Living In The Philippines - Muslims Culture, Customs And Traditions (2023)

Rugged, faulted mountains and volcanoes occur in many areas. Mount Apo at 9,691 feet 92,954), is an active volcano in the southern part of the central highlands: it is the highest peak in the Philippines. The island has narrow coastal plains, and broad, fertile basins and extensive swamps are formed by the Mindanao and Agusan river systems. Lake Lanao, created by a lava an area of 134 square miles (347 square km.) The island has a marsh game refuge is unique to Mindanao.

Mindanao is Muslim outpost in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines. Although Muslims are no longer a majority, Islamic culture is evident; there are many mosques, and distinctive brassware, including the kris, or dagger, is manufactured. Mindanao has the largest concentration of ethnic minorities in the Philippines. They include the Magindanaw, Maranaw, Ilanum, and Sangil; all are Muslim groups known collectively as the Moro. Groups usually found in the uplands include the Tagabili, Subanon, Bukidnon, Bagobo, Manday, and Manobo. Another important group is the Tiruray, whose religion is a mixture of Christian, Muslim, and animist beliefs.

Because of its large expanses of undeveloped fertile land, Mindanao has been considered the nation's *pioneer frontier*. It did not experience substantial population increase until migration was promoted after 1939. The chief crops are corn (maize), rice, abaca, bananas, pineapple, mangoes, and coconuts. Cotton, ramie (a fiber plant) coffee, and cacao are also grown. The timber industry is important, and there include Zamboanga City, Cotabato City, Danao City, Cagayan de Oro and Butuan.


When Muslims possess a culture which is different from that of the Christian Filipinos. Their culture has been greatly influenced by Islam. It will be an interesting venture to know more about their culture.


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When the Spaniards came to Mindanao, they found that the different groups of muslims had organized governments with written laws. Each group had its own separate government headed by a ruler called a sultan. The sultan is similar to a king or an emperor. There is sultan of SuLu, a sultan of Miguindanao and sultan of Lanao. There is one important sultan and other sultans of less importance for each group. There are other lower officials who help the sultan run the government. A datu is a chief under a sultan. A datu may govern thousands of people occupying large tracts of land. The religious instructions are called Panditas. A gadji is a Muslims who has made a journey to Mecca, the holy city of the Muslims. He is a man of importance among the Muslims.

The Muslims sultans were absolute monarchs so were datus with their own territories. The sultans and other rulers inherited their powers. The power of a sultan was inherited by the nearest male relatives. His eldest son succeeded him as a ruler. The power of the sultans has diminished today. Many of the heredity Muslim rulers are now officials in our local and national governments.


The Muslims are believers of Islam. Islam means complete submission to the will of Allah. Complete submission means all the affairs that happen to man including his daily affairs be according to the will of Allah, be it business, government, education, social life, arts, and culture. The creed of the Muslims is simple: There is no god but the God; Mohammed is His messenger. God has revealed Himself to different people and in different languages to inspire thinkers such as Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. Muslims believe that Mohammed was the last messenger of God. God's message is written in the holy Al-Qur'an (in English, The Koran).


Muslims practice faithfully five religious duties, The first duty is the declaration of the creed that there is no God but a and Mohammed is His mesenger. Second is the Sa which means prayer. Third is the Sakah, or the giving during Ramadan of about two and a half percent of one's earning throughout the whole year. Fourth, is Fasting during the day throughout the month of Ramadan. The Ramadan is the ninth month of the Moslem year, a period of daily fasting from sunrise to sunset. Muslims are required to fast so that they will be less occupied with worldly matters and to be strong in resisting temptation. The Muslim's fifth duty is making the pilgrimage to Mecca and to the temple of Abraham within once life time, if possible.


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Wherever a Muslim is, when it is the time for prayer, he turns towards Mecca and prays. This act symbolizes the unity of Muslims throughout the world who are offering their prayers at the same time.

A Muslim's worship begins with an opening prayer and a reading from the Koran and ends with a prayer requesting God to bless film and his people. He bows and touches the earth with his forehead, too.

