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PIA Press Release

Tawi-Tawi celebrates founding of first mosque

Zamboanga City (6 November) -- Around 628 years ago, the first Muslim mosque, the Masjid Sheikh Makhdum, which signaled the propagation of Islam in the Philippines was built here.

This week, from November 6 to 7, Muslim religious leaders, local government leaders of Tawi-Tawi and development partners will gather in the island of Simunul to celebrate the founding of the first masjid or mosque in the Philippines building up the campaign for peace and good governance.

The campaign, called Ziarah Simunul or Visit Simunul, is based on the spirituality and cultural integrity of the peoples of Mindanao, a statement from the Municipality of Simunul said.

The participants from the different municipalities in Tawi-Tawi will gather for a congregational prayer or jamaah on November 7 at the Masjid Sheikh Makhdum.

The Ziarah Ma Masjid Sheikh Makhdum, the heart of the campaign, "is a symbolic gesture that signifies unity of the various peoples of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and affirms Islam as a religion of peace" The campaign highlights the social capital of Simunul which includes the national heritage of the Masjid Sheikh Makhdum, the colorful dances and music of the Sama, the food delicacies, and the efforts of the municipal government to usher in economic and social development in the Island, it said.

The Banug-banug Pangalay, or fluvial parade of decorated Sama bancas, will signal the start of the different activities leading to the congregational prayer. Participants will also gather for the Kinakan Festival, a food festival of local delicacies which shall be participated by 16 barangays of Simunul.

The Local Government Support Program for the ARMM (LGSPA) and Muslim religious leaders will also launch the Khutba, a compilation of selected verses from Koran and Hadith of Prophet (S.A.W.) which provides references for the imams and religious leaders in their sermons.

Along with the cultural presentation on the history of the arrival of Islam in the Philippines, there will be a community "big book" reading, which is said to strengthen the social cohesion "through collective recollection of the history of the place and the people". Development projects will also be launched and presented by the project management offices of various donor-funded projects present in Simunul such as the ACT for Peace Program, Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM), the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) and the LGSPA.

The project launching is also the first of the convergence activities to be undertaken by the Mindanao Peace and Development Communicators Convergence (MPDC) group this year.

Formed by MEDCo last December 2007, the MPDC is a group of communication officers and representatives of Project Management Offices (PMOs) and donor agencies tasked to integrate advocacy efforts for peace and development in the island. (MEDCo) [top]

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