How Islam Came to Mindanao
coming of Islam to Mindanao could be traced to the trading of
Arab Merchants from the Arabian Peninsula passing thru
Malaysia, Borneo and Sulu onward to the Visayas and Luzon
and ultimately to China. This trade route existed in the later
part of the tenth century and historians called it the
second route, with the first route being from Malaysia passing
thru the coast of Indo-China then to the shores of China.
of Arab merchants to China using the first route was recorded
as early as the beginning of the ninth century.
According to Majul, it is generally argued that at this time
Arab merchants and sailors and other Muslims had begun to
dominate the Nanhai or Southeast Asia Trade.
trade led to the Islamization of Malaysia, which gained
momentum sometime after 878 C.E. when the Chinese rebel leader
Huang Ch’ao drove out foreign merchants in Canton, China at
a time when the Tang Dynasty was racked by a general political
deterioration that led to its downfall. As a result, the Arab
merchants were forced to settle in Kalah in the Malay
Peninsula. This seaport then became the major intrepot of the
Arab trade. It is this event of 878 that led the merchants to
trade with other parts of Southeast Asia like Java, Borneo,
Sulu and other parts of the Philippine archipelago.
the second half of the tenth century, traders were welcomed
again to China and it is during this period that the second
trade route had been used by Arab and Muslim traders. In 977,
Borneo begun to be known to Muslim traders when Pu-Ni (Brunei)
sent an embassy to China headed by a certain P’u Ali (Abu
Ali). Earlier, in the same year, a Chinese merchant named P’u
Lu-hsieh arrived in the mouth of the river of Pu-Ni. According
to Majul, if this is about the earliest time that the Muslim
traders became acquainted with Borneo, it can be presumed that
it would not be long after that they would come to know about
or even pass by Sulu. According to Chinese sources, in the year
982 a ship with valuable merchandise from Ma-i (an island
in the Philippine archipelago) arrived in Canton. This is the
first actual recorded mention of the Philippine archipelago in
Chinese written history (as so far available) as far as Arab
trade route between China and the Southeast Asia is concerned.
It is assumed then that this ship had passed by Borneo and