Brunei, the first Southeast Asian Muslim kingdom?

WHEN did Islam come to Brunei? Most western historians argued that Brunei Darussalam only began to accept Islam in the 16th century, that is, after the fall of the Malacca sultanate in 1511.

A number of historians such as K G Tregonning in his book “From Earliest Time to 1511” (1957), D G E Hall in his book “Sejarah Asia Tenggara” (1979), J F Cady in his book ‘”South East Asia: Its Historical Development” (1963) and Nicholas Tarling in his book “South East Asia: Past and Present”’ (1966) all wrote that Brunei replaced Malacca as the new centre to spread the teachings of Islam.

Robert Nicholl in his book published by the Brunei Museums entitled “European Sources for the History of the Sultanate of Brunei in the 16th century” (1975) compiled a number of European sources, which also suggested that the Brunei sultanate was still not a Muslim nation during the early 16th century.

Pg Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohammad Pg Hj Abd Rahman, the former Minister of Religious Affairs, in his book entitled “Islam di Brunei Darussalam” (1992) noted that western historians did not seem to take into account that Islam had spread widely in Southeast Asia even before the 16th century. Gravestones found in Brunei indicated that Muslims had been buried in the cemeteries with the stones dating a few centuries earlier than the 16th century.

One of the earliest known was a Chinese Muslim by the name of Pu Kung Chihmu, who died in 1276 A D. Therefore, there must be a Muslim community in Brunei which enabled him to be buried as a Muslim when he died. This, according to Pg Dato Hj Mohammad, was not impossible.

He noted that evidences in a number of places in Southeast Asia showed that Islam was already being accepted much earlier. In Leran, East Java a gravestone bearing the name of Fatimah Maimon Hibatullah was found dated 1082 AD; in Champa, Vietnam, a gravestone belonging to Abu Kamil Ahmad was dated 1039 AD; and in Pasai, it was a gravestone belonging to Sultan al-Malik al-Saleh dated 1297 AD.

An article, which recently came to light in support of this, was found in a book published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2000 entitled “The Silk Roads Highways of Culture and Commerce”, which contained a small selection of papers from the international seminars organised during UNESCO Silk Road expeditions.

One of the articles was written by a Chinese scholar by the name of Chen Da-sheng entitled ‘”A Brunei Sultan of the Early Fourteenth Century: A Study of an Arabic Gravestone”, which comprised Chapter Eight of the book.

We are very fortunate that the paper was included, as Brunei at that point in time was not a member of UNESCO. Chen Da-sheng sailed on the expedition ship, the Fulk-al-Salamah, visiting several countries including Brunei. He was from Quanzhou and was interested in the gravestone of Pu Kung Chihmu, who was also from Quanzhou. During his visit, he visited various cemeteries in Brunei.

In his research, Chen Da-sheng was attracted to an article in the Brunei Museums Journal (1987), where two former senior Museum officials, Metassim Hi Jibah and Suhaili Hj Hassan wrote about “Tomb of Maharaja Brunei”, which was found at the Dagang Cemetery at Jalan Residency. He was very surprised that the undated gravestone was very similar to the gravestones that had been found in Quanzhou.

Quanzhou was an important trading harbour during the Song Dynasty. The Ashab Mosque or the Qingjing Mosque is a mosque found in Quanzhou constructed in 1009 AD, and this remained as the oldest Arab-style mosque in China.

In the city, there is also the Yisalangjiao Sheng Mu or Islamic Holy Graves built on the Ling Shan, the mountain of spirits on the East of Quanzhou city. The Yisalangjiao Sheng Mu graves are the resting places of early Islamic missionaries of the 7th century.

Chen Da-sheng immediately recognised that the gravestone belonging to the Emperor of Brunei was similar to the Muslim gravestones that were once used in Quanzhou, and he deduced that the gravestone in Brunei was made in Quanzhou as the material for the gravestone which was ‘diabase’ was not found in Brunei. Diabase or also known as dolerite is a subvolcanic rock similar to volcanic basalt.

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The front of the gravestone had Arabic inscriptions and these were translated to read:

This tomb belongs to the late martyr

Sultan, a learned and just man

a protector and conqueror. He was called

Maharaja Bruni. Forgive him

Allah with His grace and Pleasure

May Allah bless Muhammad

and all his descendants

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The back of the stone had this engraving:

Every soul must taste of death,

and ye shall only be paid your hire

upon the resurrection day

But he who is forced away from the fire

This stone was not dated, and neither was the king who died identified other than as the Maharaja Brunei. As such, this king could not be cross referenced to the royal genealogy of the Sultans of Brunei; and the genealogy began with Sultan Muhammad said to reign from 1363 AD.

