E54
| HISTORY & CULTURE
HISTORY &
CULTURE
ROYAL DYNASTY
As the world’s oldest reigning monarchy and
with centuries of royal heritage, the Sultan of
Bruneicomesfromafamilylinethatdatesback
over 600 years to 1405 when the first Sultan
ascended the throne, founding a dynasty of
which the current Sultan, His Majesty Sultan
Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, is the 29th ruler.
The nation’s unique monarchy can be
extracted from early history - from accounts
taken from Chinese, Javanese and local
Bruneian records. The first ruler, Sultan
Muhammad Shah, known as Awang
Alak Betatar, is said to be responsible for
introducing Islam to Brunei, forever altering
the course of the nation’s history and cultural
landscape.
Sultan Ahmad was the second ruler, followed
by a third Arab Sultan, Sharif Ali, known to be
a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.
Also known as Sultan Berkat, he married the
daughter of Sultan Ahmad and consolidated
the monarchy with the Islamic faith.
Following him was Sultan Sulaiman, who was
succeeded by the most renowned ruler in
Brunei’s early history, Sultan Bolkiah. Under
the rule of Sultan Bolkiah, Brunei began to
expandintoanempire,withterritorialholdings
that would eventually encompass the island
of Borneo and parts of the Philippines.
Brunei’s Golden Age centred on the reign
of two remarkable rulers; Sultan Bolkiah and
Sultan Hassan. Under their rule, Brunei’s
Royal Court developed a splendour rivalling
that of any other monarchy in the world, and
the territorial and cultural influence of the
country reached its peak. Visitors today can
still marvel at the dignity of Brunei’s Golden
Age as a great deal of historic relics from the
era has been carefully preserved.
In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate
and in1906, theBritishResidential Systemwas
introduced. Brunei was eventually granted
internal self-government, and Sultan Omar
‘Ali Saifuddien promulgated the nation’s new
Constitution on 29 September 1959.
In 1967, the current Sultan, His Majesty
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin
Waddaulahwasmade the 29th ruler of Brunei
Darussalam, leading the nation to achieve its
independence in 1984. The Sultan declared
Negara Brunei Darussalam as a sovereign,
democratic and independent Malay Muslim
Monarchy (Melayu IslamBeraja), which would
be administered according to the teachings
of Islam.
Brunei’s history and culture: Melayu Islam Beraja –
Malay Muslim Monarchy
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