BI empowers Islamic boarding school (pesantren) to achieve financial inclusion

SONY DSCSatya Festiani

BANK Indonesia (BI) empowers Indonesian Islamic boarding school, or known as pesantren, to achieve financial inclusion.

“We increase the capability through technical meeting and assistance,” Governor of BI Agus Martowardojo said during National Seminar on Empowering Pesantren in Surabaya, Wednesday, Nov 5. The assistance includes recording and managing their money. BI also educates the santri on financial access.

The financial education aims to elevate their knowledge on financial system. The santri is expected to transmit the knowledge to people so that more people enter the financial system, especially banking account. Increasing people’s investment in financial system can boost the economic growth.

Financial inclusion means that more people having access to financial system, including banking and insurance. The better financial inclusion also means economic growth will be more sustainable.

Agus Martowardoyo

Agus Martowardoyo

In Indonesia, only 48 percent of households have access to finance, based on BI survey. Martowardojo said that pesantren could increase the financial inclusion. According to composition of the country’s religion based population, 82 percent of Indonesians are Muslims. Its growing populations make pesantren develop accordingly.

Based on the data from Ministry of Religious Affairs, Indonesia had only 9.388 pesantrens with 1.771.000 students, or known as santris, in 1997. As of now, the number grows significantly. The country has 28.000 pesantren with 4 million students,

The Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said the cooperation was in accordance with the mission of pesantren, which is developing people’s welfare. The cooperation with Indonesian central bank also helps pesantren deter its challenges. One of them is on managing the asset of pesantren.

“Many pesantrens are overwhelming. People trust them with wakaf. Pesantren has to use it for the benefit of people,” he said. Lukman said, BI played the role on assisting santri to manage the money and asset from wakaf.

Thu, 6 November 2014


EU prepares prayer rooms for Indonesian students

EU prayer room

THE European Union (EU) has prepared worship facilities such as prayer rooms for Indonesian students keen on taking up studies at European universities, either through scholarships or bearing their own expenses.

“We support some facilities such as prayer rooms, halal food, transportation, and shelter for the Muslim students who want to undertake studies in Europe,” EU Ambassador to Indonesia Olof Skoog noted here on Thursday (6/11).

According to Olof, the facility was provided, so that those who lived or studied in Europe could focus on their task at hand without worrying about finding places of worship.

Olof Skoog

Olof Skoog

“We have prepared a few things to entertain the guests who come to Europe,” Olof remarked.

As the EU is providing an opportunity to visit the continent by offering scholarships, so the supporting facilities are being developed in order to attract more students.

Meanwhile, an alumnus from France Dwi Setyowati, who received scholarship, confirmed that the facilities provided to Muslim students have increased.

“Recently, the European universities established prayer rooms on campuses, so that the students could concentrate on their studies,” Dwi noted.

She pointed out that Halal food was widely available on campus, so the food choices of the students could be ably catered.

“There is a lot of Halal food available. I suggest that you have to cook in a bid to save money,” she added.

In 2014, the EU cooperated with renowned universities by offering thousands of scholarships through varied channels.

Thu, 6 November 2014

In Brunei, there are non-Muslim students achieve higher grades in Islamic knowledge examination than Muslim students

bru studAk Md Khairuddin Pg Harun

MAJORITY of non-Muslim parents are not concerned that their children have to study Islamic Religious Studies (IRK) at schools in Brunei.

An Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) officer, Hjh Zahrinah, said most non-Muslim parents are supportive, mainly due to its disciplinary principles in shaping children’s characters and see no problem in their children studying IRK.

“Most parents who are non-Muslim understand that the IRK subject does not force children to convert to Islam, but is aimed at teaching the values of Islam that instill discipline,” Hjh Zahrinah told The Brunei Times on the sideline of the Physical and Mental Health Programme for Primary School teachers held at the Agro Technology Park.

However, in one isolated case, she said that a complaint was filed by parents who disapproved of their children to studying the IRK subject.

“Those parent sent their children to a private school,” said Hjh Zahrinah, not disclosing the name of the school to protect the identity of the child. The other concern, she said was that many parents thought studying IRK would affect the overall grades of their children. However, the IRK officer clarified that these were isolated cases as in general most non-Muslim parents do not see the subject as a tool to influence their children towards Islam.

Ustazah Hjh Sinega Siwerdi, Head Division of Religious School, said that there are non-Muslim students who achieved higher grades in IRK examination than Muslim students.

“This shows that even non-Muslims want to learn about Islam,” she said.

Ustazah Hjh Sinega said that there were Muslim students who are not aware of the basic teachings of Islam like performing prayers or mandi wajib (complete cleanse of the body).

“That’s why the Islamic Religious Studies Department held this type of programme such as Shabab Ul-Islam (Islamic activities) for selected students to polish their knowledge about the basics of the religion,” she said.

