Carlos Safaruddin
Ruler of Manila
Chief of the Southern Barangays
Reign 1690-1739
Coronation 1690
Full name Esmael bin Safar ud-Din (later Carlos de Enrique y Safaruddin)
Titles El Sultán Indio Nuevo, Cabeza de las Barangays Sur
Baptism 1670
Born 1654
Birthplace Manila, Philippines
Died Unknown
Predecessor Safar ud-Din (Enrique)
Successor Juan de Carlos
Wife Carrola López
Royal House House of Manila
House of Tondo
Dynasty Sulayman Dynasty
Religious beliefs Islam
(briefly Roman Catholicism)

Esmael bin Safar ud-Din (Jawi: سافارو الدين انق اسماعيل, Arabic: اسماعيل بن صفر الدين), also known by Rajah Muda Ismail and later Carlos de Enrique y Safaruddin or Carlos Safaruddin in short, was the seventh and last ruler and sultan[1] of Manila, and the youngest son of Safar ud-Din and the chosen heir to the throne, the sixth sultan of Manila who was baptized as Enrique Safaruddin.

In 1690, he was coronated as Don Carlos, the new ruler of Manila. He returned to Islam and continued to uphold the Islamic faith within the Sulayman family, it is unknown of what happened to his children and his direct descendants as no religious records on them could be found or attained. It is for his reason that some historians label him as being the last Muslim ruler of Manila.


Carlos was born in Manila on 1654 as Esmael bin Safar ud-Din, of Tagalog and Tausug descent. His father, Sultan Safar ud-Din was a Tagalog Muslim of the Rajah Sulayman Dynasty and his mother, Maryam was a Sulu princess that married his father.

His father was known for making many reforms within the sultanate, and accepted Spanish friendship and allowed Christian missionaries into the Muslim settlements of the Pasig River and Esmael made frequent contacts with these Christian missionaries.

He also learned to speak the Spanish language fluently.


In 1680, the provincial governer of Manila was killed due to an attack by Moros from Mindanao and Carlos's father was next. However, the Sultan successfuly pursued the armies with Spanish aid. The Spanish authorities granted his father the position as provincial governer, an honorary rank that was not normally available ot the other native rulers. Although his father retained his imperial power, he wanted to let Carlos experience political control as he was aging so he gave the administrative powers to Carlos who became his acting provincial governor.

In 1690, Enrique Safaruddin abdicated the throne to Carlos. During his royal coronation, Carlos received his father's royal salakót (a traditional Tagalog headress), which had been worn by the past sultans of Manila believed to have been passed to Rajah Sulayman and his descendants from Lakan Dula, and his kris sword. Although Enrique Safaruddin was an exempt provincial governor, Spanish authorites did not permit Carlos Safaruddin to become provincial governor, as it was handed over to Spanish nobilities but they did let him retain governing powers over the barangays and cities south of the Pasig River while the Spanish directly controlled the north.

Like his father, Carlos Safaruddin embraced Spanish influence and made Spanish an official language in Manila, a language that his paternal grandfather, Qasim Abdullah the fourth sultan of Manila barred from becoming official in the Muslim kingdom.

Conversion to Christianity

On Vigil Eastern Week in 1670, Sultan Safar ud-Din and his wife converted to Christianity, under the names Enrique and María as well as his sister Zainab. The family fully observed Easter Week, celebrated Palm Sunday putting palms around the palace to protect themselves from angry Muslim attackers, getting black crosses ashed on their heads on Ash Wednesday, and mourned on Good Friday. He was finally fully baptized on Easter Sunday, his father took the name Enrique and he took the name Carlos Safaruddin y Ismael.


The rewards of Enrique Safaruddin's fruits passed on to Carlos Safaruddin. The provincial governer of Manila bethrothed his daughter, Carrola López as a reward for his father's good works to the Spanish authority. They had two sons, Fernando and Juan and two daughters, Consuelo and Sandra. Carlos was the last ruler of Manila to ever use the title "sultan" and after his reign, the autonomy of Muslim Manila ceased to exist as more Muslims converted to Roman Catholicism except for a small community in what is today's Quiapo district in Manila. He passed the title "Cabeza de las Barangays Sur" or "Chief of the Southern Barangays" to his youngest son Juan de Carlos, giving him the royal salakót, and his older brother Fernando de Carlos his kris sword and divided the control of the Pasig barangays between the two.

Return to Islam

Like his father Enrique, most historians had agreed that Carlos was a nominal and devout Roman Catholic. However, contesting evidence has begun to show that Carlos spent only a year at most in the Roman Catholic faith, and later reverted to Islam with Enrique, and continued to uphold the Islamic faith unto his death like his father.

There are some theories as to how Carlos ended up continuing to follow Islam. Many historians claim that he converted at the same time his father did, following his moves just like when he was converted to Roman Catholicism. However, other historians argue that Carlos had actually returned to Islam on his own, after spending some time in the Andalusian East Indies, in the Sulu Archipelago to be specific.

