Sultan attends Israk Mikraj celebration
By Hj Ahmed Shaheeb

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday consented to attend the National Israk Mikraj celebration for 1431 Hijrah at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas, where the monarch also delivered a titah.

His Majesty and members of the royal family were greeted by Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman, Minister of Religious Affairs as Chairman of the Executive Committee, as well as members of the Executive Committee of the Celebration of Important Dates on the Islamic Calendar 1431 Hijrah.

Accompanying His Majesty were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Sufri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul 'Azim and His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik.

The National Level Celebration Ceremony for Israk and Mikraj 1431 Hijrah began with a recital of verses from the Quran by Awang Mohd Fikri bin Haji Metussin, runner up in the South East Asian Musabaqah Tilawah al-Quran Competition of 2005 and 2007. The meaning of the verses was read by Awang Haji Mohd Aliman bin Haji Salim, Hafaz al-Quran teacher at the Institute Tahfiz al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.

The Minister of Religious Affairs in his opening speech said that the Imam Excellence Award and the Bilal Excellence Award 1431 Hijrah which was the highlight of the event, aimed to raise the performance levels of Imams and Bilals across the nation.

Imams and Bilals are the two main pillars of mosques and play an essential role to enliven its atmosphere and appreciation of the Muslim faith. It is hoped that the awards will motivate the Imams and Bilals to raise the quality, credibility and level of services provided and will hopefully result in a positive impact, he added.

With the consent of His Majesty, an executive selection committee and candidate committee had been established which comprised of experts in related fields to select the recipients of the Imam Excellence Award and The Bilal Excellence Award for 1431 Hijrah.

A special speech in conjunction with the Israk Mikraj National Level Celebrations by Awang Haji Ismail bin Haji Abdul Manap, Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Religious Affairs was also delivered during the event followed by a nasyid performance entitled "Isra' Mi'Raj Mukjizat Agung" by The An-Nida ensemble.

His Majesty consented to present prizes to the winners.

To bless the ceremony, a doa selamat was read by Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti of Brunei.

The theme of the Celebration of Important Dates on the Islamic Calendar 1431 Hijrah was: "Illahi Selamatkan Brunei Darussalam" or "Allah Protect Brunei Darussalam". - Borneo Bulletin (11th July 2010)