Chen Da-sheng noted that in Quanzhou, when excavations were made of these ancient Muslim graves, the majority of gravestones were made from diabase. In the 1920s and 1930s, a great number of these gravestones were excavated when the ancient wall of Quanzhou was demolished. The current collection of Arabic and Persian stones inscriptions of the Quanzhou Foreign Maritime Museum is the richest of all museums in China.

After studying and cross referencing with the gravestones that had been recovered in Quanzhou, Chen Da-sheng discovered that the inscriptions on the Brunei gravestone were very similar to another gravestone belonging to Fatimat Naina Ahmad, who died in Quanzhou in 1301 AD.

Chen Da-sheng believed that the two stones were inscribed by the same people as the writings were identical. No other similar stone has been found in Brunei. Upon discussion with the Brunei Museum officials, it was also confirmed that all the inscriptions for subsequent sultans were written in Jawi with the exception of this gravestone, which was written in Arabic.

With regard to the age, Chen Da-sheng explained that the Muslims in Quanzhou were massacred after they lost a war known as the Ispah Rebellion in 1366 AD, and the winning army killed all the Muslim population they could find. After 1366, it was very hard to find any Arabic inscriptions on any gravestones in Quanzhou. The few that could be found in the outlying villages are different in style, shape and paleography.

Chen Da-sheng argued that based on the facts above, this provided evidence that the Muslim kingdom established in Brunei was certainly during the late 13th and early 14th century. In Chen Da-sheng words, “the Arabic gravestone of Sultan Maharaja Brunei presented evidence that a Muslim kingdom already existed in Brunei about AH 700 (1301 AD). It sheds new light on the study of the early history of the Muslim kingdoms established in Brunei and even in Sumatra.”

If this is true, and supported with the written records of the Boxer Codex, this means that the official date of the first Brunei Muslim sultanate of 1376 AD needs to be adjusted, and that Brunei could be one of the early Malay Muslim kingdoms, or there is even the possibility that Brunei could even be the earliest in the Southeast Asian region.

Currently, Pasai in Sumatra is considered to be the earliest Muslim kingdom because a gravestone belonging to Sultan al-Malik al-Salleh dated 1297 AD was found there. Who knows when exactly did the Brunei Muslim sultanate began? It could be earlier than that of Sultan al-Malik al-Salleh.

The Brunei Times

Sun, 18 September 2016

 

http://bt.com.bn/features/2016/09/17/brunei-first-southeast-asian-muslim-kingdom

 

M’sian cartoonist gets ideas after Subuh (dawn) prayer

LatNur Firdaus Abdul Rahim
KUALA TERENGGANU, MALAYSIA

CARTOONIST Mohd Nor Khalid, or popularly known as Lat, regards Ramadhan not only as the most blessed month, but also the time of the year when he is able to get ideas and inspiration for his work.

Born on March 5, 1951, in Kota Bharu, Perak, Lat, who is known for his cartoon series the ‘Kampung Boy’, said the best time for him to focus on his cartoon work is after the subuh (morning) prayer.

“I can be said to have retired, as my work no longer appeared in the newspapers, but I do still draw just to pass the time and is working to produce a comic book soon.

“So, the best time for me to get ideas for my work is in the morning, when my mind is still fresh.

“During the fasting month, after the ‘sahur’ (pre-dawn meal) and Subuh prayer as well as doing other religious rituals, I’ll spend time until noon on my cartoon work. That’s the time when I can focus,” he told Bernama.

He was met during an event “Jelajah Potret Penerima Anugerah Merdeka” by Petronas Gallery at the State Museum here recently. Lat is one of the recipients of the award. He received it in 2014.

On how he got himself into becoming a cartoonist, Lat said he had the skill since young and his father was the first person to discover his talent. He said most of his work was influenced by local cartoonists at that time like Raja Hamzah, Alias Kulub, Raja Sulaiman and Saidin Yahya.

“My father was the one who actually encouraged me. I remember during my childhood days, he would take us to the circus and when we got home, asked me to draw the animals which performed at the circus.

“That was how my interest in drawing started and it then progressed into drawing cartoons,” he added. The winner of the 2002 Fukuoka Asian Culture Award has so far published more than 20 cartoon series.

