Maranao Quran: How it came to be

The Maranao Quran was first printed in 1990s, after a 10-year painstaking work by Shaikh Abdulaziz Gurualim Saromantang, a Muslim Filipino scholar

Dubai, Sharjah: It took 10 years to translate and another five years to validate the translation.


The story behind the translation of the Holy Quran to Maranao, a Filipino language spoken by more than 1.3 million people, itself is quite fascinating.

The Maranao Quran was translated through the painstaking work of Shaikh Abdulaziz Gurualim Saromantang, a Muslim Filipino scholar, which took about a decade to complete. In the 1990s, the first copies were printed at the King Fahad Printing Press in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. 

Shaikh Abdulaziz Gurualim Saromantang, a Muslim Filipino scholar who translated the Holy Quran from Arabic to Maranao language.

Saromantang was the first and only Filipino Muslim scholar allowed by the Saudi government in the 1980s to translate the Quran into his native Maranao language, which preceded the Tagalog Quran. 

Rashid Gurualim, 32, grandson of Saromantang, told Gulf News: “We’re grateful for this book, and for my grandfather’s work. This translation is meant to be shared as it helps our community, our faith.”

“It took my grandfather around 10 years to complete the translation. It took another five years for Saudi authories to validate his translation with the help of other Maranao-speaking scholars,” added Gurualim, who has been working in the UAE for seven years at a retail network. 

Saromantang, a home-grown scholar who taught in Islamic schools, also served as the mayor of Tugaya town of Lanao Del Sur province in the 1960s.

Ramadan project

Now, a shipment of 500 copies of the Maranao translation of the Holy Qur’an is on the way to Philippines, thanks to local charity and a group of Filipino Muslims in the UAE.

Members of the Maranao Community in the UAE help prepare the Maranao Quran copies for shipment.

The shipment last week to the Philippines was facilitated by Al Ber Society with the help of the Dubai Islamic Centre, as well as the Maranao Community in the UAE (Marcom) and LBC Cargo.

Sahron Tamano, an Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and a Marcom leader who is a grand nephew of Saromantang, said: “We’re aiming for the copies to reach our brethren in the Philippines during this Ramadan.”

“Last year,” said Tamano, “we sent about 800 copies to Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte. This year, we aim to distribute the copies in the NCR (National Capital Region) and Luzon (the main northern island, where Manila is) area.”

After the Maranao Quran was printed and distributed in 1990s, no other printing of the Maranao Quran was done. 

“For about two decades, no other copies were printed and distributed,” said Tamano.

Tamano said many Filipino Muslims all over the world are eager to get their copy, especialy those from Marawi City whose houses were destroyed during the seven-month seige of the city by Asean branch of Daesh terror group.

Tamano thanked Dar Al Ber Society, Dubai Islamic Centre, LBC Cargo, his colleagues at Marcom and “everyone who in one way or the other contributed much for this noble project.” 

About Moros 

“Moros” are indigenous peoples in the southern Philippine islands, who embraced Islam about 100 years before the first Christian missionaries reached the archipelago of “about” 7,641 islands.

Moros are known for their royalty, bravery, mysticism and beauty — which are evident in their elegant music and dances.

There are at least 13 ethnic groups comprising the indigenous peoples of the Philippines, including the Moros. 

A group of Maranao children in their native outfit.

Among the Moros, the Maranaos of the Lanao provinces comprise one of the three major groups that make up the majority of these tribes (two others are Maguindanaon of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao provinces, and the Tausug of the Sulu Archipelago, which includes the Tawi-Tawi group of island). 

A royal wedding in Tawi-Tawi’s Muslim Filipino community in Southern Philippines.

There are smaller groups that include the Banguingui, Samal and the Bajau of the Sulu Archipelago; the Yakan of Basilan and Zamboanga del Sur, the Illanun of Lanao provinces and Davao and Sangir of Davao, the Molbog of southern Palawan and the Jama Mapuns of Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi Island. 

About Maranaos

Maranao (also spelled Meranao) means “people of the lake”. Alternatively, the word Maranao may be a mix of “Malay” and “Lanao”.

Maranao refers not just to a people group but also to their language, spoken by people living in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

There are an estimated 1.3 million Maranaos who identify themselves closely with other Muslim groups that inhabit the island of Mindanao, in southern Philippines. 

While the majority of Maranao live in the area surrounding Lake Lanao, many have relocated to Manila as well as overseas. 

Within the surrounding Lanao region, the primary source of livelihood is agriculture, including the production of such crops as rice, corn, sweet potatoes, peanuts, papayas, bananas, and betel nuts. Lake fishing is also a traditional source of livelihood. 

Literacy

The Philippines as a whole has a high rate of literacy for a developing country, and this has led to a dramatic increase in literacy among the Maranao people as well. Education in the Philippines in now free up to university level.

Many Maranaos are highly educated and are degree-holders, though many others have embraced traditional occupations of agriculture and craftsmanship. 

Like most Muslims in the Philippines, Maranaos have a unique and rich cultural heritage, with its capital in Marawi City, which was recently decimated following the seven-month seize by a Daesh-affiliated extremist group.

The Maranao have a rich cultural heritage which they share with those outside their culture. Textiles, metalwork, woodcraft, and architecture are all important cultural expressions. 

Cultural symbols

Sarimanok or (Papanoka Mra) is a legendary bird of the Maranao that has become a ubiquitous symbol of their art.

The Awang, or dugout boat used in Lake Lanao, is possibly the most unique and ornate of dugouts. 

The predominant instrumental music of the Maranao people is the Kulintang, performed on a unique set of eight melodious gongs.

This musical tradition is shared by both Muslim and non-Muslim people groups throughout Mindanao, as well as in other island nations to the south. 

The Maranao epic song, known as the “Darangen”, encompasses a wealth of knowledge of the Maranao people, and in 2005 was proclaimed by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

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