In 1672, a British travellor to Manila by the name of Alfred Thomas wrote, "The native ruler of Manila, addressed himself as Enrique. Enrique was the Mohammaden king of Manila. His son introduced himself to me as Rajah Mooda [sic] Ismail, however his Spanish name was Carlos."

At the time, Muslims were referred to as Mohammadens in the English-speaking world. It is note that Rajaha Mooda was the incorrect spelling of the Malay and Southeast Asian term Rajah Muda, a title used by Malay and Southeast Asian Muslim nobility for male descendants of the king or current ruler.

Thomas explicitly described Enrique and Carlos as being Muslims. He stated, "Enrique, Carlos and that entire royal family were as Mohammaden as you can get. They did not eat pork and prayed five teams a day facing the city of Mecca."

Thomas also describes the Sulayman family as wearing attire similar to those he had seen in Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangsamoro.

He describes, "The current living patriarch of that family, the sultan of Manila, Enrique, wore a skirt. Up at his head, he wore a cap adorned with silver and gold. Other times, he wore a pointed hat inlaid with silver, what they called the salacot, which apparently was an heirloom of that family. In addition, he had a sword, which bore a blade that was wavy in pattern, holstered around his waist. His son, wore a similar clothing, and adorned a crown inlaid with silver. They followed a culture and way of life, very similar to the Mohammaden kings I encountered Mindanao, Sulu, Borneo, Sumatra and Java.

In 1702, long after Enrique's passing, a disgusted and angered Spanish Jesuit wrote, "What? We have a Moor in charge of Manila? I thought we've long rid our empire of those savages."

The Spaniards referred to the Muslims of the Philippine Archipelago as Moors, or Moros. At that time, Enrique was the Ruler of Manila, and barangay chief. 

It is also to note that at this time, more liberal Governor-Generals of the Philippines had allowed Muslims to become part of the Principalía without converting to Roman Catholicism, as long as they showed loyalty to the Spanish Crown and surrendered all their territorial sovereignty. This is exemplified by the Principalía de Quiapo, an elite faction of the Principalía that consisted predominantly of Muslims.

It has been suggested that Carlos' father Enrique had simply converted to Roman Catholicism briefly to gain political prestige of some sort.

In addition, Don Carlos also made extensive relations and friendships with the Moro sultans of the Andalusian East Indies. 

Other titles

Carlos Safaruddin was also addressed by several other titles, his main title after being converted to Catholicism was "Don Carlos Safaruddin". Some an in fact many, mostly Spanish friars not aware of his conversion and Catholic converts from Islam continued to address him as "sultan" - making him the last sultan of Manila since his reign was the last time the title was ever used for a native ruler of Manila. They often gave him the moniker "El Sultán Indio Nuevo" which in English translates to "The New Indian (native) Sultan".

Muslim historians do not consider Carlos the last sultan, moving it to Qasim Abdullah since both and his father Enrique were Roman Catholic converts.

There is evidence that pointed out that Don Carlos still tried to revive Islam in Manila's culture, practicing an Islamic-influenced form of Roman Catholicism, similar to the Catholicism practiced by the Moriscos (Moorish converts to Christianity) after the Spanish conquest of the Moors. For example, some Spanish documents recorded that Don Carlos de Enrique not allow farmers to raise pigs, or sell swine meat and also prohibited wine sales and also served feasts of sweet foods during Eid al-Fitr and fasted on Ramadan suggesting that while he was a Roman Catholic by faith he remained a practicing Muslim and that at some point he even reverted to Islam. Some theorize suggest altogether that he suffered an identity crisis, and struggled to choose between either the Christian or Islamic faiths. When he travelled to Cavite, he was often called "El Sultán Musulmán-Católico" or "The Muslim-Catholic Sultan". When he paid a visit to Cavite's Principalia members, he was called "Carlos El Moro-Cristiano" or Carlos the Christian-Moor (Christian-Moor in this context used to refer to a person of Muslim and Christian faith, not a Moorish convert to Christianity or a Morisco). Carlos de Enrique died around 1760, but it is obscure. In one of the Tausug documents, it records,

"On the holy month of Ramadan in 1760, a Tagalog Christian ruler - whose father had also been a sultan of Manila, with a Tausug mother came to our land and requested to re-admitted into the Islamic faith, an undoing of his father's earlier actions of adopting the Paganism that the colonists have introduced." This can be attributed to Carlos. Whether he died a Muslim or Christian, his descendants were not Muslims which initially ended Islam's presence in Manila. 

Nur Misuari, the former sultan of the Bangsamoro Kingdom, disagrees with the entire "Christian and Muslim" idea. During the time of his reign, he stated, "You are either a Muslim or a Christian, no ifs, and's or but's about it. You cannot be both, Carlos became a Muslim once more after coming to Sulu and realizing his father's mistake."

See also

Safar ud-Din of Manila


  1. "Catholic-Sultan Ruler of Manila (NOT AN ACTUAL SOURCE)