A LOVING FATHER

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Published on August 06, 2014 with No Comments

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Assuming the most important Royal role of all.

Words JACQUELINE WONG Images INFORMATION DEPARTMENT BRUNEI

The world may see His Majesty only as the Sultan who inherited a 600-year old monarchy and the ruler of a blessed oil-rich kingdom of Brunei Darussalam. But in Brunei and within the Royal Family and exclusive circle of close friends, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, is more than just a revered monarch. For beyond the sultanate’s riches and opulence, His Majesty is known first and foremost as a loving and doting father.

The eldest son of the late Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien and the late Paduka Suri Begawan Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit, His Majesty’s own relationship with his father would shape much of his parenting style with his own children in later years. His Majesty had a close father-son relationship with the late Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan. It was this closeness and affection that had influenced His Majesty’s formidable years, shaping him into a well-mannered and responsible prince, showing a strong sense of respect, duty and loyalty to his father, fully aware of the role he has to play as the future 29th Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

When His Majesty first became a father on 26 July, 1969, it was clear that his experiences as a child would influence the way His Majesty raises his own children. His Majesty has often demonstrated that he is a father first, and a royal second. At every opportune time when His Majesty is not called away for official duties, he would spend all his time with his children, never compromising on quality time and ensuring the simple pleasures of family life is enjoyed.

His Majesty’s love, affection and kindness to his children is evident with all of his 12 children. Neither royal duties local or abroad could detract His Majesty from providing his children with adequate care, guidance and love. His Majesty is the quintessential father who believes in raising children according to the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah (traditions and examples). Just as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was known to be very kind and affectionate towards children, so too, is His Majesty. In line with the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

“A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” – Hadith collected by Tirmidhi and Al-Bayhaqi

His Majesty ensures that all his children are given the proper education that would make them successful in this life and in the Hereafter. His Majesty’s emphasis on providing his children a ‘normal’ schooling meant that his children were educated in Brunei, allowing them to interact with the Bruneian people and the various layers of society. But His Majesty also places great importance in broadening and enriching their education abroad for their tertiary studies, much as His Majesty’s own education experiences had been. His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, for instance, continued his studies at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies where his course was specifically designed to include Islamic studies, trade, diplomacy and international relations. This style of education and upbringing are also replicated with all of His Majesty’s children in later years.

Similarly, His Majesty values togetherness. This closeness of kinship and strong sibling bond can clearly be seen at those times when the Royal Family prays together, whether it is the Friday congregational prayers or to commemorate the arrival of Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid-ul Fitri) and Hari Raya Haji (Eid-ul Adha). For His Majesty, being accompanied by his sons to the mosques and introducing them to their brothers in Islam regardless of their race, language or origin is imminent of a holistic upbringing that prepares a child for his role as a Muslim and later, as a compassionate royal. This is in line with the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“All of you are heads of a group and all of you are responsible for your groups; the ruler is the head of state and he is responsible for his people, the man is head of his family and responsible for his family, the woman is the head in her husband’s house and she is responsible for the house. In short all of you are heads and responsible for your group.” – Hadith collected by Bukari and Muslim.

As a responsible father, His Majesty is determined to have his children develop compassion to the people of the Sultanate, sympathising with the problems Muslims face globally and to contribute to solutions to eradicate poverty and hunger. His Majesty often involves his children with his visits around Brunei’s districts and remote locales including official trips abroad to ensure the Royal children are exposed to the world’s vulnerabilities; encouraging them to devote and use their privileged life to serving those in need.

On 10 August, 1998, His Majesty proclaimed his eldest son, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, as Crown Prince. Like his late father, His Majesty has shown patience and great concern in ensuring that the Crown Prince is groomed for the huge responsibility of being the 30th Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

The last few years have seen His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, play an increasingly visible role during official trips abroad and meeting with foreign dignitaries visiting Brunei, and most importantly, acting as Deputy Sultan when His Majesty is abroad. The Crown Prince’s confidence and ability in assuming all these duties only reflect the effective and successful parenting His Majesty has conveyed as a father.

The recent implementation of the Syariah Penal Code in Brunei Darussalam (Phase 1) best exemplifies His Majesty’s approach to his role as a father – to instill the importance of acting in accordance to the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, translated:

“Fear Allah, and be just between your children.” – Hadith collected by Bukhari and Muslim.

Despite the international criticisms and comments to the recent implementation of the Syariah Penal Code in Brunei, His Majesty is aware that keeping with a strong Islamic family and society requires his children to understand the principles of hudud law and translate it wisely and justly when the time comes for the next Sultan to rule and govern the Sultanate. A just ruler places Allah first, ahead of the worldly desires. And, that is the legacy His Majesty believes would guide his children.

This humbling trait – that of an ‘ordinary’ father looking out for the best interests of his children – has made His Majesty much loved and endeared by his children, the rakyat and Royal observers. Of course, being a Royal father prevents His Majesty from raising his children ‘all normal’, but with His Majesty’s fatherly intuition, guided by the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the examples of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), His Majesty has successfully placed the monarchy closer to the rakyat, by bringing up children that adhere to ancient royal protocols and yet, are truly in touch with the people.

 

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