MANILA, Philippines – Safrullah Macaindig, mortuary officer and deputy chief at the Manila Golden Mosque, received Cayamora Maute's body on the night of August 27 like it was just any other corpse.
While condemning all violence done in the name of Allah, Macaindig said he made sure Cayamora was given proper burial rites. (READ: Who is Cayamora Maute?)
Cayamora is father to the notorious Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah, known leaders of the ISIS-linked homegrown Maute terror group in the Southern Philippines. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)
Government troops are on their fourth month of fighting against the group, which attempted to seize Marawi City on May 23. Clashes have claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands.
Macaindig bathed and cleaned the Maute patriarch’s corpse to have it readied for the night’s Salatul Janazah, a funeral prayer considered a collective obligation for the Muslim faithful.
“We cleaned the body, dressed it in white cloth, which is the traditional Muslim clothing. He was placed here at the mosque,” he narrated in Filipino.
Unlike Cayamora, many Muslims in the besieged city of Marawi have lost the chance to a decent burial. Mass burials of recovered unidentified and unclaimed bodies are routinely held in neighboring areas.
Government intelligence reports revealed that Cayamora funded the Maute group’s operations.
Macaindig, together with local imams and a sultan who brought the money for the burial, stood in lieu of the Maute kin in a single line as part of the funeral prayer’s ritual. Close relatives did not dare show up.
“It was the first time that I took care of a dead body with no relatives who came, because of the situation of Engineer Cayamora Maute. Because of his sons, of the things they did that are not good. So even if there are relatives, they won’t show up, worrying about untoward events,” said Macaindig.
Marawi violence close to home
The 43-year-old volunteer at the Manila mosque had been doing this for the past 9 years, getting by only on a weekly food allowance.
With knowing smiles, officers at the mosque call him "Boy Patay (Kid Dead)."
On Eid’l Adha, the Muslim feast of sacrifice, Macaindig celebrated with his family in their home just behind the mosque.
“The morning [of Eid’l Adha] is meant to be with family,” he said, referring to a celebratory feast right after the morning prayers. In his community, a goat was butchered for sharing.
He opened the door to show a peek into their humble abode – a little over one square meter in width – and spoke without hesitation of his gratitude for the life he lives.
He said there are many things to be grateful for, despite the many hardships his family, including his relatives back in Marawi, had to endure.
Macaindig migrated to Manila almost a decade ago to flee the violence from within his clan in Marawi, after his father’s and mother’s families engaged in rido or clan feud.
He had sided with his mother’s family at the time, and that move put his and his children’s lives in peril. A decade later, violence of an even nastier form plagued his home city, almost unrecognizable from the rubble of a months-old war.
His siblings and one of his daughters were among the displaced in Marawi when the Mautes took control of key areas there. Their ancestral house was destroyed.
Philippine military spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said Cayamora’s death can be used by the Maute family to fan hatred against the government and rally support for the group’s operations.
He explained that although Cayamora “died of natural causes,” the Maute family "can use this for the propaganda value.”
Padilla, however, said that the Maute family “definitely” lost a “significant” figure in their family, one who they likely “draw a sense of fortitude from” as their patriarch and the “primary supporter” of their terrorist acts to establish a caliphate or Islamic state in the Philippines.
Allah’s name only for the good
But for dutiful Muslims like Macaindig, the Islamic belief as well as Allah’s name should only ever be used for good.
He said he himself looked for “work that even in small way helps his fellow Filipinos” in honor of Allah.
“The name of Allah should only be used for good. It cannot be used or mentioned when you are committing evil,” Macaindig said.
“Even if you use Allah’s name in committing evil, that will not be accepted up there,” he added, referring to the Islamic paradise Jannah.
Over a thousand Muslims like Macaindig gathered in Luneta park on Friday, September 1, for Eid’l Adha, offering prayers for the displaced in Marawi and the Muslim Rohingya victimized by ethnic violence in Myanmar. (READ: On Eid'l Adha, Filipino Muslims pray for strength amid prejudice)
They bowed their heads, knelt down facing the imam, and prayed. A giant speaker blasted with the imam’s sermon, as hijabs colored the park’s grounds in carefully lined rows. There were continued pleas for the well-being of people displaced by the Marawi violence.
“Many Muslims are in fear. Many Muslims want to change their names. Many Muslims are no longer wearing their hijab. Many Muslims are denouncing their name out of fear,” the imam said in Filipino, before exhorting the faithful into steadfast abiding.
The imam says one’s faith will be tested in many ways, the same way Ibrahim was tested by Allah. Eid’l Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians) to give up his son Ishmael for Allah.
About this time, Macaindig’s sister, Noraimah, who he had not seen for 7 years called him up to greet him on Eid’l Adha. Noraimah told him of their struggles back in Marawi.
Though disheartened, Macaindig said he was not about to give up his faith, knowing he was on solid ground.
“Allahu Akbar (God is great),” the congregation in Luneta chanted in prayer. – Rappler.com