Category: Comparison Essay

 

Islam in the Philippines and Indonesia differs from the religious traditions of other countries with an extremist mood of society. Muslims living in South-East Asia demonstrate tolerance towards other religions and do not strictly follow the requirements of Islam. The differences among the Muslims in Southeast Asia and the Middle East are conditioned by social, cultural, and economic conditions. Different perceptions of the Islamic religion and its adaptation to the local culture divide these countries. Islam plays an important historical and economic role in the development of the Philippines and Indonesia, but each of these countries has the opposite perception of the Muslim faith.

Historical Background

Islam is not the dominant faith of the Philippines. It was imported to the country by Arabian merchants in 1210 and partly allocated on the particular island in the form of two sultanates. Indonesia faced Islam in the same century. Islam expansion was rapid and ubiquitous for Indonesia. The stimulus for Islam popularity in the Philippines was a desire of the inhabitants to save cultural identity, while an imperceptible penetration of Islam in the social environment of Indonesia was caused by economic conditions.

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The Spaniards invaded the Philippines in the 16th century and found Muslim state formations on Mindanao Island with the established hierarchy and relatively developed social organization. The Spaniards attempted to subjugate the Muslims and impose Christianity in an offensive manner. This treatment of the Spaniards only strengthened the basic role of Islam as the main ideology facilitating the repulsion to the colonial conquests. However, the Spaniards split the population into the Christianized Filipinos, north-located inhabitants, and the Muslims inhabiting the south of the Philippines.

Muslim religion of Indonesia was not spread by wars, but it started due to the contribution of the merchants, too. The first Muslim merchants who arrived in Indonesia did not intend to spread Islam in comparison to the intentions of the foreigners to capture the Mindanao. Muslim merchants were simply engaged in trade operations. The residing population of old Indonesia worshiped idols.

The next stage of Islam reformation in the Philippines’ history dealt with the arrival of the Americans in the late 19th century. They committed resettlement of the Christians in Mindanao, where they exploited natural resources of the island. Later, foreign companies also gradually penetrated the country and captured large territories. As a result, the Muslims lost control over their prior lands. This process continued even after the attainment of independence by the Philippines.

The Muslim population of Mindanao defended their religious identity from the visiting business representatives. Prolonged negotiations and offers initiated by the country’s government led to the fact that an ultimate peace agreement on the establishment of the autonomous Muslim Mindanao was signed in 1996 and brokered by Indonesia. The President of the Philippines and a chairman of the island’s leading organization discussed the planned measures for further development of the Mindanao. The government of the Muslim island has developed the Islamic education system based on the Koran’s precepts and has used Arabic to support interethnic communication with other Filipinos.

A true economic explanation of Islam introduction connects namely with trade as a decisive factor of influence on the development of Islam in Indonesia. At the beginning of the thirteenth century, one of the main sources of income of Malay Archipelago was trade. In order to increase the benefits and income level, local rulers were interested in the involvement of the greater number of Muslim merchants in the ports. Furthermore, Islam adoption has raised the prestige of the rulers in the opinion of local citizens as a ruler of the country has become God’s shadow in accordance with the Islam canons. Another reason for Islam adoption was the striving of coastal principalities to grow due to international trade. Easy acceptance of the Prophet religion by the Indonesians meant the right to obtain additional preferences and quotas in trade with Indian and Arab merchants.

The Muslims are about 5% of the common population of the Philippines and live mainly in the south. It should be noted that the relations between the representatives of Islam, Catholicism, and Christianity are strained due to the historic past. In addition, the desire of the Muslims to return certain forms of statehood intensifies this confrontation.

The Muslims are about 5% of the common population of the Philippines and live mainly in the south. It should be noted that the relations between the representatives of Islam, Catholicism, and Christianity are strained due to the historic past. In addition, the desire of the Muslims to return certain forms of statehood intensifies this confrontation.

In spite of the historical evidence of Islam adoption by the Indonesians, the fact remains that Islam became the leading religion in the country that is geographically located in the place distant from the centers of the Muslim religion origin. Particularly, the Southeast Asia where Indonesia is located has religious roots in Hindu and Buddhist civilizations. Modern Indonesia remains the world’s leader by the number of the Muslim population. Approximately 250 million residents of the country are the followers of Islam.

After the comparison of the historical roots of the emergence and spread of Islam in the Philippines and Indonesia, it can be concluded that the common factors having contributed to Islam development in these societies are linked to the economy. Different socio-cultural, natural, and economic conditions of these countries were submitted to the outside influences. Although the Philippines already had Islamic beginnings before the arrival of foreign merchants, Indonesia was also accustomed to Islam in the same manner. The first and second historical examples demonstrate that Islam was firmly established in both countries. When this religion was tried to be eradicated in the Philippines, Indonesia adopted new religious norms to stimulate economic growth. However, the autonomous island of the Philippines also had the opportunity for development promotion on the basis of the religious views distinguished from the common part of the country’s population.

Peculiarities of Islam Perception

The main peculiarity of Islamization of Indonesia is multiethnicity. Over 350 nationalities located in Indonesia are loyal to Islam. They bind and supplement it with the ethical fe