‘SE Asia set to lead Muslim world’: Malaysian Muslim Scholar

Quratul-Ain Bandial

THE “centre of gravity” of the Muslim world will shift from the Middle East to Southeast Asia in the next 20 years, a well-known Islamic scholar said yesterday.

Speaking during a public lecture titled “Islam and the New ASEAN Community” at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Tan Sri Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan said the economic, political and social resources of the Middle East are drained.

Tan Sri Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan

Tan Sri Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan

“I feel that given the chaos, the turmoil in the Middle East, the uncertainties and atrocities after the Arab Spring. What we have is not a spring but an eruption which has destroyed so much,” he later told The Brunei Times in an interview.

As half of ASEAN’s 600 million people are Muslims, countries like Brunei and Indonesia can lead the shift in moral and intellectual authority to Southeast Asia, he said.

“Brunei can be moral exemplar. How I see the possibility of Brunei playing a leading role is because religious values are being integrated, and corruption is low,” said the International Islamic University Malaysia professor.

“Although the sultanate is small, it can still lead because it is blessed with political and economic stability. A larger country like Indonesia can complement this by providing intellectual and academic leadership.”

Dr Mohd Kamal added that corruption and a culture of complacency are problems that plague the Muslim world, but what distinguishes ASEAN is its inter-communal relations.

“We have always lived with non-Muslims as our neighbours… there may be some political problems but we still respect people of other religions.”

“The cultural qualities of Southeast Asian people – the tolerance, the dynamism – Middle Eastern people should be looking at Southeast Asian people as the carriers of the humanitarian promise of Islam.”

Dr Mohd Kamal will be delivering a second public lecture at UBD’s chancellor hall today on Malay Islamic civilisation.

The Brunei Times
Tuesday, November 3, 2015



‘Religious differences should not harm unity’: Indonesian Muslim Scholar


INTERFAITH cooperation is the way forward in maintaining unity among ASEAN member states and protecting their people from being drawn into radicalisation and violent extremism, a visiting Indonesian religious leader said.

Kyai Hj Hasyim Muzadi (pictured), a member of Indonesia’s Presidential Advisory Board, said ASEAN member states need to understand that they have people practising different religions in their countries.

“Differences in religious beliefs should not harm the unity and humanity,” he told reporters on the sidelines of his visit here yesterday.

KH Hasyim Muzadi

KH Hasyim Muzadi

The religious leader had earlier this week met His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

He said ASEAN should set a good example of promoting common understanding among people with different religious backgrounds.

To combat terrorism, he said ASEAN countries should promote “moderate thoughts of Islam, and put the religion in its place”.

“ASEAN should combat terrorism through moderation, not fundamentalism, not liberalism because moderation is the balance between faith and tolerance,” he said.

“If we have faith without tolerance, we will head towards fundamentalism and radicalism. If we radicalise religion, we will probably lose our faith and integrity in Islam or in other religions,” he added.

Kyai also spoke on the importance of building unity in diversity and putting into practice the rule of law.

“Each country in ASEAN must safeguard their people (against radicalisation and violent extremism) by putting into practice the rules and unity in the respective nation, such unity will subsequently be implemented together in the region as a whole,” he said.

Kyai said the real threat in connection to extremism includes an influx of thoughts that did not originate from Southeast Asia, but from other regions such as the Middle East or Europe.

“When such thoughts spread in the ASEAN region, what they bring in is not their religious faith or rituals but their political system and political situation from their country of origin,” he added.

The cleric also spoke on the importance of building unity in diversity and putting into practice the rule of law.

Earlier this month, the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism was held in Kuala Lumpur, in view of the security threats terrorist groups pose.

The Brunei Times

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Land ownership through PA not recognised under Syariah law

Ak Md Khairuddin Pg Harun

LAND ownership through power of attorney (PA) is not recognised under Syariah law as there is no exchange of names on the land title between the owner and the buyer, said a Syariah High Court Judge yesterday.

Speaking from the point of view of the Islamic jurisprudence, Dato Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Metussin Hj Baki said that PA – a legal document which gives one person the power to act for another – is not regarded as allowing a buyer to fully own property due to lack of Aqd (an Arabic legal term referring to a binding contract or determination).

“As long as the names on the land title is not changed, the land does not belong to the buyer,” said Dato Ustaz Hj Metussin.

The Syariah High Court Judge was responding to a query by Acting Land Commissioner Datin Hjh Zainon Abang Hj Omarzuki during a briefing on land administration and management in the perspective of Islam to commemorate 55 years of the establishment of the Land Department.

Datin Hjh Zainon asked whether land ownership using PA is considered as property owned by the original owner or property owned by the buyer who used PA.

