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

bru penal codes


8th International Islamic Borneo Conference: ‘Da’wah must be carried out more aggressively in Borneo ‘

ISLAMIC da’wah efforts should be supported by all levels of society in order to preserve the glories of Islamic civilisation in Borneo, said the rector of Universiti Teknologi Mara Sarawak.

Professor Dato Dr Jamil Hj Hamali highlighted this during the adjournment of the eighth International Islamic Borneo Conference (KAIB VIII) yesterday at the Rizqun International Hotel which was coordinated by Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), Universiti Teknologi Mara Sarawak and Islamic Da’wah Centre Brunei.

Twelve resolutions were made following the two-day conference held at UNISSA.

Among the resolutions, Professor Dato Dr Jamil highlighted that da’wah activities must be carried out more aggressively in the communities within Borneo through methodological approaches and monitoring.

“Especially the youth; they should be given strong religious knowledge and awareness of the importance of the relationship between ethnic and racial solidarity,” he said.

“All parties must play their role to create interaction and positive social integration in the society for the purpose of preaching,” he added.

Professor Dato Dr Jamil said in regards to the economy and education among Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak, they must be strengthened as a medium to enhance the position and continuation of the Islamic communities of the two states.

He highlighted that Brunei has been successful in strengthening the implementation of Islamic values in its community, especially through the collaboration between UNISSA, the State Mufti’s Office and the Islamic Da’wah Centre embolding Islamic da’wah within the sultanate.

Muslims in Borneo should also ensure that the ASEAN community in Borneo fulfils the Maqasid Syariah(noble objectives of Islamic Law) concept by taking into account the needs, stability and sensitivities of all parties, Professor Dato Dr Jamil said.

Professor Dato Dr Jamil then highlighted that the development of Information and Communication Technology and media should also be harnessed as a means of making da’wah activities more effective and proactive.

He added that dai’e (inviters to Islam) and academic experts should also work together in maintaining the Islamic education system in Borneo by maximising the efforts of relaying knowledge and understanding of Islam to the community, especially in rural areas.

The rector also touched on the verification of halal statuses in the food industry, consumables, cosmetics and other products, as it should be streamlined among the authorities across Borneo.

Reviews of the arrival of Islam in Borneo manuscripts in connection with the preachers and Islamic civilisations should also be expanded, as there are many manuscripts that have been collected but have not been studied, he said.

Professor Dato Dr Jamil added that mosque structuring organisations should also be strengthened and expanded as one of the Hisbah institutions that realises the objective of zakat and wakaf institutions in Borneo.

He said the conference has resolved to maintain and strengthen the good relations and cooperation between the Brunei, Sarawak and Sabah governments.

He concluded by thanking His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, for his consent to organise the seminar.

The Brunei Times

Friday, September 4, 2015

Indonesian rockers-turned-Muslim preachers


No one knows the future of mankind, including these Indonesian rockers. In the past, they are known as a rock singer and musician. From the stage, they always amazed the audience with rock music.

When they were victorious in the world of music, the rockers got a lot of fans. Music, songs, and even their fashion style imitated by the audience. Wherever they got orders to perform on the stage, they got blaring praises from their fans.

But who would have thought, for a moment and then everything changed. The rockers are willing to remove their fames, abundant wealth, and sparkling entertainment. They preferred to serve God.

As if enlightened, they began to organize the life with the religious roots. They also spread the peace of Islam to the public. They are now Muslim preachers who spreading Islam from one public religious gathering to another.

Some of them choose preaching through songs, such as when they were still rockers. Here are some of the former Indonesian rockers who became preachers. They are (the late) Gito Rollies, Hari Moekti, Irvan Sembiring, Yuke Sumeru, Aunur Rofiq Lil Firdaus (Opick), and Saktia Ari Seno (Sakti).

Bangun Sugito Tukiman (Gito Rollies)

Bangun Sugito Tukiman (Gito Rollies)

Hari Moekti as a rocker

Hari Moekti as a rocker

Hari Moekti as a Muslim preacher.

Hari Moekti as a Muslim preacher.

Raden Rizki Mulyawan Kertanegara Hayang Denada Kusuma (Irvan Sembiring)

Raden Rizki Mulyawan Kertanegara Hayang Denada Kusuma (Irvan Sembiring)

Aunur Rofiq Lil Firdaus (Opick)

Aunur Rofiq Lil Firdaus (Opick)

Yuke Sumeru

Yuke Sumeru

Saktia Ari Seno (Sakti)

Saktia Ari Seno (Sakti)

‘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


Mohammad Natsir

MOHAMMAD Natsir, a leading Muslim figure and former prime minister, passed away, On 6 February 1993. His death followed from complications from a heart disease, pneumonia, and bronchitis. He died at the Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital where he had been in intensive care for three months. He was buried the next day at the public cemetery of Karet, Central Jakarta, beside the tomb of his wife, Putri Nurnahar.

