Posts Tagged With: Mansoor Limba

“Light Moments in Vienna” Published Today!


Published today!

Mansoor Limba, “Light Moments in Vienna” (Smashwords and Amazon, 2017), $2.99.

Published in both platforms, the book contains selected anecdotes of my personal experience while undergoing KAICIID fellowship training in interreligious and intercultural dialogue in Vienna, Austria.

Get you copy now and be part of that journey!


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From Ribbon-cutting to Tête-à-tête


Mansoor L. Limba on February 7, 2017

MAKATI CITY (7 February) – February 4, 2017. I woke up at exactly 4:10 am. At exactly 5:28 am, I was already inside the campus of Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC). All sporting a maroon T-shirt, many people of various age levels were also coming in.

As can be gleaned from the number of vehicles starting to gather at the playground of the leading public institution of higher learning in the city, a historic event was about to unfold that early morning.

Formerly known as Cotabato High School, Cotabato City High School, and then Cotabato City National High School, CCSPC kicked off its first ever Grand Alumni Homecoming – after 93 years of its existence – with a long motorcade around the city.

After the motorcade, the groundbreaking ceremony for the proposed alumni building was held in which the college president, Dr. Dammang Bantala, expressed astonishment at the huge number of vehicles that participated in the motorcade. “If each of us will contribute one thousand pesos, we could immediately put up the alumni building,” he said in his short speech.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony

Soon after unveiling the project of Batch ’85, Dr. Bantala proceeded to the main library for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Batch ’89 project for our alma mater – four units of built-in steel benches for the library visitors.


In our Batch ‘89 general meeting on January 4 last year, in which the agendum was the batch project for the school, we had identified the current CCSPC bid for university status as the guide, and it was thus pointed out that these two areas are crucial to this bid, viz. (1) the pool of faculty members with postgraduate degrees, and (2) library facilities; hence, we finally opted for the benches (and books to be donated). After a year of facilitations by the batchmates, generous sponsorship of a benefactor batchmate, and free labor offered by an engineer batchmate, the project was finally materialized.

ribboncutting3     ribboncutting4

As the college president went to the next inauguration after a brief exchange of pleasantries and picture-taking with our batch, we were invited to the library for a ten-minute visit, and then we rushed as a group to the social hall of City Mall, the homecoming program’s venue.


As my notebook’s battery began to be depleted in the early afternoon, I had to look for an outlet to charge because I was then catching the deadline for paper abstract submission for a conference abroad.

I was then charging my notebook at the entrance to the hall while seated beside Badrudin Ali, our Batch ’89 2nd vice president, who was then filling up his CCSPC High School Alumni Association Membership Form, when somebody casually greeted us – “As-salamu ‘alaykum!” – and then joined us in the table.

It was no other than Tatay Bantala, as Badrudin would address the college president.


Our not-so-private tête-à-tête commenced with Sir Bantala’s re-expression of surprise at the large number of vehicles in the motorcade and, of course, the first-ever-held homecoming since the school’s establishment in 1924. He then navigated us through his bid for college presidency way back in 2012 and then his recent retention as president.


The conversation soon drifted toward the nitty-gritty of CCSPC’s present bid for university status, and the procedural and attitudinal issues surrounding the second semester enrollment last month.


In the end, we all shared the common view that while the proposed alumni building will surely be an important infrastructure of the school, what is more important is to attain the ideals of ‘scholarship,’ ‘development’ and ‘loyalty’ which are enshrined in the CCSPC logo.


[Mansoor L. Limba, PhD in International Relations, was the Valedictorian of CCSPC High School Day Class 1989 as well as the President of Senior Class Organization Student Council. He has also been the President of CCSPC Day and Night Class 1989 Alumni Association since its creation in December 2014. He can be reached at, or and]

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Forthcoming Publication: LIGHT MOMENTS IN VIENNA


The book features selected anecdotes of my personal experience while undergoing KAICIID fellowship training in interreligious and intercultural dialogue in Vienna, Austria.

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Forthcoming Publication: “Muslim and Debt”


As a sequel to “MUSLIM COUPLE AND MONEY: 8 PRACTICAL FINANCIAL TIPS FOR NEWLYWED MUSLIM COUPLE,” the following book will soon be published, insha’ Allah:
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Debt Management and Supplication



(A modified transcript of 20-minute presentation of the paper “Debt Management in Behavioral Economics and Personal Finance as Reflected in Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah” at the 3rd International Conference on Thoughts on Human Sciences in Islam, Jakarta, Indonesia, November 16, 2016.)

