Bandar Seri Begawan, Capital of Islamic Culture 2019


Bandar Seri Begawan / Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam

Asian Region’s Capital of Islamic Culture for 2019

Relevant activities :

As part of the Celebration of Bandar Seri Begawan as 2019 Capital of Islamic Culture for the Asian region: ISESCO and FUIW to hold academic symposium on issues of Sacred City glorification, Brunei Darussalam

On the occasion of celebratingof Bandar Seri Begawan as the Asian region’s Capital of Islamic Culture for 2019: Organization of Exhibition on Bandar Seri Begawan Architectural and Monuments Trail.


Brunei Darussalam is the oldest uninterrupted Malay state. Since the embracement of Islam by the first ruler of Brunei, Awang Alak Betatar (Sultan Muhammad Shah) in 1402, Islam has played, and still playing, a very central role in the history of Brunei[1]. The practice of Islam can be seen in the admittance of some scholars from the Middle East to the Bruneian society, including Sharif Ali (1432), a descendant of the Prophet ﷺ who later enthroned as the third Sultan (1425-1432), and is known as Sultan Berkat (The Blessed Sultan). Sultan Sharif Ali was the first to build a mosque and reinforce the Islamic faith in Brunei[2].

An artist impression of the first mosque in Brunei at the Old City of Kota Batu.

[1] Mansurnoor, I.A. (2008). Islam in Brunei Darussalam: Negotiating Islamic Revivalism and Religious Radicalism. Islamic Studies, Vol. 47, No. 1 (pp. 65-97).

[2] Rozan Yunos. (2007). 200,000! And What I did on Sunday. http://

Remnants of the Old City in Kota Batu. The 120-acre Kota Batu Archaeological Park features excavation sites of the stone fort. The area was an open trading port during the reign of the first Sultan of Brunei and a mosque of stones was erected during the reign of Sultan Sharif Ali[3]

During the reign of Sultan Bolkiah, the fifth Sultan of Brunei (1485-1524), Brunei Darussalam expanded her sphere of influence to the entire Borneo Island. The collapse of the Malaccan Empire in 1511 by the Portuguese, gave Brunei the opportunity to strengthen her trade relations, and consecutively the spread of Islam beyond her borders,

namely to Palawan Island, Sulu, Belayan, Mindoro, Bonbon, Belabak, Belambangan, Bangi, Mentanai and Saludang (today known as the Philippines)[4] . The barge at the lagoon of the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, replicates from the ship of Sultan Bolkiah, the 5th Sultan of Brunei.


[3] Borneo Insider’s Guide. (2016). Reliving the Past.

[4] Rozan Yunos. (2016). Brunei’s Golden Period of Expansion. http://

The establishment of Hukum Kanun Brunei (Brunei’s Code of Laws) during the reign of the Sultan Muhammad Hasan (1582-1589) acts as the application of Islamic Laws in governing of the state, administration of resources and state customs.

Part of Brunei’s Canons from the 16th Century during the reign of the Sultan Muhammad Hasan (1582-1589)

The centre of the city changes from Kota Batu to the water settlements in Kampong Ayer (Water Village). Kampong Ayer was the centre of economic and socio-cultural development. One can still see the names of the villages depicting the socio-economic activities they once niched. For example, Kampong Pandai Besi hosts silversmiths while Kampong Pekilong Muara are villages of fishermen.

Padian (Ladies on boats) sell sundries from house to house (circa 1952)

In 1906, the centre of the country moved from water to land. Development started to flourish, and in 1952, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III started the modern development of Bandar Brunei (Brunei Town). Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien is also known as the Architect of Modern Brunei. Brunei Town continued to develop as the centre for economic and socio-cultural development. Islamic infrastructure were also developed, and these include Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, the establishment of Religious Affairs Department, and the establishment of Islamic Religious Schools.


Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah has consented to change the name of Brunei Town to Bandar Seri Begawan, in 4th October 1970. His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah is the enforcer of Islam and Islamic Law in Brunei Darussalam. In the proclamation of the independence of Brunei Darussalam (1 January 1984), His Majesty announced that Brunei Darussalam shall always be an independent, sovereign and democratic Malay Islamic Monarchy, which uphold the Islamic teachings according to the Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaah (Shafie Sect), and based on justice, trust and freedom, and with the guidance and will of Allah the Compassionate and the Merciful, and always strive to achieve tranquility, peace, welfare and happiness for its citizens.”


His Majesty has implemented various efforts in strengthening and refining Islamic Development in the country such as the establishment of Seri Begawan Religious Teachers College in 1972; Tahfiz Al-Quran Institute in 1993; Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Islamic Studies Institute in 1999; the launch of Mushaf Brunei Darussalam in 1992; establishment of Islamic Banks in 1991; the banning of alcohol in 1990; and implementation of the Shariah Penal Code in 2014. His Majesty also declares that Brunei Darussalam is a country that is free from alcohol in 1 December 1990.
Bandar Seri Begawan is a city with cultural excellence, enriched Islamic culture and human culture prosperity. The political, economic and socio-cultural development can be proven with civilizational landmarks and the establishment of Islamic cultural landmarks.


During the 9th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, Bandar Seri Begawan was nominated as the Islamic Culture Capital for the Asia Region in 2019. Insha Allah, 2019 will be filled with activities celebrating the declaration of Bandar Seri Begawan as the Capital of Islamic Culture.



Throughout the year of 2019, Bandar Seri Begawan, Insha Allah, will witness the different activities planned and organized to celebrate the Capital of Islamic Culture. The activities can be grouped into few such as Main Activities, Academic Activities, Religious Activities, Islamic Culture and Arts, Sports and Recreation, Competitions and Expo. The three main activities organised for the celebrations are;

– Exhibition on Bandar Seri Begawan Architectural and Monuments Trail( (Kick Off Event, 17 January 2019)
– 2nd International Islamic Expo
– Photography and Painting Exhibition on Al-Quds Al-Sharif

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam with Royal Family in the Annual Maulid Procession

Some of the activities for Celebrations of Bandar Seri Begawan as the Islamic Culture Capital for the Asia Region, 2019

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