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Eidil-Fitr with Grand Mufti and Archbishop in a ‘Fraternal Embrace’ (Conclusion)


“Say: “We believe in God in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes and in (Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord: “We make no distinction between one and another among them and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)”.

—Holy Qur’an, 3:84

“The plan for salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims, these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the One, Merciful God, mankind’s judge at the ‘Last Day’”

—Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 841 from Lumen Gentium No.161

“Christians, like all of the other religions, has been forced to deal with the problems and challenges of the modern world. Entering the modern age, however, Christianity was first required to overcome the trauma of the Reformation…the youngest of the world’s major religion is Islam. It is also one of the largest with more than 950 million adherents (as of 1976 count). Islam is the dominant religion in many of the developing nations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. These factors make Islam one of the most interesting and important religions”.

—Lewis M. Hopfe R. Woodward, Religions of the World (1976).



This is the continuation of our narrative as of now (from previous issue) but if we can find relevant topics relating to that “Fraternal Embrace” between the two men of the “Religions of the Heart”, we will be obliged to relate to our dear readers.

Let us remember, that in 1998, the Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) awarded His Eminence Ustadz Abdulgani Yusop, Al-Hj., the Peaceweaver Award (posthumous) and His Excellency Mons. Francisco Cruses, D.D., the Peaceweaver Award (Posthumous), the men of peace, indeed, they deserved those Awards. So said the IRSMP citation.



The Archbishop entered the Mosque in his Bishop Regalia, escorted by this writer was the Secretary of the Campo Muslim Mosque Islamic Council. His Excellency Mons. Francisco Cruses, D.D. was warmly received with a “Fraternal Embrace” by His Eminence Ustadz Abdulgani Yusop, Al-Hj, Grand Mufti of Zamboanga City, Region 09 and Palawan inside the Mosque. The Grand Mufti brought the Bishop to the Imaman (The Imam Station) where the Grand Mufti usually stands when he lead the faithful in prayer.

Minutes upon Mons. Cruses arrival in the Sactum of the Mosque, he was given the preference to deliver his Eid Message to the city and to the whole country, perhaps, to the world at that time, Mons. Cruses message was carried live by Radio Station DXXX. Indeed, a powerful message to the people of Zamboanga, at that time.

The Muslims in the Mosque in their holiday attire and mood were all glued to the Bishop’s Message of peace, hope and brotherly affection (I do not know if his message was preserved by the Archdiocese of Zamboanga), I hope some good Christian can tell me that.

Forty-Three (43) years ago on October 19, 1974, was a historic event of religious significance, but nobody is talking about it, nobody remembered it, except for a book, written by Fr. Max Rodriquez, no documents about such spectacle which had happened in an “obscure village”.

Campo Muslim, a Purok of Barangay Rio Hondo facing, Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSCMST) and Fort Pilar made history that day! Many noble sons of Islam came from this humble village. The latest to emerge is H.E. Ambassador Adalmaid “Mike” Muin as Philippine Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste.

The Archbishop when he accepted the invitation, upon my presentation of the Letter of Invitation from the President of the Campo Muslim Islamic Council, he only requested me if he could be allowed to bring one companion, and he chose Mrs. Celeste Arpa, wife of the late Col Carpenter Arpa who was then residing at Sutervile in that year.

In the morning of October 19, 1974, Eid Day, Boy Scouts from the ZAEC High School Department (now UZ) formed a contingent of Honor Guards along the Bishop’s entry to the exclusive Muslim community. He was such a “magnificent leader”, many remarked, “without any feeling of suspicion or reluctance,” but entered the Mosque in his regal bearing, the Leader of the Christian faith.

After his message, Mons. Cruses was escorted to a “Holding Room” at the residence of the late Hji. Yasin Sakaluran while the Muslim faithful immediately stood in a collective solemn moment for the Eidil-Fitri prayer followed by the “Khutbah” of the Grand Mufti which dwelt on charity, brotherly love, care for the poor and to erase enmity, forever.

After the religious Rites the Mufti, Hji Yasin Sakaluran and other leaders shook the hands and embrace the Archbishop for his brotherly message to the Muslims in their most joyous holiday—the Eidil Fitri. Everyone said to each other “Eid Mubarak” (Blessed Eid).


