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Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's image posted on shops in Brunei.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

The Sultan of Brunei recently announced a controversial new law based on Islamic criminal punishments. While the nation had previously used Islamic laws to regulate civil affairs, such as personal and family issues, it will now use Sharia law to cover criminal offenses. The new law affects Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and Christians are very concerned with these latest developments.

Severe bodily punishments will eventually be introduced with the law, including flogging for adultery, cutting off limbs for theft, and stoning to death for rape and sodomy. The new law also prohibits Muslim parents from letting non-Muslims care for their children. In addition, converts from Islam face losing custody of their children should their new faith become known. Teaching other religions outside Islam to a child of Muslim or atheist parents is also forbidden -- a decree that will negatively impact the few Christian schools in the country that welcome many non-Christian students. The penal code further cites that non-Muslims can no longer share their faith with Muslims and atheists.

Following the lead of neighbouring Malaysia, Brunei's Sharia law also claims that 19 words belong solely to Islam. Christians are now banned from using words like Allah (God) and Firman Allah (God's Word), which are found in the Malay language Bible commonly used by Bruneians. As Christian materials cannot be brought into the country, local language Bibles will be increasingly difficult to obtain.

In the face of these looming challenges, please join with pastors in the country who have shared the following request: "We pray day and night that the laws won't push through. But if they do, please pray that God will help us work through this obstacle -- not around it, not over it, but through it." Pray that God will move powerfully in the hearts of Brunei's leaders, so that many more in authority will come to faith in Him. Finally, pray for wisdom for Christian parents, educators and church leaders, as they determine how to best instruct those in their care to walk in the ways of the Lord.

Please visit our Brunei Country Report to learn more about the restrictions Christians face in this small country in Southeast Asia.

Country Information


471,103 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Malay (65.8), Chinese (10.2), Other (24)

Religion (%)
Muslim (80.9), Christian (7.1), Buddhist (7.1), Other (5)

Sultan and Prime Minister Sir Hassanal Bolkiah (1967)

Government type
Absolute monarchy or sultanate

Legal system
Mixed legal system based on English common law and Islamic law

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Brunei

Praise God that despite the restrictions, people are still turning to Christ!

Pray that the country's constitutional rights will be respected for all religions.

Pray for the salvation of the royal family.

Pray that Christians in Brunei will be able to share the Gospel in ways that will effectively reach the hearts of those around them.


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