Brunei praised as iconic nation for Muslim world

|     Azaraimy HH     |

HIGHLY impressed with how Islam deeply influences and broadly integrates the socio-political life of the people in Brunei Darussalam and how diligently the country follows the teachings of Islam in its process of development and modernisation, the head of Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) has hailed the Sultanate as a role model for the Muslim world.

“In Brunei Darussalam, the true teachings of Islam and Islamic way of life are strongly integrated, not only in religious aspects but also in socio-economic and socio-political spheres,” said Director-General of the ISESCO Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri in an interview with the local media at The Empire Hotel & Country Club on Wednesday.

“With Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) named as the ‘Capital City of Islamic Culture for Asia’ in 2019 as well as the ASEAN City of Culture (2016-2018), it would be an interesting time to highlight the uniqueness of Brunei before the Islamic world,” he added.

During his visit to Brunei, he said he had the honour to meet His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and was fortunate to listen to the monarch’s advice and thoughts about joint Islamic work.

“I also had the honour of presenting His Majesty the Golden Medal of ISESCO as an appreciation towards the support that it receives from Brunei and the role His Majesty plays in Islamic joint actions at the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) platforms. “I also had a wonderful meeting with His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office during which we discussed the relationship between ISESCO and Brunei Darussalam,” Dr Abdulaziz said.

Director-General of the ISESCO Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri in an interview with the local media at The Empire Hotel & Country Club

He also highlighted the significance of the celebration of Bandar Seri Begawan as the Islamic Culture Capital next year, saying that it would help to highlight to the world the influence of Islam on the culture and civilisation of the Brunei and its people and how the nation’s leadership under His Majesty was able to make strong progress in various aspects based on Islamic teaching.

During his meeting with Minister of Education Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman on Tuesday, Dr Abdulaziz highlighted the strong relationship between ISESCO and Brunei Darussalam, through the Ministry of Education.

He said, their discussions focussed on potential areas of cooperation to be explored between ISESCO and Brunei Darussalam in science and technology, Halal industry, renewable energy and 21st Century education focussing on school leaders and quality teachers.

“I also had a fruitful meeting with Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, besides visiting Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) and also the Royal Regalia Museum,” he added.

“These visits have given me a broad idea about the past and present of this great country and I would use these experiences to strengthen and expand the scope of our cooperation and partnership in the field education, science, culture and communication.”

Yesterday, Dr Abdulaziz also visited Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB).
Dr Abdulaziz said ISESCO is looking forward to undertake more joint works with Brunei Darussalam in myriad of areas including renewable energy, capacity building, teaching Arabic as second language, training of teachers, curriculum development as well as science and technology and environment.

Asked what attributes Bandar Seri Begawan hold to be the Islamic Culture Capital for Asia, Dr Abdulaziz said Brunei has strong credentials to receive the status.

“For one, Brunei has a rich reservoir of legacy as an Islamic country. Adding to it is today’s reality that the country is progressing and developing very fast in different aspects of life – science and technology, education, culture, infrastructure including development of centres of excellence – all have contributed towards its eligibility as the Islamic Culture Capital,” he noted.

“What is also making Brunei distinctive is the adherence of its people to Islamic morality which reflects their strong belief in Islamic teachings. I am also highly impressed by the cleanliness of the city (BSB). It is one of the cleanest cities in the world.

“This shows how strong an importance people of Brunei Darussalam are giving to cleanliness, which is one of the teachings of Islam … I think Brunei shows an example to the world, specifically to the Islamic world, how a nation that believes in the true teachings of Islam can practise it perfectly – not by just saying it, but also doing it,” he added.

Dr Abdulaziz outlined some of the features that will benefit the country as the Islamic Culture Capital for Asia.

He said ISESCO will be implementing and participating in many activities and member states will hold cultural weeks in Brunei as it did it in the past Islamic Culture Capital.

“The year will be full of activities, not only cultural, but also scientific and educational, and Brunei is expected to receive many visitors from other member states. Brunei will also be featured extensively at the ISESCO headquarters. These activities will also help the country’s tourism industry,” he said.
The Islamic Culture Capital status is given to three countries, representing Arab, Asian and African regions, every year.

In 2019, Brunei will join Al-Quds (State of Palestine), Tunis (Republic of Tunisia) – as an exception as the fourth Islamic Culture Capital for 2019 to mark the occasion of its hosting the 11th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers – and Bissau (Republic of Guinea Bissau) as Islamic culture capitals.

This year, the Islamic Culture capitals are Al Muharraq (Kingdom of Bahrain), Nakhchivan (Republic of Azerbaijan) and Libreville (Republic of Gabon).