PROMOTING ISLAMIC TOURISM IN BRUNEI: TRACING THE BEAUTY OF ISLAM

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, officiated the launch of the Islamic Tourism & Exhibition 2011 on March 16 in a ceremony held at the Darulifta Building in Jalan Pengiran Babu Raja, which houses the State Mufti’s Office and the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Islamic Exhibition Gallery.

Yes, I’m officially over the moon about this exciting development by Brunei Tourism to promote Brunei’s places of historical or religious significance as well as the Sultanate’s Islamic way of life. The Islamic Tourism initiative began as a meeting at the 2010 ASEAN Tourism Form between Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources and Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen, Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism, during which it was discussed that Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia should create respective Islamic Tourism packages that could complement each other in order to create a Trail of Islamic Civilization in South East Asia, allowing interested visitors to follow the development, progress and ancient and modern cultural practices of Islam throughout the Malay Archipelago. A year later, the initiative was energized into action: the Islamic Tourism & Exhibition 2011 event.

Sheikh Jamaluddin Mohamed “Cool.. glad to have you with us.. and thanks for all those wonderful shots of the manuscripts and artifacts… the promotion starts now!” — Facebook

For more information, visit Islamic Tourism official website | Islamic Tourism Brunei on Facebook

32,300 People Visit Islamic Tourism Expo | Islamic Tourism Gets Royal Backing | Brunei taps into Islamic Tourism | Brunei, M’sia in Islamic tourism tie | Is ‘Islamic Tourism’ the way to go? | His Majesty Opens Islamic Tourism And Exhibition | Islamic Attractions On Tourist Trail | Brunei Tourism CEO Promotes Country As Islamic Travel Destination

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The official 32-page Islamic Tourism book from Brunei Tourism Board that contains images and information on the history of Islam, Malay & Culture of Brunei, Islamic Artefacts collections.

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Official lapel pin commemorating Islamic Tourism Brunei Darussalam. Thank you Brunei Tourism for this!

Brunei’s official history tells that the first king to embrace Islam in Brunei was Awang Alak Betatar, who became Brunei’s first Sultan under the name of Muhammad Shah after his conversion in the 14th Century. However, historians have uncovered fascinating evidence that shows Islam reached Brunei shores even as far back as the 10th Century. — Page 5 | Islamic Tourism Brunei Darussalam brochure.

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“According to Chinese historical records, Islam was present in Brunei by 977 AD, in the form of a Chinese Muslim trader and diplomat named P’u-lu-shieh, who was bringing greetings from the Emperor of China.”

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The manuscript exhibition gallery preserves and exhibits more than 700 unique and rare Islamic manuscripts in various languages and Islamic art calligraphy as decorations.

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“More than 300 al-Qur’an and Quranic manuscripts in various forms and sizes, written on various materials and in various shapes such as this leaflike depicting the uniqueness and spendour of Islamic art.”

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Behind the scenes: In preparation to photograph a small Quran, adhesive lint remover is used to help remove dust and other unsightly debris that stick to the black velvet fabric. Photo by Gavin.

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A magnifying glass makes it possible to appreciate the intricate workmanship of this tiny Quran.

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“It seems unfathomable when we contemplate how the Al-Quran can be drafted in tiny but flawless calligraphy. Nevertheless, closer inspection of these miniature Al-Quran with a magnifying glass proves that it is indeed possible. Photo by Gavin.

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Collection of miniature Al-Quran is a testament to the magnificent handiwork of the artists of the past in their ability to create complex works of art without the assistance of technology.

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Behind the scene: Every single image in this assignment is shot hand-held including the smallest Quran held by Pengiran Ibrahim as seen on page 16 of the brochure. Photo by Gavin.

A Mushaf piece (‘the manuscript bound between two boards’) of Moroccan origin and written in Kufi calligraphy is one of the most prized possessions of the gallery and is believed to be over 1,000 years old.

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One of the many aspects of this assignment that excites me is the use of precision optics to capture the ruins of historical archives as paper is a sensitive material that’s susceptible to varying degrees of wear and tear.

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This beautiful and unique marble engraved Al-Quran showcases great skill, talent and patience to make, particularly as it inscribes the entire 30 juz (parts) of the Al-Quran.

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Prayer beads used for zikir (Arabic word meaning repeated chanting of Allah’s names), usually contain from 33 to 39 pieces of small beads. The collection includes more than 60 prayer beads made from sandalwood, oak, jade and more. I understand this particular piece has His Majesty’s name and the Royal Crest inscribed.

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This particular prayer beads I find to be most interesting. A bit of research has led me to discover that “the most expensive botanical jewelry is made from amber, fossilized resin from ancient forests that flourished millions of years ago. Often the globs of hardened pitch contain the bodies of insects–perfectly preserved in every detail as though they were encased the day before.”

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At the lobby of the exhibition gallery is this magnificient piece that stretches two floors.

This beautiful and unique marble engraved Al-Quran showcases great skill, talent and patience to make, particularly as it inscribes the entire 30 juz (parts) of the Al-Quran.

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Islamic astronomy was particularly influential during the Islamic Golden Age.

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Instruments such as the intricate astrolabes found in the collection were used by astronomists mostly from the 8th to the 15th centuries as a means of studying the stars for navigational purposes.

Caption references:
Islamic Tourism Brunei Darussalam brochure
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Islamic Exhibition Gallery: Revitalising Islamic Civilisation publication