Nation greets the ruler
By Aziz Idris

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam consented to join his subjects for mass prayers at the Jame' 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah in Kampong Kiarong last night to commemorate the 65th birthday of the monarch, which the nation celebrates today.

Also present were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Hj Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Hj 'Abdul 'Azim, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik and HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen.

The event started with a mass Maghrib prayer followed by Sunat Hajat prayer and the recital of Surah Yaasiin, tahlil and finally a doa kesyukuran (thanksgiving prayer).

The mass Maghrib prayer was led by Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Awg Hj Yahya bin Hj Ibrahim, while the recital of Surah Yaasiin was led by Deputy State Mufti Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Raja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Hj Awg Suhaili bin Hj Mohiddin. Later the State Mufti Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Hj Awg Abdul Aziz bin Juned recited the doa kesyukuran.

His Majesty and members of the royal family mingled with the congregation after the prayers.

Similar prayers were held in mosques in all districts last night to seek blessings from Allah the Almighty for continued good health of the benevolent ruler and for peace and prosperity of the nation.

The stable, prosperous and peaceful nation coupled with a harmonious way of life and happiness enjoyed by the community reflects the wise and blessed leadership of the caring monarch.

All main roads in all the four districts have been decorated with arches and decorative lights to enliven the celebration.

The celebration started with the hoisting of a giant national flag July 1 near the Yayasan complex.

The ceremonial parade and inspection of the Royal Guard of Honour will be held at the Taman Hj Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien this morning followed by the Audience and the Investiture Ceremony, as well as the Royal Banquet at the Istana Nurul Iman.

The much-awaited titah highlighting social, economic and political aspects of the nation and the conferment of state decorations and titles will be the highlight of the day's events.

The traditional get-together events that follow beginning with the Belait District on Sunday will show the public's outpouring of love and affection for His Majesty.

According to the Information Department website, other get-together events will be held in Temburong District at Temburong Community Hall Complex Field on July 19; in Tutong District at open area of Tutong Community Hall Complex on July 21 and in the Brunei-Muara District on July 24 at Taman Hj Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien in the capital.

Other highlights include the Knowledge Convention scheduled to be held on July 26. A khatam al-Quran ceremony by members of Mukim and Village Councils nationwide is a new event in this year's celebration. The event sees the participants reciting and completing the whole 30 juzuk of the Quran for 65 times. The recitation began last April.

The khatam al-Quran is highly significant not only to express our gratitude to Allah the Almighty, but also a pious act that promises multiple rewards especially when it is to mark His Majesty's 65th birthday anniversary, which also coincides with the Muslim month of Sya'aban.

The festive celebration is enjoyed by all walks of life, regardless of their background, religion and nationality. - Borneo Bulletin (15th July 2011)