“From my point of view, we need to understand the process. The government has voided the PA… This is a general problem. However, the buyer who owned the property through PA does not fully own the land. It’s not complete. There should be changes in the names on the land grant (land title),” said the Syariah High Court Judge.

“For example, if I offer you a car and said, ‘Please take my car’, and you responded ‘Yes’. But I haven’t given you the car key. This shows that the transfer of property is not complete,” he added.

The government of Brunei amended the Land Code that effectively voided land ownership purchased through PA in 2012.

According to a previous report, Law Society President Mohamad Rozaiman DSLJ Abdul Rahman expressed concerns over the issues arising on ownership and transfer of land through PA.

He said the amendment of the Land Code has banned non-Bruneians from purchasing or transferring land which caused an uproar among the legal community in 2012 as the retroactive policy ignored any accepted standards of the rule of law.

The president said that all 47,000 deeds issued through PA would be converted to 60-year leases.

Upon expiry, the property must be handed over to the government.

The Brunei Times
Sunday, May 31, 2015

Syariah High Court Judges Pg Hj Md Tashim Pg Hj Hassan (L) and Dato Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Metussin Hj Baki (R) speak during the briefing on Islamic administration and management organised by the Land Department yesterday. BT/ Ak Md Khairuddin Pg Harun

Syariah High Court Judges Pg Hj Md Tashim Pg Hj Hassan (L) and Dato Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Metussin Hj Baki (R) speak during the briefing on Islamic administration and management organised by the Land Department yesterday. BT/ Ak Md Khairuddin Pg Harun



Cosmetic gold tooth is haram: MoH

Big picture: Gold teeth
Aaron Wong

INSTALLING a gold tooth for purely cosmetic purposes is forbidden in Islam, according to a recent publication by the Department of Dental Services of the Ministry of Health.

The 57-page question-and-answer book, which was launched yesterday, said the use of gold is only allowed in dentistry under strictly medical reasons, or to replace defective or lost tooth or teeth.

“The ruling (for both sexes) is that it is permissible on the basis of a qisas, a permissibility of using a golden nose in place of the original that was cut off or amputated,” said the book, which used references from the State Mufti Department.

The book stressed that it is also haram for other alterations to be made to a person’s set of original teeth on a purely cosmetic basis.

“If the alteration is done on medical grounds or to conceal one’s outward defect then the ruling is that it is permissible,” the book said.

“It is also forbidden to fill up the gap between the teeth with gold because of the element of wastefulness and self-conceit,” it added.

The book, entitled “Islamic Perspectives in Oral Health”, contains three chapters, each touching on the topic on oral care, dental treatment and dental maintenance while fasting.

The Brunei Times
Thursday, April 30, 2015



Islamic financial literacy will protect public from scams


Izzan Kassim

ISLAMIC financial literacy should be made accessible to everyone to protect members of the public from financial scams and fraud.

In a speech delivered at yesterday’s opening of the Thematic Workshop on Islamic Financial Literacy, Deputy Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Hj Yusoff Hj Ismail said a lot of people lost their income owing to various financial and investment scams. He said financial education can help in solving this problem.

Dato Seri Setia Hj Yusoff Hj Ismail

Dato Seri Setia Hj Yusoff Hj Ismail

Dato Hj Yusoff said that the change in the socio-economic landscape as well as advances in technology is part of the reason why individuals need to equip themselves and their families with the knowledge and skills to manage their personal finance.

“As Muslims, we should be literate regarding Islamic finance,” he said.

The deputy minister added that several commitments carried out by Muslims such as almsgiving (Zakat), commerce and Syariah-compliant investment and the handling of orphans’ assets should follow the exact guidelines set by the religion.

But he said members of the public should be also be made aware and taught the concepts of Islamic finance.

“Detailed and accurate information on (Islamic finance) should be shared,” he said.

It is vital to provide a guideline for the public, said the deputy minister, adding that this will allow them to make correct decisions and choices on financial matters.

He stressed that savings, financial planning and investments should all comply with Syariah.

As a result, the public’s belief and trust on how Syariah-compliant financial institutions are should be strengthened, with more efforts put in to improve the quality and sharing of information. He added that education on Islamic financial literacy should be expanded at the school level.

“Syllabuses that are related to Islamic financial literacy should be merged more aggressively into the curriculum,” he said.

Dato Hj Yusoff said that this would require teachers to be well-versed on the subject. He suggested that it could also be implemented through a fitting co-curriculum activity.

The Brunei Times
Thursday, February 26, 2015


A reflection on my time in Brunei

“I have been impressed by Brunei’s tradition of ensuring that people of different religions and ethnicities are able to live together in peace, harmony, and mutual respect and I am confident that Brunei will find ways to preserve and strengthen that precious legacy moving into the future.”