According to Hj Saleh Hj Nasir, Head of Primary School Unit, IRK Division, the objective of the programme was to strengthen the relationship between religious teachers. The guest of honour was Ustazah Hjh Asmah Hj Randah, the Director of Islamic Knowledge at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

More than 255 religious teachers from government primary schools in all districts, except Temburong, participated in the programme, organised by the Committee of Head of religious teachers of Government Primary Schools (Jawatankuasa Ketua Guru Ugama Sekolah Rendah Kerajaan (JaKGU SRK BM).

The Brunei Times
Monday, June 9, 2014

Isra’ Mikraj, a rich source of inspiration and lessons


LIKE all the events and occasions related to our beloved Prophet Muham-mad (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), the night journey of Isra’ Mikraj, commemorated on the 27th of Rejab, is a rich source of inspiration and lessons.

The details of the Messenger of Allah’s miraculous visit to Masjidil Aqsa in Jerusalem, the scenes that he witnessed in his ascension to the heavens and his people’s response to the news of the event are all worthy of reflection. In many ways they are still relevant to our daily life.

Fourteen hundred years ago Isra’ Mikraj brought to the world something that changed the course of history. The event is a fact that has been mentioned in Al-Quran and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

The Prophet’s night journey raised a good deal of stir among people, and the skeptical audience plied Muhammad (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with all sorts of questions. The disbelievers found it a suitable opportunity to jeer at the Muslims and their creed. They pestered the Prophet with questions as to the description of the Mosque at Jerusalem, where he had never gone before, and to their astonishment, the Prophet’s replies furnished the most accurate information about it. However, this increased in them nothing but flight from Islam, and they accepted nothing but disbelief.

But for true Muslims, there was nothing unusual about it. Allah the Almighty, Who is powerful enough to have created the heavens and the earth, is surely powerful enough to take His Messenger beyond the heavens and show him firsthand those signs of His that are inaccessible to people otherwise.

“Glory be to Him Who made His servant (the Prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque (Masjidil haram) to the remote mosque (Masjidil Aqsha) of which We have blessed the precincts, so that We may show to him some of Our signs; surely He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” (Al-Israa’ 17:1)

Among the most significant lessons of Isra’ Mikraj is knowing the importance of Solat (prayer), because it is through prayers that one can directly communicate with his Almighty Lord. It is known that Solat was ordained on that great night and it is because of the great importance of prayer that Allah SWT ordained it in heaven. He the Almighty sent His Messenger (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to mankind and made him to go on a night journey and ascend to heaven to inform him of the ordinance of prayers.

Therefore, Muslims should be thankful to Allah SWT for this gift. We should take care of it and never neglect it. It is the thing that allows us the Muslims to communicate with the Creator five times a day.

Solat is the spiritual means through which Muslims can ascend to their Lord. If the Prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) ascended to heaven (once), we his ummah (Muslim community) could spiritually ascend to our Lord the Exalted as much as we can through prayers. Solat is considered essential if we are to call ourselves Muslims.

Alhamdulillah, we took ‘Sembahyang teras kekuatan ummah’ (Prayers as the community’s pillar of strength) as the theme in this year’s celebration of this important event as mentioned by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in his titah. And the best prayers are those performed in congregation and in the masjid (mosques).

Indeed, mass (congregational) prayers can build a strong ummah. As the acting rector of Universiti Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), Pg Anak Dr Hj Amiruddin Alam Shah Pg Anak Dr Hj Ismail said in his lecture during the Isra’ Mikraj celebration, Muslims should perform mass prayers in straight rows because it determines “our sense of brotherhood with one another”.

A hadith of Prophet Muhammad states the rows must be straight and not crooked. This is important to prevent difference in hearts among the Muslim community; the ummah will become weak and not truthful to one another, which affects our religion.

The routine of prayer will make us better Muslims. The greatest one of all is that it will help us to put our lives into perspec-tive, seeing that all things come from Allah and that it is to Allah that all will return.

By praying at the set times we give a routine of prayer to our day. We wake up thinking of Allah and we spend the day interrupting all of our busyness to think of Him again, to thank Him and to praise Him alone.

Indeed, the angels in heaven exist just to do this. In the holy Quran we read: (Most surely, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find solace.) (Ar Rad 13:28)

Let us reflect on what His Majesty said in his titah during Isra’ Mikraj celebration in June 2012. At that time, His Majesty reminded all Muslim households in the country to perform their five daily prayers diligently. “Make sure that every member of the household — the parents (the husband and the wife), the children and even the domestic helper performs their five daily prayers. Not even one person (in the family) should be allowed to neglect this religious obligation.”

Prayer, he said, takes precedence among all religious obligations in the presence of Allah SWT and to neglect prayer is to turn down blessings, where blessings are precious, so much so that no price or figure is able to estimate its value.

The Brunei Times/Editorial
Friday, May 30, 2014

Paid in full


THIS is not a new story circulating in the Internet, but it is still a heart-warmer.

