Saturday, 29th May 2021 – Dr Salbrina Sharbawi
Language and Identity: The Muslims in Brunei
The association between Islam and the Malay language in Brunei Darussalam is well-established, so much
so that Malay is reflective of the Bruneian Muslim identity. Recent findings on the language situation in
Brunei, however, reveals a markedly changing demographic, with the young generation showing a
preference for either dual Malay-English or monolingual English use. Use of ‘English only’ is pervasive
when amongst their peers and a majority of the surveyed young Bruneians claim that they are more
proficient in English than in Malay. Given the close link between Malay and Islam in Brunei, what does this
mean to the Bruneian brand of the Muslim identity then? This seminar presents the findings of recently
conducted studies on this very matter.
Dr Salbrina binti Haji Sharbawi is a Senior Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
(FASS), Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), and has taught English and linguistics since 2001. While her
doctorate looked at the idiosyncrasies of the Brunei English pronunciations, her current research has
expanded to include the sociopolitics of language with a particular focus on the intersect between
language and the Muslim identity in the Bruneian context
Saturday, 26th June 2021 – Dr Senad Mrahorović
A Holistic Approach towards the Globalised World: The Principles of Islamic Science and its Application to
Knowledge is a cornerstone of Islamic intellectual tradition expressed not only through the philosophy of
Islamic science but also through the principles of Islamic faith, especially Tawhid or Divine unity as the
essential aspect of Islamic religion. Through Islam, as the primary source of knowledge and its scholarly
and scientific tradition, as a reflection, Muslims created one of the most celebrated civilisations in the
world. However, for the past few centuries, Muslims are facing all sort of challenges from within and
without, brought about by the globalised world.Thus, the issue of how to preserve Islamic faith and tradition
while at the same time being able to participate in making contemporary policies for socioeconomic development
of Muslim society, constitutes the essential question of this seminar. In other words, how to integrate the rich
intellectual assets of Islamic civilisation into the modern system of education prevalent
in the contemporary world?
Dr Senad Mrahorović is a Tutor at the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS),
Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). He also serves as a Distance Researcher and Advisor at the Doha
International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID) in Qatar. He obtained his PhD in Islamic Science,
Philosophy, Ethics and Contemporary Issues from the International Institute of Islamic Thought and
Civilization (ISTAC), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He holds a Master’s Degree from
Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) with a specialisation in Western Studies and Islam. His main academic
interests include Philosophy of Islamic Science, Orientalism, Sufism and Interfaith Dialogue.
Saturday, 27th March 2021 – Dr Lim Ren Chong
The Culture of Scientific Knowledge Production during the Early ‘Abbasiyah Period
The Islamic civilisation during the early ‘Abbasiyah period between 132AH and 247AH (750AD – 861AD) was marked by technological advancements stemming from the ability of its community to preserve, adapt and build on already existing knowledge assimilated from others. These technological developments were enabled through significant advancements made in the physical sciences such as mechanics and astronomy, the health sciences as well as mathematics. Drawing on two secondary sources, Dmitri Gutas’ Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ‘Abbasaid Society (2nd–4th/5th–10th centuries) (Routledge, 1998), and George Saliba’s Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance (The MIT Press, 2007), I will describe the culture of scientific knowledge production prevalent then. There are two main observations of this culture, namely the cultivation of both scientific activities through a patronage system, and competitive advantages within the ruling elites through the translation and specialisation of advanced sciences.
Dr Lim Ren Chong is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Advanced Material and Energy Sciences (CAMES), Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). Before joining UBD, he completed his doctoral studies in Condensed Matter Physics at the Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford. He also holds a Master of Research (MRes) in Photonics and a Master in Science (MSci) in Physics, both obtained from Imperial College London. His main research interests at UBD include developing anti-corrosion coating technologies, conducting patent data analytics using open-source machine learning algorithms, and contextualising the role of technological innovations within Islamic systems of governance past and present.
Saturday, 27th February 2021 – Abdul Mu’izz Abdul Khalid
The Contemporary Islamic Negara: The Renovation of an Ancient Polity
For almost four decades, Clifford Geertz’s study of the Negara, or what he refers as the ‘theatre state’, has been an influential work in the field of Southeast Asian studies. He challenged the prevailing view that argued traditional polities operated within the conventional discourse of Oriental despotism or hydraulic bureaucracy. He used the example of nineteenth-century Bali to develop an abstract model for pre-colonial Southeast Asian polities, particularly those influenced by Indic ideas. Provocatively, he argues that the essentially mechanical concept of power in modern political theory is, at best, inadequate because it fails to explain the arresting features of the Balinese—the pomp, splendour and rituals. This seminar seeks to compare the Negara with other proposed models for pre-colonial Southeast Asian polities, understand the impact of Islamization and the effects of colonialism. Most importantly, it explores the concept of the Geertzian Negara, and whether or not, it is still relevant in the contemporary world where the concept of ‘modern state’ has taken over the political norm? I ask the question whether those living under the Negara system—impresarios, directors, supporting cast, stage crew and audience—are still orchestrating temporal ceremonies to match the cosmic reality.
Abdul Mu’izz Abdul Khalid is a PhD Candidate from the Department of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. He is also currently a visiting fellow at Yale University with the Council Chair of Southeast Asian Studies as his advisor—Professor Erik Harms. Previously, he was a visiting doctoral student at King’s College London and Universiti Brunei Darussalam, where he worked with Professor Malcolm Murfett and Professor Amin Abdul Aziz for his fieldwork. He graduated from University College London in MSc Security Studies and The University of Sheffield in BA International Relations and Politics.