Respected elders, distinguished scholars, and brothers and sisters in Islam as well as in humanity! Let me greet you all with the greetings of peace: Salamun ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh!

(I’m making this presentation while assuming that all these many seats are filled with both the jinn and human beings – both the sleeping and the awake. In this unholy hour when everybody wants to sleep, I am uniquely fortunate enough to be surrounded by two esteemed Mesbahs (alluding to Dr. Ali Mesbah and Dr. Mohammad Mesbahi as fellow presenters in the same plenary session). As we all know, mesbah in Arabic, Persian and other languages means ‘lamp’. Since I believe I’m illuminated enough by two lamps, I’m optimistic that you will not mistakenly see me as a pillow or blanket.)

At the outset, let me take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the conference organizers, particularly the Director of the Sadra International Institute, and generally to all the members of the steering committee down to the drivers and guides. This is my first to come to Indonesia, although I may look like an Indonesian or even more ‘Indonesian’ compared to some Indonesians. I come from Mindanao, the land of promise and the bastion of centuries-old struggle for self-determination in this part of the world.

Before laying down my paper’s Statement of the Problem, let me first make some introductory remarks about behavioral economics and personal finance as well as about homo economicus vis-à-vis homo islamicus. I shall also clarify the kind of ‘debt’ which is the concern of this paper. After giving you the Statement of the Problem, I shall address the four secondary questions one by one and finally make a conclusion.


What is lacking in both behavioral economics and personal finance is the role of the soul or spirituality which is a central theme in a monotheistic worldview. In classical economics, as in related academic disciplines, the economic actor is assumed to be an unboundedly rational, will-powered and selfish agent in which rationality is defined in terms of material gain and profit, without taking into account a notion of spiritual dimension.

Behavioral economics comes to the fore to argue that psychological, social and emotional factors sometimes stand in the way of economic actor’s tendency for rationality in making an economic decision. Yet, there is still no recognition of any place for soul or morality, as psychology is assumed to be ‘the study of the mind’. (In Islam we call it ‘ilm al-nafs which means ‘study of the soul’.)

Statement of the problem

This paper attempts to examine the case of debt management in behavioral economics and personal finance through the lenses of Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah which is a classical Islamic text on supplications. It is argued that by advancing the concept of homo islamicus and asserting the role of the soul in explaining human behaviors, the monotheistic worldview of Islam can shed more lights on the roots of economic or financial decisions, such as incurring debt, that are to be made by an economic agent.

In particular, this paper endeavors to address the following questions:

  1. What is the definition of debt, in general, and consumerist debt, in particular?
  2. What is ‘debt’ in Islamic textual sources and history?
  3. What is Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah and its Supplication 30 about?
  4. What is the description of ‘debt’ in Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah Supplication 30 and its recommended steps or measures toward freedom from debt?


Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) distinguishes dayn (debt) from qard (loan), considering the former broader in connotation and covers the latter in its conceptual umbrella. Dayn includes any kind of transaction such as ‘settlement of claim’ (sulh), leasing (ijarah), buying and selling, and the like. (See Manifestations of the All-merciful, p. 63)

In this paper, our concern is a broad type of debt we call ‘consumerist debt’.  When as we say ‘consumerist debt’ we mean that kind of debt which is motivated by consumerism understood in its negative sense. It is “the selfish and frivolous collecting of products or economic materialism.” Financial advisers would tell you, “You incur consumerist debt when you buy something you don’t need in order to impress people you don’t like with money that you don’t have!”

Debt in Islamic sources and history

Dayn (debt) is mentioned in Islamic sources (Qur’an, Traditions, Supplications, and Jurisprudence) and history in various ways.

In Chapter 33, verse 23, the Qur’an urges the faithful to fulfill their obligations and pledges including the repayment of debt. In Chapter 9, verse 60, it is mentioned that [obligatory] charities (zakāt) are meant, among others, “for [the freedom] of] the slaves and debtors.”

Meanwhile, there are traditions (ahadith) which indicate that debt sometimes stands in the way of spiritual progress. Some traditions condemn indifference in repaying one’s debt – and equates it with theft. There are also traditions that give warning for the spiritual consequences of habitual incurring of debt.

