Very few Muslims talk about Bangsamoro, which is not surprising as very few Muslims even know where it is or what it is. Whilst Palestine, Syria or Iraq are spoken about on the minbars and the Ummah rallies to support the Muslims in those lands, the Muslims of Bangsamoro continue their struggle with little support. The Bangsamoro Liberation War stands out among all conflicts in the Ummah if not solely because of its length, the Muslims of Bangsamoro have been engaged in a conflict that has lasted for 490 years, which makes it all the more shameful that most of us have never heard of it.
Bangsamoro is located south of the Philippines and to the East of Malaysia and Brunei. It is comprised of 4 main areas, the island of Mindanao, the islands of Sulu, the island of Palawan and Sabah which is part of the island of Borneo. When all of the smaller islands are counted the total number of islands in Bangsamoro exceeds 7,000. However, the bulk of the land is made up of the island of Mindanao which is the largest island of Bangsamoro.
The name Bangsamoro is derived from the word ‘bangsa’ which means ‘land/nation’ and ‘Moro’ which is the name that the Muslims of the region use to refer to themselves, though the term is ultimately derived from the era of Al-Andalus when the Muslims would be called ‘Moros’. Therefore Bangsamoro translates as ‘Land/Nation of the Muslims’ which is why it earns itself the title of Bangsamoro Darul Islam.
The Muslims of Bangsamoro ruled over all of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, Sabah and also the cities of Mactan and Manila (the current capital of the Philippines) until Spanish and Portuguese Crusaders came and fought them, wanting to conquer their lands. The Spanish were led by Ferdinand Magellan, the infamous explorer who was killed by the Muslims in the Battle of Mactan. The leader of the Muslims who fought the Crusaders was Khalifa Lapu (known colloquially as Lapu-Lapu) who is a hero of the Bangsamoro nation.
The Spanish managed to take Manila and Mactan and much of Palawan, however they could never defeat the Muslims of Mindanao or Sulu. For centuries the Muslims remained independent, despite constant attacks by the Spanish. Eventually the British inherited many Spanish lands and became involved, however they too could not defeat the Muslims. Later the Japanese invaded during World War II and were similarly unable to conquer the Muslim populations of Mindanao or Sulu. The next army to come were the Americans who despite being barbaric in their attacks were also unable to subdue the Muslims. Since the Americans entered, the Filipino nation was born, and they, hand in hand with the Americans have fought the Muslims of Bangsamoro, still unable to defeat the Mujahideen.
The region of Sabah was claimed by the British who had conquered Malaysia, however the Muslims of Mindanao never accepted this, and when Malaysia became independent, the new nation made a claim to Sabah, despite the fact that it was not their land, rather it belonged to the Sultanate of Sulu.
The Muslims of Bangsamoro have been fighting for centuries, with very little support from the Muslim Ummah, yet they have never given up. Most recently the Moro Uprising began when the Filipino terrorist army slaughtered 200 innocent Muslims in the Jabidah Massacre, and led by Nur Misuari, the Muslims of Bangsamoro once again laid siege to the invaders to finally liberate the land of Bangsamoro. The struggle continues until today, and the Muslims have formed many groups to fight for their liberation, the MNLF, the MILF, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF and many others, however they are all united in the struggle for the liberation of Bangsamoro.
In the last week, a group of Muslims loyal to Jamulul Kiram III, a claimant to the Sultanate of Sulu entered into Sabah which is occupied by the Malaysian government and a large Christian population who are known for their oppression against Moros residing there. The Malaysian government sent in their Army who attacked the group killing 10 of them, as well as sending in planes to bomb the area of Lahad Datu where they set up base. The MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) has said that as many as 10,000 of their fighters may be making their way to Sabah to protect Jamalul Kiram and his men.
It must be noted, that the MNLF, led by Nur Misuari have been consistent in their claim since their founding that Bangsamoro must be ruled by the Shari’ah and that the land will be an Islamic state, as it was in the past. The family of Misuari are devout and pious Muslims, his sons studied in Al-Azhar and taught at Islamic centres in the UAE, and his daughters wear the niqab and are covered head to toe. His closest advisors are all Islamically educated, the leader of the MNLF Mujahideen and advisor to Misuari is Ustadz Khabir Malik, a graduate of Madinah University and a scholar as well as a Mujahid.
The Malaysian government on the other hand is an apostate government who does not rule by Shari’ah nor has any desire to do so. Other than PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party) there is no effort from any political group to implement Islam, and therefore the re-conquest of Sabah by the Mujahideen and implementation of the Shari’ah must be a goal that is welcomed by all Muslims, as well as the entire re-conquest of all Bangsamoro lands.