Sultan at Isra' Me'raj celebration
By Lyna Mohammad

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday consented to attend one of the biggest events in the Islamic calendar, Isra' Me'raj 1427 Hijrah, hosted by Tutong District at the Tutong Civic Centre.

Accompanying the monarch were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Abdul Azim, HRH Prince Abdul Malik, and HRH Prince Abdul Mateen.

On arrival, His Majesty and other members of the royal family were greeted by Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Dato Dr Ustaz Hj Awg Mohd Zain Hj Serudin, the Tutong District Officer and other senior officials at the Ministry of Religious Affairs .

The event, themed "Appreciating Islam in Upgrading National Competitiveness" (Menghayati Islam Dalam Memper-tingkatkan Daya Saing Bangsa), began with a recital of Al-Quran by second runner-up at the National Quran Reading Competition 2006 Awg Md Albi Hj Ibrahim, and translated by Awg Hj Haslan Hj Shahbuddin, an officer from the Mosque Affairs Department under the Tutong Religious Department.

This was followed by a welcoming speech by Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Dato Dr Ustaz Hj Awg Mohd Zain in his capacity as the chairman of the executive committee of the event.

The minister said the objectives of the Takmir Masjid Award programme were to encourage mosque officials, Takmir committee members and worshippers to work towards ensuring the mosque Takmir is one of the platforms for the development of a pious nation, to inculcate brotherly spirit, and to strengthen the commitment towards the mosque thus turning it into an important institution in the community.

He also noted that Tutong District was chosen for this year's Isra' Me'raj celebration to give districts other than Brunei-Muara an opportunity to be directly involved in the event.

Later, a religious talk on Isra' Me'raj was delivered by Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Awg Yahya Hj Ibrahim, followed by the presentation of awards to winners of the Anugerah Ta'mir Masjid 2006.

Some 43 mosques across the country competed in the competition, which comprised four categories: Takmir (Mosque Takmir activities), Idarah (administration and management), Ri'ayah (maintenance), and Mosque Youth Group Activity.

For Takmir, the award was based on daily and weekly mosque activities, the quality of services, the quality of courses, workshops and competitions organised, the level of involvement in community services such as special religious talks, forums and course, and attendance of worshippers.

For Idarah, the management of a mosque office was scrutinised including its financial statements, properties, officers and other staff, and library management.

For Riayah, the aspects taken into account included cleanliness of the premises, maintenance of properties and landscape, electricity saving scheme, and actions taken by mosque officials in case of damages to the premises.

The last category included the competency of mosque officials in organising activities as well as increasing the number of youth members, the management of youth activities, the quality of courses, talks and competitions organised, and the level of involvement in community work.

Kg Sinaut Mosque topped the Takmir category while winners in Idarah, Ri'ayah and Mosque Youth Group Activity were Kg Pintu Malim Mosque, Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and Kg Tamoi Mosque respectively.

To bless the celebration, a doa was read by State Mufti Pehin Datu Ustaz Hj Awg Abd Aziz Juned, which also marked the closing of the event.

Before leaving the Tutong Civic Centre, His Majesty and other members of the royal family consented to attend a "Junjung Ziarah" where they received greetings from organising committee members of the celebration, comprising officials from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Tutong District Office.

Meanwhile, also in attendance at yesterday's event were Pengiran-Pengiran Cheterias, ministers, deputy ministers, Pengiran-Pengiran Peranakan, Pehin-Pehin Manteri, Manteri-Manteri Pendalaman, diplomats, permanent secretaries and heads of government agencies. - Borneo Bulletin (22nd August 2006)