BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro
When the crescent moon that heralds the ninth month of the Islamic calendar was not locally visible Monday night, Bruneians started “in a comfortable environment” fasting Wednesday, April 14, the official start of the holy month of Ramadan.
“Unlike last year when we were not able to visit mosques, suraus and religious halls for prayers, the current situation will not prevent us from visiting religious places this year,” said Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.
Brunei enjoys over 342 days without new Covid19 cases adding to its 219 national tally.
Travel restrictions due to Covid19 reduced Brunei’s 2020 mid-year population to 453,000 persons, a 1.3 percent decline from 459,000 in 2019, according to the Department of Economic and Planning Statistics.
“Temporary residents” decreased by 10.3 percent from 94,200 persons in 2019 to 83,900 persons in 2020. Some foreign workers left the country upon the expiration of their contract. A limited number of foreigners in certain jobs, including domestic helpers and private drivers, and sectors have been allowed entry.
To offset the decline, citizens and permanent residents increased 1.3 percent in 2020 to 240,700 males and 212,900 females; there are 113 males for every 100 females.
Military police fired 12 cannon shots from the capital’s park as prayers echoed from mosques to glorify start of Ramadan.
Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn and pay obligatory (zakat) charity for the poor.
As the Sultan’s personal gift, all Muslims in Brunei get 300-gram box of soft, moist, dark brown and deliciously sweet dates cultivated in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
154.5 tons of Safawy dates (kurma) are distributed by village heads to residents; ministries and departments to civil servants, and registered private companies to their officers and staff.
Roadside Ramadan stalls, fast food and eateries offer day time take-out food only. Muslims enjoy sunset dine-in buffets from $5 to break the fast (sungkai).
To discourage people from making a mountain of food going to waste, some eateries demand extra payment for every100 grams of food left on plate.
Muslims intensify pious activities and gain multiple rewards from Allah with nightly Sunnah Tarawik prayers read in pairs during Ramadan nights, Sunnat Witir prayers to end the nightly vigil, and sharing donations.
Imams lead nightly prayers and recite the prayer criteria to attract youths’ attendance. Mosque officials on duty lead Isyak, second prayer of the day; Sunnat Witir (prayers to end the night) and Doa. (prayer of invocation, supplication, request).
Congregants who missed days in last year’s fasting repay obligatory fasts and avoid paying a religious donation for a missed fast during Ramadan, or a delay in repaying an obligatory fast for over a year until the next Ramadan.
Firms, volunteers and residents start Muslim cemetery cleaning campaigns to pay respect to loved ones who passed away and end with recitation of Tahlil, (praise, acclaim) Doa Selamat and Kesyukuran.(thanksgiving) prayers.
Muslims greet each other a blessed and generous month to you, Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareen.