The principal Sulu code by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam

Monday July 15, 2013 ()

This copy of the old Sulu Code is the original which was prepared and used by the Sultan Jamālu-l-A’lam (reigned 1862-1881), and was used without any modification by Sultan Harūn (reigned 1886-1894). It was written by Asmawil, the chief clerk and minister of Jamālu-l-A’lam. The manuscript was secured from Sheikh Mustafa, former minister to Sultan Harūn.

   First page of the Sulu Code made and used by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam
   (First page of the Sulu Code made and used by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam. Photo by Martin, slightly reduced.)

This code differs considerably from the former one used by Sultan Pulalun, the father of Jamālu-l-A’lam, which was more in conformity with the letter of the Quran, much more severe in its sentences; hence the change was welcomed.

Introduction

This book is a guide for the proper execution of the duties of office in accordance with the law and rules of the country. It is concurred in by all, and is promulgated with the general consent of all the datus, panglima, and subordinate officers of state.

This on Sunday, the fourth day of the month Rabi’ Akir, in the year Dal Akir, which corresponds to the year 1295 A. H.

May it enhance the good and the prosperity of our country; and may God give blessing and peace to its author.

The Code

 

Article I

Section 1. Whoever shall abduct the child of a free man, and be found out, shall be fined twenty rolls or pieces (gajahilaw) of calico (siddip) or its value.5 The abductor shall return the child. A bail also is required which shall be equal in character and value to the abducted child.

   Second page of the Sulu Code made and used by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam
   Second page of the Sulu Code made and used by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam. Photo by Martin, slightly reduced.

Section 2. If the abductor of a free person is a slave, the master of the slave shall be examined to find out whether or not the abduction was committed with his knowledge and consent. In case he says that it was done without his knowledge and consent he must be sworn on the Quran. But, though he swears to that effect, he shall be held responsible for the return of the abducted person. Then if the actual abductor or abductors do not return the person or persons abducted, he or they shall be taken in payment thereof.

But if the master of the slave does not swear to that effect, he shall be held responsible personally for the abduction, and the case shall be treated as a case of abduction by a free man. The condition of the slave, whether privileged to live independently or not, does not affect this decision.

Article II

Section 1.

  1. If property of any kind of the sultan is stolen, the thief shall be fined fifty pieces (gajahilaw) of calico.
  2. If property of datus with official titles or that of Twan Sarip Usman is stolen, the thief shall be fined thirty-five pieces of calico.
  3. If datus without official title or descendants of a Sarip or of Panglima Adaq are robbed, the thief shall be fined thirty pieces of calico.
  4. If ministers of state or Panglima Pihaq are robbed, the thief shall be fined twenty-five pieces of calico.
  5. If subordinate officers below the panglima6 or inland country pandita or the agents of the sultan or panglima are robbed, the thief shall be fined twenty pieces of calico.
  6. If children of subordinate rulers or chiefs are robbed, the thief shall be fined ten pieces of calico.

Section 2.

  1. Theft of small articles (petit larceny) such as articles of diet, etc., of the value of one piece or half of a kusta or sarong, shall not be punished by fines, but the articles themselves shall be restored to the proper owner or owners, twofold, and the thief shall suffer fifty lashes; if the theft is repeated on two or three occasions, the offense shall then be regarded as a case of great theft.
  2. Theft of property of the value of one kusta and over is great theft (grand larceny) and shall be punished by fine as provided in section 1: Provided further, That the articles of property stolen shall be restored to the owner or owners thereof, and the thief shall suffer one hundred lashes.

    The fine shall be divided between the person robbed and the governor (the chief usually acts as judge), in the following manner: When no trial shall have been held, the robbed party shall receive seven parts and the governor three parts; if a trial is held, the fine shall be divided equally between the governor and the party robbed, whether he be a person of rank or otherwise.

  3. If the thief is a great or noted person or a governor, the fine shall be doubled.
  4. The same penalty shall be applied to all persons convicted of theft, whether male or female.
  5. In all cases of theft the stolen property shall be restored to the owner or owners thereof.
  6. The buyer of stolen property shall be regarded as a thief unless he proves the truth of the sale in the presence of the governor. If he fails to have the seller examined and brought before the governor, he shall be regarded as a partner in the theft.

   Third page of the Sulu Code made and used by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam
   Third page of the Sulu Code made and used by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam. Photo by Martin, slightly reduced.

Article III

Section 1. A false claim to property or debt shall be regarded as theft and shall be adjudicated accordingly.

Article IV

Section 1. Whoever exacts a claim by force without the permission or direction of the governor shall return whatever he exacts and forfeit his claim; and in case the claim is not substantiated he shall return the exacted object, and shall be fined two pieces of calico, to be equally divided between the governor and the person from whom he has exacted.

Article V

Section 1. Complainants who disagree upon the authority before which they should appear shall come to a panglima. In case they do not agree upon a panglima they must come to the sultan. But in case they agree, it is preferable that they should appear before the local governor or authority.

Article VI

Section 1. Whoever attempts to kill and kills a freeman shall be fined fifty pieces of calico as blood money, also twenty gajahilaw to be paid to the governor.

