ازار طارق الدين
|Sultan of Maguindanao|
|Consort||Salma ibn Musa|
|Offspring||Sharif Alimuddin (adopted)|
Tuanku Azar Tariq Alimuddin (Jawi: ازار طارق اليمو الدين, Arabic: عازار توفيق العليم الدين, born December 1, 1975) is the current Sultan of the State of Maguindanao who was the first King of Mindanao from 2008 to 2012. He is considered the founding father of the Kingdom of Mindanao. Born in Kabuntalan in 1975 of the Maguindanao Province, Azar Alimuddin was a Moro rebel leader that joined the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 1988, and then the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996.
He spent much of his life fighting the Philippine state, and became a wanted figure within the Philippine Armed Forces. His family was persecuted under the rule of Ferdinand Marcos which created to backbone to his everlasting hate against the Philippine government. He was imprisoned a couple times by the Philippine Army, under allegations of funding Jemaah Islamiyah groups in Indonesia, having studied in Jakarta for sometime.
In 2006, he took part in the Mindanao Civil War in which residents of the entire island of Mindanao, Muslim or Christian, waged a civil war against the Philippine government. He worked closely with communist leader Ernesto Villa to form the Mindanao Army however split due to the long-lasting conflicts and internal strife between the Mindanao Army's Muslim and non-Muslim members.
Eventually, Alimuddin proclaimed an Islamic monarchy while Villa proclaimed a People's Communist republic. In 2008, the fruition came to be, and Azar Alimuddin was crowned as the Sultan of Maguindanao, as well as the King of Mindanao or known by its common short name South Mindanao. Now that independence had been received, Azar Alimuddin implemented aggressive economic and political approaches that within a short span of four years, had turned South Mindanao into a wealthy country, and Alimuddin from a poor Moro peasant into one of the Muslim World's wealthiest people.
In 2012, he abdicated the throne, as required by the Royal Constitution of Mindanao which states that each Sultan has four years to reign as King or Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Head of State), at the end of those four years a new Head of State is elected, the current King cannot be re-elected until all of the Sultans have had their share of becoming King, or is deposed in a lawful coup. He was succeeded by Mujiv Hataman, the Sultan of Sulu as the King of Mindanao.
Azar Alimuddin was born to a poor peasant family on December 1, 1975. He allegedly traced an ancestry and lineage back to Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat. He was one out of four kids, and he cites that his family was frequently the target of political persecution by Ferdinand Marcos which got him to develop an everlasting hate against the Filipino government, regardless of who was President.
Alimuddin's family could barely make a living, his father, a fisherman had to rely selling fish and other things he caught in order to make a bare living for the family. At one point, they contemplated on illegally migrating to Sabah in Malaysia.
Eventually, the family did leave and legally migrated to Indonesia in 1980, where Azar Alimuddin studied in Jakarta. Due to more money issues, the family re-located to Langkat, where Alimuddin's parents worked as servants for the Sultan of Langkat.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front - 1988-1996
In 1987, after having lived and studied in Indonesia for seven years, Azar Alimuddin migrated back to Mindanao to "fulfill his role". His parents and family had stayed in Kalimantan, no longer wishing to migrate back to the Philippines. In 1988, Alimuddin had joined the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and took part in a series of attacks against the Philippine state forces. He was part of a group that ambushed a group of tourists in Zamboanga City. He also later took part in a police station bombing in Davao City. Several of his colleagues were captured by Filipino forces, he however, had escaped. He vowed to free whatever prisoners remained alive, once he "achieved his goal".
In 1992, he contacted Indonesian militants from Ambon to help with the Moro cause. A total of ten Indonesians arrived in Mindanao, however four were captured by Filipino forces being found be aiding terrorists.
Moro National Liberation Front - 1996-2003
In 1996, after being hunted down by Filipino state police, Azar Alimuddin joined the MNLF headed by Nur Misuari. Alimuddin promised Misuari he'd be the next "Sultan of Sulu". After a series of bombings in Sabah, Malaysia, the Philippine government suspected it was Azar Alimuddin but he denied an involvement in the Moro incursions in Sabah, stating that his focus was in Mindanao and Sulu.
In 1998, he returned to Indonesia and took part in the May 1998 race riots, in which he helped Indonesian militants hunt down ethnic Chinese (who were the primary targets). In 1999, upon his return to the Philippines he was arrested at the Davao City Airport. He was released after one year in 2000, only to continue his militancy career. He was against arrested on September 13, 2001 after he was allegedly part of a Muslim group celebrating the September 11 attacks, as well burning American and Filipino flags. It was found that he had no involvement and was released.
In order to prevent him from continuing, he was banned from returning to Mindanao until 2003. In Manila, he spent much of his life in Quiapo, which was home to Manila's Muslim Filipino community. In 2003, he renounced his membership in any militant group but vowed to keep fighting for the Moro cause in Mindanao.
Independent militant career
In 2005, three Indonesian school girls were beheaded by Islamic militants, members of the Jemaah Islamiyah. Azar Alimuddin was suspected of training and helping the militants in Marawi City, leading Philippine state troops to arrive in Marawi to question him. However, he had fled to Cotabato City. In Ramadan 2006, Philippine law enforcement froze a Western Union donation of about $300,000 worth - the transaction was headed to Jakarta. Alimuddin was suspected of funding Jemaah Islamiyah members, however he had stated that he was donating to his family living in Indonesia.
