Ateneo de Davao University

Ateneo de Davao


Your Brother is a Crocodile: Anthropormorphic Spirit-Beings in Philippine Islam
Mark S. Williams

AbstractThe religion of Islam is as contextualized as it is monolithic: Islamic expression in Southeast Asia differs from that of the Middle East. This is especially true in regard to folk religious aspects of Islam in the Philippines. While there are jinn spirit-beings endemic in Islam all over the world (the English gloss term is “genie’), Filipino Muslim spirit-beings can look much different than Aladdin’s genie-in-a-bottle, which is of Middle Eastern origin. This short study explores variations in three main categories of spirit-beings –jinn (evil spirit); zar (possessing spirit); and qarina (twin spirit), characterized in literature as anthropology of religion. While such an exploration has its place in Philippine religious history and mythology, it is of greater interest that belief in anthropomorphic spirit-beings undergirds a cultural world view which finds currency among Muslims of the Philippines in the present day. Indeed, motivations for select Filipino Muslim social practices and societal events find their origin in the identification of such spirit-beings being present in and among Muslim populations in the Philippines.