Shari’ah in the Philippines

Ever wondered what law directs Muslims in the Philippines and to what point does it affect our everyday living? This post will give you a bird’s eye-view of the law that guides Muslim Filipinos – the Presidential Decree 1083. A Presidential Decree or PD commonly known as an order is made by a head of state or government and having the force of law. In our country, the President is the head of the state hence it is termed as Presidential Decree (PD).


It is important for every Filipino Muslims to understand the significant laws, how these laws are being carried out as well as the significance and effect in claiming our rights and duties as citizens of predominantly non-Muslim nation.

Law is an important aspect in our society. Beyond the idea it controls the rights of the people, think of law as guidelines to achieve a harmonious relationship among mankind. A nation without law will surely end up in total chaos. Muslim Filipinos living within the Philippine jurisdiction are basically ruled by two laws.

  • First is the national law such as the Revised Penal Code or the general penal laws of the Philippines which defines the criminal laws of our country, the Civil Code or the general law that governs family and property relations in the Philippines, the Labor Code which stands as the law governing employment practices and labor relations, the Rules of Court which are rules adopted and promulgated by the Supreme Court of our country and these rules concerned on the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged, and Taxation law  which deals with basic rules and principles in Philippine taxation. Such laws are applicable to every Filipino living here or abroad.
  • Second is the PD 1083 or the “Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines” which has a limited coverage and is specific for Muslim Filipinos only (with some exceptions). The “Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines” or PD 1083 was implemented in February 04, 1977 under the regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos. It is how the Shari’ah or Islamic law is being implemented in the country. Unlike in Muslim countries like Malaysia or Saudi Arabia, Shari’ah under the Philippine context is very limited. It only focuses on “Muslim Personal Law” which includes all laws relating to personal status, marriage and divorce, matrimonial and family relations, succession and inheritance, and property relations between spouses (Article 7, PD 1083). The implementation of PD 1083 is following to the spirit of Section 11, Article XV of the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines which intensifies the role of the National Cultural Communities in nation-building. It provides that the State shall consider the customs, traditions, beliefs and interests of the National Cultural Communities in the formulation and implementation of its policies.

The PD 1083 has three basic purposes. These are:

  •  To recognize the legal system of the Muslims in the Philippines as part of the law of the land and seek to make Islamic institutions more effective;
  • To arrange Muslim personal laws; and
  • To provide effective administration and enforcement of Muslim personal laws among Muslims (Section 2, PD 1083).

On my next post, I will gradually introduce each topic and try to discuss it as much as I can. You (our readers) can also ask questions and legal advises and we will gladly answer you back to the best of our ability.



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