Royalty grace special gathering for women
By Syafiq Affendy

Four women who have contributed significantly to the development of Muslims in the Sultanate were yesterday presented the 'Anugerah Bakti Hijrah Khas Wanita' at the International Convention Centre in Berakas.

The award presentation ceremony was held in conjunction with the 15th Special Gathering for Women as well as the birthday anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar binti Hakim Mazhar attended the ceremony.

Also present were HRH Pg Anak Isteri Pg Anak Hajah Zariah, HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bulqiah, HRH Princess Hjh Hafizah Sururul Bulqiah, HRH Princess 'Azemah Ni'matul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bulqiah and HRH Princess Hjh Masna.

"Recipients of this year's awards have shown qualities in various aspects including their services, sacrifices, great efforts, and successes they have achieved," said Seri Begawan Religious Teachers College University Assistant Raes Hjh Zasia binti Sirin, in her capacity as committee chairperson of the event.

"These qualities have certainly proven and left a great impression on the community concerning the excellence achieved by Muslims in our everyday life. It has also been felt directly and otherwise with the strong support of women - the wives, mothers or members of the community who have contributed to our beloved Brunei Darussalam," she added.

The day opened with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran by Maizatun Nadzeerah binti Hj Mohd Daud, the winner of last year's National Youth Quran Reading competition.

A special lecture entitled 'Kedewasaan Bernegara Dengan Zikir' by invited Malaysian speaker Ustaz Hj Mohd Farid Ravi bin Abdullah followed.

Later, Senior Religious Education Officer Siti Mariam binti Mohd Daud revealed the names of the award winners, their achievements and contributions to the nation's Islamic development.

Siti Mariam said the recipients possess strong will and spirit in spreading the teachings of Islam, aside from becoming the movers in religious and communal activities.

The first recipient, Datin Dyg Hjh Masni binti Hj Mohd Ali, is the founder and mover of BASMIDA (The National Anti-Drug Association of Brunei). She has contributed to the rehabilitation of drug addicts with the publishing of a book translated from English called 'Memahami Penagihan Dadah Dari Perspektif Islam: Satu Buku Panduan' or 'Understanding Drug Addiction from the Islamic Perspective: A Guide Book'.

The second recipient was Pg Hjh Salmah Pg Hj Ismail, who cares for the rehabilitation of juveniles, and is a volunteer at Taman Nur Hidayah. She fights to preserve peace and hopes to one day see a nation free from social ills - which first requires the establishment of a harmonious household.

Third recipient Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Manteri Bini Datin Paduka Dayang Hajah Aminah binti Hj Md Yassin has been involved in religious activities since the 1970s, conducting religious guidance classes until today. She is greatly looked up to by lecturers from the Seri Begawan Religious Teachers College University.

Fourth recipient Datin Dyg Hjh Salmah binti Pehin Dato Imam Hj Mokti, who was a Quran reading competition winner back in the 1950s, uses her talent to teach al-Quran to her family, villagers and the community in her area. An expert in dikir and 'berzanji,' Datin Dyg Hjh Salmah, now in her eighties, is still sought after for her expertise.

The recipients each received $10,000, a certificate of honour, memento and complimentary first class medical services at any government hospital in Brunei.

Presenting the awards to the first two recipients was Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pg Anak Hjh Saleha, while Her Royal Highness Pengiran Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar awarded the remaining two women.

Later, a dikir performance featuring officers from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Development and Women's Council members was staged.

The royal family later toured the booths displaying various Islamic products such as guide books and praying accessories. - Borneo Bulletin (19th Mar 2009)