BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Bruneians must be “faithful and patient” in facing the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the monarch said in a titah to mark Hari Raya Aidiladha on Tuesday evening. 

Although Brunei has enjoyed the “miracle” of a year without any community transmission, there is still the fear of more contagious variants reaching the country, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah said in a televised broadcast.

“It is not time for us to relax but to be wary and obey health protocols… The recent emergence of new variants — that experts say spread faster and are more contagious — make it still necessary for us to continue to be vigilant.”

Muslims gather at Jame’ Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque for Aidiladha prayers on July 21, 2021. Photo: Infofoto

The sultan also urged Muslims to continue to use the “divine vaccine” of prayer and zikir, saying he was confident that Brunei’s COVID-free status was due to God’s blessings.

“Whatever the problem or misfortune, we will always go back to Allah, through prayer and zikir to ask for relief. This is why Brunei is blessed, making it a safe country,” he added.

He also stressed the importance of religious practices in challenging times.

“Not everyone sees this approach. Those who see it will be lucky, while those who do not, will be at a loss.

“We in Brunei do not want to be at a loss.” 

His Majesty performs the ritual sacrifice of a goat to mark Aidiladha, one of the most important dates on the Muslim calendar. Photo: Infofoto

On Wednesday morning, His Majesty and members of the royal family joined worshippers at Jame’ Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque for Aidiladha prayers, and for the practice of korban – a ritual sacrifice of cattle or sheep that honours the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience towards God. 

However, before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead.

During the three days of Aidiladha, Muslims slaughter cattle and distribute the meat to the poor, as well as to friends and family, as an act of charity.