By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL, Correspondent
DARUL JAMBANGAN, MAIMBUNG, SULU- The position of Crown of the Sultan in the Royal Sultanate of Sulu is under point of argument or contention by some claimants who would like to sit on the same throne where the legitimate and 35th ruling monarch, His Majesty Sultan Muhammad Fuad Abdulla Kiram, 1st or Sultan Fuad Kiram for short sits. This writer and his family in Sulu have been witnesses from the start of this tug of war, where his father was a Maharajah to the late father of Sultan Fuad Kiram, His Majesty Sultan Esmail E. Kiram, 1st, whose reign started in 1947 until 1973.
This Special Report is not meant to downgrade nor besmirch one’s reputation but this is presented to clear many doubts and for a layman to know or understand the complex situation in the Sultanate of Sulu & North Borneo (Sabah) in the wake of the recent standoff in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
First and foremost is the “Law of Succession” in the Sultanate, whereby the monarchy’s law of succession dictates that “only those direct descendants from the Sultan can inherit all the titles, properties, rights, responsibilities, and privileges of the Sultans.”
Therefore to be Sultan of Sulu “the legitimate claimant must be son of the Sultan only.” This is the law of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu since 1457 and, prior to that, in 1390 the Kingdom of Sulu the succession to the throne was always the same from father to son only to be King.
This is also the ancient law in other sultanates, kingdoms and principalities the world over.
“To be Sultan is from father to son only. No one can be Sultan if the father was not the Sultan.”
This is the law in Sulu, in Brunei, Malaysia, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Muscat and Oman, other sultanates, kingdoms and emirates in the Middle East and other nations.
Hence, Sultan Fuad Kiram, just like his late brother, Sultan Mahakuttah Kiram who succeeded his father Sultan Esmail Kiram in 1974 and was the reigning Sultan until 1986.
From the pages of history, that Sultan Esmail Kiram has a half-brother named Datu Punjungan Kiram who because of urgency to complete his Royal Cabinet became his temporary Rajah Mudah or heir apparent.
Datu Mahakuttah at that time was a young boy then in 1947 being 6 years old and therefore not yet “aqil balegh” or had a comprehension of an adult was not made the Rajah Mudah. In his place his uncle, Datu Punjungan became the Rajah Mudah.
Datu Punjungan and his family where one of his sons was a playmate being a neighbor in Asturias, Jolo left for Sabah in 1971 prior to the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.
In 1973 Sultan Esmail E. Kiram 1st died but prior to his death he made in a public address system announcement on the occasion of Mauludin Nabi (birthday of Prophet Mohammad) in Buwaloh Kanjal, Maimbung that in case he will die his legitimate successor will be his son Datu Mahakuttah.
So in 1974, Datu Mahakuttah was crowned upon as the next Sultan of Sulu & Sabah where the enthronement was made public in Plaza Tulay in downtown Jolo with no less than President Ferdinand E. Marcos at that time had declared his tacit recognition upon Sultan Mahakuttah A. Kiram as the legitimate ruler of the Sultanate of Sulu & North Borneo (Sabah).
But this was contested by his cousin Datu Jamalul Kiram, then a radio announcer at the dxSM radio station in Camp Asturias, Jolo who had himself crowned also as Sultan of Sulu, the Crown that he himself believes should belong to him inspite many are also on the belief that his ascension to the throne was not in accordance with the Law of Succession. Nevertheless Sultan Mahakuttah was the reigning Sultan of Sulu & Sabah until his death in 1986.
With the demise of Sultan Mahakuttah Kiram, his cousin Jamalul Dalus Kiram now had himself occupy the throne as Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. However, when the Law of Succession is applied, one may question his legitimacy though as stated earlier to his belief he is the rightful Sultan.
At this juncture, Jamalul who is now called as “Sultan Jamalul Kiram III” and who is based in Maharlika Village in Taguig City for many years designated his brother Datu Esmail Dalus Kiram who is based in Jolo, Sulu as his Rajah Mudah.
For clarity, we shall call them by their first names but this is no disrespect to their position as that they prefer to be called as “sultan, datu or prince.”
However, Datu Esmail who wants to be Sultan also though his brother is still alive had called himself “Sultan Bantilan” or caretaker of the Sultanate since Jamalul does not stay anymore in Jolo to be with the Tausugs of Sulu. This led to the confusion of many Tausugs since from the time immemorial, there is only one Sultan of Sulu that should be the legitimate ruling monarch.
