Reflecting on the Iranun Tarsilas.

Reflecting on the Iranun Tarsilas.

Tarsilas serve many purposes. first it serves as a royal civil registry, second it serves as a royal document for succession issues,third it serves as a document that establishes seniority and relations among clans which may be used for many purposes among them conflict resolution, marriage, aqeeqah, burials. It is recited in Khutbas (the ones that narrate the traditional sultans, also referred to as Ameerul Mumineen) as salutations to the Rulers who descended from the holy Prophet (salawatullahi alayhi).

The tarsilas establish a sense of relationship to people, families and clans which in a way establishes connections.

What is unique to the tarsilas is that in ways certain shajarahs (family trees another name for tarsilas) establish traditional boundaries of where clans and families live.

Being a personal result of intermarriages and historical tragedies, it was a personal journey to me to listen to an alternative narrative which have parallel narations among the Balanguinguihs and Chavacanos who tell of an ancient people they have a traditional link – the legendary Ilanuns.

Remembering a Castillano Abuela, Lola Carda narrating of the Ilanuns who came in in the old days to settle and intermarry among the bangingi and chavacano settlers of basilan, it gave me great interest to personally facilitate this activity.

What was clear to my attention was that the Tarsilas was not the usual Shajarah (family lineage or tree) that is carried by the Seyyeds or Alawi Shariffs, in the sense that it may possess the nescessary elements of a Seyyedi Shajarah (transmission of lineages and geneaologies) but it also carries the institutional memories that the kadatuan (seyyeds/nobilities) carried during the course of their journey as a family in Mindanao, among them are the locations of their relations, births, marriages, deaths, wars, battles and realms.

These are elements that are parts of an indigenous narrative that is present in the traditions of the Indigenous peoples. what is common among indigenous peoples is their narrative of the “Primal Man” being part of the creationist narrative of all peoples in the world, varying in degree among the different Indigenous people’s of Mindanao.

As such, such a research is an Applied Islamic Studies discipline as it involves both elements of classical Islamic Studies as well as modern elements of social science research.

The evaluation of such a research would have many ramnifications, among them is the establishment of lines where traditions, narratives and actual facts exist and define junction points where other corollary researches can be done. This is a awakening as well of traditional historians to come out in the open and share their tarsilas to fully protect them, for wars, conflicts and circulation of questionable tarsilas are all threats to the integrity of these authentically transmitted and narrated tarsilas.


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