Education, Religious Authority and Moderation: Muslim Scholars-Cum-Leaders in Brunei Darussalam

Haji Awg Asbol bin Haji Mail, Iik Arifin Mansurnoor


ABSTRACT: Brunei Darussalam is known to be one of the countries in contemporary Southeast Asia which has not experienced the birth of modern radical Muslims or Islamic organizations on its own soil. Obviously, the political system and state structure have a lot to do with such a condition; however, from the purely socio-religious perspective it is certainly interesting to examine the educational and religious backgrounds of the country's Muslim leaders and scholars or ‘ulama’. This paper addresses the structural link between state and education, especially religious education, and its impact on the kind of education, training and career Brunei's ‘ulama’ have. Brunei's prominent ‘ulama’ went through particular educational centers and underwent certain training. However, they also had diverse interests and extra-activities which eventually formed their personal stature and religious characteristics. By identifying the many facets of their intellectual passages and training, this paper sheds some light on how the scholar-cum-leaders fit to the state structure and maintain religious stability in the country.

KEY WORDS: state of Brunei, religious education, impact on society, the scholar-cum-leaders, and religious stability in the country.

About the Authors: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Haji Awg Asbol bin Haji Mail and Prof. Dr. Iik Arifin Mansurnoor are Lecturers at the History Department, Faculty of Art and Social Sciences UBD (University of Brunei Darussalam). They can be reached at: and

How to cite this article? Haji Mail, Haji Awg Asbol bin & Iik Arifin Mansurnoor. (2009). “Education, Religious Authority and Moderation: Muslim Scholars-Cum-Leaders in Brunei Darussalam” in TAWARIKH: International Journal for Historical Studies, Vol.1(1) October, pp.15-56. Bandung, Indonesia: ASPENSI [Asosiasi Sarjana Pendidikan Sejarah Indonesia], ISSN 2085-0980.

Chronicle of the article: Accepted (August 17, 2009); Revised (September 20, 2009); and Published (October 28, 2009).

Full Text:



Abaza, Mona. (1994). “Islamic Education, Perceptions and Exchanges: Indonesian Students in Cairo” in Cahier d'Archipel, 23. Paris: EHESS.

Abaza, Mona. (2001). Debates on Islam and Knowledge in Malaysia and Egypt: Shifting Worlds. Richmond: Curzon Press.

Abd Latif Haji Ibrahim, Hj. (1994). “Kebudayaan Negara Brunei Darussalam: Ke Mana Arah Matlamat?” in Isu-isu Utama dalam Pemikiran Kebudayaan. Bandar Seri Begawan: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, pp.10-26.

Abdul Hamid bin Mohd Daud, Dato Hj. (2004). Sepintas Lalu Dermasiswa Jabatan Hal Ehwal Ugama Brunei Darussalam. Bandar Seri Begawan: Pusat Da'wah Islamiah.

Abu Rabi`, Ibrahim M. (2004). Contemporary Arab Thought: Studies in Post-1967 Arab Intellectual History. London: Pluto Press.

Andaya, B. & V. Matheson. (1979). "Islamic Thought and Malay Tradition” in A. Reid & D. Marr [eds]. Perceptions of the Past in Southeast Asia. Singapore: Heinemann.

Awang bin Ahmad. (1989). "Manuskrip Lama Brunei: Sumbangan dan Penglibatan Tokoh Tokoh Ugama Masa Lalu". Paper in an International Seminar on Islamic Civilization in the Malay World. Bandar Seri Begawan: 1-5 June.

Awg Asbol bin Hj. Mail, Hj. (1996). “Sejarah Perkembangan Pendidikan di Brunei, 1950-1985”. Unpublished M.A. Thesis. Kuala Lumpur: Univerity of Malaya.

Badaruddin, H.O. (2003). Pada Hemat Saya. Bandar Seri Begawan: Dewan Bahasa dan Pusataka Brunei.

Borneo Bulletin (cited as BB). Private publication, starting as a weekly paper in 1953 and becoming daily since 1990.

Bourdieu, Pierre. (1996). The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, Translated by L.C. Clough.