In supplications (ad‘iyyah) transmitted to us, there is an explicit prayer for the repayment of debt. A very good example is Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah’s Supplication 30 (Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin’s supplication for help in repaying debt) which is the main concern of this paper. Another example is the famous daily supplication during the month of Ramadan, which includes this line: “O Allah, facilitate the payment of every indebted one!” There are also transmitted supplications one of whose benefits is the repayment of debt for one who recites them. Among these supplications are al-Mashlul, Yastashir, and al-Mujir.

Muslim schools of jurisprudence (fiqh) are unanimous in the ruling that the debtor who cannot pay his or her debts is one of the seven rightful recipients of zakat (alms-tax); therefore, he or she is given of the zakat to settle his or her debts. Also, when a Muslim dies, one of the four duties which need to be performed by his or her heirs is the payment of his or her debts.

Regarding debt in history, let me just cite two examples. As Imam Husayn made an encampment in the plains of Karbala’, he purchased the site for the would-be graves of him and the other martyrs so as not to be indebted to the owner after the tragedy. Earlier to that, when Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was asked to disclose his wishes before getting executed, the last of his three wishes is the selling of his coat of arm so as to pay for the piece of land where he had to be buried.

These two instances show prominent figures’ avoidance of incurring debt as much as possible and their firm resolution to repay once it is incurred.

In sum, debt has been an important topic in Islamic sources (Qur’an, hadith, supplication, and jurisprudence) and history.

Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah and its Supplication 30

Literally means ‘the Book of Sajjad,’ Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah is a collection of supplications composed by Prophet Muhammad’s great grandson, ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (38 AH/658-9 CE – 95 AH/713-4 CE), known as Zayn al-‘Abidin (`the Adornment of the Worshippers’) and ‘Al-Sajjad’ (‘the one who constantly prostrates (sujud) in prayer’). Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah includes fifty-four supplications which make the main body of the text and the additional supplications which make up the fourteen addenda (including the prayers for the days of the week) and the fifteen munajat or `whispered prayers’. It is the oldest extant prayer manual in Islamic sources and one of the most seminal works of Islamic spirituality of the early period of Islam.

Supplication 30 of the 54 main supplications is Imam al-Sajjad’s supplication for help in repaying debt.

Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah’s description of debt

At the outset, Imam ‘Ali al-Sajjad thus supplicates:

“O God, bless Muhammad and his Household and release me from a debt which makes me lose face, confuse my mind, disrupts my thinking, and prolongs my occupation with attending to it! I seek refuge in Thee, my Lord, from worry and thought about debt, from the distraction and sleeplessness of debt; so bless Muhammad and his Household and give me refuge from it! I seek sanctuary in Thee, my Lord, from debt’s abasement in life and its ill effects after death, so bless Muhammad and his Household and give me sanctuary from it through a bountiful plenty or a continually arriving sufficiency!”

This initial part of the supplication is a window to Imam ‘Ali al-Sajjad’s description of debt and its potential maladies and repercussions upon the debtor. Among others, the Imam describes debt as: (1) something that may humiliate a person (debtor), (2) mentally disturb him, (3) emotionally burden him, and (4) a source of disgrace for him in this world and in the Hereafter.

Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah’s steps or measures of freedom from debt

In this brief and specific supplication, certain steps or measures toward freedom from debt can be alluded to, and these are the following:

  1. Sincere supplications for repayment of debt

For any concern or problem of the believer – material or spiritual – he is supposed to extend his arms to the Source of Power and Knowledge, the Essence of Beauty and Grandeur. For relief from the burden of debt, one must sincerely pray and implore to his Lord and perform various acts of devotion.

  1. Having streams of lawful incomes

These parts of the supplication – “Give me sanctuary from it (debt) through a bountiful plenty or a continually arriving sufficiency,” “hold me back through Thy gentleness from squandering,” and “allow me to attain my provisions through lawful means” – may allude to having streams of lawful incomes as a very obvious step toward freedom from debt.

  1. Living below one’s means

This part of the supplication – “prevent me from extravagance and excess; put me on the course of … moderation” – may suggest an instruction to live below one’s means by maintaining moderation and avoiding extravagance and excess in spending.

