The Hashemite Dynasty
The man who married Paramisuli was Sayyid Abu Bakr Abirin, a nobleman, a lawyer and a theologian. As his title of Sayyid suggests, he belonged to the direct posterity of Prophet Mohammad, namely of its Hashemite branch. A son of a Mecca born Arab father (and, according to some authors, of a Malay princess), Abu Bakr was raised in Johore, being no stranger to the East Indian region. Baginda appointed Abu Bakr as his heir and made him a chief judge in matters temporal and spiritual. On his accession, Abu Bakr was able not only to maintain the centralized power achieved by his father-in-law, but to develop it considerably, and to establish a Sultanate – a theocratic monarchy in which he was a sacred ruler, both a sovereign and a religious leader, a “Paduka Mahasari Maulana alSultan SharifulHāshim”. This occurred in 1457. Since then, the Sultanate of Sulu remains a joint entity, temporal and spiritual alike, a phenomenon actually well known to Christian Europe, and sometimes defined as persona mixta. Among Abu Bakr’s temporal reforms, the territorial repartition is particularly telling of his power: it divided the island into five districts and included all the seashore as well as the vast territory around the residence into the immediate domain of the Sultan. The Sultanate extended its influence far away from the shores of the island of Sulu and became a mighty maritime power. Its power and influence was effective on short and long distances, as it was wittily illustrated by the later Sulu badge, a kris and a spear.
It was already under Abu Bakr’s sons, Sultan Kamal udDin and Ala udDin, that the Tausugs faced the European expansion, but for long they were able to oppose it. From time to time the Europeans invaded the territory of the Sultanate and even the capital city of Jolo was captured several times, but the Tausug state persisted. It seemed for a while that the Jesuit missionaries succeeded in Sulu; Sultan Alim Uddin was benevolent to them and even was baptised in 1750, becoming King Ferdinand I of Sulu. However he faced both opposition of his relatives and compatriots and, more decisively, the attitude of the Spanish commanders by whom he was detained and imprisoned shortly afterwards. When the Sultan regained the freedom and the throne (with the assistance of English troops), he preferred to act henceforth as the jihadperforming “Amir ulMuminin” (the Lord of the [Mohammedan] Faithful) and today is famous among the Tausugs under that name.
Both Ali mudDin and his son Sultan Israel faced growing instability within the Sultanate and within the Royal House, dramatically provoked by exterior pressure. Since their reigns, the traditional line of succession was interrupted several times, for political reasons, by various “anti-Sultans” (members of the dynasty’s younger branches or even of related families), but at the same time these deviations helped to regularise the dynastical doctrine and to make the lawful inheritance of the throne more linear. Sultan Jamal ulKiram (died in 1844) was the first to use the name “Kiram”; his posterity became the Royal branch of the Sulu Hashemites, the Sovereign House as such, and from him descended all the posterior legitimate Sultans. It is worth mentioning that this Sultan was the first known historian of his nation; he collected various legends and tales, reliable and rather fantastic alike, and dictated this unique compilation to his councillor.