Syarif Osman:
Origin and legitimation


  • Syarif Osman probably came from the area of the Sultanate of Sulu, according to tradition from Marudu from the island of Cagayan de Sulu. Another source says his mother was a local Bajau woman.

  • His title "Syarif" (Sharif) points to an Arab origin, which can, however, but maybe further back in the past. The title denotes the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed.

  • Syarif Osman built several places and fortresses in Marudu. His hometown was Kampar, where he had his family brought before the impending battle of Marudu in August 1845.


  • Syarif Osman was married to a princess from Sulu, namely the daughter of Sultan Pulalun, not mentioned by name in the family tree; she was the sister of Raja Muda (heir to the throne) Datu Mohammed Buyo. According to tradition from Marudu, her name was Dayang Sahaya (Cahaya, meaning "light"). It is said to have magical abilities. Her brother mourned her death in 1845 and was henceforth hostile to the British.

  • Osman was married to other wives. For political reasons he married the daughters of heads of state in order to ensure their loyalty. He was also expected to have many wives, as his fertility was representative of the growth of the whole country.

  • He had several children, two sons and one daughter are mentioned in British sources: 1) his son Syarif Hassan. He resided in Marudu Bay in 1851. 2) his son Syarif Yassin, who was probably a son from the marriage with Sahaya. Yassin himself had four wives. A son by him named Syarif Hussin (1859 - February 19, 1886) is known. A daughter of Syarif Osman named Syarifa Loya is also known, she resided on the Tandik River (central sphere of Marudu) and was the mistress of the village of Kalimo.

  • Other relatives of Syarif Osman are mentioned in oral traditions, for eyample his brother-in-law Syarif Pompugan or his younger brother Syarif Kaldi Indal Lana.

  • There are several descendants of Syarif Osman. Presumably there is a lineage through a cousin of Syarif Osman, who, according to written sources, settled in Palawan. In the past few years, heirs of Syarif Osman have contacted me from time to time, expecially from parts of the Phillippines.


  • Syarif Osman belonged to the high nobility through his title "Syarif".

  • Through his marriage to the daughter of the Sultan of Sulu, he established friendly relations with Sulu, which recognized Marudu as a thalassocracy. The then heir to the throne held Syraif Osman in high regard.

  • through his charisma

  • by observing the local Adat (common law)

  • through alliances with other princes

  • He was said to have magical abilities: he was considered a holy man who was considered invulnerable and had special abilities.

  • His descendants remained at the top of the political agenda after his death.

  • By establishing Marudus as a trading center for the entire region, Syarif Osman created the basis for his political rise and the stability of his empire.