Researcher highlights key players in Islamic development

National 2 minutes, 3 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

MORE emphasis should be put on influential figures who played key roles in Brunei’s Islamic education and administration.

A researcher from Brunei History Centre, Dr Ustaz Hj Abdul Kadir NC Mohamad, pointed out that Bruneians are still unaware of prominent historical figures who had helped shaped Brunei’s Islamic education.

During yesterday’s talk held at the Borneo Research Centre (PenBorneo) building in Kg Anggerek Desa, Dr Ustaz Hj Abdul Kadir shared some of his findings from a study he conducted on Brunei’s first State Mufti, the late Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Dr Hj Ismail Umar Abdul Aziz, in terms of his contribution in Islamic religious education and administration.

According to the researcher, the former State Mufti was originally from Johor Bahru where he was also appointed as State Mufti there, but later served for Brunei as the sultanate’s first State Mufti for 28 years.

“He was one of the individuals most trusted by the late Sultan Hj Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien,” he said.

He explained that the former State Mufti first came to Brunei in the late 1954 and early 1955 to survey the sultanate in building a religious school. Following his visit to Brunei, the sultanate’s formal religious education system was established.

This subsequently led to the establishment of Arabic schools in Brunei, said Dr Ustaz Hj Abdul Kadir.

Through his qualitative study conducted in 2011, Dr Ustaz Hj Abdul Kadir said his findings indicated Islamic education and administration were successfully strengthened through diplomatic relations between Johor and Brunei.

“He was the most sought after Muslim scholar in Johor. However, because of the late Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien and Sultan Ibrahim of Johor’s close and good relations, Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Dr Hj Ismail continued his service with Brunei’s government as the Mufti,” he said.

The late State Mufti, Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Dr Hj Ismail passed away in 1993.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, the researcher said he had to conduct interviews as part of his study. This includes an interview with the Sultan of Johor Darul Ta’zim.

“I traveled back and forth to Malaysia about 70 to a hundred times, for this study,” he said, adding that he also had access to old letters and archives to support his study.

Also present yesterday were academics and officers from the Brunei History Centre.

The Brunei Times