Muslim Space

Philippine Islamic Architecture
ARCH 514 | History of Filipino Architecture
Slideshow developed by: Arch. Edeliza V. Macalandag, UAP Bohol Island State University | College of Architecture & Engineering

Islam in the Philippines

Islam is the oldest recorded monotheistic religion in the Philippines (however, not the oldest religion overall). Islam reached the Philippines between the 12th and 14th century with the arrival of Muslim traders from the Persian Gulf, Southern India, and their followers from several sultanate governments in the Malay Archipelago. The first areas to be converted to Islam were the islands of the Sulu archipelago.

Islam in the Philippines

The Muslim Moros are a multilingual ethnic group that comprised about 5.25% of the total Philippine population (2005). Their name originated from the Spanish word Moor, and they mostly live in the western part of Mindanao Island, the Sulu Archipelago and nearby islands.

Islam in the Philippines

There are at least ten Moro ethno-linguistic subgroups, all descended from the same Malayan stock that populated the rest of the Philippines. Three of these groups make up the majority of the Moro. They are:
• the Maguindanaos of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao provinces; • the Maranaw of the two Lanao provinces; and • the Tausug of the Sulu Archipelago.

Smaller groups include: the Banguigui, Samal, Badjao, Yakan,
Ilanon, Sangir, Malabugnan, and the Jama Mapun.

Original caption: "A group of the unconquerable Mohammedans". Photo was taken in the early 1900s.

Sultan Jamal ul-Kiram, front, 3rd from left, in dark suit

Sultan Jamal ul-Azam, ruler of Sulu and North Borneo/ Sabah from 1862 to 1881, receiving a French official delegation. The chief qadi, an Afghan, sits behind the Sultan. Source: J. Montano, Voyage aux Philippines et en Malaisie (Paris, 1886).

Sultan Jamal ul-Kiram, his staff, US Army officers and some foreign Muslims, circa 1899-1901.

Original caption: "Moro women in the island of Mindanao. These are women of that unconquered Mohammedan tribe so famous in Philippine history." 1898 photo.

Sultan Mangigin, ruler of the Sultanate of Maguindanao, and his retainers. Circa 1899-1901.

A Moro Wedding.

A Moro Datu and his wife.Circa 1900s.

Tausug Moros

Moro weapons

Moro kids in Simunul Island, Tawi-tawi

Muslim Pre-Spanish Manila ruleres: Rajah Lakandula, Rajah Matanda and Rajah Sulaiman.


Islam in the Philippines

Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God or Allāh, and by the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and composed of Hadith) of Muhammad, considered by them to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim.

Five Pillars of Islam

Architecture of the Philippine Mosque

Architecture of the Philippine Mosque

The Koran contains no specific instruction for the architectural form of its worship space. Filipino Muslims are free to interpret these basic requirements in accordance with their preexisting ideas.

The physical features of early Philippine mosques have been ascertained through the amalgamation of Islamic and indigenous notions about the form which sacred architecture should assume.

Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque (c. 1931), built in 1380, in Tubig, Indangan, Simunul Islands, Tawi-tawi, is the oldest standing mosque in the Philippines.

Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque, Tubig, Indangan, Simunul Islands, Tawi-tawi.

Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque, Tubig, Indangan, Simunul Islands, Tawi-tawi.

Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque, Tubig, Indangan, Simunul Islands, Tawi-tawi.

Architecture of the Philippine Mosque
There are two types of traditional structures use by Philippine Muslim for worship:

1. Langgal (Tausug and Yakan) or ranggar (Maranao)

• means “to meet” • a most that can accommodate a small group of worshippers (min. 4044) who assemble every Friday in such a spiritual place • similar SE Asian prayer houses or chapel to Christians • commonly associated with any building that includes a dome and a minaret as an integral part of the design regardless of period styles • larger and more permanent structure

2. Masjid or maskid

The terms all denote a mosque.

Architecture of the Philippine Mosque
Some features unique to Philippine mosques: 1. The sahn or wide enclosed courtyard with ablution fountain is generally absent; a seating area with benches is instead provided outside the mosque (as sitting or waiting area). 2. The mimbar (elevated pulpit) is not high unlike those in Africa or Western Asia; an elevated platform, chair or any similar feature may be used as mimbar. 3. Call to prayer is done not on tall minarets, but inside the mosques using hanging drums called tabo, jabu-jabu or dabu-dabu beaten to summon worshippers. (Yakan people uses a bamboo drum.) 4. Use of okir carving and the burak (centaur) motif 5. In Lanao, inverted jars (Sung or Ming Chinese jar considered as posaka or heirloom) adorn the apex of the dome (obor-obor) of early mosques.