Hunger pangs forced the poor boy, selling goods door-to-door to pay his way through school, to stop and check his pocket. Only one thin dime left. He decided to ask for something to eat at the next house, but soon lost his nerve upon being greeted by a young woman at the door.

So he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry, so she brought him a large glass of milk.

He drank slowly, and asked, ‘’How much do I owe you?’’
‘’Nothing. Mother taught has never to accept pay for a kindness.’’

The boy left the house not only feeling stronger physically but also in his faith. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled and finally sent her to the big city for specialists to study
her rare disease. Doctor Faisal Ahmad was called in for consultation.

When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled her eyes.

Immediately he rose and went down the hospital halls to her room. He recognised her at once. From that day on, he gave special attention to her. By the grace of Allah, the battle was won. Doctor Ahmad requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room.

She looked and read these words on the side of the bill, “Paid in full with one glass of milk. Signed, Dr. Faisal Ahmad.’’

The Brunei Times/Mutma’inaa
Fri, 23 May 2014

‘Iman Detector’ – A message to (Bruneian) youths

doaA COUNTRY can be dangerously under a threat if its radar system does not work properly and fails to detect any incoming threat. Likewise, every Muslim individual needs to possess a more sensitive radar system to detect any threat or bad influence that could affect and ruin his/her iman (faith), aqidah (creed/piety) and Islamic values.

There must be something wrong with our “iman detector” when we, as Muslims, no longer feel bothered upon hearing our religion, Islam, its teachings and laws (Syariah) being made a joke, let alone taking part and enjoying the mockery of Islam with no guilty feeling. When people begin to change and differ amongst themselves and become negligent of many religious duties, preferring ease and following their desires, that’s when evil begins to manifest itself in them.

When one begins to doubt, question, condemn, or, even, reject the Syariah, the Law of Allah the Almighty, the Creator, the Justice Giver, then one needs to think: Have we left and neglected the clear and pure religion of Islam.

We don’t want to see any of Bruneians, especially our youth – the pillar and future leaders of the nation – to go through such a dangerous and destructive situation. If any of us experience any of these situations then our hearts might have become rusty, and need to be cleansed — once and for all.

Alhamdulillah, it is encouraging to know that the authorities always find ways to help and safeguard our youth from going astray with risky activities. The Islamic Da’wah Centre, for example, recently held an Islamic appreciation course targeted at unemployed youths or job-seekers, and said: “The course is slowly gaining popularity seen from the increased number of youths that want to join. The course shows promise of youth participation as registrations are still coming despite being closed.”

As the centre put it, it was difficult to get participants when the course first started three years ago.

It is OK that in the initial stages, the programme is targeted at unemployed youths with activities aimed at producing young generation of positive characteristics, such as those of faith, integrity, dynamism and creativity among others.

The authorities must not stop there. More such programmes need to be organised and target a much wider audience. This is a very strategic move indeed, considering the serious challenges faced by our youth. So it must be handled and managed in more elegant way and more organised manner. Other stakeholders must also play their roles in this noble cause; it is not only the duty of the Islamic Da’wah Centre. The more crucial challenge will be on how to attract and involve more and more youths in such programmes that need to be improved from time to time, to safeguard our youth from the adverse effect of modernisation and from the liberal, secular and other deviant teachings and schools of thought.

And most importantly is how to make or package the programmes so as to help make our youth more obedient towards Allah SWT. Once we have our youth reaching at this level of obedience then we are closer to achieving a Zikir Nation where its people always have their hearts and minds in the remembrance of the Creator, the All-Knowing, the All-Hearing.

The Brunei Times/Editorial
Fri, 23 May 2014


‘MindPlus’ app close to breaking 1k downloads

bru mindplus app


A LOCAL Islamic Knowledge application is close to 1,000 downloads since being uploaded onto the Apple App Store early March.

The application, ‘MindPlus’ was developed by PHMD Publishing Company and saw downloads from over 40 countries including the US, Canade, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, said iCentre in a statement.

The application features a wide variety of animations and articles which had been checked and endorsed by Pusat Da’wah Islamiah.

It aims to make users easily understand matters relating to the daily lives of a Muslim and Islam.

Users can get regular new content, such as video animations, by subscribing US$1.99 per month.

The MindPlus application was supported by the LEAP Grant awarded by the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), Authority for Infocommunications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AiTi) and iCentre.

The application had won several awards including the Ignite Open Category 2012, Brunei ICT Awards 2012, Brunei ICT Awards 2013 and ASEAN ICT Awards 2013.

The Brunei Times
Thu, 22 May 2014

Ak Mohd Khairi (Front R) and his development team at PHMD Publishing. Photo: BT/Al-Haadi Abu Bakar

Ak Mohd Khairi (Front R) and his development team at PHMD Publishing. Photo: BT/Al-Haadi Abu Bakar