Whoever attempts to kill, but fails to kill, a freeman shall be fined twenty-five pieces of calico, to be paid to the attacked party, and ten gajahilaw to be paid to the governor.

Cases of unintentional and accidental killing and cases where the killing is done by an undetermined party shall be regarded alike. The blood money in each case shall be thirty gajahilaw.

Note: In case a murder occurs in a neighborhood or village, and the actual murderer is unknown, the blood money is paid by the people of that neighborhood or village. They pay the full amount of blood money in case they do not swear to the effect that they did not commit the murder, but in case they swear to that effect they pay only half the fine.

Article VII

Section 1. The fine for marriage by abduction7 shall be six pieces of calico and the woman’s dower8 shall be doubled. In case the dower is expressed in terms of slaves, the value of the slave shall be considered equal to four pieces or gajahilaw. The price of the bride, usually paid to the parents of the woman, in ounces of gold, called in Sulu basing, will be paid at the rate of one gajahilaw for a basing. The governor’s share of the fine shall be four gajahilaw.

Section 2. The fine for elopement is four gajahilaw and the dower shall not be doubled. The slave’s rate of exchange shall be four gajahilaw in case it is the custom of her family to receive actual slaves as a dower. The basing’s rate of exchange is one gajahilaw.

In case the slave dower is nominal, the slave’s rate of exchange shall be three gajahilaw of calico, and the basing one piece of kusta, of low grade.

Section 3. In case of seduction admitted or disguised, marriage shall be concluded if the woman requests it. The man shall be fined two gajahilaw and the woman shall be treated as if she eloped. In cases of actual slave dowers, the slave’s rate shall be four gajahilaw and the basing one gajahilaw. In cases of nominal slave dower, the slave’s rate shall be three gajahilaw and the basing’s one piece of kusta of the low grade.

Section 4. Compulsory marriage is treated as marriage by abduction.

   Fourth page of the Sulu Code made and used by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam
   Fourth page of the Sulu Code made and used by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam. Photo by Martin, slightly reduced.

Section 5.

  1. If adultery is committed with a panglima’s wife, the man shall be fined fifty gajahilaw, which can not be exchanged with anything except gold, silver, brass drums, or lantaka. If unable to pay, the man himself shall become the property of the panglima.
  2. If adultery is committed with the wife of a maharāja pahlawan,10 the man shall be fined forty gajahilaw; which can not be exchanged except as in the previous case.
  3. If adultery is committed with the wife of a subordinate officer of state or a country pandita, or an agent of a governor, the man shall pay a fine of thirty gajahilaw, unexchangeable except as in section 5 (a).
  4. If adultery is committed with the wife of a pandita who is in the council or in the capital of the sultan, the man shall pay forty gajahilaw.
  5. If adultery is committed with any married woman, the man shall pay a fine of twenty gajahilaw, unexchangeable except as in section 5 (a).
  6. If a married woman commits adultery with her own consent, she becomes a slave to her husband; but if it is compulsory and without her consent, she will not be subjected to slavery; it is her duty then to tell her husband or his nearest relatives of the fact at the earliest opportunity—the next morning in case it occurs at night.
  7. If a male slave commits adultery with a free married woman, the slave becomes the property of the husband of that woman.
  8. If a free man commits adultery with a married female slave, the decision will be the same as if the crime had been committed with a free married woman.
  9. If a male slave commits adultery with a married female slave against her consent, the male slave becomes the property of the master of the married female slave; but if the crime is committed with her consent, she becomes the property of the master of her husband. Her master pays the fine due the governor.
  10. If a man commits adultery with the sister of his wife, his wife not being divorced, he will be judged as if he had committed adultery with the wife of another man.

All the subordinate officers of state are hereby requested to exercise all care in administering justice to all who come to them for judgment and decision. They should all adhere to the seven articles of Mohammedan law and be deliberate in their just application.

In case any complainant appeals to one of you from the decision of another authority, do not accept the appellant’s statement and render your decision unless you inquire well about the case from the previous authority who judged it. In case you find the decision of that authority wrong do not be ready and quick to blame him and criticise him, but try to act in conformity and union. In case you find his decision right, notwithstanding the appellant’s complaints, bring both the appellant and the appellee to the panglima. If the panglima can not render a solution, he should bring them to the sultan, together with the authority from whose decision the appeal was made and the authority to whom the appeal was made.

If the governor or the authority to whom they appeal does not investigate or inquire about the case from the governor from whom they have appealed, his decision shall be null and void.

Any person who exercises the right to judge without authority from the sultan shall be fined one male slave.

All governors and their subjects ought to abide by and aid in carrying out all the articles of this code. Any person who does not fulfill this duty will have all the curses and the calamities of this world and the world to come that befall the man who swears falsely by the thirty parts of the Quran.

Source

  1. Studies in Moro History, Law, and Religion, by Najeeb M. Saleeby pages 89-94, Manila: Bureau of Public Printing, 1905. Gutenberg release Date: January 3, 2013 [EBook #41770]
  2. Wikipedia (dates of Sultan sovereignty)


1,383

Comments (The principal Sulu code by Sultan Jamalu-l-A’lam)