In a rural dwelling town in Ditsaan-Ramain virtually blessed with its lush greenery of vast land and crystal blue lake complimented with cool and pleasant weather all year through, the future senator of the Philippines began his life – to influence the peoples of the world.
The man was Dr. Ahmad “Domocao” Alonto, great Muslim leader of the 20th century whose immeasurable deeds can never fade but should always live in the memory of every Muslim Filipino.
From this humble place, Dr. Alonto was to rise to the highest position to his country could offer. And this dedicated son was to become a universal figure – for the world has taken the story of Dr. Alonto as its own.
But most of all, Domocao Alonto, a founding member of the Makkah-based Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islami (Muslim World League), was the only Filipino recipient of the prestigious King Faisal Foundation Award for Service to Islam, authored the bill Republic Act 1387, which pave the way for the establishment of MSU on September 1, 1961.
Speak the name “Domocao Alonto” on any continent, in any language, and you will hear again the ageless, enduring legends: Alonto the educator, the social reformer, the political giant, the great teacher, the champion of the rights of the Muslim Filipinos, and the inspiring model for Muslim youths.
As a congressman and later senator in the country’s congress, he fought for the enactment of laws that would benefit the Muslims. Alonto’s words, ringing with truth and justice, were heard around the world. This humble man, great in heart and mind, thus become the symbol of hope to all the Muslim Filipinos who yearned for freedom of speech, of worship, and of assembly.
He founded the Ansar Al-Islam, a popular movement for the renewal of Muslim’s faith on a personal and community level that attracted hundreds of thousands of the faithful. He was the prime mover for the establishment of the largest masjeed complex in Mindanao, the Jamie’o Mindanao Al-Islami (Mindanao Islamic Center), located at Marawi City.
It was Dr. Alonto’s advocacy for the recognition of the Muslim rights that inspired the activists of the Muslim youth in the 1970’s to organize the Moro national Liberation Front (MNLF) and later the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). These groups have stood the national government in confrontational stance for more than two decades now.
It was his meeting with the late Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, in Bandung, Indonesia, in the late 1950’s that opened the eyes of the Muslim world to the plight of the Muslims in the Philippines. Even the Egyptians were surprised to learn that there were Muslims in the Philippines, dubbed the only Christian nation in Asia.
President Nasser accommodated the request of Dr. Alonto to sponsor Filipino youth to study at Al-Azhar University. Today, there are hundreds of local Muslims who graduated for Al-Azhar and other great institutions of Islamic scholarship in Madinah, Makkah, Cairo, Tripoli, Damascus, Riyadh, Kuwait, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
He had been an active member of the Mo’tamar Al-Alam Al-Islami (Muslim World Congress) and several other Muslim groups, both in the Philippines and abroad- aside from the governing council of Rabita.
Alonto authored several books and manuscripts on Islam and the Muslims. He led the committee of local Ulama who initiated the first translation of the Holy Qur’an into Maranao vernacular.
Dr. Alonto story did not end with the death of this great man. His immortal words: “Mori a Kaperanon” a Maranao translation of Dr. Jose Rizal’s “My Last Farewell” lived on.
Today, the heroic deeds of Alonto tell of his world-wide acceptance. Alonto’s biography has been published and written in the book “Spanning the Tumultuous History of the 20th Century”. This book was published by the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) based in New Delhi, India. The said book profiles the life and times of the 100 great Muslim leaders in the 20th century which includes: Ahmed Hussien Deedat of South Africa, King AbdulAzis bin AbdulRahman Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, Maulana Mohammad Ilyas of India, Mohammed Marmaduke William Pickthal of England, Imam Hassan Al-Banna of Egypt, Malik el-Shabbaz (Malcolm X) of USA, and Umar Al-Mukhtar of Libya. Dr. Alonto was the only Filipino-Muslim who has ever reigned.
As a man, he was real and religious; as a friend, he was indispensable and true; as a leader, he was example; as a citizen, he was most patriotic; and as a personality, he was dynamic and virtuous.
All that he was, is now a shadow, but that same shadow stands as a standard which we can realize our present state of being. Indeed, few are the men who live the life of Dr. Ahmad “Domocao” Alonto.