Sultan calls on Brunei to change for the better
By Hasrulraizan & Ahmed Shaheeb

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday underlined the need to change for the better, be it in the aspects of religion, economy, etc.

In a titah, which was broadcast nationwide last night to mark the New Islamic Year 1432, His Majesty emphasises that Hijrah brings about changes.

"Whether it's today, tomorrow or forever, we still want to change," His Majesty said, adding changes are truly something extraordinary.

For Muslims, His Majesty added: "We should not just merely change, but change for the better."

According to His Majesty, changes should be aspirated for the betterment of the Ummah.

"Islam certainly encourages changes," said the monarch, adding that Islam does not encourage us to 'wait for changes'. Instead, it teaches Muslims to go after changes.

Citing verses from the Quran (Surah Al-Waqi'ah Verse 10), His Majesty highlighted that people who succeed in attaining changes for the good of the world are sure to attain rewards in the hereafter.

In this context, His Majesty called on the nation to race towards change and not to fall back.

For example, we can make changes economically by say, saving $5 this month and later increasing the amount of money saved the following month to $10. It should not drop from $5 to $2. The same goes for other aspects of life.

"We are encouraged to (make changes) for the better... (and) not to go downwards... (In other words we have) to multiply our pious activities and not reduce them," His Majesty said. "These are the secrets and aims of Hijrah - to bring about major changes and not just ordinary changes."

In concluding the titah, His Majesty asked: What is the ultimate purpose of Hijrah?

"It's none other than to save the belief and to propagate Islam, as what has been encouraged by Allah the Almighty... (However) our responsibility has no end. (We should) continue to uphold (the religion).

"If we are still deficient or weak in (glorifying Islam), we should 'wake up' to make it perfect."

Earlier, His Majesty, HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, and HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik, joined other Muslims for prayers at the Jame' 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque in Kg Kiarong to usher in the New Islamic Year of 1432 Hijrah.

His Majesty and Their Royal Highnesses were greeted upon arrival by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad bin Pengiran Haji Abd Rahman.

The religious celebration began with the recitation of the end-of-the-year prayer by Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Yahya bin Haji Ibrahim. After mass Maghrib prayers, the New Year prayer for 1432 Hijrah was recited by Pehin Orang Kaya Paduka Seri Utama Dato Paduka Seri Setia Awang Haji Salim bin Haji Besar.

A Solat Hajat was led by Pehin Orang Kaya Paduka Setia Raja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Haji Awang Suhaili bin Haji Mohiddin to seek Allah the Almighty's blessings for the continued peace and prosperity of Brunei Darussalam.

After prayers, the champion of the 1431/2008 National al-Quran Reading Competition for Youths, Awang Haji Nasrul Fakhri bin Haji Yahya, recited verses from the Quran. His recitation was transliterated by Awang Sahrin bin Haji Ismail, a religious officer from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

His Majesty later consented to present the 'Religious Figure Award' and two 'Hijrah Bakti Awards' to deserving Muslims who have contributed greatly to the nation.

The 'Religious Figure Award' for 1432 Hijrah went to Brunei's former Minister of Religious Affairs, Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja Dato Seri Utama Dr Ustaz Haji Awang Mohd Zain bin Haji Serudin. He received $20,000, an honorary certificate, a souvenir and free first-class medical ward treatment at any government hospital in Brunei.

Meanwhile, the Hijrah Bakti Award went to Awang Haji Abdullah bin Lakim and Awang Haji Anuar bin Mohd Yussof. Both received $10,000, an honorary certificate, a souvenir and free first-class medical ward treatment at any government hospital in Brunei.

Following 'Solat Isyak' prayers, which was led by Pehin Datu Imam Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Hamid bin Bakal, the religious event drew to a close with a doa selamat read by Pehin Dato Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Hj Awg Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.

The theme for this year's 1432 Hijrah is "Hijrah Berubah Ke Arah Kecemerlangan" (or Hijrah: Changing Towards Excellence). - Borneo Bulletin (7th December 2010)