Audience to intending haj pilgrims
By Yusrin Junaidi & Azrol Azmi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha and HRH Pg Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar granted separate audiences to more than a 1,000 intending haj pilgrims at the Istana Nurul Iman yesterday.

While waiting to greet the royalty, the male and female pilgrims were glued to the TV as a religious talk on the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca was aired. The pilgrims also performed a Zuhur prayer before the audience.

Also present at the audience were HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah and Her Royal Highness Princess Hjh Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah.

His Majesty and other members of the royal family were welcomed on arrival by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja Dato Seri Utama Dr Ustaz Awang Hj Mohd Zain bin Hj Serudin, Deputy Minister at the Ministry Religious Affairs and other senior government officers.

His Majesty received 647 male pilgrims, while in another part of the Istana Her Majesty received 760 female pilgrims.

After the audience the male pilgrims were presented with "Kurnia" in the form of "Ihram", while the female pilgrims received praying robes or "Telekong".

Hj Norisham bin Hj Mohd Zamzam from Islamic Dakwah Centre, who will also be the Humairah guide during the pilgrimage, said, "This is not my first haj pilgrimage. I'm glad that this year I'm guiding 16 pilgrims and most of them are from Kampong Sukang and Malilas, and we will flying off on December 5 on board the seventh flight."

Awang Haslan Hj Dullah, Field Officer at the Tutong District Office, said, "This is my first time performing the haj with my wife. I have performed Umrah in 1993 and 2001. Since then, my wife and I have been preparing to perform the haj. I would like to thank His Majesty for consenting to present the grant (Tambang Kurnia) to government servants who have been in service for 15 years and I hope in the future I can bring all my family members."

Hj Anwar bin Hj Angas, who has been with the Radio Television Brunei for 16 years, told the Bulletin that this is his second time performing the haj, the first time was back in 1991. He thanked His Majesty for the grant.

Officers and personnel from various ministries including the Ministry of Health as well as the Royal Brunei Airlines personnel (six of them including an engineer) will be flying off today to the holy city of Mecca to make preparations for the arrival of the first batch of Brunei pilgrims on November 25 and subsequent batches. - Borneo Bulletin (14th Nov 2007)