Esmail or Sultan Bantilan appointed his brother Datu Agbimuddin or known as Datu Puing and based in Tubig Indangan Simunul, Tawi-Tawi as his own Rajah Mudah. Datu Agbimuddin is one and the same who courageously led the Lahad Datu standoff.
Be that as it may, Sultan Fuad Kiram who at first declined to comment on the Law of Succession for might be construed as self-serving on his part volunteered to relate a piece of history that will put to rest the question of who is really the real Sultan of Sulu and who is therefore the legitimate one.
According to Sultan Fuad Kiram his uncle Sabah-based Datu Punjungan Kiram was not able to assume the throne as Sultan of Sulu & North Borneo. Based on this premise, therefore, both his two sons Jamalul and Esmail are not sons of the Sultan if their father failed to assume as Sultan of Sulu & Sabah.
Well again going back to the Law of Succession that dictates to become a Sultan, the candidate must be a son of a Sultan. Therefore, one who is not son of the Sultan has no rights to be Sultan.
With this recent Sabah standoff, even media people always refer to Jamalul as Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. Anybody has his own right to be called by what title he prefers to be called. But a problem may arise when there is a law of succession that must be strictly followed.
Jamalul and his brother Esmail (who was born “Ismail” but he accordingly changed it to Esmail) both installed and claimed to be Sultan at the same time. In Sulu or anywhere, we cannot have two Sultans at the same time. Only one or one at a time, but not together.
Again Jamalul and Esmail if the law of succession is to be followed and strictly observed upon could not be Sultan because their father was “Datu Punjungan” (half-brother of Sultan Esmail E. Kiram I, the Sultan 1947 to 1973). Sultan Esmail was first son from the “first wife” of the Sultan, while Datu Punjungan was son from “second wife” of the Sultan.
Hence, based on historical facts, Datu Punjungan was not the Sultan – but Sultan Esmail E. Kiram I. So the two sons of Datu Punjungan namely Jamalul and Esmail were “half-nephews” of Sultan Esmail E. Kiram 1st.
Sultan Fuad Kiram, the legitimate Sultan
Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st is the last son of Sultan Esmail E. Kiram I, so Sultan Fuad for all intents and purposes and based on the royalty law of succession is the most suitable and legitimate Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo:
Sultan Esmail E. Kiram 1st is the father of Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st, now the current 35th Reigning Sultan of Sulu and Sabah. Thus, by law of primogeniture of father to son and law of succession, Sultan Fuad is the Sultan because he inherited the ranks, titles and positions of his royal father, Sultan Esmail E. Kiram I, to be Sultan.
Who proclaimed Sultan Fuad?
The legitimate claimant must be recognized by the Royal Datus and Sharifs:
His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram I was proclaimed and recognized by the Council of Royal Datus as the Sultan of Sulu & North Borneo on 3 June 2006. Also on 3 June 2006 His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram I was recognized and proclaimed by the Sharifs of Sulu (descendants of Prophet Mohammad) as the Sultan.
Likewise, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Central Committee headed by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari recognized and accepted His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram I as the Sultan of Sulu and Sabah on 15 January 2008.
Being haram disqualifies any claimant to be Sultan
There is also a strict law for claimant as Sultan of Sulu. The son must not have physical deformity or disability and must be pure and clean and did not commit any “haram or forbidden act” such as assault upon a woman, child assault, child abuse or any capital offense such as killing, murder, drug addiction, robbery or any crime that is forbidden by Islam as being haram.
The Sultan of Sulu is the “Head of Islam and Protector of Islam” so this law to be clean and pure is a quality that the son of the Sultan must adhere to strictly.
Sultan must be above politics
The Sultan, King or Queen must be above politics and should not be involved in politics so as not to divide but to unite his or her people. Politics though full of good intentions divide people. That is the nature of politics. Being involved in politics is a disqualification of any claimant to be Sultan.
Ustadz Abdulbaki Abubakar, a Tausug and a graduate of Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt who is the Grand Mufti of Region 9 issued a legal opinion that anyone from those claiming the throne of the Sultanate of Sulu is deemed disqualified if he seeks an elective post in government.
Hence, based on this legal opinion it declared Jamalul, Esmail and Muedzul-lail as disqualified to be Sultan for being involved in politics. The latter is the son of the late Sultan Mahakuttah Kiram who is a nephew of Sultan Fuad Kiram. Muedzul-lail or popularly known as Butch had himself also crowned also as Sultan of Sulu The declaration of Mufti Abdulbaki is supported by Imams and Islamic scholars.