  1. Avoiding Any Possession Causing Pride and Related Moral Vices

This segment of the supplication – “take away from me any possession which will bring forth pride in me, lead to insolence, or drag me in its heels to rebellion” – leads us to another very practical step to freedom from debt; that is, shunning any possession or item which belongs to the category of ‘wants’ rather than ‘needs’ and which usually causes pride and related moral vices to the owner.

  1. Spending for Wholesome Endeavors Including Charity

Elsewhere in the supplication, we read: “Put me on the course of generous spending…; teach me excellent distribution… direct my spending toward the gateways of devotion… O God, make me love the companionship of the poor and help me be their companion with excellent patience!”

These portions of the supplication direct us to a significant step toward freedom from debt and a way to ample sustenance; that is, to spend for wholesome endeavors of devotion including alms-giving and spending for charity. As we all know, Islamic sources affirm the unseen or spiritual connection between the giving of charity and increase in sustenance.


From the above discussion, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  1. Incurring of consumerist debt is just a symptom of the root of the problem, and that is greed which is one of the vices of the Power of Desire (al-quwwat al-shahwiyyah);
  2. Apart from being a symptom of a moral malady, incurring consumerist debt also brings about other things with equally dire spiritual consequences, viz. (a) personal humiliation, (b) mental disturbance, (c) emotional burden, and (d) disgrace in this world and in the Hereafter;
  3. As shown in our examination of Supplication 30 of Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, the supplications handed down to us are full of pristine ideological doctrines and practical guidelines.
  4. Supplication 30 of Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah is not only a text of prayer for help for the repayment of debt but also contains practical steps or measures toward freedom from debt;
  5. A Muslim – that is, homo islamicus – is supposed to exemplify a kind of morality or lifestyle which is a manifestation of perfect regulation of the four powers or faculties (quwwat) of the soul, and the absence of the various vices of those powers, those of the Power of Desire in particular.
  6. Most important of all, the debt management laid down by Supplication 30 of Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah exudes new conceptual insights into both behavioral economics and personal finance, and central to them are the concepts of homo islamicus and ‘Islamic rationality’ with the two distinct fundamental elements of a broader concept of success and time scale of the economic agent’s behavior.

Thank you! Terimah kasi banyak!

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Mansoor L. Limba, PhD in International Relations, is a writer, educator, blogger, chess trainer, and translator (from Persian into English and Filipino) with tens of written and translation works to his credit on such subjects as international politics, history, political philosophy,intra-faith and interfaith relations, cultural heritage, Islamic finance, jurisprudence (fiqh), theology (‘ilm al-kalam), Qur’anic sciences and exegesis (tafsir), hadith, ethics, and mysticism. He can be reached at, or and]

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Mediating Negotiation, Negotiating Mediation


MAKATI CITY (20 September) – Following ‘Id al-Qurban last week, some 30 Moros from various sectors – revolutionary fronts, legal profession, civil society organizations (CSOs), local government units (LGUs), and the academe – gathered not to form a political party or anything of that sort, but to attend a four-day training on negotiation and mediation at Waterfront Insular Hotel, Davao City.

In partnership with the Clingendael (Netherlands Institute of International Relations) and UNDP Philippines, the Bangsamoro Study Group (BSG) and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) organized the “Training-Workshop on Negotiation and Mediation as Instruments for Conflict Settlement” with the aim of providing the participants with the necessary skills sets that could “hopefully help them identify, discuss, and achieve common grounds on various issues confronting the Moro society and negotiate better”.

As his opening salvo, one of the two training facilitators introduced the Onion Model of Negotiation and Mediation, which identifies three essential elements that a negotiator or mediator should know. They are ‘positions’ (outer later), ‘interests’ (middle layer) and ‘wants’ (core). As Wilbur Perlot of Clingendael, a world renowned think-tank involved in the training of diplomats and negotiators the world over, was explaining each element of the Onion Model, I cannot help but look at it through IR theoretical lenses – both positivist and post-positivist.

As I was suspecting from the beginning, the model is indeed based upon liberalism and its basic assumptions on cooperation and drive for gains, as can be deduced from the facilitator’s answer to a lawyer participant who asked about the place of ‘motives’ in the model – ‘motives’ being equated with ‘wants’ which constitutes the ‘core’ in the model.

