Traditional Islamic astronomy highlighted in workshop

A three-day traditional Islamic astronomical instrument workshop ended with a virtual closing ceremony last Saturday.

A total of 95 participants comprised of members of the Astronomical Society of Brunei Darussalam (PABD), officers from Balai Khazanah Islam Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (BKISHHB), invited guests from local government agencies and higher education institutions, and also from regional countries from Malaysia and Indonesia, attended.

President of PABD Haji Mahadi bin Haji Mohd Tahir said astronomical observation during the Golden Age of Islam in the 9th and 10th centuries was a source of learning and major achievements.

“Medieval observatories became places for scientists and astronomers like Al-Biruni and Ibn Sina to gather for scientific discussions and perform astronomical observations.

“Observatories played an important role in enhancing the development of Islamic astronomy, where celestial objects were studied and led to astronomical innovations,” said Haji Mahadi.

“Since the establishment of the society in 2003, PABD has continually pioneered and developed multidisciplinary knowledge in the field of astronomy and Falak in Brunei Darussalam for the past 19 years.”

Participants at the workshop. PHOTO: PABD

He said the society’s aspiration in planning to construct an astronomical observatory for public use and scientific research purposes “is PABD’s ultimate vision to build an observatory in Brunei as a platform to expand astronomical knowledge including Falak Syar’ie in Brunei Darussalam”.

The PABD president also welcomed collaborations and partnerships from all agencies as it will incur huge financial costs, and PABD as a non-profit organisation that operates for collective and public or social benefits, sponsorship contributions from companies and other agencies is one of the ways deemed appropriate to turn this big dream into reality”.

Workshop participants had the opportunity to learn and master the applications of a traditional Falak instrument, Rubu’ Mujayyab (Sine Quadrant). The online session was facilitated by Anuar bin Ariffin from Butterworth Religious Affairs Department, Pulau Pinang.

Several key applications on the use of Rubu’ Mujayyab were demonstrated, such as obtaining local time from the Sun’s altitude, solving trigonometric calculations, measuring when the Sun is directly overhead, determining the longitude and latitude of a location, calculate prayer times and also to calculate the Kiblat direction.

The workshop was jointly organised by the PABD in collaboration with Balai Khazanah Islam Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah(BKISHHB), Prime Minister’s Office.

Also present at the ceremony was Acting Director of Balai Khazanah Islam Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Dr Haji Mohammed Hussain bin Pehin Penyurat Haji Ahmad.