Sultan warns deviationists
By Rokiah Mahmud

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday underscored the importance of protecting the country and society from the deviationist and disruptive elements against the understandings of Aqidah (faith), which the monarch warned had the potential to create chaos and destroy the harmony, security and stability of the country.

His Majesty delivered the titah at the official opening ceremony of the International Seminar on the Teaching of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama'ah at the International Convention Centre, Berakas.

The monarch recorded his pleasure with the "great efforts" of the Islamic Dakwah Centre of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in hosting the three-day international seminar, firstly in celebration with the silver jubilee anniversary of the Islamic propagation centre, as well as in the choice of topic of "aqidah that is timely with the current demands".

His Majesty recalled, at the onset of its establishment 25 years ago, the Islamic Dakwah Centre hosted a similar seminar, which was officiated by the monarch himself.

"Twenty-five years on, with the same event repeating itself, it is a meaningful history for Islamic propagation in this country," noted the ruler.

"This topic is important to provide a correct understanding for society. It is not because there have been no dissonant voices that have been heard or imported into the country, but rather through our 'official belief', through which any deviation could be disregarded or overcome," the monarch pointed out.

"The Aqidah Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama'ah has been recognised as a source from al-Quran and as-Sunnah. It was compiled and pieced together from quotations and evidence from knowledgeable scholars. It was also proven as a guiding principle and successful religious belief to the point that it was capable of leading Muslims and the country to true happiness and prosperity," His Majesty said.

It was for this very reason that the monarch officially announced the establishment of the Centre of Studies for the Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama'ah Faith at the Seri Begawan Religious Teachers' University College, for the purpose of "further strengthening our faith in Brunei Darussalam".

His Majesty went on to explain that "it was extremely important to learn, understand and maintain firmly, so that our society continues to be protected". The monarch, as the spiritual head of Islam in the country, went on to point out: "Aqidah represents a huge shady tree. It sows many branches and from these branches are borne nutritious and bountiful harvests. Because of this, it must be nurtured and protected with goodness, so that it continues to be healthy and fertile, not susceptible to infections by degenerative and harmful agents."

The monarch went on to caution: "We should not forget, based on experience, that Brunei Darussalam has not been exempt from facing attempts at propagating teachings of understandings that contravene the Aqidah Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama'ah."

It was because of this, His Majesty noted, that "the government takes great emphasis, specifically through the Ministry of Religious Affairs, as well as other government agencies, to collectively monitor and maintain vigilance against deviationist elements of the Aqidah, as these have an enormous potential to jeopardise the harmony, and by the same measure, threaten the stability of the country".

The ruler said: "We do not want these destructive virus disrupting our understanding that has taken roots in our country," adding his hopes that the seminar "would discuss diligently on the preparations of best practices to protect society and the country from these virus".

The monarch reiterated his opinion that these foundations must be comprehensive, encompassing legal aspects, education, and research and not withholding the continuous efforts of the Islamic Dakwah Centre itself to be more effective. His Majesty then called on all the stakeholders to work together for this noble effort. "For when we show unity, that is the real sturdy barrier that could repel these elements from encroaching upon us."

His Majesty then recorded his optimism that the seminar could further highlight the success in strengthening our Aqidah, as well as protecting our country from these disruptive elements. - Borneo Bulletin (30th March 2011)