Contrary to the positivist liberalism which identifies ‘wants’ as the element on which the ‘interests’ and ‘positions’ depend, social constructivism – a midway post-positivist tradition – introduces an ‘inner core’ element – that is, ‘identity’. It propounds that one’s positions and interests are not dictated by his wants but rather by something which is continually shaping his wants. That is his ever-changing identity. Accordingly, not only one’s positions and interests that can be negotiated, but also his wants, provided that his identity also changes accordingly.

As Alexander Wendt would blurt, “Positions and interests are what negotiators make of them!”

Interestingly enough, the lecture sessions were interspersed with mind-bending exercises that simulate actual negotiation and/or mediation, while the refreshment breaks were peppered by spontaneous narration by MNLF and MILF negotiators of critical episodes of actual experiences negotiating with the Philippine government in the past.

The exchange of pleasantries and laughter among the participants, and at times, with the two facilitators as well as members of the secretariat, would remarkably defy the wide age disparity among the participants – from mid-20s to over 70 years old.

As part of the debriefing on “bargaining on the merits,” the other facilitator and mediation expert in both theory and practice, Mark Anstey of South Africa, told us the tale of two donkeys who finally found a win-win agreement on how to deal with two separate fodders. Instead of simultaneously consuming their respective fodders which is impossible to do given their being tied together, donkey A and donkey B agreed to consume together fodder A first and then fodder B. Within the framework of liberalism, it is as simple as that – the two parties agree together to come up with a win-win situation for them both.

But it is not so with structural realism which, like liberalism, is also a positivist tradition, but at the other end of the spectrum. Structural realism does not only settle with an apparent agreement but also questions the intention of each party and even entertains the possibility of deception on the part of one or both parties. Accordingly, after the two donkeys agree to consume together the two fodders, it is not unlikely that after consuming together the fodder A, donkey B is deceiving its counterpart as it intends to kill it so that it could consume fodder B by itself alone.

After undergoing the last exercise which was a simulation of tedious multilateral negotiation involving a concerned citizens’ group acting as the mediator, a central government, a regional police, a group of old protesters with specific constituencies, and a group of young protesters with particular constituencies, one realization I had is that mediating is doing a sort of negotiation while negotiating is undeniably inseparable with mediating works.

In short, mediating is negotiating, and vice versa.


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“Muslim Couple and Money” Published Today!




Published in both and platforms, the eBook is a personal finance guide that reveals 8 practical financial tips for newlywed Muslim couples to help them attain financial freedom and happy marriage.

This title is part of the Muslim and Money Book Series. The other titles are “Muslim Kid and Money: 12 Financial Stories for Muslim Children” and “Muslim and Debt: 5 Practical Steps to Freedom from Debt,” which will be published soon, insha’ Allah.

Get your copy now!


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Critical Thinking in August, and Beyond


MAKATI CITY (22 August) – Last Wednesday (August 17) I had to fly to Davao City – not primarily to witness and join the week-long celebration of Kadayawan Festival – but to attend two events related to history as an academic field of discipline.

Apart from the fact that this month is Buwan ng Wika (National Language Month) by virtue of Proclamation 1041 signed by Pres. Fidel Ramos in 1997, August is also celebrated as “History Month” by virtue of Proclamation 339 signed by Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III in 2012.

In celebrating this month-long occasion, the Philippine Historical Association (PHA) held its 2016 National Conference with the theme “Philippine Governance: Historical Perspectives” at Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City, on August 18-20, 2016. In the “Bangsamoro Panel” of the said annual conference, I presented a paper on the growing influence of violent religious extremism in the Philippines and its impact upon intra-faith and interfaith dialogues.

Immediately after answering questions regarding my paper presentation during the open forum, I left the conference hall and proceeded to the Waterfront Insular Hotel to attend the Mindanao-leg Series 1 (Topic: “Historical Method”) of 2016 Training Seminar Series (August 20-21, 2016) organized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

Conducted by no less than the NHCP chair, Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno, the two-day historical writing training covered a wide range of topics from “Meanings and Uses of History” to “Evaluating Sources in Historical Writing,” and it was interspersed with challenging written exercises too.

Critical Thinking

One of the recurring themes in both the conference and the training seminar is critical thinking – critical thinking in reading, writing and teaching history. It means to be circumspect and judicious before swallowing hook, line and sinker of everything we read, write and teach. It means that to rely on the perceived reliability of the source is not dependable; the merit or value of each datum must be assessed independently.