That “embrace” of the Grand Muft and the Archbishop and the religious leaders’ messages were indeed powerful to the people of Zamboanga, that confidence restored, animosity slowly erased and the trust between the Muslims and Christians of the city were rebuilt, thus, to this day it remained so. A spectacle of unity and love never replicated to this day.

But do the Muslims and Christians remembered what took place at Campo Muslim on October 19, 1974 A.D. (1 Shawwal 1394 A.H.)? Many are affected by “memory loss” such was unfortunate the result of that historic moment.

On October 19, 2017, we will be celebrating the Ruby Anniversary of the Fraternal Embrace, let us remember, let us honor this day (hopefully), as our Interfaith Day! Can this generation accept this day to be remembered for all time?

Let the Muslims and Christians of the city join hands in celebrating this day of brotherhood and peace.



With God’s Blessing, I look forward for the following to happen.

- That every October  19 will be declared by our City Government through the Interfaith Council as Interfaith Day in Zamboanga City;

- On its 43rd (Ruby Year) Anniversary of that “Fraternal Embrace” between the Grand Mufti and the Archbishop of the City, a marker may be erected, to be unveiled on October 19, 2017, the site, is at Campo  Muslim Mosque;

- That “old and forlorn Mosque” where the “Fraternal Embrace” took place between the two men of the “Religions of the Heart” (Christianiy and Islam), maybe repaired, remodeled, refurbished in time for  the October 19, 2017;

- That men or women of Philanthropic heart, will hearken to this call by sponsoring the above pleas of this writer for the “”Repair, remodeling and refurbishing” this historic edifice to as the symbol of the brotherly affection for each other (the Christians and Muslims) of this city, then, Zamboanga, indeed, can be the “Orgullo de Mindanao, as the Zamboangueños always ‘prided’ themselves”, forever!

I pray, this can happen with God’s Blessings. InshaAllah




“If there is to be peace between the many cultures and religions of the world, religious differences must be known and respected”

—Lewis M. Hopfe R. Wood, Religions of the World (Seventh Ed.) (1976)

Why am I retelling this story of the “Fraternal Embrace” of the two servants of the “Religions of the Hearts” which took place in 1974 in the most unusual circumstances?

When crisis occurs, God in His Infinite Wisdom, allow “Heroes” unexpectedly to emerge to save their people from perdition.

In 1974, after the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, history attests to the so many happenings, remembered or already forgotten (into the dustbin of history).

- Abuses of the military on civilian occured almost daily

- Fighting which cost heavy casualty on both sides (MNLF and AFP)

- Disappearances of persons happened in countless times

- Civilian officials were helpless to protect civilians, the military lording over all powers of government

- Many untold miseries of our people with unspeakable gravity can no longer be quantified; the spiritual and psychological damage was almost beyond help


In October 1974, came the healing Grace of God. It happened in the holy day of the Muslims, world-wide, the Eidil-Fitri, a day after the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Two courageous men demonstrated to the whole world of breaking the evil of animosity, hatred, and apathy but allowed the Expression of Love in the Holy Qur’an to “Reincarnate” and materialize in its true expression, the Holy Qur’an said: “…and you will find the nearest among men in love to the believers (Muslims) (to be) those who say ‘We are Christians’”

— (5:82 and 83)

The late, His Eminence Ustadz Andulgani Yusop, Al-Hj, Grand Mufti of Region 09 and Palawan and the late His Excellency Archbishop Francisco Cruses, D.D. Archbishop of Zamboanga City gave the world a true way of achieving peace and harmony, now both are in their heavenly home.

From their “Fraternal Embrace”, hopes spring eternal came the manifestation of true and sincere expression of peace and healing, thus were born:

- Silsilah Dialogue Movement

- PAZ-SALAM Peace Advocacy

- Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) later renamed as Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP)

- Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders and Affiliates and similar other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) came one after another to this day.


- Interfaith Council of the City Government of Zamboanga, became the prime mover for healing and reconciliation

- The academe have their own Peace Desks and many more to come as a result of that humble “Fraternal Embrace”

Therefore, this humble writer pleads to all good hearted Zamboangueños (Muslims and Christians) that we honor that day (October 19) to be a lesson to the next generations of Zamboangueños. Salam and Paz to all! (By Prof. Ali T. Yacub)

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