Religious Beliefs. The Tausug are Sunni Muslims, followers of the Shaft school. The Five Pillars are observed, although only the elderly practice daily prayers regularly. All illness, accidents, and other misfortunes are ultimately God's will. However, the Tausug retain elements of pre-Islamic belief and, additionally, see the world as inhabited by local spirits capable of causing good or ill fortune. Folk curers ( mangungubat ) may be sought in time of illness. Traditional medical specialists, who obtain their powers through dreams or by the instruction of older curers, heal mainly by herbal remedies and prayers.
Religious Practitioners. The imam is an important community figure. He officiates at life-crisis rites, offers religious counsel, and leads the faithful in prayer. Religion is central to Tausug identity and traditionally played a major role in maintaining the hierarchical structure of the state. The sultan, as head of an Islamic polity, was invested with religious authority. Official genealogies traced his descent to the Prophet and in his person he was expected to exemplify ideal qualities of virtue and religious devotion. Paralleling the political pyramid was a religious one, united at its apex in the sultan's person, and consisting, from state to community level, of kadi, ulama, imam, hatib, and bilal, juridical and religious advisors, and mosque officials.
Ceremonies. Major events in the religious calendar include fasting during Ramadan; Hari Raya Puasa, a day of feasting immediately following Ramadan; Hari Raya Hadji, the feast of sacrifice on the tenth day of the month of Jul-Hadj; Maulideen Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet, on the twelfth day of Maulud; and Panulak Balah (lit., "to send away evil"), a day of ritual bathing on the last Wednesday of Sappal.
Arts. Dancing, instrumental music, and song are popular forms of entertainment, but the decorative arts are unelaborated.
Death and Afterlife. Four acts must be performed at death: bathing the corpse, enshrouding it, reciting the prayer for the dead, and burial. Burial is followed by a seven-day vigil. Depending on a family's economic circumstances, commemorative feasts may be held on the 7th, 20th, 40th, and 100th day, and on the first, second, and third anniversaries of death. Each person is believed to have four souls that leave the body at death. The body goes to hell, where the length of punishment it suffers is determined by the misdeeds and accumulated religious merit of the deceased. On the fifteenth day of the month of Shaaban, one of the souls ( ro ) of the dead is sent back to earth: here the deceased is honored with prayers and on the following day graves are cleared.