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Religions and Philosophies in South-East Asia

Charles F. Keyes describes mainland Southeast Asia


(Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam) as the
"crossroad of religions" whereby "a large diversity of
autochthonous tribal religions are intermingled with
Hinduism, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism,
Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Christianity, as well
as the modern secular faith of Marxist-Leninism"
Among religions in Brunei, Sunni Islam is predominant.

Islamic

Buddhist

Christian
• Melayu Islam Beraja (Malay
Islamic Monarchy, MIB; Jawi:
)‫ماليو اسالم براج‬was officially
proclaimed as the national
philosophy of Brunei(Negara
Brunei Darussalam) on the day
of its independence on 1
January 1984 by
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
• As with other Islamic nations, Islam influences the government in upholding
Islamic laws. Brunei has put up a body in government just to accommodate
this. They have the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) which is in charge in
managing, maintaining and fully implementing Islam in every aspect of their
governance.
Muslims living in urban areas tend to be more liberal
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION and Westernized than those living in the countryside.
Extremely conservative Islam is not particularly
strong in Brunei. The majority of Muslim women wear
ankle-length caftans (loose dresses), often made from
shimmering materials, and tudungs, pharaoh-like head
scarves that are fastened below the chins with a pin
and sometimes hang down like boy-scout
neckerchiefs. Others wear head coverings that are
wrapped around the head and are not pinned under
the chin and look like head scarves worn by women
in the Middle East.
Brunei law states that all Moslem citizens of Brunei
must go to a mosque on Friday. The workweek in
Brunei extends Saturday to Wednesday. The weekend
is Thursday and Friday, Friday being the Muslim
• Aesthetically, Islam introduced important architectural features such as the
ubiquitous mosques and art styles such as the tile mosaics seen throughout
the nation. Other culturally enriching additions include the use of Jawi script,
the abundance of religious texts and even foods and cooking styles.
• Most Bruneians are Muslims and as such their lives revolve around the duties
afforded to them by Islam. Alcohol is banned from the country however pork
is allowed for non-Muslims. Gender relations are also governed by Islamic
principles and etiquette. Shaking hands across genders is rare. Bruneians
practice a devout but tolerant brand of Islam, which includes devotion, yet
allows other faiths and beliefs.
• Muslims must pray five times a day. Many companies as well as government
offices also close on Sunday and Saturday afternoon. During the fasting month
of Ramadan, government staff works a six-hour day and entertainment and
sporting activities are suspended.
The Sultan encourages the recital of the Quran
each morning prior to the start of work to
obtain Allah’s blessing and guidance.

Hassanal Bolkiah
• Thearavada Buddhism is the official religion in Cambodia which is
practiced by 95 percent of the population-- just like that of
Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka.

• Christianity and Cham Muslim are being active and popular


among a large number of population as well in the capital and
provinces, showing a sign of growth.
CAMBODIA AND
ITS BUDDHIST
PHILOSOPHY
• Theravada Buddhism has been a way of life among the Khmer people and
those living in the lowlands of Southeast Asia. Up until now, a large population
in Cambodia reside in villages wherein the symbolic centers are temple-
monasteries or wats. Several wats were preserved from generation to
generation and these provided knowledge and teachings regarding the Khmer
culture and language. These are also the cornerstones of Cambodian
Buddhism.
There are no formal ties with other Buddhist
bodies. Theravada Monks from other countries like
Thailand, Laos, Burma and Sri Lanka may participate
in religious rites and ceremonies. The Buddhist
Monks also have their own social class in
Cambodia. Their attire consists of bright orange
robes, shaved heads, and use begging bowls. Boys
would spend a period of their lives as monks. While
this is a returning practice in Cambodia, it is not as
prevalent compared to Thailand, Laos and
Burma. Buddhist monks do take vows that keep
them as monks, although some remain permanently
as monks. Buddhist law regulates a monk’s life, and
when they stay in the wat, they follow a strict
routine. A bhikku follows several rules of monastic
discipline and precepts that all Buddhists should
follow.
• Buddhism is different around the world, although there are some
similarities in the doctrine:
• In terms of God, Gautama Buddha, who was born in Nepal around 560 BC, is
revered and recognized as the divine being. Although he never declared himself
as a deity, believers offer prayers to him.
• In terms of revelation, Buddha would provide teachings as an example for
fellow monks.
• Buddha declared ‘four noble truths’: Suffering is universal, the cause of this
suffering is our own selfish desire, the cure for suffering is by eliminating selfish
desire, and eliminating selfish desire comes through following eight
principles.
• Like Hinduism, Buddhism teaches that when a person passes away, their soul
goes to a new body through the process of rebirth or reincarnation. Those
who follow the eight disciplines – the Noble Eightfold Path – will achieve
ultimate enlightenment also known as Nirvana.
To Buddhists, Nirvana does not dominate their being, although it is
important to some degree. They are more focused on the merit-making
which holds believers to Buddhism. Most Cambodians understand that
the core principle of Buddhism in simple words is, “Do good
deeds, get good.”
REFRENCES:
• http://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Brunei/sub5_10b/entry-3176.html
• http://science.jrank.org/pages/11065/Religion-East-Southeast-Asia-Impact-on-Southeast-
Asia.html

• http://www.philtar.ac.uk/encyclopedia/seasia/geness.html
• https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/15605061.pdf
THE END