The Islamic Studies Department (JPI) at the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) is actively involved in the digitalisation process, in tandem with the national drive towards the era of information technology. The public can access the JPI website to look at the selection of electronic books.
Minister of Religious Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman said this at the fifth day of the 18th Legislative Council (LegCo) Meeting yesterday, in response to LegCo member Yang Berhormat Naim bin Haji Kamis’ query on whether e-books (textbooks and workbooks) are available for religious schools, given that students today are more tech savvy.
Digital screens are available at mosques for the call for prayer, while soft copies of the Friday sermon are also available, the minister said, in answering LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Umarali bin Esung’s query on digitilisation efforts at mosques. Such adoption depends on the budget allocation and public contribution in the form of waqaf (personal endowment).
The weekly Munajat night is also gaining popularity, seeing the involvement of congregants from 50 mosques. Youth also come forward to assist mosque officials with technology-related matters, Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin said.
Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Mohamed bin Pengiran Haji Osman @ Othman inquired on whether the surau at the Brunei International Airport can be used to perform Friday prayers for the convenience of airport staff.
In response, the minister pointed out the availability of several mosques around the area – Mohamed Bolkiah Mosque in Kampong Serusop, Sufri Bolkiah Mosque in Kampong Perpindahan Berakas and Ash-Shaliheen Mosque in Jalan Perdana Mentiri – before citing that the Brunei International Airport surau “is still a surau.” On the subject of offering job positions for bilals (prayer assistants), marbut and cleaners at mosques raised by LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid bin Haji Mumin, the minister said that last year saw 41 positions filled, including for the position of bilals at different grades. He added that a pelapis bilal (assistant bilal) at a mosque can also replace a bilal.
Also raised was the issue of the shortage of pengapai (individuals managing the deceased).
“The post was introduced in the 1960s, but its appointment is limited,” Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin said, adding that such services can be conducted by a mosque’s female or youth congregants (who have been trained to conduct such obligation), as well as mosque imams and religious officers.
Responding to Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid’s query on whether there is a need to expand the Belait Arabic School, which currently accommodates students up to Form 2, the minister said “There are plans to do so, to extend education beyond Form 2 as some parents are uncomfortable with having their children stay at the Ma’had Islam Hostel in Tutong District.”