Islam arrived in Sabah in 10th century


KOTA KINABALU: The arrival of Islam in Sabah started in the 10th century around the East Coast, influenced by Brunei and the Sulu government, according to a representative from the Sabah Iranun Graduates Association, Milus Abd Wahab.

“Refering to a book written by Muhiddin Yusin in 1990 ‘Islam di Sabah’, someone by the name of Abdullah from Lahad Datu brought the teaching from Sulu to Sabah in 1408 after accepting Islam. However, there is another theory that there is no evidence of Islamization in Sabah and Sarawak, but it is linked to the Brunei Islamization.

“There are three corner categories to explain the arrival of Islam in Sabah, namely at the South West Coast which was influenced by the Brunei government, East Coast namely in Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan and Semporna and also at the Tawau area, where it was influenced by the people from Makasar of Indonesia.

“After that, a number of Iranun small governments emerged in north Borneo in line with the migration of this particular ethnic group around Sabah in the 1760s. The migration focused on areas from Tempasuk to Teluk Marudu and Tunku,” said Milus at a public talk on the history of the advent of Islam in Borneo at Tabung Haji Hotel yesterday.

Referring his facts also from a statement made by writer Baszley Bee b. Basrah Bee in 2006, Milus explained that a small government in Tempasuk had been led by Raja Ismail in 1787 which was taken over by his son Raja Tebuk in the 1830s.

Milus, who is also a historian, said a small government was found in the East Coast of Sabah, particularly in Tunku in the 1830s to 1845, which was said by many people to denounce the western powers in the area.

“There are many references and theories on the history of Islam in Sabah, and names like Datu Miraja Dinda of the Iranun small government, Sharif Osman of Teluk Marudu and also Datu Paduka Mat Salleh in Inanam have been mentioned a number of times as important characters in the development of Islam in Sabah, followed by the colonial resistance.

“It is also important to acknowledge the role of a number of ethnic as the backbone in strengthening Islam in Sabah which was contributed by Brunei, Bajau, Suluk, Badjao, Ubian, Iranun, Idahan, Bisaya, Kadayan, Bugis and Sungai.

“It is also undeniable that the roles of the Syarifs and Sayyids are very important in placing Islam in the heart of Sabah, where most of them at that time believed in animism,” he said.

A total of 215 participants from government agencies attended the half-day seminar.

Earlier during the event, a joint presentation was done by two researchers, Muddin Beting and Mustapha Sakmud, focusing on a brief history about Islamization in the archipelago.

Both researchers urged for more research to be carried out on the Islamization movement in Borneo, particularly in Sabah to know more important characters and roles in the development of the religion.