Realising Brunei as a Zikir Nation

Izah Azahari

Brunei Darussalam implements general and religious education into its formal education, both mandated by law in the Compulsory Education Order 2007 and the Compulsory Religious Education Order 2012, which sees the guaranteed provision of education to the people.

This was said by Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman in his capacity as a member of the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) Supreme Council 2021-2024 during his lecture on ‘Pendidikan Negara Zikir Berfalsafahkan Melayu Islam Beraja’ recently.

The premier lecture was delivered during the launch of the MIB Zikir Nation Education Symposium at the Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) on April 10. The minister explained that Brunei as a ‘Zikir Nation’ has the ability to integrate both religious and general education streams into one component under the National Education Policy, a sign that the country is implementing one of the Maqasid Syari’ah that is the main objective of Syari’ah in the aspect of hifzul ‘aqil, which is to preserve the mind in promoting intellect.

It also highlights that the services in general education are the same as those of religious education, as both are in line with the main objectives of Syariah or Maqasid Syari’ah, the minister added.

“Each layer and line of planning and implementation is the same, which is to fulfil the main objectives of religion,” said the minister. “Both perform the duties or religious services that are commissioned by Allah the Almighty and each will receive a reward or retribution for sins in accordance with the value of his efforts and deeds based on the words of Allah the Almighty in Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 286.”

Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman delivers his lecture during the launch of the MIB Zikir Nation Education Symposium. PHOTO: IZAH AZAHARI

‘Negara Zikir’, the minister said, is a new term used and strengthened in the Islamic scholarly tradition, compared to the word ‘zikir’, which is rooted in the teaching and practice of Islam.

While the term ‘Zikir Nation’ is new, it does not mean it is foreign and does not have a strong source, as it can be referred to in Surah an-Nahl Verse 112 which indicates that the people of a state who neglect to remember Allah the Almighty and deny the blessings that Allah the Almighty bestowed upon them have lost all blessings, and are in turn afflicted by misery in the form of hunger and fear, the minister said.

“Brunei has placed itself in a state of remembering Allah the Almighty, which is to fulfil the purpose of Zikir so that Allah the Almighty will be pleased with the formation of the constitution and all efforts to carry out and achieve the purposes of it,” he added.

The minister also discussed the aspects of Islam that can be used as yardsticks for Brunei as an Islamic country:

“Firstly, Brunei’s acceptance of Islam as the religion of Allah the Almighty whose teachings were conveyed through His messenger Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), became the religion of rulers and dignitaries as well as the majority of its people. Secondly, the practice and dissemination of Islamic teachings by respecting and dignifying the Syi’ar. Finally, institutionalising Islam into the system of government, customs and society.”

He said, “All of these (aspects) are sign of how Brunei is mindful of Allah the Almighty,” said the minister. “In addition to remembering Allah the Almighty through the acts of worship (Fardhu ‘Ain), the people of Brunei also remember Allah the Almighty in important moments and events.”

The minister also referred to the Proclamation of Independence on January 1, 1984, saying that among the essences that can be summarised include: Brunei Darussalam taking back international responsibilities in full as a sovereign and independent nation among the international community; Brunei Darussalam was never a colony but had has special relations with the United Kingdom since 1847, and in 1888 it was agreed between the two countries that foreign relations were the responsibility of the British government; the Brunei Constitution 1959 was promulgated by His Majesty Maulana Sultan Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien; and all the rights and sovereign powers of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, including the responsibility of foreign affairs, took place on January 1, 1984.

The minister concluded that the four aspects, given the historical background and development of Brunei, led to the attainment of full independence, with the goal of taking over international responsibilities as a sovereign and independent country.

The minister also outlined in his lecture that the Titah Watikah during the Proclamation of Independence detailed political and national aspirations of maintaining Brunei as a MIB country that is independent, sovereign and democratic, by uniting under the teachings of Islam according to the Ahli Sunnah Waljama’ah and based on justice, trust and freedom.

“Through the MIB as such and with guidance and blessings, the country will strive for peace and security, welfare and happiness for the people, and preserve friendly relations among the international community on the basis of mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity for all countries free from foreign interference,” the minister said.