With a population of 1.3 million, the Tausug are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Southwestern Philippines. They are steadfast Muslims but have retained many pre-Islamic beliefs and rituals. Their realm is full of environmental spirits that are believed to cause sickness or good fortune. Their concept of life after death is a mixture of Islamic and traditional beliefs. Less than 2% of Tausug claim to be Christians, with about .23% evangelical. They do have The New Testament in their language.
In the 1970s, the Tausug, along with other ethnic minorities, waged an extensive and very bloody armed struggle against the central government. This long-standing conflict has left deep hurts and bitterness that are difficult to overcome. Sensitive Christian workers are needed to minister the love of Jesus to those who carry emotional scars from the past.
Tausug economy is based largely on agriculture, with rice as the principal food crop. Fishing, trading by sea and various handicrafts, notably metallurgy, are also pursued. Marriages are often arranged by the parents, and Kinship solidarity is very strong. Adult children often live near or with the parents of the husband.
Most Tausug live in dispersed communities near their fields. While a real sense of the larger community is weak among the Tausug, loyalty is a very important trait. Close friends and family will sometimes partake in a ritual blood compact to signify the depth of their loyalty to one another.