Bourdieu, Pierre & Jean-Claude Passeron. (1990). Reproduction in Education, Society, and Culture. London: Sage Publications.

Braighlinn, G. (1992). “Ideological Innovation under Monarchy: Aspects of Legitimation Activity in Contemporary Brunei” in Comparative Asian Studies, Num.9. Amsterdam: Centre for Asian Studies, Vrij University Press.

Brown, Donald E. (1970). “Brunei: The Structure and History of a Bornean Malay Sultanate” in Monograph of the Brunei Museum Journal, 2/2. Bandar Brunei: Brunei Museum.

Brown, Donald E. (1988). “Brunei through the Sha’er and Silsilah” in Solidarity, 99, pp.10-15.

Brown, Donald E. (1989). “Identiti Manuskrip Brunei Lama” in Bahana. [March], pp.33-35.

Eickelman, Dale F. (1976). Moroccan Islam. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Eickelman, Dale F. (1985). Knowledge and Power in Morocco: The Education of a Twentieth-Century Notable. Princeton: Prineton University Press.

Federspiel, Howard M. (1992). Muslim Intellectuals and National Development in Indonesia. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Hajjah Joriah Haji Metali. (1988). "Dato Haji Ahmad" in Pusaka, 1.

Hashim bin Haji Abd Hamid, Hj. (1999). Cerocok Budaya Brunei. Bandar Seri Begawan: Academy of Brunei Studies.

Hurgronje, C. Snouck. (1931). Mekka in the Part of the 19th Century. Leiden: Brill, translated by J.H. Monahan.

Hurgronje, C. Snouck. (1985). Aceh di Mata Kolonialis. Translation. Jakarta: Yayasan Soko Guru.

Interviews and surveys undertaken among a group of Azhari graduates in Brunei Darussalam, January 8-March 26, 2005.

Ismail bin Omar Abd Aziz, Pehin Dato Hj. (1994). Ringkasan Akidah Ahli Sunnah wal-Jemaah. Bandar Seri Begawan: Pusat Da`wah Islamiah.

Ismail Hamid. (1984). "Suatu Koleksi Naskhah Islam di Muzium Brunei" in Dewan Sastera, 14/12.

Jones, Sydney. (2004). “Indonesia Backgrounder: Why Salafism and Terrorism Mostly Don't Mix” in Asia Report, No.83 [13 September]. Southeast Asia/Brussels: International Crisis Group. Also available at: [Accessed in Bandar Seri Begawan: December 18, 2004].

Katz, Mark N. (2004). “Assessing the Political Stability of Oman” in Middle East Review of International Affairs, 8/3, pp.1-9.

Kershaw, Roger. (2001). “Brunei: Malay, Monarchical, Micro-State” in John Funston [ed]. Government and Politics in Southeast Asia. Singapore: ISEAS, pp.1-35.

Kershaw, Roger. (2003). “Partners in Realism: Britain and Brunei Amid Recent Turbulence” in Asian Affairs, 34/1, pp.46-53.

Laws of Brunei: Chapter 77 Religious Council and Kadis Courts. (1984). Bandar Seri Begawan: Government Printing Department, revised edition.

Majalah Jabatan Hal Ehwal Ugama (cited as Majalah). Published monthly from June 1962 by the Department/Ministry of Religious Affairs, Bandar Seri Begawan.

Mansurnoor, Iik A. (1978). “The ‘ulama’ of Medieval Damascus and the International World of Islamic Scholarship". Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. Berkeley: University of California.

Mansurnoor, lik A. (1990). Islam in an Indonesian World: Ulama of Madura. Yogya: Gadjah Mada University Press.

Mansurnoor, Iik A. (1992). “Brunei sebagai sebuah Pusat Jaringan (Network) Intelektual Islam di Asia Tenggara” in Dato Haji Abu Bakar Haji Apong et al. [eds]. Sumbangsih UBD: Essays on Brunei Darussalam. Bandar Seri Begawan: Academy of Brunei Studies, pp.148-63.

Mansurnoor, Iik A. (1993). “Intellectual Tradition in a Malay World: Ulama and Education in Brunei” in Jurnal Pendidikan, 3/3, pp.34-60.

