A symbolic b'day gift for Her Majesty
By Azaraimy HH

Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha received a hand-written calligraphy work of 40 'Doa Rabbana' ('Rabbana' supplications) from the Quran compiled into a single specially designed book measuring 420mm x 250mm and 65 pages thick, as a birthday 'pesambah' (present).

The 'Rabbana' supplications calligraphy is written by 27 specially-selected women from various agencies and departments, which took less than a week to be completed. It was presented in a specially designed 'flora and fauna' style cover.

Her Majesty Raja Isteri received the symbolic gift at the Istana Nurul Iman yesterday. Also present were Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah, Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah.

In an interview, the Acting Director of the Language and Literature Bureau (DBP), Dayang Hajah Aminah binti Haji Momin, said the calligraphy work in this particular area is usually dominated by men, but in this project, it was intentionally written by women, some with no strong background in calligraphy, as a symbol of strong dedication, achievement and sense of work to get difficult things done.

Six types of calligraphy were used in the book including Khat Nasakh, Khat Thuluth, Khat Dewani, Khat Riq'ah, Khat Farisi and Khat Koufi.

She said the 40 'Rabbana' supplications contain prayers that are 'Wajib' (obligatory) to all Muslims to recite, including prayers for good health, families, parents, etc.

"I believe these supplications are stronger if recited by a wife or a mother, thus the 'pesambah' is a very symbolic gift for Her Majesty," she said.

She added that because some of the participants do not have a strong background in calligraphy, it was extra work for them, but through the hard work, dedication and strong commitment, they managed to complete it on time. The writers were supervised by 11 calligraphy experts comprising seven from DBP, two from the Department of Islamic Studies, one from the History Centre and one from the Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB).

The 27 specially-selected women comprised of four writers from the Department of Islamic Studies, six from DBP, three from Institut Tahfiz Al-Quran Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, four from the Ministry of Education, two from KUPU SB, three individuals, two from the Girls Arabic Secondary School (RIPAD), one from Maktab Duli, one from Science College and one from the Department of Museums.

The objectives of the project, led by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports through the Department of Language and Literature Bureau as Coordinating Secretariat, were aimed at exposing and promoting youths in the art of hand-written calligraphy, to empower Jawi calligraphy among the youths in order to realise the aspiration of the nation to transform Brunei into Negara Zikir, as well as to encourage youths to be closer to Allah the Almighty. - Borneo Bulletin (11th Octopber 2011)