Mohammad Natsir, who bore the traditional Minangkabau “Datuk Sinaro Panjang”, was born in Alahan Panjang, Solok Regency, West Sumatra, on 17 July 1908. After completing the Adabiyah (Arts) section of the HIS (Hollandsch-Inlandsche School – Duthc-Native School), and madrasah as well as the MULO (Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderweij – Dutch tyoe of extended primary education) in Padang (1916-1927), West Sumatra, he continued his studies at the AMS – Algemene Middlebare School (Dutch-type General Secondary School) in Bandung, West java. In this city, he also studied Islamic religion with A Hassan, one of the founders of the Persatuan Islam (Persis) and was involved in political life through some Islamic-oriented organizations such as the Jong islamieten Bond (JIB), Boedi Oetomo, Syarikat Islam (SI), and the Muhammadiyah. With Hassan, he directed the magazine Pembela Islam (Defender of Islam).

His political career continued when he became an executive member of the Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat (KNIP – Central Indonesian National Committee) (1945-1946), minister of information in three successive cabinets (1946-1949), chairman of the Masyumi Party (1949-1958), prime minister (1950-1951), and member of the rebellious Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia (PRRI, Revolutionary Government of the Indonesian Republic) (1958-1960). For this last mentioned activity, he was jailed by the Soekarno regime in Batu, near Malang, East Java (1960-1962) and in Jakarta (1962-1966).

His monumental merit to Indonesian political history was when his proposal, which was known as “the integral motion of Natsir”, was accepted by the Parliament in 1950. The proposal led to re-creation of the unified state of Republik Indonesia (RI) and the end of the one-year old Republik Indonesia Serikat (RIS, United States of Indonesia). The RIS consisted of 17-Dutch-created puppet states. It was on these grounds that President Sukarno appointed him prime minister.

In the same year, he represented the Indonesian government at an international Islamic meeting in Karachi, Pakistan. On this occasion, he spoke on Pancasila, the first speech made by an Indonesian leader abroad on the Indonesian state ideology. In 1982, however, he once more spoke on Pancasila to the House of Representatives. This time together with a number of leaders from various Islamic organizations, he asked the government to purify the ideology because it had deviated from the original spirit.

He was also known for his polemics on religious and poltical matters with Sukarno, who represented the (“secular”) Nationalist group, when the latter figure in exile in Ende, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, in the 1930s.

Likewise famous was his address of 12 November 1957 before the Dewan Konstituante entitled Pilih Antara Dua Jalan: Agama atau Tanpa Agama (Choose Between Two Ways: Religion or without Religion). Natsir pronounced his address at the moment that the Konstituate had to decide on the fundamental ideology of the state. However, before the Konstituante could take a decision, it was dispersed by President Sukarno using the argument that the quorum had not been reached. This was what Natsir called a coup d’etat by Sukarno.

Natsir also criticized Soeharto’s presidency, saying that he limited the activities of the Indonesian mass organizations and political parties. In 1980, he was one of the signatories to a critical petition to the Indonesian government. Because of the number of signatories, their statement became known as the “Petisi 50”. As a consequence of this move the signatories underwent what they called “the loss of civil rights”. They were hampered in their business and in traveling abroad. Natsir was several times unable to attend international Islamic meetings.

However, a month before the Indonesian election in June 1992, he called on Muslims to support the Muslim-backed PPP. According to him, his call was aimed at defending the multi-party system in Indonesian political life. He even urged the MPR to limit the maximum span of office for an Indonesian president to two terms. The MPR should dare to discuss this matter before they elected the new president, he added.

Since 1967, Natsir had been concentrating on Islamic propagation by establishing the Yayasan Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia (Yayaan DDII, Foundation of the Indonesian Islamic Propagation Council). Afterwards, he was appointed vice president of the Karachi-based Mu’tamar al-Alam al-Islami (World Muslim League, 1969), member of Majlis al-a’la al-Islami lil-Masajid (the World Mosques council, 1972), member of the Founding Board of the International Islamic Charitable Foundation, Kuwait (1985), as well as member of the Founding Board of the Oxfors Centre for Islamic Studies, Great Britain, and member of the Council of Trustees of the International Islamic university of Islamabad, Pakistan (1986). In 1980, he received the “Faisal Award” for his dedication to Islam from the King Faisal Foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Besides politics and religion, he was also active in the education sector. He was director of Islamic education of Bandung for ten years (1932-1942) and afterwards head of the Office for Education in the same city (1942-1945).

He also wrote a number of books, among them Kapita Selecta, Marilah Salat! (Let’s Pray!) and Islam dan Kristen di Indonesia (Islam and Christianty in Indonesia). His address of 1957, Pilih antara Dua Jalan, was translated into Arabic by Geys Ammar (the present chairman of Al-Irsyad) and was published in the Syrian Muslim magazine Al-Muslimun (managed by Sa’id Ramadan, a figure of al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun organization and son-in-law of Hasan al-Banna, founder of the organization. In 1970, this Arabic translation was published as a book under the title Ikhtaru ahad al-sabilayn: al-din aw al-ladiniyah. Accordng to Geys Ammar, this book has become a reference work in the Middle East.

