AN AVERAGE 450 people embrace Islam in a year in Brunei Darussalam, according to figures from the Islamic Da’wah Centre spanning over 30 years.
This year, from January to April, the centre recorded 157 Islamic conversions.
Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion which, according to reports such as by US-based Pew Research Center, will overtake Christianity as the world’s largest religion in the next half century or so, if the current demographic trend continues. The report stated that while the world’s population is projected to grow 32 per cent in the coming decades, the number of Muslims is expected to increase by 70 per cent – from 1.8 billion in 2015 to nearly three billion in 2060. In 2015, Muslims made up 24.1 per cent of the global population. Forty-five years later, Muslims are expected to make up more than three out of 10 (31.1 per cent) of the world’s population.
In Brunei, the number of people that embrace the Islamic faith fluctuates each year, but within the 30-year period since 1985, the year with the least number of conversions was in 1990 with 303 people and the year with the highest number was in 2010 with 642 people, according to the Islamic Da’wah Centre records.
Based on last year’s reports on the Muallaf population in the country, females led the figures in all districts.
In 2017, out of 203 people who converted to Islam in Brunei-Muara District, 114 were female; out of 112 in Tutong, 57 were female; out of 67 people in Belait, 40 were female; and out of 27 in Temburong, 16 were female.
In 2016, out of 242 people in Brunei-Muara District, 134 were female; out of 102 in Tutong, 54 were female; out of 110 people in Belait, 63 were female; and out of 18 people in Temburong, nine were female.
While in 2015, females also led the figures in three districts except in Belait. Out of 244 in Brunei-Muara, 132 were females; out of 130 in Tutong, 68 were females; out of 45 in Temburong, 24 were females whereas out 94 people in Belait, 53 were males.
In terms of ethnicity, in the last three years, Iban and Dusun made up the largest communities that embraced the Islamic faith while Filipinos made up the largest foreign nationals to embrace the religion.
In 2017, 109 Iban embraced Islam, followed by Dusun (108), Filipinos (97), Chinese (60), Bisaya (seven), Europeans (five), Murut (four) and other backgrounds (19). Last year, out of 409 people converted to Islam, 255 were locals and 154 were of other nationalities or status.