Where ever we go, there will be places or attractions where its grandeur amazed us, its design left us in awe and the beauty of the place remains in our memories forever. Such are my feelings when I visited Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.
Being an Islamic country where the overwhelming majority of its citizens are Muslims, Brunei has a lot of mosques, just like in Malaysia. What differentiate the main mosques in Brunei and in Malaysia however are the grandeur and the details in which they were built.
I was riding the boat from Kampong Ayer returning to the city centre when I saw the mosque’s shining dome from a far.
“Haji, betul ke saya dengar orang kata kubah tu guna emas?” / “Haji, I have heard that the dome of the mosque was built by using pure gold. Is it true?“, I asked my homestay owner.
“Betul bah tu. Itu emas semuanya! / That’s true. Those are gold!”, he answered me whilst pointing towards the dome.
In my mind, I could only think that if such a dome was to be built in Malaysia, how many people will actually climb the dome just to get the gold to be pawned at pawn shops. It shows how rich the people in Brunei are that they are not even bothered with the abundance of pure gold on top of the dome.
Since the jetty is near the mosque, I walked towards the mosque and went to visit and pray inside the mosque. It was a shame that visitors were not allowed to take photos inside the mosque. I could only tell that the interiors are as rich and as delicate as the exterior.
Praying at the mosque and walking at the mosque’s compound with a lot of gold features around made me think how lucky Bruneians are. They are laid-back, the oil price is subsidised and they live a moderate life. They do not look wealthy but still, their currency is the same as Singapore’s and Malaysians need to pay more when converting money to Bruneian Ringgit.
They don’t have big cities or infrastructures like Kuala Lumpur but their money is worth more than us. All that whilst leading a slower pace of life than Malaysians. Call me jealous but I just couldn’t help to wonder, what will happened when the oil reserve diminished?
Maybe I am thinking too far. Maybe I am a bit jealous.
Well, maybe I am. After all, Brunei is such a peaceful country. An abode of peace.
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is located at Jalan McArthur, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. Entrance is free but no photograph in the prayer area. Women must wear scarves above their head when entering while men must wear pants below the knee.