Avoid sin to attain bliss
By Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday urged Muslims to stay away from despicable and sinful acts and perform daily prayers to gain happiness.

The monarch delivered a titah at the national level Israk Mikraj Celebration 1432 Hijrah at the International Convention Centre in Berakas.

His Majesty said Israk Mikraj is a great and miraculous event incomparable with others bestowed upon Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It has a superior wisdom and teaches us many valuable lessons.

Events and impressions portrayed by Allah the Almighty cover all sorts of mankind's caprice for us to be aware of. Allah the Almighty also bestowed a superior reward to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), which is the obligation to perform prayers, five times a day.

"Talking about prayer, I am attracted to this year's event whose theme reads "Prayer, Key to Happiness". I see the meaning of the theme holding secrets behind the prayer.

"What does 'a key to happiness' mean?" His Majesty asked. "It's none other than an extraordinary event capable of providing all sorts of benefits for us to enjoy.

"When would such happiness truly become our possession? It is when all the benefits are possessed and when all despicable and sinful acts could be avoided. All these could be achieved.

"When our life is free from impurities like sinful acts, then happiness would emerge, be it in the present world or in the days of the hereafter.

"Hence, let us take care of our prayers, which should not be neglected. It should be fulfilled wholly as our basic responsibility to Allah the Almighty," His Majesty said.

Muslims have been told to improve on their prayers by learning from their teachers. This is especially so for the younger generation and children, the monarch said.

"Besides religious teachers, the task of teaching and guiding them (youth) is also shouldered by the parents. For the first time this year, the Israk Mikraj event is filled with excellent and meritorious 'asatizah' (religious teachers) awards as well as a special award for religious teachers in recognition of their contributions by way of excellent services in leadership and teaching at religious and Arabic schools, Mahaad Islam Brunei, Institut Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Hj Hassanal Bolkiah and Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) subject at primary, secondary and technical and vocational schools, as well as special institutions," His Majesty said.

"I hope the awards would encourage religious teachers to step up their quality of leadership and teachings. I congratulate those who have received the awards this year," added His Majesty.

Also present at the celebrations were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah and HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik.

His Majesty and other members of the royal family were earlier greeted upon arrival by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Pg Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad bin Pg Hj Abdul Rahman, who is also the Chairman of the Executive Committee members.

In his welcoming remark, the minister said under the wise leadership and support of His Majesty who likes to see knowledgeable citizens in academic and religious education fields, the monarch has brought a positive outcome in producing excellent and quality development programmes for the people based on the Islamic teachings in line with this year's theme, 'Prayer, Key to Happiness' both in the present world and in the days of the hereafter.

His Majesty later presented the awards. In the category of Excellent Religious Teacher in School Leadership, the award went to Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Kassim bin Hj Lamat who received $12,000, certificate of appreciation, crystal plaque, souvenir, recommendation to further study subject to in-service scheme (LDP) terms and free medical facilities including first class costs at local government hospitals.

The Excellent Religious Teacher awards went to five recipients. In Al-Quran teaching, it went to Hjh Saripah binti Hj Abas, Dyg Nurfazilah binti Hj Jumat (Arabic language), Saripah binti Syed Hj Md Ali (Syariah teaching), Hjh Suriani binti Hj Bungsu (Usuluddin) and Hjh Safiah binti Hj Omarali (Islamic Religious Knowledge).

Each of them received $7,000, a certificate of appreciation, crystal plaque, souvenir in the form of a handphone sponsored by Alif Technologies Sdn Bhd and recommendation/facility to further study (subject to LDP terms).

Hj Johari bin Hj Khamis received the Meritorious Religious Teacher award and received $5,000 cash, certificate of appreciation, crystal plaque, souvenir and free medical facility including all costs at first class ward at government hospitals locally.

Meanwhile, the special award category in Religious and Arabic subjects went to Ali Mohamed Moustafa Ali Elsaghir, while the general subject award went to Hj Kanan Mohamed Abdullah Md Ali.

Each received $4,000 cash, a certificate of appreciation, crystal plaque, an iPad 2 contributed by Setia Motors Sdn Bhd and recommendation to further their studies. - Borneo Bulletin (30th June 2011)