Build mosques and religious schools befitting their status
Azaraimy HH

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, in a titah in conjunction with the Israk Mikraj Celebration 1435H/2014M at the International Convention Centre (ICC) yesterday, said buildings of religious and Arabic schools, which His Majesty said are institutions that contribute to the Islamic Syi’ar, must be of premier quality and should not be lesser compared to other academic institutions. The buildings must fittingly portray the high standing or high image of Islam in the country.

His Majesty also gave his consent for the Brunei Technical Education Institution Order 2013, Technical and Vocational Education Transformation White Paper, and the Brunei Darussalam Upgrading Plan for Technical Education 2013-2018.

The monarch also touched on the need for mosques in the country to have good designs that fit their purpose. It must be ensured that mosques have adequate features ranging from ample car park to good sound system.

His Majesty said although Israk Mikraj is celebrated every year, the people have never grown tired of it. “As a Mukmin (devout Muslim), we have always liked it because remembering Israk Mikraj can bring about many benefits, in terms of lessons and ‘Iktibar’.

“Thanks to Allah the Almighty, in Brunei various activities or ceremonies are held to mark Islamic glory days by Muslim community, either in government or private sector,” His Majesty said and praised such efforts that provide a good image of the nation and enliven Syi’ar Islam.

His Majesty reminded that the Israk Mikraj event is a major ‘Mukjizat’ of the Prophet. It symbolises Allah the Almighty’s supremacy that cannot be comprehended by human minds. “What is important is devotion towards our belief,” His Majesty said, “and believing it will, Insya Allah, save us in this world and in the afterlife.”

“One fascinating thing in the Israk Mikraj event is the involvement of mosques, which are Al-Haram and Al-Aqsa Mosques. This is proof how special mosques are that are not only places to congregate to perform ‘Ibadat’, but also places to do ‘Ibadat’, as well as the most important ‘Syi’ar’.

“This is why a mosque should be built that fits its characteristics, not just for the sake of building one. Don’t just construct a building which once completed looks like a big container,” His Majesty said.

“Look for a good idea and not copy the design of other people. It must all be discussed first before it is constructed. Make assessments outside and inside thoroughly, from its design, the minaret and car park up to the sound system must be taken into account. Because, there have been instances where the sound system has proved inadequate,” His Majesty stated.

Talking about mosques, His Majesty said he is reminded of two school buildings. “Because the two buildings are our proud possessions,” His Majesty said, adding, “If these are religious or Arabic schools, then there is no doubt they are considered as ‘Syi’ar’.

“As Syi’ar, the building of religious or Arabic schools must be prominent. Its construction must be good and must not be delayed because the need for it is known to be always urgent,” His Majesty said.

“If the physical facility, which is the building, is not fulfilled, how can we increase the number of religious students in the country?” His Majesty asked.

“Because of a shortage of places, the student intake into Arabic schools every year will begin to decrease. And what will become of our religion in the future if religious academicians in the country are less in number compared to those in other fields?

“I do not want religious education in this country to be left behind, because we are slow to plan and develop until we have to look and use other people’s design, which should not be the case.

“While we consistently elevate religious education, I have also consented for the Brunei Technical Education Institution Order 2013, Technical and Vocational Education Transformation White Paper, Brunei Darussalam Technical Education Upgrading Plan 2013-2018,” His Majesty said.

Through this transformation, students will acquire skills, knowledge and other values for lifelong learning and training, the ruler added.

Speaking about this year’s Israk Mikraj celebration that carried the theme “Sembahyang Teras Kekuatan Ummah” (Praying is Ummah’s Core Strength), His Majesty said it fits perfectly with this year’s celebration, where there will be recipients of awards comprised of individuals that are directly related to mosques, suraus or balai ibadat.

“I hope, the ceremony this morning is able to track excellent services among those related. Khutbah (Friday sermon) must be presented better, fulfil its content and objective. If the content for example urges people to have Taqwa, then perhaps it should be presented in a calm manner,” His Majesty said.

The monarch said all of these can be achieved if training can be given by those responsible. Similarly when reciting Al-Quran or Hadith, it must be ensured that they are being presented in an accurate, authentic and fluent way.

His Majesty believes that if training is given with strong determination, all the flaws can be overcome easily.

His Majesty congratulated the two recipients of awards and hoped such awards will encourage all the Imams and Bilals in the country to do better. - Borneo Bulletin (28 May 2014)