Maguindanao - Religion and Expressive Culture
Religious Beliefs. The predominant religion among the Maguindanao is a form of folk Islam. Islamic beliefs and practices, which are gradually becoming more orthodox, are superimposed on a preexisting animistic belief system. People continue to believe in a variety of environmental spirits, and many tales are told of magic, sorcery, and supernatural beings. Even Sarip Kabungsuwan, who is credited with having brought Islam to this area, is described as having had powers of magic and sorcery.
Religious Practitioners. Muslim religious leaders and teachers (imam and pandita ) preside over religious life and young schoolboys in reading and memorizing the Quran. They are the formal religious practitioners in the society. There are also other, less visible, religious functionaries who perform important services in appeasing the environmental spirits. An example is the apo na palay, or "grandfather of the rice," who conducts rituals and chants incantations over the rice fields at night to ensure a good harvest.
Ceremonies. Muslim religious holidays and other observanees are celebrated among the Maguindanao, but in varying degrees by different communities and individuals. The most widespread ceremonies are those associated with fasting during the month of Ramadan, when virtually everyone appears to participate. Other ceremonies, such as those associated with birth, marriage, and death, tend to incorporate both Islamic and indigenous beliefs and rituals.
Arts. Arts of nearly every type are strikingly less evident in this culture than in many nearby groups. Representational art is confined mostly to weaving, basket making, and certain ornaments. Graceful dances are performed on special occasions to the rhythmic music of gongs and other instruments. Personal adornment in the forms of bright clothing, beaded jewelry, and other accessories is distinctive and colorful.