5,000 converts in past decade

National 1 minute, 22 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE religious affairs minister yesterday estimated about 5,000 people have embraced Islam in Brunei over the past decade with figures growing steadily.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awg Othman revealed the numbers at the 12th Legislative Council (LegCo) session, noting an average of 500 conversions have been recorded annually.

“These numbers appear consistent thus far and, based on (this), 5,000 or so have embraced Islam in the last 10 years,” he said.

In response to a question raised by a council member on underprivileged converts, he explained the Islamic Da’wah Centre looks after their welfare using the zakat (tithe) funds allocated by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB).

The minister said less fortunate converts were entitled to assistance including housing, noting that four houses have been built in Temburong with one more slated for completion soon.

Barracks, which can accommodate at least six families, were also provided for some converts who embraced Islam with their large families such as those previously residing in Semabat and Selapu long houses.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Awg Badaruddin said there was a need to provide barracks for large families of converts wishing to reside in the same village.

Elaborating on whether converts should be separated from their non-Muslim families, he stressed that such practices contradict Islamic teachings. He said converts should ideally live with their families as it is not against the law to do so.

While special considerations for temporary housing are given to individuals whose conversion led to family disputes, he reiterated it is not the centre’s policy to divide them.

The Brunei Times