Ifugao House (fale)

Prior to World War II, masjids were multi-tiered bamboo/wooden structures similar to Chinese pagodas/ Javanese temples, the mosque archetype predominant in the Indonesia archipelago and the Malay peninsula.

A 1950s Lanao mosque combined the multi-tiered roof with an onion-shaped dome.

Pagoda-like mosque in Pantar, Lanao del Norte.

A masjid in Bacolod, Lanao (c. 1910).

Masjid al-Dahab or The Golden Mosque, Quiapo, Manila built in 1976. Designed by Jorge Ramos.

Masjid al-Dahab or The Golden Mosque, Quiapo, Manila is large enough to accommodate 3,000 worshipers. Glass panels were designed by Antonio Dumlao.

Masjid al-Dahab or The Golden Mosque, Quiapo, Manila.

King Faisal Mosque, Mindanao Statue University, Marawi City, Lanao del Sur

King Faisal Mosque, Mindanao Statue University, Marawi City, Lanao del Sur

Designed by renowned architect Angel Nakpil, The Blue Mosque is also a socio-civic meeting place for both Filipino and foreign Muslims. It houses a conference room, three madrasa classrooms, a library, clinic, secretariat and Imam Office. The geometrical design of this building is a multi-cross patterned after the CORDOVA in Spain (Cordova means Church).

The Blue Mosque, Maharlika Village, Taguig

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid or Grand Mosque, Cotabato City

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid or Grand Mosque, Cotabato City

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid or Grand Mosque, Cotabato City

Rajah Sulaiman Grand Mosque, Reclamation Area, Pasay City

Rajah Sulaiman Grand Mosque, Reclamation Area, Pasay City

An early 20th century mosque and madrasa in Jolo, Sulu.

Muslim Secular Architecture
Mindanao and Sulu Vernacular Houses


Philippine lantaka

Lantaka with swivel mount clearly displayed. (Source:

Muslim Secular Architecture

• Implies “a place of sleeping” but serves many other purposes • Aside from being the house of the royal family, the torogan can also be the warrior’s den, a storage house, an ammunition area, or assembly place for ceremonies • The Torogan is "the ancestral home of the highest title holder of the major descent line within a community. It is a multi-family dwelling… (where) big ceremonies are celebrated and held…(it) is symbolic of rank, prestige and status. Its erection connotes only lineage of the highest rank, for only the datu class and in particular those holding the highest titles are allowed to build such a structure. Its construction is only made possible through communal efforts, as manifestation of the support for the ruling class, as well as an indication of the power that the ruling body wields within a particular area…" (David Baradas. Asian Studies, 1968) • Known for its row of carved panolong in ornate okil (okir) carvings

Maranao Torogan

Dayawan Torogan, Marawi City

Dayawan Torogan, Marawi City

Bacarat Torogan, Marawi City

Bacarat Torogan, Marawi City

Tausug stilt community in Jolo, Sulu rebuilt after it was burned in 1974 during battles between Phil. armed forces and Muslim insurgentts.

Tausug (people of the sea current) house distinguished by carved wooden finials (tadjuk pasung)

Tausug octagonal house

Stilt houses in Tawi-tawi.

Bud Bongao, Tawi-tawi.

Muslim Secular Architecture

• A Traditional Yakan house is called lumah. • It is a rectangular structure with 50 to 100 square meters area and 2 meters elevated above the ground by timber posts. • The Yakan houses were usually clustered around the langgal or local prayer house, which is the center of the community, but they don't have compact villages because the houses were scattered among the fields and the houses were surrounded by fruit trees and vegetables. • Three main components: the main house, the kitchen and the pantan or porch.
– The houses of the Yakan people face the east, and according to their beliefs the building materials should be stockpiled also in the east. – The sapiaw or the roof is made of a steeply pitched cogon on bamboo or timber frames. The walls are made of wooden bamboo strips called sawali. The floor may be made of bamboo but often times it is made of timber. There are no ceilings and only one window or tandiwan was allowed for the main house . The tandiwan and ladder were allowed at the kitchen house.

A Samal Village

Muslim Secular Architecture

• Sea gypsies: nomadic, seafaring people, living off the sea by trading and subsistence fishing • Animist Sama or Samal people • Two kinds of boats
o Dapang or vinta o Palaw
 Lepa (lighter, speedier)
– Log hull

 Jengning (bigger, heavier)
– Has outriggers – Floating shantuy

• Sitangkay, Tawi-tawi: Badjao’s main settlement

Badjao houseboats in Tawi-tawi

Badjao houseboat lepa

Badjao houseboat lepa

Lico, Gerard (2008). Arkitekturang Filipino: A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the Philippines. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press.

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