THOSE who preach Islam without written permission from the authorities face up to two years in prison, the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) said, adding that the new Syariah Penal Code is aimed at discouraging “extremist” or “liberal” teachings.
The new law, which takes effect this April, states that any individual or body that wants to teach any matter related to Islam must obtain written permission from the Brunei Islamic Religious Council.
Failure to do so is an offence punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $8,000.
“Only those that meet the qualifications will be given permission,” said the ministry in a statement issued during a briefing on the new legislation for government education officers.
“This (law) ensures that the teaching of Islam in this country is made pursuant to Ahli Sunnah Wal Jemaah by limiting the spread of teachings contrary to Islam.”
However, the law does not apply to any imam, bilal, religious teacher, or religious officer appointed by the government. It also does not apply to any officer of the Syariah Court, religious enforcement officer, any member of the Brunei Islamic Religious Council, or any committee or secretary of the council.
Any person who teaches Islam to his family members in his own residence is also exempt from this law.
In the statement, MoRA urged Muslims to avoid exposure to “negative elements”, particularly those who preach extremist or liberal teachings.
Some 2,500 employees of the Ministry of Education were briefed on the Syariah Penal Code over a three-day period. Attending the briefing yesterday was Permanent Secretary at MoE (core education) Dr Hj Junaidi Hj Abd Rahman and other senior officials.
This is the latest in a series of briefings organised by the Prime Minister’s Office and MoRA to spread awareness among government employees of the Syariah Penal Code.
The Brunei Times
Wednesday, March 5, 2014