PEACE WORK IN ISLAM BEFORE AND NOW: SIGNS OF FEAR AND HOPE IN THE PHILIPPINES
SPIRITUALITY AND PEACE WORK – ISA April 11, 2018-03-11
Thank you for inviting me to this gathering to present PEACE WORK IN THE TRADITION AND CONTEXT OF ISLAMIC COMMUNITIES.
Reflecting on this theme I decided to develop this theme focusing on PEACE WORK IN ISLAM BEFORE AND NOW: SIGNS OF FEAR AND HOPE IN THE PHILIPPINES
During a recent visit to Marawi with a group of friends I realized, once again, that the future peace in Mindanao will be a long journey. I am convinced of this and with patience I have moved along the years from, 1977 up to now, with many Muslim and Christian friends before in my first mission of Siocon, Zamboanga Del Norte Mindanao and after when I started the Silsilah Dialogue Movement in Zamboanga City in 1984.
My last visit to Marawi was for me an additional proof that the process of peace in Mindanao is still long. There are many indications. One of these, quite new also for me, was when a Maranao friend, coordinator of the Silsilah Forum Cagayan, told me: “ Father, visiting the refugee camps where most of the refugees are Maranao, with surprise, I heard a boy telling me: “ The siege in Marawi happened because inside the Islamic city of Marawi there is the Saint Mary’s Church”, a Christian church. The information made me reflect more and understand better how far away we still are from the real peace if a Maranao child at that age is already “poisoned” by some who divide us more. Unfortunately, expressions and feelings of division and prejudices have been circulated long ago to divide Christians and Muslims in Mindanao. Some of these feelings are built up in the families and some are fruits of a “culture of division” built up along the centuries, but especially in this time of so much hatred and divisions in the world.
It was a time when Christians and Muslims in Mindanao were closer to each other and it was a good climate of friendship and respect. But why not any more now although there are many good efforts to build dialogue and peace? The reality is that now is different. The international situation is influencing also the Philippines in this specific aspect of a hatred justified by the teaching of Islam according to those who are spreading an ideology of hatred that is dangerous and it is present in Mindanao and it is spreading around the country. Forty years ago I experienced the violence of the revolution in Mindanao, but not the hatred that today is part of the teaching of some sectors of Islam who have their political agenda. In this context those who destroyed Marawi found support and they are moving to explore ways to do something similar in other identified areas of Mindanao.