Monthly Archives: September 2017

A Visit to Maqam Sa’d ibn Abi Waqas

As we commenced our workshop at nine in the morning for the topic “Culture and Conflict Resolution,” Prof. Jianrong Chen, who was then the facilitator (in addition to being the lead organizer of the Asia-China Peace and Leadership Training Workshop), assured us thus, “If you can finish your workshop at noontime, then I will call for a free time this afternoon so that you can go wherever you want within the city.”

Having such assurance for a break, in the workshop we ‘played’ with full delight as if we were little kids. And yes, we were able to finish ‘playing’ a bit after noontime.

After lunch, I joined a small group of participants (from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand) who wanted to go to Hui Hui cemetery at Guihua Gang district of Guangzhou City, China. To be specific, it’s located along Jiefang Beilu Avenue.

We are told that Hui Hui cemetery is where Sa’d ibn Abi Waqas, a Sahabi (first generation of Muslims) was buried during the Tang Dynasty.

After visiting the graveyard, we proceeded to Sa’d ibn Abi Waqas Mosque which is also located within the cemetery compound. Some of us performed their ‘asr (afternoon) prayer there while others performed optional prayers and supplications.

As we were about to leave the place, an arriving group of around 10 people greeted us thus, “As-salamu ‘alaykum!” Upon inquiry we have learned that they were Chinese Muslims from Xinjiang Province, who were then on their way to Hajj.

Bidding farewell to them and wishing them an acceptable pilgrimage, we left the place and I could notice Wiwin‘s teary eyes.

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Already a Moot and Academic Question

During the recently concluded international conference on “Japan and East Asia in the Midst of Change: Carving a Path for the Region,” it’s my first time to experience being the last paper presenter in the concluding plenary session.(Panel on Japan and Mindanao: Past, Present and Future Challenges)
It’s also my first time to experience presenting a conference paper whose main question was rendered ‘moot and academic’ by a supervening event in such a short time.

On April 25, 2017 – that is, almost a month before the Marawi Siege (May 23) – I submitted to the conference secretariat the abstract of my paper “Is There Already ISIS in the Philippines? Its Security Implications Toward the East Asian Region.”

At a time when the military was persistently denying ISIS’ presence in the country (“Bay’ah: The Missing Link in the Military’s Denial of ISIS,”…/marginalia-bayah-the-missing-lin…), I can’t blame the leading member of the secretariat who confided to me later that upon receiving the paper abstract, he said, “Anong klaseng abstract ito; panakot!” (“What an abstract is this; it’s terrifying!”)

After enumerating five (5) security implications and briefly discussing each of them, I concluded thus, “The answer to the question – ‘Is there already ISIS in the Philippines?’ – is already moot and academic, with the siege of Marawi City on May 23, as illustriously conveyed by these photos in which the AFP is posed as ‘ISIS Hunter’. Can you hunt something that is not present?”

After my presentation,, a visiting Japanese scholar approached and whispered to me, “Do you think there is already ISIS in Japan?”

“I haven’t come across any news or information about its presence there.”

I was almost tempted to tell him also, “But there is already an entity in Japan, as elsewhere, which is tougher than ISIS – that is, the MISIS (wife)!”

Yet, I refrained from doing so, as I was afraid he would answer me, “That revelation of yours is also ‘moot and academic’!

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An All-embracing Room

In my recent trip to Sri Lanka, there was really a sense of relief to get a connecting flight that would not pass by the overly congested NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) in Manila.


As I would routinely do in any transit airport, when I was in Changi Airport (Singapore) en route to Colombo, I started to perform my ‘rituals’ – the three (3) P’s: (1) picture, (2) purchase, and (3) prayer, in reverse order.

After the performance of the two rituals, I roamed around the airport to snap pictures, particularly around the airport’s Enchanted Garden.

Prior to that, I purchased two pieces of magnetic souvenir items for the refrigerator back home.

As soon as I entered the airport, the first thing I did was to look for the prayer room. As I could not find any “Muslim prayer room” sign, I ventured to ask from an airport staff, who indicated a particular direction.

When I went there, what I found was “Multi-religion Prayer Room.” I hesitantly entered the room, and the first thing I noticed was the ablution area for gents. Eureka!

The beauty of openness which this room embodies inevitably brought to my mind the Mosque in Madinah during the time of the Prophet.

During the 9th Year After Hijrah (a year after the Fall of Makkah), which was known as the Year of Deputations on account of the delegates around the Arabian Peninsula visiting Madinah in order to embrace Islam or pay jizyah (tax paid by non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic state), a delegation of Christians from Najran (border between Hijaz and Yemen) came to discuss with the Prophet. (See “Tarikh al-Ya’qubi,” vol. 2, p. 66)

As recorded in “Sirah al-Halabi” (vol. 3, p. 239) and other sources, the Christian delegation was entertained in the mosque and when their time for prayer set in, they were granted the full permission to offer their prayers right there.

After I offered my prayer in that all-embracing room of the airport, little did I know that I would witness a more fascinating beauty of openness and tolerance in the heart of Colombo – a mosque and a church attached to one another for almost a century now.

(An excerpt from my upcoming book, COMBO TRIP TO COLOMBO)

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