The first when he was 13 years of age. Most of his work depicts the life of the multi-racial society in Malaysia. Referring to “Kampung Boy”, he said it was based on his personal observation, life and experience.

“I don’t know how to create political stories because it is not an element that can last in the cartoon world.

“I prefer elements that are more remembered by the people, like friendship, neighbours and living in a society,” he added. He said the role of a cartoonist was not merely to produce work for people to view.

“At the same time, a cartoonist should be an agent to unite the people, especially in a country with various races, only then there is harmony,” he added.

Bernama

Sunday, July 10, 2016

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– See more at: http://www.bt.com.bn/features/2016/07/10/m%E2%80%99sian-cartoonist-gets-ideas-after-dawn#sthash.BTSk9Hih.dpuf

‘The Straits Times’ says: Mosque’s outreach a shining example

MASJID SPORE

SINGAPORE

THE one-year-old Al-Islah Mosque in Punggol, which has already built close ties with neighbouring institutions and residents, embodies ways in which places of worship can help create a more resilient society in these trying times. While the primary purpose of a religious institution is to serve followers, reaching out to the wider community shows the value it places on face-to-face relations. Al-Islah demonstrates this by partnering nearby schools to distribute food to poor families in the neighbourhood. It also opens its doors to others for free guided tours of its premises. Steps like these help to dispel misconceptions of what mainstream Islam stands for. This is especially important given the way some extremist organisations have taken the religion’s name in vain to cloak their dastardly attacks in a semblance of piety.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore notes that the mosque stands as “an important bulwark of Muslim identity and community integrity” in Singapore, where Muslims constitute a minority living in a society undergoing far-reaching changes. Community-friendly initiatives that benefit both Muslims and non-Muslims, such as blood donation drives and assistance to low-income families, help to integrate mosques into the wider life of the nation.

MASJID ALISLAH

Masjid Al-Islah, Kampong Punjol, Singapore

Mosques are not just the focus of religious activities – although that is an essential function – but must act as centres of social development, too. It is in that spirit that they embrace their social calling in a secular state. Muslims, like followers of other religions in Singapore, are reassured that their religious obligations are respected. Simultaneously, they must acknowledge that no community of believers exists in a vacuum, but as part of a larger whole.

This is where Singapore’s model of religious harmony differs from practices in countries that dichotomise religion and public life to the extent that one becomes an affront to the other. Here, religion is accepted as a legitimate influence on social outcomes so long as no faith claims the right to influence these exclusively. Overlapping spheres of belief are anchored in a national centre. A national consensus has emerged on this policy, which treats all religious communities equally. It will be tested from time to time. Insistent foreign influences, travelling via the Internet, do and will make their way into Singapore. Having no stake in Singapore’s common religious and racial future, these groups have no qualms in dividing people. So that they do not lead impressionable minds astray, it is essential for Singapore to curb such influences with its local resources.

In their very co-existence, mosques and other places of worship show that Singaporeans are capable of not just living with religious diversity but also of thriving on it.

The Straits Times
Wednesday, 6 July 2016

MASJID AL-ISLAH

Muslims performing prayer and reading al-Quran at Masjid Al-islah in Kampung Punjol, Singapore.

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/mosques-outreach-a-shining-example

The Tomb of Raja Ayang in Brunei

 

THERE’S a point of interest in the capital that sometimes escapes the attention of passersby, or even the workers in Bandar Seri Begawan who park their cars unassumingly in the car park next to it, but Makam Raja Ayang or the Raja Ayang Mausoleum embodies a sad story that harkens back to Brunei’s past.

The tombstone is dated 1452 AD, which corresponds to the time of Sultan Sulaiman and, according to stories passed down from generation to generation, Raja Ayang was a lady who was a descendant of Ibn Ismail bin Yusof bin Al Aziz Al Khawlani and related to the Brunei Royal family. The lady in question had an unlawful relationship with a sibling, which contravened Islamic religious laws, and was subsequently punished.

During that period, Sultan Sulaiman was known as a king who strictly adhered to Islamic principles. The incident provides a clear picture of the Brunei Sultan at that time, who was firm in carrying out punishments against anyone who went against the Islamic law, and those who were punished were willing to receive the punishments.

In the case of Raja Ayang, no one had the heart to stone the couple to death. However the couple could not be left unpunished, and so they were banished to live in an underground shelter, away from the rest of society, and to live out the rest of their days in seclusion. This punishment was willingly served by the couple, who understood the gravity of their crime. The shelter was shaped like a hill and had many rooms with cooking utensils and sufficient provisions to serve out their sentence. Historians say it was unclear as to how long they survived as some stories recount that they lived for a week, while others for as long as 40 days. According to one historical narrative, the lady was banished to live alone for the rest of her days, while another says she and her entourage voluntarily went to their deaths.

