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Message from HM The Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo

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Sultanate of Sulu

The Royal Sultanate of Sulu (Sultaniyyah Sin Lupah Sug) is an Islamic Tausug state, a sub-national monarchy presently under the Republic of the Philippines, which includes many of the islands of the Sulu Sea, in the southern Philippines and several places in Northern Borneo (Sabah, Malaysia).

The Sultanate was founded as a theocratic state in 1457 by a Johore-born Arab explorer and religious scholar Sayyid Abu Bakr Abirin, a direct descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. After the marriage of Abu Bakr Abirin and a local heiress, Dayang-Dayang (princess of the first degree) Paramisuli, he founded the Sultanate and assumed the title Paduka Mahasari Maulana al Sultan Sharif ul-Hāshim. In the course of the following contacts with Europeans, the Sultanate of Sulu was internationally recognised as a Kingdom (or a Royal Sultanate).

Official flag of the Sultanate of Sulu

The Sultanate of Sulu and its Tausug people have been a sovereign nation for more than 500 years. Once an influential power, the Sultanate faced several attempts to be abolished (especially in 1915, when the U.S.A. imposed a highly restrictive agreement, and again in 1936, when the young Commonwealth of the Philippines decided to ignore the Sultanate’s temporal authority). However all these attempts failed to deprive either the Sultanate or its monarch of the sovereign rights and the state status. In 1957, 1962 and in 1974 the Philippine Government officially recognized the continued existence of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu and the status of its monarch in public documents. Moreover, certain prerogatives of the Sultanate, as a genuine traditional indigenous institution, are specifically supported by a correspondent Philippine law. The current legitimate head of the Royal House of Sulu since 16 February 1986 is His Royal Majesty Ampun Sultan Hadji Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram, eldest son and Raja Muda (Crown Prince) of the late Sultan Mohammad Mahakuttah Abdulla Kiram who reigned from 1974 to 1986.