ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN BRUNEI
National Name: Negara Brunei Darussalam
Land area: 2,035 sq mi (5,271 sq km); total area: 2,228 sq mi (5,770 sq km)
Population (2008 est.): 381,371
Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Bandar Seri Begawan, 78,000
Other large cities: Kuala Belait 27,800, Seria 23,400
Monetary unit: Brunei dollar
Languages: Malay (official), English, Chinese
Ethnicity/race: Malay 67%, Chinese 15%, indigenous 6%, other 12%
National Holiday: National Day, February 23
Religions: Islam (official religion) 67%, Buddhist 13%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs and other 10%
Literacy rate: 92.7% (2006 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2007 est.): $19.64 billion billion; per capita $51,000. Real growth rate: 0.4%. Inflation: 0.4%.
About the size of Delaware, Brunei is an independent sultanate on the northwest coast of the island of Borneo in the South China Sea, wedged between the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.
Brunei was trading with China during the 6th century, and, through allegiance to the Javanese Majapahit kingdom (13th to 15th century), it came under Hindu influence. In the early 15th century, with the decline of the Majapahit kingdom and widespread conversion to Islam, Brunei became an independent sultanate. It was a powerful state from the 16th to the 19th century, ruling over the northern part of Borneo and adjacent island chains. But it fell into decay and lost Sarawak in 1841, becoming a British protectorate in 1888 and a British dependency in 1905. Japan occupied Brunei during World War II; it was liberated by Australia in 1945.
The sultan regained control over internal affairs in 1959, but Britain retained responsibility for the state's defense and foreign affairs until 1984, when the sultanate became fully independent.
Islamic History and Muslims
Islam is Brunei's official religion, 67 percent of the population is Muslim, mostly Sunnis of Malay origin who follow the Shafi school of Islamic law. Most of the other Muslims groups are Kedayans (converts from indigenous tribal groups) and Chinese converts. Islam was adopted in the 15th century when a Malay Muslim was installed as sultan. The sultan traditionally was responsible for upholding Islamic traditions, although the responsibility was usually delegated to appointed officials. Since the 1930s sultans have used rising oil revenues to provide an extensive social welfare system and promote Islam, including subsidizing the Hajj, building mosques, and expanding the Department of Religious Affairs. There are 101 mosques and prayer halls, 7 Christian churches, several Chinese temples, and 2 Hindu temples in the country.
The Great Mosque in Brunei
Saifuddin Mosque Bandar Seri Begawan