By EDD K. USMAN
For the first time in the Philippines, 200 ulama or Muslim religious leaders gathered in Quezon City yesterday to create a national organization to serve as a vehicle for unity, empowerment and give them voice on issues facing Islam and its Filipino followers.
Named to the NUCP interim Board of Trustees are Ustadza Albaya Badrodin and Aleema Khadijah Mutilan from the Aleemat (Muslim women religious scholars), and former senator Dr. Santanina Rasul.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Supt. Sukarno Ikbala welcomed the formation of the National Ulama Council of the Philippines (NUCP), saying Muslim Filipinos have been aching for it.
“In the first place, the ulama are the experts on the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Allaihi Wassalam. They can guide the Muslims and their communities based on the teachings on peace, tolerance and harmony of Islam and as they relate to relations with non-Muslims also,” said Ikbala.
Muslims in the country are grouped into at least 14 tribes, such as Tausug, Maranaw, Maguindanaon, Iranon, Yakan, Samal, Kalagan, Sama Bangingi, Kalibugan, Sangil, Palawani, Jama Mapun, Badjao, and the Balik-Islam (reverts or converts to Islam).
Financial grants from the Embassy of the United Kingdom and the Embassy of the Netherlands under the three-year “Empowering the Ulama of the Philippines Project” helped create the NUCP.
The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) and Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc. handled the Ulama Project through a R30-million grant in June 2007 from the UK and the Netherlands embassies.
In a statement, Rey Trillana, the PCID project manager of the Ulama Project, said the assembled Muslim clerics coming from Mindanao and other parts of the country ratified bylaws the other, giving birth to the first ever national association.
Trillana said there are thousands of ulama in the country who are “Muslim scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law who are the interpreters of Islam’s sciences, doctrines and laws.”
He said the religious leaders elected 14 of them to the NUCP’s 15-man interim Board of Trustees, with the PCID, being the organizer getting the 15th seat.
The NUCP trustees are Dr. Hamid Barra from Marawi City; Dr. Abhoulkhair Tarason from Basilan; Sulu Mufti Sharif Jul Asiri Abirin; Tawi-Tawi Mufti Abdulwahid Inju; Aleem Abdul Majid Said from Cebu;Aleem Ahmad Darping Nooh from Davao; Dr. Abdussalam Disomimba from Lanao del Norte; Prof. Moner Bajunaid from General Santos City; Shari’a Court Judge Aboali Cali from Marawi City; Aleem Jaafar Alifrom Cotabato City; Aleem Abdulhadi Daguit from Manila; Bro. Hassan Garcia from the Balik Islam community; UstadzaBadrodin and Aleema Mutilan, wife of the late Dr. Mahid Mutilan, and Rasul, MKFI chairperson and advisor of the PCID, who took the 15th seat belonging to the PCID.
Later, the NUCP trustees were to meet to elect among them a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and a secretary general.(MB)