Therefore, based on Mufti Abdulbaki’s legal opinion, it will render Jamalul, Esmail and Muedzul-lail as disqualified and lost legitimacy to be Sultan when they ran for public office.
It can be recalled, Jamalul ran for Senator in 2007 as one of the administration candidates of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but lost in that election.
On the other hand, many years back, Esmail ran in 1992 as Sulu provincial board member and he also lost.
Muedzul-lail ran in 2007 as “Barangay Kagawad” or village councilor (the lowest public position in local government in the Philippines in his home village of San Raymundo, Jolo, Sulu), and he also lost because his constituents did not vote for him.
Thus, based on primogeniture (blood line of father to son) and law of succession of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu, and based on undeniable proof and evidence, His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st is the true and legitimate Sultan — no one else.
With it, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Tausug people of Sulu and Sabah or North Borneo today recognized His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st as the Sultan.
Profile of the 9 Kiram Royal Family Heirs
Based on the current certified document of the present royal descendants of the 9 Kiram Royal Family Heirs, His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st is acknowledged and recognized by all the current Royal descendants of all the NINE ORIGINAL HEIRS as the Sultan. His name representing Sultan Esmail E. Kiram I (his beloved father the Sultan from 1947 to 1973) is written as Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st.
Here is the list of the Administrator/ Administratix of the Nine (9) Original Heirs of the SULTAN OF SULU for “Sabah” on the 1939 final judgment of North Borneo (Sabah) Chief Justice Macaskie:
1. Dayang-Dayang Hadja Piandao Kiram
Administratrix: Dayang Dayang Putli (DDP) Taj-Mahal Kiram-Tarsum Nuqui
2. Putli Tarhata Kiram
Administratrix: D.D.P. Taj-Mahal Kiram-Tarsum Nuqui
3. Putli Sakinur In Kiram
Administratrix: Putli Nurhima Kiram Fornan
4. Mora Napsa
Administratrix: Hja. Sitti Ayesha K. H. Sampang
5. Esmail Kiram
Administrator: Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st
6. Datu Punjungan Kiram
Administratrix: Dayang Dayang Sheramar T. Kiram
7. Sitti Mariam Kiram
Administratrix: Princess Permaisuli Kiram-Guerson
8. Sitti Rada Kiram
Administratrix: Hja. Sitti Ayesha K. H. Sampang
9. Sitti Putli Jahara Kiram
Administratrix: Sitti Jenny K. A. Sampang
Atty Ulka T. Ulama, Counsel of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu issued a certification to the effect that the above individuals are the present legal administrator/administratrix of the NINE HEIRS of the SULTAN OF SULU, mentioned in the Judgment of Chief Justice Macaskie.
The certification was issued on the 25th day of May 2011, at Jolo, Sulu, Philippines.
Words of condolence to the family of the victims of Lahad Datu standoff.
The government-recognized and legitimate Sultan of Sulu & Sabah, His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram, 1st through his Royal Protocol Officer issued these words of condolences to the family of the victims of Lahad Datu standoff in Sabah.
“His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st, The Sultan of Sulu & The Sultan of Sabah and Head of Islam, with the Royal Family, Royal Cabinet and our beloved Tausug people along with all members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari, together with our global supporters of noble patriots, offer our deepest sorrow and heartfelt condolences to the families and relatives of the slain and we sadly mourn the loss of life of our 12 Tausug men in the encounter in Lahad Datu, Sabah with Malaysian forces with 2 dead and 3 wounded as per media report.
We repeat our call to all parties to exercise restraint, calm and sobriety so that this issue is resolved by peaceful means. As we always stated before and we repeat once more, Sabah owned by the Royal Sultanate of Sulu since 1658 to this day and co-equally owned by the Philippines and all Filipinos by virtue of the Sabah sovereignty transfer signed by our royal father His Majesty Sultan Muhammad Esmail E. Kiram 1st (Sultan 1947 to 1973) from the Royal Sultanate of Sulu to the Republic of the Philippines in September 13, 1962 during the incumbency of His Excellency President Diosdado Macapagal.”
OUR OWN ADDED NOTE: On number 5 of the 9 current Royal Kiram Family Heirs owners of Sabah, His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram I, is the Administrator for his royal father HM Sultan Esmail E. Kiram Ist (Sultan 1947 to 1973). His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram I is recognized by ALL the current Royal Kiram Family HEIRS and Malaysia as the Sultan.