The hill, three metres tall and twelve metres wide, no longer exists as the grave was damaged and levelled by a bomb during the arrival of the allied forces that ended the Japanese occupation of Brunei Town around May 1945. The current mausoleum was renovated and built by the Public Works Department in September 2008, and handed over to the Brunei History Centre upon its completion in October 2009.

Members of The Brunei Museums Department and the History Centre once stumbled across an unmarked gravestone buried a few centimetres away from the Raja Ayang Mausoleum, which had no name or date of death marked on it. Researchers had previously never come across any gravestone at the mausoleum site, apart from Raja Ayang’s, and it is now believed to belong to Raja Ayang’s brother who, according to myth, was buried with her.

Today, visitors can read the story of Raja Ayang which is inscribed on the mausoleum in English, Malay and Jawi script. The inscription also conveys the hope that the punishment dealt was sufficient during the life of the couple that they would be forgiven and not suffer further in the life hereafter.

The Brunei Times,
Friday, May 7, 2010
aayang
Photo Courtesy: Borneo Insider

‘Islamic law recognises babies born out of wedlock as orphans’

 

THE number of orphans registered with the Pengiran Muda Mahkota Al-Muhtadee Billah Orphans Fund (DANA) increased by 130 per cent between 2014 and 2015, a Legislative Council (LegCo) member said yesterday.

Yang Berhormat Datin Paduka Hjh Salbiah Hj Sulaiman questioned the Ministry of Religious Affairs over the sharp increase, asking if children born out of wedlock were classified as “orphans” under Islamic law.

“Although the mortality rate among men is higher than women… this did not indicate any logical explanation for the drastic upsurge in the number of orphans,” she said, pointing out that the number increased from 1,756 to 4,044 in just one year.

“Every child is born in a state of fitrah, clean without any sin,” said YB Datin Hjh Salbiah.

“This includes a baby born out of wedlock, for whom good treatment is obligatory… I wish to get some clarification as to why, in Brunei, an illegitimate child is regarded as an orphan.”

Religious Affairs Minister Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awg Othman explained that according to syariah law, orphans are defined in a number of ways – children whose father has died, children born out of wedlock or abandoned, or children disowned through an oath given by a husband and wife denying parentage.

babies Pehin BO

Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz
Hj Awg Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awg Othman

“In Brunei, if there are no laws or policies on a specific matter, we refer to Islamic law, which recognises them as orphans,” he said.

Belait representative YB Hj Mohd Shafiee Ahmad also voiced concerns on the status of illegitimate children, saying the stigma could have long-term emotional impact. In response, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Halbi Hj Md Yussof said the Community Development Department provides counseling and other programmes to support such children, in collaboration with other government agencies.

“The Community Development Department focuses more on preventive programmes so that the (frequency of) cases can be contained,” he said.

“We need to brainstorm and implement the appropriate programmes to focus on how people can (play their role in) reducing the number of children born out of wedlock through the National Council on Social Issues and Action Team on Child Protection.”

The Brunei Times

Thursday, March 17, 2016

babies outwed

 

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2016/03/17/%E2%80%98islamic-law-recognises-babies-born-out-wedlock-orphans%E2%80%99

Sultan of Brunei questions delay in Syariah law enforcement

 

HIS Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, yesterday ordered authorities to explain the two-year delay in the phased enforcement of Syariah Penal Code Order.

The monarch said the Syariah law has remained “stagnant” without any progress after being actively pursued for a brief period following the launch of the Order in 2014.

Delivering his titah during a meeting with the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) at the Legislative Council (LegCo) building, His Majesty questioned how many of the Syariah law provisions have been enforced.

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“How long has passed since it was launched and gazetted until now? It has already been two years but it is still at the stage where only general offences are dealt with.

“What about the other phases? When will they be implemented? I expect the ministry concerned might respond by saying that the Syariah Penal Code could not be fully enforced at this stage because the CPC (Syariah Courts Criminal Procedure Code) has not been finalised,” the Sultan added.

The CPC outlines the rules for conducting criminal proceedings, from the investigation to prosecution.

His Majesty said authorities might respond by saying they are still waiting for the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to finalise the vetting of the draft documents.

