Business Talk


On this Wednesday morning, it’s good to talk about business in the Sultanate of Sulu. In general, what are the business activities of the people of this Island country? What can we benefit from them, and what we can give to them in return?

Anyway, Tausug people in general do really love business started in heyday up to the present time. The Arab called their place as Suq which means market.  Market symbolizes livelihood, thus without livelihood Tausug could not survive for a long period of time in suffering under the Philippine government. Thanks to Allah, the Tausug in general had been given the courage to face difficulties without surrendering their Martabbat [dignity] to do business against their will and the divine law.  Most Tausug do prepared just sell a wrapped of chilli and salt at the market than to sell commodity have large income but illegal to the eyes of Allah. This is how the pure Tausug honouring the Islamic principle sowed by the ahlul bayt and Muslim saints in the past.

The market system of the Tausug before and at a little bit at present is called tabu’. The concept of Tabu’ is barter in nature where sea products can be exchanged with agricultural products.  Though at present, in the absence of Islamic government, the tabu’ didn’t anymore in congruent with the Market system of Islam in Madina. Firstly, the tabu’ now rarely have mosque adjacent to it. Secondly, the local government have imposing tax for every vendor sells their goods at the market. In the absence of those two important factors in the market system it’s difficult for us to realize the Muamalat system as what some Muslim thinkers advocating nowadays.

Zamboanga city as the centre of business activities

Zamboanga city can be considered as the hub of business transaction in the Sultanate of Sulu. Almost all commodities from different islands in the Archipelago were brought here. For this city have many means to support the business be it small and a huge one. The agricultural products such as copra and abaca from Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and Zamboanga were sold to the big company in the city; while sea products such as live fishes, lobsters, octopus, squid, prawns, abalone, sea cucumber and agar-agar were also brought here. Sometimes, the Tausug businessmen brought their commodities as far as Manila, Philippines and other foreign countries.

In return the Tausug businessmen from different Islands will be brought goods to their places from Zamboanga city. However, most of goods available in the city, particularly the cans and packed goods, are questionable of its “halalness” not even the chicken and beef meat. To be franked the most difficult for the good Muslims in the Sultanate of Sulu is the pureness of food. Even there is an authorized Muslim group to do checking the “halalness” of food but they still need more work, research and facilities to ensure the purity of food brought in to the Sultanate of Sulu. There were many people in the Sultanate of Sulu complaining about halal things, sad to say, most Tausug businessmen do not care about halal, what is matter to them is the handsome profit.

The Tausug race in the city has different skills and business experiences. Some well off Buranun from Jolo, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan have thousands of hectares of land full with mango trees just few kilometres from the city. The mango produce from this vast garden were brought to Sabah, Manila and other places.  During fruit season Zamboanga city market is filled with variety of fruits coming from all corners of the Sultanate of Sulu territory, such as the Marang, Lansones, Mangoosteen, Durian and Rambutan. 

Brighter Prospect

The government of the Sultanate of Sulu is now in the process of planning the business to be imported and exported from SSDI to other countries and vice versa.  As the de facto government of the Sultanate formally released by the Philippines government, the plight of the Tausug businessmen could be well served. Their plight to do business under the Sultanate of Sulu would not be taking for granted by the Royal government. The Sultanate government shall look into businessmen quetch should there is abusive treatment from ports authority against them – as what currently being done in all ports in the archipelago under the Philippine government.

The Tausug, in reality, has no serious problem should have been the Sultanate of Sulu didn’t weakened by the oppressors, unluckily. The fact is that, the Tausug today still doing their typical business -  nothing changes. They are only being blinded by respected few who only knew to buy their votes during election. Afterwards their basic right as human will be sidelined. These are the people that must be saved from the current tyranny.

May Allah give us more strength to think for the welfare of this people, and given us more wealth to invest in the Sultanate of Sulu. Ameen.