Peninsula and Mindanao.
During his reigning period, Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim promulgated the first Sulu Code of Laws (Diwan) based on the Holy Qu’ran. He introduced Islam as a state religion with its attendant political and spiritual institutions. He organized the teaching of Holy Qu’ran and Hadiths, and taught other how to teach. It was during his reigning period where organized religious instruction became common in Sulu archipelago.
The genealogy of Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim, whose common name was Sayeed Abubakar, accounts that he was a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), through the bloodline of his father, Sayeed Jainul Abirin of Hadramaut Yemen, who belongs to the fourteen generations of HASSAN, the grandson of the Prophet. Due to his bloodline relationship to the Prophet, his descendants are given the birthright honorific titles. Male descendants are honored with the title of ROYAL DATUS, while the female descendants are honored with the title of DAYANG-DAYANG (Princess).
Anticipating of the future problems of succession to the throne of the reigning Sultan in case of vacancy, Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim ordained a “TARITIB” (Protocol). making that all Royal Datus should have claimed descent from him, and the position of the Sultan of Sulu Sultanate should come from the best qualified rank of Royal Datu, meeting all the requirements as embodied in the Rules of Succession. The Taritib enumerated the requirements in the Rules of Succession to serve as guideline in the selection of a new Sultan as successor to the throne. This will explain as to why all reigning Sultans from the ancient time up to the present were the royal heirs of Sultan Sharif-ul-Hashim. Traditionally, after the selection of the best qualified candidate for the position of Sultan, the Council of Royal Datus shall present his credentials to the Religious Council of the Sultanate to confirm his capability of becoming the spiritual leadership before he will presented for acceptance by the “Ra’ayats” or citizens of t he Sultanate of Sulu. A Royal Datu who does not pray five times a day is not qualified to become Sultan of Sulu Sultanate.
The Rules of Succession of the Sultanate of Sulu shall be the subject matter of my next write-up, hoping that it will enlighten us to evaluate the best qualified from among the present self-proclaimed Sultans, of which according to my informant from Manila United States Embassy that there are 29 of them now, to include those living in Australia, United State of America and other part of the world. This is too many if these self-proclaimed Sultans’ objectives are to rule for the progress and development of the Sultanate of Sulu. We only need a de jure Sultan to rule the Islamic nationhood of Sulu Sultanate as “BIN SIN KAMAASAN”, who has the mandates of the “Ra’ayats”.