To paraphrase, “Critical thinking, and not the ability to memorize historical facts, is the hallmark of a historian,” Prof. Diokno would remind us. “Do not worry or be afraid of using any historical material. Anyway, the most important is you – the teacher – who critically read the material before teaching it to the students… Make inferences. Try to infer even from historical silences; they are not passive; they are active; it’s only that they are loaded with a silencer.”

Ibn Khaldun’s Lamentation

In his celebrated Al-Muqaddimah, which is a comprehensive prolegomenon to a planned voluminous book on universal history, Ibn Khaldūn – the famous 14th century Muslim historian and historiographer – lamented some historians for being concerned only with the authenticity of the chain of transmitters (sanad), whereas one must focus instead on the authenticity of the text.

As an example, Ibn Khaldun cited the supposed account that when the people of Prophet Moses crossed the sea while the legion of Pharaoh was pursuing them, they had two hundred fifty thousand soldiers. Accordingly, it must be reckoned that the Israelites were all descendants of Prophet Jacob, a single person, and it had been not more than five or six generations. Assuming that four centuries had passed, to say that they had two hundred fifty thousand soldiers necessitates claiming to the least that they had a population of one million in order to produce such a huge army. This is while Pharaoh had killed their male newborn babies.

Given these male infanticides perpetrated against them, Ibn Khaldun would ask: is it rationally possible for them to have been such a number of Israelite men at that time?

Mutahhari’s Criticism

As mentioned in his Training and Education in Islam, Murtada Mutahhari – a prominent Muslim thinker of the past century – read in popular general history books that during the event of Harrah when Medina was ransacked and mass murder was committed [in 62 A.H. by 12,000 strong army under the command of Muslim ibn ‘Uqba], the perpetrators went inside the house of a poor resident of Medina, whose wife had just delivered a child and was still lying in bed while the child was in the cradle. A soldier allegedly entered the house with the intention of looting. No matter how much he roamed around the nooks and crannies of the house, he failed to find anything to loot. As he was empty-handed, he got furious and returned [in order to molest her]. The woman humbly pleaded, saying that she was the wife of so-and-so companion of the Prophet and that both of them pledged their allegiance to the Prophet in the Pledge of Ridwan (6 A.H.).

Mutahhari would interrogate, “Can it be true? Can a 63 years old woman who, along with her husband, paid allegiance to the Prophet in the Pledge of Ridwan, usually get pregnant and deliver a child after 58 years? If we assume that the said woman was ten years old and newlywed during the pledge, she was then a 68 years old woman. Can a 68 years old woman normally get pregnant and deliver a child?”

He then cited a Prophetic tradition (hadith), thus: “For the ignorance of man, it is sufficient that he relays whatever he hears.”

Thereafter he commented: “In most cases, the ignorance (jahl) that is mentioned in traditions (ahadith) is not the opposite of knowledge (‘ilm). [Instead,] it is the opposite of reasoning (‘aql); that is, lack of intelligence and not lack of knowledge. Refusing to think and assess is enough for a person to believe in and relay whatever he hears!”

As I was heading toward the airport, the festive mood of Claveria Avenue seemed to be leaving a life-long lesson for all and sundry: “Celebrate critical thinking not just in August but even beyond!”


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Muslim Couple and Money




The book will be published next month (September 2016), insha’ Allah, through both platforms.

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Presidentiables’ Peace Policy in Mindanao


MAKATI CITY (26 April) – Attended by all the five presidential candidates, the third and last leg of the presidential debate series was held last Sunday at the Phinma University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City.

Following a town hall meeting format, the five presidential bets were asked questions from sectoral representatives whom the Commission on Elections (Comelec) media partner, ABS-CBN, flew in from different provinces. The issues raised by the selected sectoral representatives were Metro traffic and public transport, job security, health, foreign policy, basic public education, oversees Filipino workers (OFWs), and peace in Mindanao.

When asked by the concerned sectoral representative, Amina, who is an evacuee and divorcee with five children from Datu Piang, Maguindanao, on how they could put an end to conflicts in Mindanao, the presidentiables identified different causes of the conflicts, and offered corresponding solutions.