Daniel L Shields

Daniel L Shields

Daniel L Shields

THIS coming week, after more than three-and-a-half years in Brunei as US Ambassador, I will return to the United States of America to continue my career with the US Department of State. As I depart, I would like to offer a few memories and reflections, as well as some thoughts going forward.

To begin, let me say that I am grateful to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and the government for receiving me in Brunei and for being such warm and hospitable hosts throughout my tenure here.

Brunei has truly been a wonderful home for my family and me. We consider ourselves fortunate to have lived and worked in the Abode of Peace and our lives have been enhanced by the countless kindnesses we have experienced and the many friends we have made here. From the unmatched beauty and the pristine condition of Brunei’s forests to the splendour of its waterways and coasts to the diversity of its wildlife, Brunei’s natural environment has made an impression on me that I will never forget. Similarly, views of Kampong Ayer and the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddein Mosque, among many other sights, have impressed themselves onto my heart and will always remain there. But the real highlight of my time in Brunei has been my interaction with Brunei’s people. Whether at a Royal Wedding celebration, a cultural event such as the Royal Regatta, or on a hike in Ulu-Ulu Temburong National Park, I have met with nothing but friendship from the people of Brunei. For that I will always be grateful.

My work in Brunei, as the 11th US Ambassador, has been both personally and professionally satisfying. I have been honoured to carry forward our bilateral relationship and to help it to grow. Ours is a long and peaceful relationship. The frigate USS Constitution visited Brunei Darussalam in 1845 and in 1850 the United States and Brunei concluded their Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Amity and Commerce, which is still in effect today. The modern diplomatic relationship between the United States and Brunei began in 1984, with Brunei’s full independence from the United Kingdom. Today, 30 years later, the US-Brunei relationship is going stronger than ever. It was a great pleasure, this year, to celebrate that 30-year relationship with all of you.

Now, instead of simply saying farewell let me reflect for a moment on what has happened over the last several years in US-Brunei relations and what can happen in the years ahead. I came to Brunei in 2011 and already at that time the government was busy preparing for its assumption of the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2013. The United States collaborated closely with Brunei to develop innovative projects that were good for Brunei and the region and that demonstrated American engagement. Two important examples of such initiatives were the Brunei-US English Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN and the US-Asia Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership. As the projects were being implemented, Brunei’s effective Chairmanship of ASEAN helped lower the temperature in the region on the South China Sea and promote broad regional military-to-military cooperation, particularly through a Brunei-hosted Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief and Military Medicine exercise that brought together 18 nations, including the United States and China. In addition, Brunei was a gracious host during its year as Chair of ASEAN to many high-level US visitors, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and US Trade Representative Michael Froman.

The Brunei-US English Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN exemplifies the positive direction of our bilateral relationship. Under the project, Brunei and the United States work together to strengthen ASEAN by increasing the ability of people in Southeast Asia to use English, ASEAN’s working language, to communicate with each other. I was proud to be in the room when President Obama and His Majesty discussed the project during the Sultan’s visit to Washington, DC in March 2013. Six months earlier, when former Secretary Hillary Clinton visited Brunei for consultations with His Majesty and HRH Prince Mohamed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, our two governments took the opportunity to launch the project at a ceremony at Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Another significant project is the US-Asia Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership, which President Obama, His Majesty and former President Yudhoyono of Indonesia launched at the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh in November 2012. The Partnership is intended to support efforts to address energy poverty and energy access in the region by focusing on four priorities: renewables and cleaner energy, power markets and interconnectivity, the emerging role of natural gas, and sustainable development including rural electrification and energy efficiency. The project is backed by up to US$6 billion in financing. When His Majesty visited Washington, DC and met with the President, the US Department of Energy and the Brunei Energy Department in the Prime Minister’s Office were able to announce a new renewable energy and alternative power generation workstream. Brunei followed up by hosting a September 2013 regional workshop on grid-connected solar energy projects.

The growing US-Brunei relationship also includes a commercial side, and trade between Brunei and the United States has grown significantly with landmark deals such as the purchase of Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft by Royal Brunei Airlines and Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters by the Government of Brunei. Looking ahead, the opportunities for trade should multiply once the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, in which Brunei and the United States are among the 12 parties, come to a successful conclusion.

Upon my return to Washington, DC, I will inform President Obama that the relationship between the United States of America and Brunei Darussalam is strong and can be expected to strengthen further. I have been impressed by Brunei’s tradition of ensuring that people of different religions and ethnicities are able to live together in peace, harmony, and mutual respect and I am confident that Brunei will find ways to preserve and strengthen that precious legacy moving into the future.

