Muslim Legal System
The Philippine legal system is aptly described as a blend of customary usages, the Roman (civil law) and the Anglo-American (common law) systems. But in some Southern part of the islands, Islamic law is observed. This aspect of Islamic law is the result of the immigration of Muslim Malays in the 13thcentury or before the subsequent colonization of the islands by Spain and the United States.
The legal system of the Muslims in the Philippines has sometimes been called by scholars as the Sara Agama System 1 being based upon Islam as religion. Attorney Musib Buat opines that:
" The word Agama has come to be known as practice or system. among the Muslims, it is synonymous with the word "ideology." Agama is a Sanskrit word for Religion. The reason for this is perhaps due to the general concept of law and policy among Muslims. The Muslims do not distinguish law as either secular or divine, canon or civil law. "
The legal system of the Muslims, both customary (adat) and Islamic is quite comprehensive. It embraces all legal, social, political and civil relations. '
Non-State Courts and the Judicial Role of Political Rulers
"Non-state" courts were manned by functionaries known in the Sulu archipelago as the panglima and the pandita in Mainland Mindanao. According to Prof. Mastura, the legal scholars conceived their legalist role as advisers to the political rulers, the qadis as practitioners.
The recognition of an apprentice's legal aptitude took place from agama court practices that derived naturally from the theory of reputation in trial apprenticeship. This came about because the specific institutional feature of customary handling of disputes resided in the chief magistrate (datu kall} who presided over sessions to hear the "process of law" argued by a set of paired jurors (wazirs) and advocates (wakilsl representing the party litigants.3
Sources of Muslim Customary Laws
The sources of customary or adat law are basically three-fold: (1) Ancient Malay adat law; (2) Indian-Hindu law and (3) Shari'a or Islamic Law. The natives embraced Islam, mixed Adat law with Shari'a or at least Shari'a blended with pre-Islamic practices or Hukum Shari'a. The sanction of customary law is in the Aqama Court. Sometimes the Muslim Ecclesiastical Authority or Agama leaders like the Sultan, datus and panglimas enforced customary law.
Thus, centuries before the establishment of the Philippine government, the Muslims were already governed by Shari'a and/or Adat law with their own agama courts and judges called Qadis. The Shari'a minded jurists applied the Luwaran Code as well as the Diwan or the "Principal Sulu Code". The former functioned to legitimate their formulation by locating the law and sovereignty of Allah and consisted of a body of selected texts from the Shafi'i School of Law appended to it. The latter embodied basically the seven articles of "Mohammedan Law" which did not operate in isolation of the Qur'an under the care of imam and Qadi.