Royal caution against new thoughts on Islam
Azlan Othman

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has urged Muslims to be cautious about new theories and interpretations about Islam that dispute the old.

In his titah delivered at the 4th Convocation Ceremony of Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas yesterday, His Majesty, who is also the Chancellor of KUPU SB, called on the concerned parties to speed up the construction of the new campus for KUPU SB, reiterating the need to produce true Muslim intellectuals who are able to protect the ‘akidah’ (belief) and religious practice.

“We should be cautious about the current thoughts about Islam. In the past, there was a group called ‘the young generation’, but now their approach might change by calling themselves ‘Mujaddid’ or reformers.

“This group seems to be a movement based on knowledge. They are active in showcasing new thoughts or new theories that dispute the old. For instance, when talking about the Syariah Law, some say such law should be addressed in a new format and virtually the ‘new’ includes its source of reference. If the old approach is followed, then the law cannot be accepted, they say,” the ruler said.

“We will not be able to understand this theory because as far as we know, the old legacy would still be needed as our reference. Because Al-Quran, Al-Hadith and ‘Kitab-Kitab Muktabar’ are old, how can we reject them?

“These are among the confusion arising from the new thoughts that are being brought by certain groups. These thoughts are hard to understand but they have the potential to spark discord in the community.

“I wish to remind tertiary and other educational institutions in the country not to neglect these developments and ensure that there will be no such thing happening in these institutions or agencies that open its doors for such groups. This is crucial as a precautionary measure,” His Majesty said.

Speaking on the need to speed up the construction of the new KUPU SB campus, the monarch said, “Another need that is no less important to be prioritised is the construction of the new permanent campus of KUPU SB. As far as I know, the existing campus can no longer accommodate the requirements. Hence, preliminary construction work is imperative to be carried out, while the subsequent construction will be implemented under the 11th National Development Plan.”

Underlining the need to prioritise religious education and Arabic schools in the country, His Majesty said, “Whatever that was mentioned to be implemented as a priority, there should no longer be any obstacles or excuses to delay it. Unfortunately, such delays keep happening and bring inconvenience to many. Those who are involved with such issues should rethink and implement the projects with great prudence,” the monarch said.

Highlighting on effective teaching, His Majesty said, “We are aware that the perception towards teachers at present, (including religious teachers), is not merely focused on good teaching, but also on effective teaching. Our main goal is to produce professional religious teachers who are capable of producing great individuals.

“Among the great characteristic features include piety, good planning, possession of deep knowledge, and distinguished leadership and teaching qualities.

“In this context, KUPU SB should provide programmes that are truly appropriate and meet the target. I believe that the two tertiary Islamic institutions that we have, KUPU SB and UNISSA, could become a good nursery to produce true Islamic intellectuals who are capable of becoming a strong ‘shield’ to uphold the ‘akidah’ and religious practice in this country.

“I am glad that there are efforts to employ local PhD holders to the academic workforce. This has already begun to show its results with several individuals successfully acquiring their PhDs from centres of higher learning both locally and overseas.” However, the ruler noted the need to employ foreign academics either on permanent-, contract- or visiting-basis.

The monarch also congratulated the 219 students for their success in completing their course at KUPU SB. His Majesty said the students must be thankful for the success while reminding the graduates that the knowledge they have acquired should not be kept idle but taught to the people of the nation as they have been given the trust by Allah the Almighty.

The main role of KUPU SB is to spread and uphold Islamic teachings through religious teachings. This field is considered crucial to produce knowledgeable educators according to the Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama’ah approach.

“It is uncommon or probably there is no other tertiary teaching institution that is specifically oriented to Islamic education. If this is true, then KUPU SB is the only pioneering institution that takes the step to meet such needs. The nation and I are proud of such achievement.”

His Majesty presented bachelors degree, higher diplomas, post-graduate diplomas and diplomas to 219 students. Earlier, His Majesty was greeted upon arrival by the Ra’es of KUPU SB, Dr Hjh Masnon binti Hj Ibrahim, members of the Senate and academic staff. - Borneo Bulletin (21 November 2014)