Muslims may pray alone or in a group except on Friday when the midday prayer is recited in a common gathering place called the mosque.

The Friday prayers are said by an Imam. Anyone may be chosen to lead the prayers if he is known to be the most knowledgeable and the oldest among the group.

The man who calls the faithful to prayer is the Muazhzhin (or Muezzin). He possesses a good voice and his duty is to remind the people that it is the time for prayer. Starting at sunrise, a Muslim prays five times a day.

No images or paintings are allowed inside the mosque. Islam preaches equality, so there are no pews or reserved places inside the mosque, instead there are rugs Muslims line up behind the Imam. The mosque is open to all; there are no private chapels for special people. Collections are not required. Mosques are supported by donations and trust funds.

Women pray at home or in the mosque. While praying they share the same rows with men although many women prefer to pray in certain part of the mosque.

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Muslims face Mecca while praying not because it was where Mohammed was born but because that was the place where Abraham built the oldest temple for the worship of one God, the Ka'aba.


Abul Tasim Mohammed lbn Allah was born the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia about A.D. 570. In the lunar month of Ramadan, in the year A.D. 610, he saw the vision of an angel before him. It was in this event that he was able to formulate the first sentences of the Koran. He had long been bothered by many social and religious questions and these sentences had given him a solution to all these problems. These important sentences are: Man through knowledge will believe that he was created by a great power who is God. Second, his faith will raise him to a position of equality with all other men. He should believe in his dignity and equality with others and resist slavery. Mohammed just like Abraham, Moses and Jesus is a servant of God who had been appointed to bring the message of God to his fellowmen. These men preached the same message of God which was one of obedience to the will of God and his call for a healthy, peaceful and just community.


Muslims members are not allowed to drink any beverage which makes one drunk. Eating pork, blood and animal flesh which died from natural causes are also prohibited.


The Muslims believe the Koran to be the word of God which Mohammed preached to his fellowmen. The Koran sets down the guidelines of conduct among people as well as the relationship of man with God. It is the basis of Muslim laws and the final authority in many Islamic problem.

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The Muslims and the Christian Filipinos use similar materials in building their houses. Those who live near the coasts build houses in tong rows over the water. The interior of the house is similar to the houses in the Northern part of the Philippines. The people use well-woven pandan mats and a thick mattress fitted with kapok for steeping. They use bright-colored mosquito nets which are large enough to cover two to three mattresses. Displayed in the houses of the datus, hadjis and well-to-do families are many brass articles such as gongs, trays and dishes.


The Muslim religion has many strict rules about the food the people may eat and the way it should be cooked. The Muslims never eat pork because they believe it is unclean. The Muslims are allowed to eat the meat of other animals if the animal was killed in a manner following their religious practices. They use a lot of coconut oil in their cooking. They prepare a lot of rice flour cakes or wheat flour cakes which can be stored for many months in air-tight jars.


The Muslims have strict rules about their clothing. The women are required to wear long sleeves and have the neck of their coat-like blouse cut high and closed. They wear a sarong as their skirt, The sarong Is a strip of cloth about a meter wide and two or three meters long. The two ends are sewed together. It is wrapped around the body and tucked in at the waist. When the sun is shining brightly, those wearing it may loosen it and cover the head with a portion of the sarong. The sarong is made of cotton material, plaid or striped, in brown and black or other colors. The wealth women wear silk sarongs with beautiful colors and designs. The dress is decorated with by many beautiful pearls.

The men wear tight-fitting jacket with tight sleeves. Their trousers are either tight-fitting or very wide and loose. The pants are made of cotton. They are either black, pink, green. purple or red. A long, bright colored sash is tied around the waist. The men wear a turban or fez on their heads. The nobility wears a red fez. Other Muslims wear a turban. This is made of a Large square piece of cloth folded in such a way that it can be wrapped around the head like a cap. The turban may be white or colored. The men wear a sarok (a hat similar to the salakot when working under the sun. Muslim women are seldom seen in the street as they are required by their religion to stay at home most of the time.