“My next question is when will the draft law be sent to the AGC? Their response might be that it was already sent in 2014,” His Majesty said.

The Sultan went on to say that if this was the case, it is most regrettable because two years have passed and yet the CPC has not been completed.

“How thick is the draft? The AGC might tell us there are many other legal documents that need to be urgently dealt with too. The vetting of the CPC will only be able to be finalised in June 2016, after it has stalled for two years,” the monarch said.

His Majesty said this is an “unacceptable excuse”.

“It is as if people will be under the impression that the Syariah Penal Code is worthless as a law mechanism. Where is the Minister of Religious Affairs? And where is the Attorney General? Why have they not come forward to remedy this unsatisfactory situation?” the Sultan questioned.

The first phase of the Syariah Penal Code was enforced on May 1, 2014. His Majesty added that before the second phase can be implemented, the country has to wait for another 12 months after the CPC can be gazetted.

“Now two years have gone by, but the CPC is not gazetted yet and the vetting process has not even started. This means that after it is gazetted in 2016, we have to wait another year, until 2017 before the second phase can be implemented.”

He said it will be 2018 by the time the third phase of the Syariah law can be enforced.

“So when will the penal code be ready to be fully implemented? Is it true to say that the officers responsible in vetting the draft legislation could not do so as a matter of urgency? Is it just a matter of vetting or did they intentionally refuse to vet?” His Majesty questioned.

The monarch asked why had the religious affairs minister and attorney general failed to keep tabs on how the work was being done by their officers.

“May I remind all that we did not formulate the law out of whims and fancies but we do it solely for the sake of Allah, not in pursuit of glamour. Working for Allah must be done earnestly,” His Majesty said.

Religious education

His Majesty also raised concerns on the direction and future of Arabic education in the country.

Arabic schools are established to bring forth those who are competent in religious knowledge, with the objective of eventually getting Islamic scholars or ulama. With this in mind, Arabic schools must prioritise religious subjects such as Arabic language, fiqh, tauhid, Quran, hadith and tafsir, he said.

He added that this must be done without ignoring the importance of subjects such as Malay language, English language and Mathematics.

Everything went well since the inception, but Arabic schools introduced the science stream from the 1980s, making it compulsory to take Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Additional Mathematics – subjects that are available in mainstream schools under the Ministry of Education, he said.

This meant that students who took the science subjects are required to reduce the number of religious subjects so that it will not be too burdensome, and thus science subjects came to gain more prominence than religious subjects, he continued.

Science stream classes at Arabic Schools currently only offer classes up to O-levels. After completing their O-levels, the students would have to transfer to mainstream schools if they wish to pursue the sciences.

“At that point, they are no longer considered students of Arabic schools and they completely stop studying religious subjects after their O-levels,” he said.

The monarch said there is a need to review the impact of introducing the sciences in Arabic schools when it was implemented in the 1980s.

“Unfortunately, no such research has been done, we do not know the implications whether good and bad of introducing Science stream classes back in the 1980s,” he said.

The Arabic religious education system is experiencing major changes with the implementation of the National Education System for the 21st Century (SPN21).

Under the education system, Arabic school students will be able to master both religious and Science stream subjects. Year 11 students at Arabic secondary schools will have to sit for two major examinations, including the O-levels for their mainstream subjects and the Brunei Islamic Studies Certificate (SPUB) for their religious curriculum.

In Year Nine, the students will be divided into three streams based on their results: 1) fast track Science stream for students who obtained excellent results; 2) normal track Science stream for students who obtained ‘very good’ results; and 3) Arabic stream for students who obtained ‘good’ results and below.

The Sultan said the grading of the three streams reflects that the Arabic stream is of third class level, not on par with the other two categories.

They are also required to study all subjects for their SPUB and O-level examinations simultaneously, possibly doubling the number of subjects that need to be taken in mainstream schools, he added.

“Wouldn’t such a system make it burdensome for Arabic school students and difficult for teachers to teach and complete the syllabus with that many subjects?”

He added that this can cause students to choose the Science stream over the Arabic stream.

The monarch said it is generally known that religious education subjects are more difficult and taxing compared to the other subjects, a factor that can push students away from Arabic classes in favour of the sciences.

“All these need to be deliberated on as thoroughly as possible to save and popularise religious subjects so that they will be seen as a good choice, more attractive and more appealing than non-religious subjects, not a means to open an opportunity for them to get away or escape from.

“This is a matter of much concern to me – the future direction of Arabic schools. Are their roles fading into irrelevancy or diverting towards another direction. All these call for a thorough reassessment to turn back to its original course. Let it not be changed,” he added.