In the middle of February 1993, a group of students from the Universitas Islam Bandung (Unisba), West Java, issued an appeal to the government to name M. Natsir a national hero. Later they were followed by a number of Muslim students in Yogyakarta, united in the Generasi Muda Muslim Yogyakarta (GMYY, Muslim Young Generation of Yogyakarta).

Finally, their efforts were successful after fifteen years later. On 6 November 2008, the Indonesian government bestowed Natsir a national hero.

Source: Darul Aqsha, Dick van der Meij and Johan Hendrik Meuleman, Islam in Indonesia: A Survey of Events and Developments from 1988 to March 1993. Jakarta: INIS, 1995); Wikipedia

Teaching Islam in Brunei needs to seek the authority’s approval

bru teachAk Khairuddin Pg Harun

STUDENTS should not be discouraged from teaching Islam to others, as they only need to seek approval from the relevant authority to do so, a speaker from the Islamic Da’wah Centre said recently.

Ustazah Dk Norhayati Pg Hj Kasharan acknowledged concerns that teaching Islam without written approval was one of the general offences listed under Section 229 of the Syariah Penal Code Order, the first phase of which will be implemented next month.

Addressing students on day two of the Fourth Islam Aspiration Week 2014, the speaker informed students that they can get written approval if they passed an interview with the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB).

“The reason the Brunei government has this order is to have a monitoring body to regulate the number of foreign Muslim lecturers who come to the country to deliver their teachings,” said Ustazah Dk Norhayati.

“The Syariah Penal Code Order is written to protect our aqidah (beliefs) as Brunei strictly adheres to the Mazhab Syafi’e school of Islamic Fiqh of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama’ah,” she added.

Responding to a question posed by The Brunei Times, Ustazah Dk Norhayati said there were still some aspects of the order she was uncertain of, such as whether or not section 229 applied to those who utilise social media such as YouTube to convey their teachings.

“This issue should be better clarified by the Ministry of Religious Affairs or the Syariah Court.”

However, she assured the students that the written approval would allow them teach Islam to others through any platform.

“Therefore, if you want to teach Islam to the world by uploading your videos onto YouTube or any other form of public engagement, just pass the MUIB interview.”

She pointed out that acquiring written approval was simple and free, and that teaching Islam did not require a higher academic qualification.

Regardless of their background, those who are interested, inspired and motivated to teach Islam are encouraged to apply for the MUIB interview, she said.

“Just pass the interview, that’s all. No written test needed. It’s that simple.”

Another invited speaker, Ustaz Hj Hambali Hj Jaili spoke about how to apply the teachings of Al-Quran to daily life.

The Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University College (KUPU SB) Usuluddin lecturer said a key aspect of faith was to pray to Allah SWT wholeheartedly.

This was underscored further by Ustaz Hj Mohd Khairul Nazif Hj Damit, a postgraduate student in Islamic Studies from Melbourne University.

The speaker reminded the audience to read Al-Quran slowly and thoughtfully as this would bring them closer to Allah SWT.

“Allah SWT will always be there with us when we read Al-Quran,” he said.

The week-long programme aimed at helping students understand the benefits of following the lifestyle of the Prophet and following the teachings of Al-Quran.

The Brunei Times
Thu, March 27, 2014

bru soas

MUHAMMAD NATSIR: An Indonesian Muslim Intellectual and Statesman

Kabinet Natsir berfoto bersama
Mohammad Natsir (17 July 1908 – 14 March 1993) was an Islamic scholar and politician. He was Indonesia’s fifth prime minister.

muhammad-natsir1After moving to Bandung from his hometown Solok, West Sumatra for senior high school, Natsir studied Islamic doctrine extensively. His first articles were published in 1929, and during the 1930s he wrote for several Islamic-themed papers. He entered politics in the mid-1930s, rising through the ranks of Islamic parties. On 5 September 1950, he was chosen as prime minister, a term which he served until 26 April 1951. After his term as prime minister, he became increasingly vocal about Islam’s role in Indonesia and was eventually arrested for doing so. Released in 1966 after the New Order government took power, Natsir continued to be critical of the government, eventually leading to him being banned from traveling.

natsir capitaNatsir wrote extensively on Islam, totaling 45 books and hundreds of articles. He viewed Islam as an intrinsic part of Indonesian culture and was disappointed by the Sukarno and Suharto governments’ handling of the religion. He was given three honorary doctorates during his lifetime, one from Lebanon and two from Malaysia. On 10 November 2008, Natsir was honoured as a national hero of Indonesia. — Wikipedia