It was Sen. Miriam Defenso-Santiago’s turn to give the first answer, thus:

Una, we will dismantle the private armies. Merong private army na kaiba pa sa Armed Forces of the Philippines. Yan nanggagaling sa isang pulitiko diyan na maraming perang ninakaw sa gobyerno kaya, kaya niya magbuo ng isang army. At tapos itong army na ito, hindi na madisiplina dahil sinasabi nila nagtutulong naman daw sila sa gobyerno. Kaya yun ang unang-unang tutukan diyan sa iba na yan. Pangalawa, to stop the internecine conflict in Mindanao, we have to adapt their customary or traditional law into our Western style model of justice – of the justice system. For example, maganda naman yung mga ugali ng Tausog kaya ginawa namay municipal ordinance ng isang – ng isang bayan. Pagkatapos, meron silang sharia court, so maganda rin ang mga base. Kaya sa dalawang paraan na ito, maaaring magkamagkaka – magkatagumpay na tayo sa wakas at mahinto na ang giyera or terrorism sa Mindanao.”

Santiago identified (1) militarism of private armies and (2) conflict of laws (between the Philippine (Western) law and the Muslim customary or traditional law) as the cause of “the internecine conflict in Mindanao,” and in order to stop it, she is determined “to dismantle private armies” and “to adapt their customary and traditional laws into our Western style model of the justice system”.

By pinning her hope in these two solutions to put an end to “giyera (war) and terrorism,” the lady doctor of laws regrettably lumps together under the rubric of ‘terrorism’ all the diverse types of conflicts in Mindanao, whereas the main issue here is sovereignty-based; it is an issue of decolonization recognized in public international law; it is an issue of the inalienable right to self-determination of once a free nation or nations. This is apart from the other conflicts which are ideological in nature (such as with the armed leftists in the Philippines), terrorism in nature, or police cases of criminality and family feud. Moreover, the conflict of laws is just secondary in nature in comparison to the universal right to self-determination.


The administration and Liberal Party candidate Manuel Roxas II replied in this way:

Para kay Aling Amina, alam ko po ang inyong sitwasyon. Nakwento din po sa akin ni Ina Ambolodto, isang tulad mo, laki sa pagiging bakwit doon sa Maguindanao ang kanyang istorya kung saan talagang nawalan ng pag-asa. Kaya natin isinulong yung Comprehinsive Agreement on Bangsamuro, para magkaroon na nga ng kapayapaan. Alam natin, kung walang development, walang kapayapaan. Pero kung wala namang kapayapaan, wala ding progreso at development. Kaya’t dalawang – dalawang kilos po ito. Sa isang bahin, yung ating gobyerno, sinusulong ang usapin para sa kapayapaan sa lahat ng mga sektor lalung-lalo na sa MILF doon sa Mindanao. At sa kabilang sektor naman, sa kabilang bahin, yung development, yung imprastraktura. Yung imprastraktura na naparating natin sa Mindanao ngayon ay doble sa nakaraang limang taon kumpara sa lahat ng imprastraktura na naparating doon noong nakaraang labing-dalawang taon noong nakaraang dalawang pangulo. Ganun ang pagtingin natin sa Mindanao. Ito, may konkreto tayong ginawa. Ginawa natin yung Comprehensive Agreement, isinulong natin ang BBL. Sa kasawiang palad, hindi ito naipasa sa Senado at sa Kongreso. Pag ako po ay naging pangulo, isusulong ko po yan. Dahil peace without progress hindi mangyayari, pero progress without peace ay hindi rin mangyayari. Dapat panahon na na maisakatuparan ang pangako ng Mindanao.”

As can be gleaned from Roxas’ formula, “Alam natin, kung walang development, walang kapayapaan,” the cause of the conflict is simply underdevelopment, and the solution to this, accordingly, is two-pronged: advancement of peace to attain development, and pushing for development in order to achieve peace.


Incumbent Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte offered the following reaction:

“The war in Mindanao runs deep. You know, this may sound funny to you but when Magellan landed in Leyte, Islam was already planted firmly in Mindanao because they belong to a different (sultanate). Ang makakaintindi lang yong Sabah papuntang Malaysia. But you know, the conquerors and the Americans and the Spaniards, kinuha nila ang Mindanao which was already Islam. Kaya yong pumunta yong mga sundalo ng Espanyol pati Amerikano, giyera talaga. We have to talk and we have to correct the historical injustice. I tell you as a Mayor of the City of Davao… there will be no peace. There can never be a federal government until we talk to the NPAs which has been fighting us, I know, ‘70s estudyante na ako. Ngayon, 70 years old na ako. You know, it has to be a development but you have to make the peace there bago ka makagalaw. Pag hindi mo nakausap ‘to in peace talks, everything will fail. I would like to tell you and I’m telling now to the Republic of the Philippines, nothing will appease the Muslims, the Moro people, if you do not give them the BBL…”

From this reaction, Duterte identified the root of the conflict in Mindanao deep down in history, and for him, the solution is to correct the historical injustices by enacting into law the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is the latest agreed upon legal instrument for expressing and exercising the right to self-determination of the concerned people.