Islamic propagation

The monarch said da’wah (dissemination of Islamic teachings) in the country is still weak and needs to be strengthened amid uncertain times and social ills affecting the country.

Among the issues raised were the number of propagators at the Islamic Da’wah Centre and whether they were properly trained.

“In addition to having many propagators, we want the da’wah delivered to be effective. Effective da’wah is successful da’wah,” he said.

His Majesty pointed out that one important medium of the da’wah is through the mimbar. The mimbar is a pulpit where the imam delivers the sermon in mosques.

“It is vital to deliver effective messages in the sermons. That is why all aspects must be taken into account, starting from preparation, content, writing, policy guidelines and lastly, the individual who will deliver the sermon,” he said.

His Majesty said it is important to practise discretion in deciding the content of the sermon, adding that the content must be appropriate.

He gave an example of an incident where SEA Games become the topic of a sermon. “The khatib (sermon readers) called upon congregants and Muslims to flock to the stadium to witness the events that would take place. We might say that sports is not something Islamically impermissible, but for a khatib to persuade and herd people to the stadium, in my opinion, is something that needs to be given thorough deliberation.

“Have we exhausted all topics and there is no other more important issue other than the SEA Games? This is what discretion is in the choice of topic along with the need to adhere to policy guidelines on sermons,” he added.

The Sultan said khatibs need guidelines on the correct way of delivering the sermon.

“Some readers are too tense and some were repetitive in their presentation. Is this what is expected of them by the Mosque Affairs Department? Where are the mosque affairs officers? Have they not come across incidents like these,” he asked.

Official visits and functions

His Majesty went on to say that it is not necessary for both the Minister of Religious Affairs and his deputy to make visits together as one should stay at the ministry and attend to pressing matters, such as the need to formulate policies for schools and the Islamic Da’wah Centre.

“The minister and his deputy minister should not simply enjoy making visits upon visits, for instance to schools, mosques and elsewhere. In doing so, both of them pay a visit to the same place and enjoy media coverage,” His Majesty said.

The monarch also said there is no need for all senior government officials to attend official functions that were held either in the day or at night.

“It is alright to make a visit and hold a function, but if the events are becoming too many and frequent, what about office work and worse, if too many attend them – the minister, his deputy minister and a horde of other officers! Is it not more reasonable for one of them to make the visit while the other stays behind?

“Is it not true that there are a lot of more pressing matters that need to be dealt with and given serious thought in the office?

He said other pressing matters include formulating policies for schools, Islamic Da’wah Centre, mosques, zakat (tithes), following up on the development of new converts, maintenance and upkeep of Muslim cemeteries and burial grounds, as well as halal certification.

Following the meeting, His Majesty visited the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which houses several units under the Islamic Religious Council before making a stop at the Islamic Da’wah Centre.

The Brunei Times

Sunday, February 28, 2016

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Record for longest chain of knotted sarongs set at inaugural Mosque Family Day in Singapore

sarong_mosque2

Lee Min Kok and Lim Yi Han

SINGAPORE

THE first ever Mosque Family Day was attended by more than 7,000 members from Singapore’s 69 mosques, who gathered at Pasir Ris Park on Sunday (Jan 31) for a day of bonding activities.

A Singapore record for the longest chain of knotted sarongs – measuring 530m – was also set at the event, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said in a press release.

More than 500 people were involved in tying the sarongs from one end to the other, symbolising close bonds within the community and the nation.

Mosque Family Day was held in recognition of the mosque volunteers who had sacrificed their time to serve the Muslim community, with six families given the inaugural Mosque exemplary Family Awards to honour their contributions.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, Muis president Mohd Alami Musa, Muis chief executive Abdul Razak Maricar, and Mufti of Singapore, Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram attended the event.

Speaking to the media, Dr Yaacob, who was guest of honour, said that the mosques have become “significant nodes within the national grid”, contributing to social cohesion through their close links with grassroots organisations, Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles, social service offices and other voluntary welfare organisations.

He cited the examples of mosques actively partnering with national agencies such as the Health Promotion Board to promote a healthy lifestyle, and the National Environment Agency to care for the environment.

Moving forward, mosques will continue to open their doors to the wider community regardless or race or religion, Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, added.

The Straits Times

Sunday, 31 January 2016

sarong_mosque1

 

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/record-for-longest-chain-of-knotted-sarongs-set-at-inaugural-mosque-family-day