In the past, when so many attacks were launched against Islam under an open and unabashed crusader flag, various popes used to encourage some fanatics to write booklets containing lies against Islam and against the Prophet of Islam, distorting his message and reviling his religion.
DARUL JAMBANGAN, MAIMBUNG, SULU:
The position of true and legitimate monarch in the Royal Sultanate of Sulu is claimed by several, up to nine, claimants of the throne.
They are all relatives of the original Sultan of Sulu—and later Sultan of Sulu and Sabah (North Borneo) when the Sultan of Brunei gave Sabah to the Sulu monarch in gratitude for his help against a cousin’s rebellious forces.
The 35th ruling monarch, His Majesty Sultan Muhammad Fuad Abdulla Kiram 1st, or Sultan Fuad Kiram for short, is the true Sultan of Sulu and Sabah.
My family in Sulu and I have been witnesses from the start of the peaceful conflict among the Kiram cousins. My father was a Maharajah to the late father of Sultan Fuad Kiram, His Majesty Sultan Esmael E. Kiram 1st, who reigned from 1947 until 1973.
This Special Report is not meant to downgrade nor besmirch anyone’s reputation. I write it to clear many doubts about who the true and legitimate Sultan is. It will also help the complete stranger to Sulu understand the complex situation in the Sultanate of Sulu & North Borneo (Sabah) in the wake of the recent standoff in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
The first and foremost issue to consider is the “Law of Succession” in the sultanate. This 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 the son of the Sultan only.” This has been the law of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu since 1457 and, prior to that, in 1390 succession in the Kingdom of Sulu was always the same from father to son only.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 Esmael Kiram in 1974 and was the reigning Sultan until 1986.
The pages of history tell us that Sultan Esmael Kiram has a half-brother named Datu Punjungan Kiram. Because of the urgency to complete his Royal Cabinet, the Sultan named his half-brother Rajah Mudah or heir apparent.
In 1947 Datu Mahakuttah Kiram, Sultan Esmael’s son, was a young boy of six and therefore not yet “aqil balegh” or equipped with the comprehension of an adult. He was note named Rajah Mudah and his place his uncle, Datu Punjungan Kiram, became the Rajah Mudah.
Datu Punjungan and his family — one of his sons was a playmate of mine as we were neighbors in Asturias, Jolo— left for Sabah in 1971, prior to President Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law in 1972.
In 1973 Sultan Esmael E. Kiram 1st died. Before his death he made in a public announcement for all to hear (he used a public address system when he gave his speech on the occasion of Mauludin Nabi (birthday of Prophet Mohammad pbuh)) in Buwaloh Kanjal, Maimbung, that in the event of his death, his successor would be his son Datu Mahakuttah. Therefore, not the named heir apparent, Datu Punjungan Kiram.
So in 1974, Datu Mahakuttah was crowned as the next Sultan of Sulu & Sabah. The enthronement was a public event in Plaza Tulay in downtown Jolo. No less than President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared his tacit recognition of Sultan Mahakuttah A. Kiram as the legitimate ruler of the Sultanate of Sulu & North Borneo (Sabah).
Contested by cousin Datu Jamalul KiramBut this enthronement was contested by his cousin Datu Jamalul Kiram, then a radio announcer at the dxSM radio station in Camp Asturias, Jolo. Jamalul Kiram then had himself crowned also as Sultan of Sulu.
Datu Jamalul believes the Sultan’s crown should belong to him despite the many who are are also of the belief that his ascension to the throne was not in accordance with the Law of Succession.
Nevertheless Sultan Mahakuttah served as the reigning Sultan of Sulu & Sabah until his death in 1986.
With the demise of Sultan Mahakuttah Kiram, his cousin Jamalul Dalus Kiram now got to occupy the throne as Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. However, when the Law of Succession is applied, one may question his legitimacy, no matter how much he believes that he is the rightful Sultan.
At this juncture, Jamalul who is now known as “Sultan Jamalul Kiram III” and who has been based in Maharlika Village in Taguig City (not in Sulu) for many years, designated his brother Datu Esmail Dalus Kiram, who was based in Jolo, Sulu, as his Rajah Mudah (heir apparent.)For clarity, we shall call them by their first names but this is no disrespect for their position, as 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 Sulu and is remote from us Tausugs of Sulu). That there was now two Sultans led to the confusion of many Tausugs. For time immemorial, there has only been one Sultan of Sulu and legitimate ruling monarch.
Esmail or Sultan Bantilan appointed his brother Datu Agbimuddin— known as Datu Puing who is based in Tubig Indangan Simunul, Tawi-Tawi —as his own Rajah Mudah. Datu Agbimuddin the same person who courageously led the people of the Sulu Sultanate to go to Lahad Datu, Sabah, and has been in the news every day for two weeks now.
Be that as it may, Sultan Fuad Kiram who at first declined to comment on the Law of Succession, for anything he says might be construed as self-serving, volunteered to relate a piece of history to this writer that will put to rest the question of who is really the real Sultan of Sulu and who is therefore the legitimate one.
Sultan Fuad’s historical narrativeAccording to Sultan Fuad Kiram his uncle, the Sabah-based Datu Punjungan Kiram, was not able to assume the throne as Sultan of Sulu & North Borneo upon his father’s death. Based on this premise, therefore, both his two sons Jamalul and Esmail are not sons of the Sultan, if their father failed to assume the throne of Sultan of Sulu & Sabah.
With this ongoing Sabah standoff, media people (including The Manila Times) 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) were both installed by their supporters 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 could not be Sultan because their father was “Datu Punjungan” (half-brother of Sultan Esmail E. Kiram I, the Sultan from 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 SultanSultan 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 by the 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.
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 SultanThere is also a strict law for claimants of the Sultanate’s throne. The son must not have physical deformity or disability and must be pure and clean and has not committted 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 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 heir of the Sultan must adhere to strictly.
Sultan must be above politicsThe 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 for the throne.
Ustadz Abdulbaki Abubakar, a Tausug and a graduate of Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, who is the Grand Mufti (chief religious scholar and explainer of the law) of Region 9, issued a legal opinion that anyone 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, popularly known as Butch, had himself crowned also as Sultan of Sulu. The declaration of Mufti Abdulbaki is supported by Imams and Islamic scholars.
Therefore, Mufti Abdulbaki’s legal opinion renders Jamalul, Esmail and Muedzul-lail to be disqualified and bereft of legitimacy to be Sultan because they all ran for public office.
Jamalul ran for Senator in 2007 as one of the administration candidates of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but lost in that election.Many years back, Esmail ran in 1992 for Sulu provincial board member and he also lost.
Muedzul-lail ran in 2007 for “Barangay Kagawad” or village councilor (the lowest public position in Philippine local government) 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.
The Moro National Liberation Front and the Tausug people of Sulu and Sabah or North Borneo today recognize His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st as the Sultan.
Sultan Fuad’s words of condolence to Lahad Datu standoff victimsThe government-recognized and legitimate Sultan of Sulu & Sabah, His Majesty Sultan Fuad A. Kiram 1st, through his Royal Protocol officer, issued these words of condolence 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 the 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 reports.
Reaffirmation of Philippine ownership of Sabah“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 is 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 on September 13, 1962 during the incumbency of His Excellency President Diosdado Macapagal.”