Vice President Jejomar Binay addressed the question in this manner:

Alam po ninyo, Aling Amina, ako ho ay sanay na sanay makipag-usap. Bago ho ako napunta sa gobyerno, nakikipag-usap ako dun sa mga manggagawa at saka sa kanilang pinagta-trabahuan. Nung naging mayor po ako, yung mga hostage problems, nagkakaroon po ako ng resultang maganda. Ipagpapatuloy ko po, Aling Amina, katulad ng bawat Pilipino na tayo ho ay magkaroon ng talagang katahimikang, ah, na matagalan. Lasting peace, yun nga po ang sabi. Sa akin, sa aking palagay, yan hong lasting peace na yan eh makakamit kung mahaharap po natin ang problema ng kahirapan na naglipana po don sa inyong lugar. Yan po ang pinagmulan kung bakit ho meron hong gustong umalis, ito ho ay gumagamit ng dahas para ibagsak ang pamahalaan. Pero, ang puno’t dulo po nyan ay yung kahirapan. Sa aking pamumuno, aangat at aangat ang buhay po dun sa inyong lugar sa Mindanao, at yan ho ang magiging pangunahing dahilan kung paano ho tayo magkakaroon ng lasting peace sa inyong lugar. Oh, yun po ang aking pangako ho sa inyo. At nakatitiyak kayo, kasi ako ho aksyon agad, ginagawa ko, ha. I make decisions. As a leader, I am decisive. Mangyayari po yan.

From his answer above, it can be inferred that the Vice President simplistically pinpointed poverty as the problem, and accordingly, the sought-after lasting peace can be attained by addressing the problem of poverty.


Sen. Grace Poe responded to the query in this fashion:

“Amina, bilang isang babae, naiintindihan kita. Ang mga lalake, pasan siguro nila ang armas, pero pasan natin ang mundo sa ating balikat pag may gyera. Sapagkat tayo ang naiiwan para bantayan ang ating pamilya. Sa Mindanao, kapayapaan ay napakahalaga. Pero… doon sa mga terorista na nananakit o pumapatay, hindi natin dapat sila pagbigyan kung ayaw nilang makipagbalikan, makipag-usapan sa gobyerno. All-out war sa mga nagbabanta sa atin, pero dapat all-out development rin. Sa Maguindanao, wala pa yata kayong provincial hospital. Isa yan sa pangangailangan natin. Importante rin na pangalagaan natin ang imprastraktura sapagkat kung konektado kayo sa isa’t isa, mas madaling mababantayan ang mga teritoryo natin sa Mindanao. Ngayon, may problema, hindi lamang sa Pilipinas kundi sa Malaysia. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, binara na nila yung border na hindi makakapunta doon ang ating mga kapatid sa Tawi-Tawi para mag-trade or barter. Kailangan magkaroon tayo ng bilateral talks para talagang sugpuin ang terorista sapagkat nawawala ng trabaho ang ating mga kababayan. Kung ako maging pangulo, ipagpapatuloy ko ang usapin kapaya – pang kapayapaan pero dapat kasama ang lahat. At hindi tayo dapat namimili ng iilang grupo lamang.”

As can be deduced from her offered solution of “all-out war” for those who refuse to negotiate with the government, as well as “all-out development” in the form of health services, infrastructure and trading opportunities, the cause of the conflict could be categorized as lack of social services.


In sum, the presidentiables’ peace policy in Mindanao can be given as follows:

Santiago: to dismantle private armies and adapt Muslim customary and traditional laws into the Philippine western style model of the justice system.

Roxas: to advance peace for development, as well as development for peace.

Duterte: to correct historical injustices.

Binay: to address the problem of poverty.

Poe: to provide social services.

The decision is yours, dear readers, which of these policies to buy comes the reckoning day.


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