Mindanao Civil War
In 2006, Azar Alimuddin heard word of another militant uprising in northern Mindanao, led by Ernesto Villa. Alimuddin used this as an opportunity to free Mindanao of Philippine occupation. Alimuddin contacted Villa, who agreed that they might be able to collaborate to free all of Mindanao. As Alimuddin was still a wanted fugitive by the Philippine government, Ernesto Villa sent communist militants to help him get to Cagayan de Oro, Villa's city of operations. He was given the name Fernando Rodriguez in order to conceal his identity.
Alimuddin called other Moro leaders, to collaborate with Villa's Communist insurgents. Together, they would form the Mindanao Army. This army would prove to be too overwhelming for the Philippine Armed Forces.
Azar Alimuddin and Ernesto Villa finally agreed that they could not hold out a unified entity, and took part in the Partition of Mindanao. Alimuddin's new country would consist of southern and central Mindanao while Villa's new country would consist of northern Mindanao.
King of Mindanao 2008-2012
In 2008, Azar Alimuddin recgonized the Sultanate of Sulu, as well as the other proclaimed Sultans. He also recognized Sultans of Maguindanao, Zamboanga and these would rule states within what would become the Kingdom of Mindanao.
Azar Alimuddin was crowned the Sultan of Maguindanao, among others - such as Nur Misuari who was crowned the Sultan of Sulu, and Jamalul Kiram III who was crowned the Sultan of Zamboanga.
Alimuddin and Villa filed their cases to the U.N, who officially recognized the sovereignty of South Mindanao and North Mindanao. Alimuddin was crowned the King of Mindanao by the Conference of Rulers in 2008, and the Moro people finally saw their goal and their dream come to fruition.
Azar Alimuddin embarked on a series of economic policies that in a span of four years, turned South Mindanao into a generally wealthy developing nation. He ordered the destruction of dilapidated structures no longer in use, and used it to build palaces, mosques and other means of infrastructure. He hired volunteer constructions workers from Brunei and Indonesia to help build the new palaces.
South Mindanao was also involved in the monopoly of durian sales in Davao City, and continued to do business with the Philippines and Taiwan for the sales of durian which contributed to the quick economic growth of South Mindanao.
Agrarian life was particularly strong in South Mindanao, as it was in North Mindanao. Farmers received special government protection, and ended up to be generally wealthy people. They produced rice, cassavas, bananas and other fruits as a means of monopoly. They were also important to providing livestock for the country's meat.
Alimuddin also hired poor and impoverished South Mindanaoans to work in the palace, mostly as servants and care-takers of the buildings.
Alimuddin also spearheaded mining projects in Surigao del Sur. This proved to be a miraculous project, as deposits of gold were found in Surigao del Sur. Alimuddin used much of this gold as payment for foreign construction volunteers. Gold soon became part of South Mindanao's monopoly.
Because of his economic policies, Azar Alimuddin became the wealthiest Muslim from Mindanao. His total wealth had almost equaled to that of Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei who acquired his wealth due to the discovery of oil in Brunei. It is after the discovery of gold that Alimuddin adopted a new currency for South Mindanao, the rupia. Oil was also discovered in some of Mindanao's central lands, leading BP and Shell to become interested in doing business in South Mindanao.
Azar Alimuddin, along with the other Sultans also agreed to designate Malay as the official language of the Kingdom. Arabic soon followed, and the Royal Constitution was printed in both Malay and Arabic.
Alimuddin hired Malaysian foreign domestic workers to educate Mindanao's population in Malay, or Bahasa Melayu. Alimuddin himself, was fluent in Malay and Indonesian, having lived in Indonesia for seven years.
In 2012, Azar Alimuddin's four-year term ended and South Mindanao's second Royal Election took place. Alimuddin was replaced by Mujiv Hataman, the Sultan of Sulu as the King of Mindanao. Hataman was the president of ARMM during his time as a Philippine citizen.
Azar Alimuddin has also been involved in philanthropy programs. He has visited Muslim nations in Africa, such as Somalia as well as India to help impoverished people develop lives. He adopted an abandoned child from India by the name of Sharif.
Alimuddin has also supported youth and sports movements in South Mindanao, donating to help build South Mindanao's basketball and football teams. He helped spawn the South Mindanao National Basketball League, or the SMNB. The trophy, the Alimuddin Cup was named in his honor. The SMNB modeled its seasons after the American NBA's.
He received a number of praises from other Muslim philanthropists, particularly Ameera al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia. Alimuddin responded by stating that he support women's rights in Saudi Arabia.
Azar Alimuddin currently resides in Shariff Aguak, the capital of the Maguindanao State. He owns two palaces, one in Shariff Aguak and the other in his home town of Kabuntalan.
Alimuddin is known for his humble lifestyle outside the palace. Despite being wealthy, he dresses as a commoner outside the palace and often dwells among the commoners. Alimuddin states that it is an act of piety. He also likes to shop for his own food and goods at the markets, though he does use servants to help him the load.
He said, "I have servants. But no matter how rich, I myself am a servant to God. He judges us by faith and not by wealth. Outside of these palace walls, I'm no different than anybody else walking the streets - whether they be a merchant, a farmer, whether they be wealthy or struggling. I know what it's like to struggle, in fact many of us here in Mindanao and Sulu knows what it's like to struggle. I do my own grocery shopping, be it in a store or the open-air markets."
He has an adopted three-year old son from India, by the name of Sharif. Sharif is the first non-native rajah in South Mindanao.
Alimuddin is polyglot, he is fluent in Maguindanao (his native language), Filipino, Malay, Indonesian, Arabic, Cebuano, Chavacano and Spanish.
When he returned to India, he married a woman by the name of Salma bint Musa. Because of this, Salma is the first non-native dayang in the history of South Mindanao.