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How Are there Muslims in the Philippines? ›

Islam arrived in the Philippines in the late 14th century with Arab and Malay merchants following Southeast Asian trade networks, propagating Sunni Islam with a variety of Sufi traditions.

What are the customs and beliefs in Philippines? ›

Filipinos take pride in their religion. While most Filipinos practise Christianity as their religion, Islam and other indigenous faiths are also seen in movement. Their religious spirit can be witnessed during festivals such as Ati-Atihan, Kaamulan, Panabenga, and the famous 3-month-celebration for Christmas.

What is the culture and traditions of the Philippines? ›

The culture of the Philippines comprises a blend of traditional Filipino and Spanish Catholic traditions, with influences from America and other parts of Asia. The Filipinos are family oriented and often religious with an appreciation for art, fashion, music and food.

What kind of Muslims are in the Philippines? ›

The main Muslim tribes in Southern and Southeastern Mindanao are the Maranao, Maguindanao (both over 700,000), the Tausug (325,000), Samal, Yakan, Sangil and some other smaller groups as the Palawani on the western island of Palawan (10,500).

Can Muslims have multiple wives in Philippines? ›

The Family Code states that no Muslim man may take more than one wife “unless he can deal with them with equal companionship and just treatment as enjoined by Islamic law and only in exceptional cases”. The grounds for determination of exceptional cases is not specified.

What do Muslims in Philippines speak? ›

Language and accessibility

While Muslims have been in the north for decades (even centuries, as history will tell) thanks to economic trade, only a few of them speak the regional lingua franca. Most of them speak Filipino as a second language.

What are the 10 Filipino customs? ›

10 Filipino Traditions We Hardly Perform Anymore
  • Tabitabi Po. ...
  • Paaso. ...
  • Bayanihan. ...
  • Harana. ...
  • Paninilbihan. ...
  • Sukob. ...
  • 6 O'Clock Limit. ...
  • Chicken Blood On Your Birthday.
Jul 14, 2016

What are the three major traditions in the Philippines? ›

The development of the Philippine arts comes in three major traditions. These are the Ethnic Tradition, Spanish Colonial Tradition, and American Colonial and Contemporary Arts Traditions. Even before the colonization, the Philippines already has its indigenous arts.

What are Filipino family traditions? ›

Some ways to show them are the use of “Po at Opo”, “Pagmamano” or putting the back of an elder's hand on your forehead, and calling our older siblings or elders Ate or Kuya. Though we, Filipinos, belong to different religious groups, we all have God(Supreme being) in our center.

Where do most Muslims live in the Philippines? ›

The Mindanao island group is home to majority of the Filipino Muslims in the Philippines. It is where 93% of the entire Islamic population resides.

Is there divorce in Islam in the Philippines? ›

Rule 10.

Registration of divorces among Muslim Filipinos shall be governed by the following rules: Divorce is the formal dissolution of the marriage bond in accordance with P.D. 1083 to be granted only after the exhaustion of all possible means of reconciliation between the spouses.

Is adultery a crime in the Philippines? ›

The Philippines is one of the few countries that still considers adultery and concubinage as criminal offenses.

What is wife called in Islam? ›

In Islam, a mahram is a family member with whom marriage would be considered permanently unlawful (haram). One's spouse is also a mahram. A woman does not need to wear hijab around her mahram, and an adult male mahram may escort a woman on a journey, although an escort may not be obligatory.

How many Muslims are in Filipino? ›

AffiliationNumber (2010)Number (2015)
Others/Not reported3,953,9175,375,248
10 more rows

Is Philippines an Islamic state? ›

The Philippines is one of the state opponents of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), more commonly referred to by the local media as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Philippines and the Islamic State.
Date23 July 2014 – present
StatusMartial law declared in the Mindanao region until 31 December 2019.
1 more row

What is considered rude in the Philippines? ›

Staring is considered rude and could be misinterpreted as a challenge, but Filipinos may stare or even touch foreigners, especially in areas where foreigners are rarely seen. To Filipinos, standing with your hands on your hips means you are angry. Never curl your index finger back and forth (to beckon).

