Bangsamoro can be the new An­dalu­sia

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION -

LAST March 2017, I had the op­por­tu­nity to visit Spain and the prov­ince of An­dalu­sia. It was an of­fi­cial trip in line with my work as a peace ad­vo­cate in the Bangsamoro peace process. Dur­ing my visit, I was in­spired to learn more about the his­tory of this place and its peo­ple be­cause the his­tory of An­dalu­sia has a deep con­nec­tion with the his­tory of the Mus­lims in Min­danao.

Ac­cord­ing to my read­ings, “An­dalu­sia is a large au­ton­o­mous re­gion of hills, rivers and farm­land bor­der­ing Spain’s south­ern coast. It was un­der Moor­ish rule from the 8th-15th cen­turies, a legacy that shows in its ar­chi­tec­ture, in­clud­ing such land­marks as the Al­cázar cas­tle in Seville, the cap­i­tal city, as well as Cór­doba’s Mezquita Mosque-Cathe­dral and Granada’s Al­ham­bra palace.” World his­tory tells us that be­fore Spa­niards ar­rived in our is­lands, Spain was un­der the Moors of An­dalu­sia for more than seven hun­dred years. This is the rea­son why they called the Mus­lims in Min­danao as Moros.

For 8th and 15th cen­turies, what hap­pened in Spain un­der An­dalu­sia? This is an im­por­tant part of his­tory for us to learn and un­der­stand. In an ar­ti­cle by Ak­bar Ahmed, Chair of the Ibn Khal­dun Is­lamic Stud­ies at Amer­i­can Univer­sity in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. de­scribes his con­ver­sa­tion with H.R.H. Prince Turki al- Faisal, of King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia. Prince Turki heads The King Faisal Cen­ter for Re­search and Is­lamic Stud­ies in Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia’s pre­em­i­nent think tank, and has been Saudi am­bas­sador to the U.S. and the U.K.

In the said ar­ti­cle, Ahmed asked Prince Turki what An­dalu­sia meant to him, he replied, “I have a pas­sion for An­dalu­sia be­cause it con­trib­uted not only to Mus­lims but to hu­man­ity and hu­man un­der­stand­ing. It con­trib­uted to the well­be­ing of so­ci­ety, to its so­cial har­mony.” The prince also added, “This is miss­ing nowa­days. An­dalu­sia was the ex­act op­po­site of Europe at that time — [then] a dark, sav­age land of big­otry and ha­tred.”

The prince was de­scrib­ing the Dark Ages in Europe and An­dalu­sia “pro­duced a mag­nif­i­cent Mus­lim civ­i­liza­tion — re­li­gious tol­er­ance, po­etry, mu­sic, learned sci­en­tists and schol­ars like Aver­roe¨s, great li­braries (the main li­brary at Cor­doba alone had 400,000 books), pub­lic baths, and splen­did ar­chi­tec­ture (like the palace com­plex at the Al­ham­bra and the Grand Mosque of Cor­doba).” (Ahmed, Ak­bar)

Ahmed also added, (An­dalu­sia’s) “great achieve­ments were the re­sult of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Mus­lims, Chris­tians and Jews — in­deed the work of the great Jewish Rabbi Mai­monides was writ­ten in the Ara­bic lan­guage. It was a time when a Mus­lim ruler had a Jewish chief min­is­ter and a Catholic arch­bishop as his for­eign min­is­ter. The Span­ish had a phrase for that pe­riod of his­tory — La Con­viven­cia, or co-ex­is­tence.”

We are on the path of de­sign­ing the fu­ture of Bangsamoro through the pas­sage of the Bangsamoro Ba­sic Law. The Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion has been in­clu­sive right from the start in han­dling the Bangsamoro peace process. We can see clearly in the es­tab­lish­ment of the Bangsamoro Tran­si­tion Com­mis­sion and the pro­vi­sions within the BBL pro­vides equal op­por­tu­nity for all its cit­i­zens.

For me, Bangsamoro can learn a lot from the golden age of An­dalu­sia. Ahmed also wrote, “The civ­i­liza­tion of Mus­lim Spain was the em­bod­i­ment of the Is­lamic com­pul­sion to seek ilm, or knowl­edge. An­dalu­sia pro­duced many firsts, the first per­son to fly, Ibn Fir­nas, af­ter whom a moon crater was named, as well as a bridge in present-day Cor­doba and the first philo­soph­i­cal novel, by Ibn Tu­fail. Through Spain, Europe re­ceived mod­els for univer­si­ties (Ox­ford and Cam­bridge are ex­am­ples), phi­los­o­phy and lit­er­a­ture (for ex­am­ple the work of Thomas Aquinas), and the study of medicine orig­i­nat­ing from the work of Avi­cenna and Abul­ca­sis.”

In line with the view of ilm, Prince Turki “un­der­lined the im­por­tance of the con­cept of knowl­edge or ilm in this vi­sion. Ilm, he pointed out, meant study­ing the Qu­ran, fiqh, or Is­lamic law and ha­dith, or the say­ings of the Prophet. But ilm also in­cluded the learn­ing of non-re­li­gious sub­jects such as math­e­mat­ics and science.” This can also be our vi­sion for the Bangsamoro.

The Bangsamoro can also learn in the his­tory and back­ground of the char­ter of Me­d­ina. In the said ar­ti­cle, Ahmed shared the point of view of Prince Turki say­ing, “Prince Turki con­nected An­dalu­sia with the ear­li­est days of Is­lam and talked ex­cit­edly about the char­ter of Mad­ina, which he said was the first writ­ten con­sti­tu­tion for so­ci­ety pro­vid­ing a so­cial frame­work for the state it­self.” We recog­nise the di­ver­sity of our peo­ple in the Bangsamoro. The BBL is not aim­ing for an Is­lamic state. It opens a door for our peo­ple to ex­er­cise self gov­er­nance suit­able for our lo­cal con­text.

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