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Iranun Tribe

from the proud lineage of sultans of pre-colonial Philippines, the Iranuns have a long way to go to regain
as one of the oldest existing nations in the ancient times. “It is very hard for me to speak in behalf of the
entire Iranun. I can only speak for my family and relatives, but the way I see it, the Iranun has a long way
to go. Iranuns are still struggling, especially those who are living in conflict-affected areas. It will be
unfair to say that Iranuns have been doing well,” said Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan, executive director of
the Al Qalam Institute of Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia at Ateneo de Davao University
(Addu). Although Iranuns of today have home-based madrasa (a college for Islamic instruction) and
pandita (for the ritual specialists), this is not enough, he said. For one, the indigenous group does not
have a school of living traditions.

According to the website of the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), Iranun is among the
11 ethnic Muslim groups. They inhabited the area bordering between Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao
province. They claimed to be the origin of these two ethnic groups. The language of the Maranao and
Maguindanao is strongly rooted in the Iranun tongue. Iranun may perhaps be the mother language and
the rest are dialects.

For several centuries, the Iranun formed part of the Maguindanao sultanate. Its culture received much
influence from the Maguindanao rather than the Maranao. There was a case in the past the seat of the
Maguindanao sultanate was situated at Lamitan and Malabang that were the strongholds of the Iranun
society. The Iranuns fought the western invader under the flag of the Maguindanao sultanate. Iranun
were excellent in maritime activity. They used to ply the route connecting the Sulu Sea, Moro gulf to
Celebes sea, and raided the Spanish held territories along the way. Iranuns have also attained a degree
of social organization comparable to the Maguindanao or Tausug. This is evidenced by the datu system
of leadership where a single leadership is recognized. An Iranun datu, like a sultan, wielded central
power over his people. On account of their small population, the Iranuns have been overpowered by
their neighbor and prevented them from having their own sultanate.

Yet ethnic consciousness has been strong as the Iranun continued to preserve their own ways of life and
even to chart their own political destiny. Like other Muslim groups, the Iranuns are also advanced in the
field of education. They actively participate in local development; their professionals have managed to
occupy key positions in the government, run their own business entities and Islamic institutions like
masjid and madrasa. -pattern
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