The small Southeast Asian nation of Brunei is located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo. The country covers a total area of 5,765 square km and has a population of around 423,196 individuals.
Islam is Brunei’s official religion. According to the CIA World Factbook, 78.8% of the country’s population adhere to Islam. Christians and Buddhists account for 8.7% and 7.8% of the total population, respectively. Believers in other religions make up 4.7% of Brunei’s population.
The Largest Religion In Brunei
Islam was popularised in Brunei in the 15th century when a Malay Muslim came to power in the region. The Sultan took every step to promote the religion and soon most of the subjects of his kingdom adopted the religion. Even today, the Sultan of Brunei upholds the religious values of Islam. Many of the country’s rulers have used the oil revenues to promote Islam, built grand mosques, and provide Hajj pilgrimage at subsidized rates to its citizens. In 1959, the Constitution of the country came into force and made Islam the country’s state religion. In 2014, the Sultan of Brunei even announced his intention to implement the Sharia law in the country.
Minority Religions In Brunei
Christianity is one of the most popular minority religions in the country. Both Protestants and Roman Catholics live in Brunei. Three Roman Catholic parishes exist in the country. Most Buddhists in Brunei adhere to the Mahayana school of Buddhism. A small percentage of the population also practices Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, Hinduism, and some traditional religions.
Religious Freedom In Brunei
Although the Constitution of Brunei does allow some degree of religious freedom to the non-Muslim religious communities of the country, the government has imposed several restrictions on non-Islamic religious practices in the country. Although Islamic instructions are allowed to be taught in schools, teachings of other religions are not allowed. Muslims are discouraged from learning about other religions but Islam is promoted in the country through numerous government policies. Interfaith marriages, especially between a Muslim and a non-Muslim are not permitted in Brunei. The public celebration of non-Islamic festivals is banned by law. Any activity that attracts the attention of the Muslim citizens of the country towards other religions is strictly punishable by law. Apostasy is a crime that can lead to capital punishment.