Daniel L Shields is the outgoing US Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam

The Brunei Times
Saturday, December 20, 2014

daniel soas mosq


Bringing youths closer to the mosque and Almighty Allah

jom solat

IT WAS really heartening to see a Bruneian youth performing a prayer humbly and serenely at the Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque recently. What was even more special about this young man was that he was promoting Solat and calling on others to perform prayers as his shirt had the words “Jom Solat!” printed on the back.

It’s not every day that we can find someone, especially a youth, who is proud to be an obedient and practising slave of Allah — proud of Islam and proud to be Muslim. More importantly, it reminds others not to forget and to immediately establish prayers.

It was also encouraging to read a story a few days ago about youths being enthusiastic about taking part in an extra-curricular activity held by a mosque youth association. To the organiser’s surprise, there were 300 youths applying for the three-day programme, while they were only able to accommodate 81 participants.

“It was a bit of a surprise to us, especially being the school holidays; I actually expected people to travel overseas, but the participation was beyond our expectations. All we did was stick posters at the mosque and use social media to advertise the camp,” said one of the coordinators.

Indeed, it’s not easy to get people, especially youths, to have their hearts and minds attached to the House of Allah. We are pleased to see our youths always try their best to stay close to the mosque, which Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) made not only as a place for prayers but also a place for socialization, a place for da’wah, a place for celebration, a place for meetings and deliberation, a place for medical care, and a place for education.

InsyaAllah, by the grace of Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala, by having their hearts and minds attached to the mosque, our youth will also love performing prayers in congregation, doing i’tikaf, reading and learning the Quran, etc.

The youths, aged between 16 and 21, took part in hands-on activities designed and conducted to ensure that all participants truly understood aspects of the Quran and Islam such as their iman (faith) along with mass prayers, qiyamullail (tahajjud or night prayers), Quran recitals and motivational talks by invited guest speakers.

True to its name “Ash-Shaliheen Camp”, the activity was aimed at helping the youths become “righteous people”. The association said it wants to conduct the camp on an annual basis in the hope of helping achieve the objective of shaping the future generation to become righteous leaders and active in promoting and working to achieve the vision of a “Negara Zikir”.

Themed “Ini Pilihanku” (“This is my choice”), the objective of the camp was to instill an ardent love and pleasure in doing religious activities and fulfilling religious responsibilities and a higher sense of obedience towards Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.

All of this hopefully will help transform them into a better Muslim generation who will never abandon their solat. Solat is the most important pillar of Islam. It was in fact the first religious duty prescribed on every single prophet from Adam to Muhammad, second only to testifying to the Oneness of Allah. Allah says: “Solat, indeed, is a duty enjoined upon the faithful at the appointed times.” (An-Nisa’: 103). The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sllam) further narrates in a hadith Qudsi: “Allah said: ‘The covenant between Us and them is Solat; so whoever establishes it, establishes religion; whoever undermines it, undermines religion’.”

Prayer is an act of worship. As with all acts of worship, it is an act of obedience, an act of reverence, an act of surrender and an act of submission. In fact, the dignity of a believer is in their absolute submission to their Creator and no one else.

God does not need our worship; it is we who need Him. Prayer is – or should be – of benefit to us.

Prayer helps people avoid profanity and sins and helps uproot evil from their souls. Prayers must be performed with complete khushu’ (concentration) and recited with sincerity to Almighty Allah. However, if someone does not have khushu’ during their prayers, their prayers will not be invalidated, although their reward will be reduced. Hence, Muslims should try their best to avoid any distractions as much as they can during their prayers and focus their concentration.

Performing the prayer is a command of Allah. Prayer is not an option; it is obligatory. It is not once or a few times a week but must be performed five times a day. All the Prophets of Almighty Allah merely told their people to pray; Islam, however, made it a very essential part of religion.

In prayer, Muslims stand together without any distinction between race, colour, financial status or political position. Those who perform prayers in congregation regularly do learn the concepts of equality, solidarity and brotherhood. Prayer in congregation is performed behind an imam whom everyone has to follow. This teaches them discipline, order and organisation. Moreover, if the imam makes any mistake, any person can correct him. Indeed, this is a clear sign of democracy.

Let us pray regularly and in the best way so that the benefits and beauty of prayer may reflect in our lives. May Allah shower us all with His mercy and help us to remain steadfast in His religion. Aamiin

The Brunei Times/Editorial
Friday, December 12, 2014

Bruneian youths attending a masjid camp programme. Photo: BT

Bruneian youths attending a masjid camp programme. Photo: BT