Are Filipinos very religious? ›

The Filipino people are known for their strong religious faith. Even in the midst of the most trying moments of their collective history their faith remains steadfast.

How do Filipinos show respect? ›

“Pagmamano” is a Filipino gesture often done by young people to the elders as a sign of respect. This is done by gently striking the elder's right hand to the young's forehead.

What are the five common Filipino values? ›

Here are some of the common traits and values the country is known for:
  • The family. Filipinos are known to have strong family ties. ...
  • Humor and positivity. ...
  • Flexibility and adaptability. ...
  • Faith and religion. ...
  • Filipino hospitality. ...
  • Respect for the elderly. ...
  • Industrious attitude. ...
  • Generosity.
Apr 11, 2022

What are some unique Filipino customs? ›

Practiced as a sign of respect to elders, pagmamano is one of the oldest and most notable Filipino tradition there is. Mano means hand in Spanish, fittingly so as pagmamano is done by gently tapping the hand of the elder to a younger person's forehead.

What are the customs of Filipino people? ›

Filipinos tend to dress modestly, especially when in public. It is expected that the elderly and those of a higher social status are treated with respect. Given large family sizes and typically small living quarters, Filipinos are generally not demanding of privacy.

What is the most important culture in the Philippines? ›

The family is the basic and most important aspect of Filipino culture. Divorce is prohibited and annulments are rare (2). The family is the safety net for indivuduals, especially older people, during difficult economic times.

What is the culture of marriage in the Philippines? ›


Marriage in the Philippines does not only consists of the bride, groom and the priest. It is joined by two families coming together as a community. They celebrate and support both sides of the family to show acceptance and a warm welcome of being part of each other's family.

What is Filipino family values? ›

Filipino family values of close family ties, solidarity, religiosity, respect, and affection for the aged have always been the reasons why the Filipino family is considered exemplary. However, today, modernization has impacted the way people perceive their own families.

What are the 3 main Islamic groups in the Philippines? ›

The Muslim-majority Philippine ethnic groups according to the Bureau on Cultural Heritage (BCH) of Bangsamoro include: Badjao. Iranun. Jama Mapun.

Who brought the Islamic religion to the Philippines? ›

Arab and Gujarati traders and missionaries introduced Islam to the Philippines in the 14th century.

Where are Muslims in the Philippines likely to be found? ›

The majority of Muslims live in the southern island of Mindanao as well as Palawan and the Sulu archipelago. Many self-identify as Bangsamoro or Moro Muslims, whose traditional territory is in Mindanao.

What part of the Philippines has the most Muslims? ›

The Mindanao island group is home to majority of the Filipino Muslims in the Philippines. It is where 93% of the entire Islamic population resides.

Where did Islam start in the Philippines? ›

Historians ascribe the introduction of Islam to the Philippines to Tuan Masha'ika, supposedly an Arab religious leader or missionary, who landed on the island of Jolo in what is today the Province of Sulu in the southern Philippines, in the mid to late-13th century.

Are there Muslims in Philippines? ›

Islam is the oldest recorded monotheistic religion in the Philippines. As of 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Muslim population of Philippines in 2015 was 6.01%.

How did Islam influence Philippines? ›

The Muslim settlers didn't just bring their religion and architecture, however—they also brought their political system, establishing a series of sultanates in the southern Philippines. The most celebrated of these rulers was the Sultan of Sulu, whose capital was Jolo.


1. 5 Things I Love About Muslim Culture
(Drew Binsky)
2. Here, Living With Dead Bodies for Weeks—Or Years—Is Tradition | National Geographic
(National Geographic)
3. How Different were Early Filipino Traditions? | ATIN: Stories from the Collection
(Ayala Museum)
4. HOW DANGEROUS IS MINDANAO? (you'd be surprised)
5. What is the difference between customs and traditions?
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6. Girl Hates Her Asian Culture | Dhar Mann
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