This day marks the 10th day of Muharram or the day of ‘Ashura. Muharram is deemed sacred among three other months in the Islamic calendar, namely Rajab, Zulkaedah and Zulhijjah. Even so, not in any way do these months subvert the value of other months.

One of the virtues of ‘Ashura is fasting.

“I never saw the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Ashura’, and this month, meaning Ramadhan.” (Bukhari).

On the sunset of 9th September 2018, the entire Muslim populations across the globe including Brunei Darussalam welcomed the Hijrah New Year. This significantly marks the beginning of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.  It also highlights one of the most important events in the history of Islam, that is the hijrah, which refers to the migration of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from Makkah to Medina in 662 AD, as commanded by Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala.

The journey made by Prophet Muhammad occurred predominantly due the opposition of the Quraysh tribe of Makkah, who unreservedly refused to accept Islam. Their objection against the Prophet’s teachings had led to further harassment and persecution. Thus, Hijrah denotes the high perseverance of the Prophet and his early followers through their arduous journey in propagating the religion.

Brunei ushered the new year by presenting the theme: “Ilmu dan Amal Nadi Wawasan Negara”, which translates to Knowledge and Deeds, the Core of National Vision.

His Majesty The Sultan placed great emphasis on the lessons we could garner from learning knowledge of the past in his 1440H titah. Not only has history taught us to reflect on contemporary life, it has helped us better understand ourselves as a nation and society. The history of hijrah reveals a strong sense of brotherhood and solidarity among the Muslims in Makkah and Madinah.

In the historical narrative of hijrah, we learn that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), his companion, Sayyidina Abu Bakar As-Siddiq, and devoted followers of Islam act in accordance with the basis of doing everything for the sake of Allah. This is something that every Muslim should aspire to do; by remembering Allah in times of ease and difficulty and seizing every opportunity to perform good deeds.

His Majesty also brought out the issues on injustice that are currently taking place in this world. We are strongly advised to protect justice and condemn any acts of oppression and tyranny. He added that Allah has commanded us to be united in the Quran: “And hold fast to the rope of Allah, and do not be divided amongst yourselves.” (3:103). Thus, it is our responsibility to not be divided, and learn to unite and co-exist with one another.

As a country that firmly upholds Islamic values, Brunei observed the new year of 1440H with a series of religious ceremonies. The main highlights of this occasion would be the Titah delivered by His Majesty The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, and the mass prayers performed at local mosques, followed by the recital of the end-of-year du’a for 1439H and du’a for the new year 1440H to seek the eternal blessings of Allah.

“In the end-of-year prayer, we turn to Allah and beg Him to forgive all of our sins and accept our repentance, whereas in the beginning-of-the-month prayer, we seek Allah’s protection against the evil tricks of shaitan and its troops, and ask not to be misled by evil lust. If these prayers are accepted by Allah, then is this not a guarantee for us to obtain success in the form of safety, happiness, prosperity and others?”

— His Majesty’s titah in 1437H.

Over the last years, some of the hijrah-related events include the presentation of prestigious Bakti Hijrah awards, special nadwah or forum, and Tazkirah Hijrah or religious talk. It has, indeed, become Brunei’s long-term practice to celebrate all key events in the hijrah calendar. This bespeaks the nation’s strong faith of Islam and its efforts to develop the true and authentic Islamic values and principles.

“In Islam, ‘Maqasid Syar’iyah’ exists to safeguard or preserve the five essentials that all human beings need. The five things are: protecting the faith, life, intellect, posterity and wealth.”

—His Majesty’s titah in 1438H

One of the ways we can do to strengthen our faith is through charity. As previously emphasised in the previous year’s titah in 1439H, the monarch encouraged us to understand the importance of akidah, and the secret of charity as a bridge to strive towards the pleasure and glory of Allah for this life and the Hereafter.

Brunei, the abode of peace, has enjoyed years and years of tranquility, safety and prosperity particularly through the development of the well-being of its people.

With an estimated population of 430,000, about 78% of the population in Brunei adheres to Islam. For a small coastal state, there are a total of 118 mosques in the country, with Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque and Jame ‘Asre Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque being the two main representative mosques. It’s not a surprise that one can easily locate a mosque or surau within a short distance.

Hijrah is a journey for us to move forward and become better Muslims and individuals. It is also our hope and goal to witness Brunei progress and achieve its National Vision 2035 into a country with highly educated, skilled and successful population as well as dynamic and sustainable economy.