Taking the leap of faith
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THIS year shows the highest number of conversions, according to statistics provided by the Islamic Da’wah Centre.
As of November this year, the total number of conversions is 540 where 261 of the conversion are locals, while 70 are permanent residents and 290 foreigners.
The foreigners comprise of several nationalities including Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, Indonesian, Indian and Nepal.
Conversion ceremonies involve declaring their Iman (faith) in the Oneness of Allah SWT and the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) and embracing Islam by reciting the Syahadah (declaration of faith) in the presence of a religious officer and Muslim witnesses.
New converts also have to undergo a 10-day introductory course on Islam followed by a 14-day foundation course and an extensive guidance of Scheme I and II.
The courses cover several aspects of aqidah, halal (any object or action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law) and haram (refers to anything that is prohibited by the faith) and thaharah (cleanliness/hygiene).
The Islamic Da’wah Centre also organises classes every Friday and Saturday at the centre and in their branches in respective districts.
On November 29, five Muslim converts were lauded for their dedication and efforts in disseminating the Islamic religion to their community.
The Minister of Religious Affairs, Yang Berhormat Pg Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Pg Hj Abdul Rahman, presented one recipient the _Da’ie _Special Award and four recipients the Exemplary Converts Award.
The only Da’ie Special award recipient was Hj Mohd Noh Datu Maharaja Setia Dian from the Belait district. He embraced Islam in 1988 and has been active in religious activities since then.
He shared that one of his contributions was promoting and encouraging Penan children to enter religious school.
One of the recipients of the Exemplary Convert award was Hamyesulaina Abdullah from Belait district.
She took the leap of faith in 1985 and shared with The Brunei Times that she turned her house into a tuition class for new converts in 2004 up until 2011.
She also opened a day care centre with the objective to assist parents who do not have domestic helpers as well as provide employment opportunities to those who wanted to become nannies at the centre.
Hamyesulaina shared that more than 100 of her family members embraced Islam because of her continuous efforts in disseminating Islam.
Another recipient of the Exemplary Convert award, Murut-born Hj Tajuddin Abdullah Parang who converted in 1992, who was the former assistant chairperson of Taman Padi Wasan assisted converts to find jobs at the paddy field.
Until now, Hj Tajuddin has been active in providing advice to new Murut family converts.
During the awards ceremony, concerns were raised by Hj Tajuddin claiming that some of the new converts from certain ethnic groups were abandoned and neglected after converting.
He complained that the centre sometimes cannot handle the number of new converts each year, particularly those who live in remote areas.
He also mentioned that some new converts among his ethnic background would deviate from the Islamic teaching taught during the 10-day programme.
“Some of them would return to their former selves such as drinking alcohol and gambling,” he claimed.
Acting Director of the Islamic Da’wah Centre, Hjh Siti Azizah Hj Musa responded to this concern by stating that PDI offers a programme whereby PDI officers would visit the houses of the new converts should they lack the transportation to visit the centre.
She also said that the centre also offers a number of guidance courses on Islam to new converts such as follow-up courses to the introductory programme and the Muallaf guidance course.
For converts in the Temburong district, “mobile courses” are offered during visits to the residences of the new converts every week. She added that the visits would be conducted according to schedules set by PDI officers.
Hjh Siti Azizah also said that they try to advise the converts through the counseling unit as to ensure that they do not deviate from Islam.
Statistics show that Brunei-Muara continues to have the highest number of conversions which is 354 (January to November) followed by the Belait, Tutong and Temburong districts.
Conversion ceremonies can be held at home or at the centre upon request of the individual.
The Brunei Times