Mansurnoor, Iik A. (1995). “Historiography and Religious Reform in Brunei during the Period 1912-1959” in Studia Islamika, 2/3, pp.77-113.

Mansurnoor, Iik A. (1996). “Socio-Religious Changes in Brunei After the Pacific War” in Islamic Studies Quarterly Journal, 35/1, pp.45-70.

Mansurnoor, Iik A. (2000). “Islamic Education, State, and Society in Brunei Darussalam: An Intellectual History of the `Ulama’ World, 1903-1974” in Isma-ae Alee et al. [eds]. Islamic Studies in ASEAN: Presentations of an International Seminar. Pattani: College of Islamic Studies, Prince of Songkla University, pp.409-444.

Mansurnoor, Iik A. (2009). “Islam in Brunei Darussalam: Negotiating Islamic Revivalism and Religious Radicalism” [in French] in Antoine Sfeir [ed]. Islam in Asia. A Special Issue of Cahiers de l'Orient, Paris [in press].

Md. Yusop Haji Awang Damit, Haji. (2002). “Negara Brunei Darussalam: Light at the End of the Tunnel” in Southeast Asian Affairs, pp.81-91.

Md. Zain bin Haji Serudin, Pehin Dato Hj. (1992). Brunei Darussalam: Persepsi Sejarah dan Masyarakatnya. Bandar Seri Begawan: Azza Press.

Md. Zain bin Haji Serudin, Dato Hj. et al. (1971). Lambaian Islam. Bandar Seri Begawan: Jabatan Hal-Ehwal Ugama.

Metassim Haji Jibah. (1980). "Catatan Mengenai Hukum Kanun Brunei" in Bahana. Bandar Seri Begawan: October — December.

Mohammad Pg. Hj. Abd. Rahman, Pg. Hj. (1991). “Kemasukan dan Perkembangan Islam di Borneo British dengan Tumpuan Khas ke Atas Brunei Darussalam (Abad 13-20 Masihi)”. Ph.D. Thesis Tidak Diterbitkan. Kuala Lumpur: Universiti Malaya.

Mohd. Jamil Al-Sufri, Pehin Dato Hj. (1982). Chorak Pendidikan di Brunei pada Masa Hadapan. Bandar Seri Begawan: Majlis Pelajaran Brunei/Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Mohd. Salleh Abdul Latif, Haji. (2004). Menyusur Zaman: Biografi Haji Mohd. Zain bin Haji Serudin. Bandar Seri Begawan: Minda Kreatif Publishing.

Muslimin. Published monthly by the Department/Ministry of Religious Affairs, Bandar Seri Begawan.

Pehin Yahya. (1989). “Pehin pehin Manteri Ugama sebaqai Institusi dan Peranan Mereka dalam Pentadbiran dan Pemerinltahan Negara di Brunei". Paper in an International Seminar on Islamic Civilization in the Malay World in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Pelita Brunei (cited as PB). Government publication since February 1956.

Roff, William C. [ed]. (1974). Kelantan: Religion, Society and Politics in a Malay State. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.

Suhaili bin Haji Mohiddin, Pehin Dato Haji. (1994). Penyelewengan dari Dasar Akidah Ahli Sunnah pada Masa Sekarang dan Saranan-saranan untuk Mengatasinya. Bandar Seri Begawan: Pusat Da’wah Islamiah.

Van Bruinessen, Martin. (1999). “Global and Local in Indonesian Islam” in Southeast Asian Studies, 37/2 [Kyoto], pp.46-63.

Yahya bin Haji Ibrahim, Pehin Dato Haji. (2000). Sejarah dan Peranan Institusi-institusi Melayu Islam Beraja. Bandar Seri Begawan: Pusat Da’wah Islamiah.

Yahya, M.S. (1988). Perjalanan Malam Kalimantan Menuju Siang. Bandar Seri Begawan: Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka.

Yegar, Moshe. (1979). Islam and Islamic Institutions in British Malaya. Jerusalem: Hebrew University Press.

Yura Halim. (1993). Adat Mengulum Bahasa. Bandar Seri Begawan: Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka.