There are numerous ethnic Chinese in Brunei who speak Mandarin
or another a Chinese language as well as numerous other ethnic minorities who have
their own languages. English is the most commonly taught second language and many
people, especially in the cities, have at least a basic understanding of English.
Muslim is the official religion of Brunei and nearly two
thirds of the population adheres to this religion; nearly all of whom are ethnically
Malay. The last third is almost evenly divided into Buddhists
(primarily ethnic Chinese), Christians, and other belief systems,
including indigenous belief systems.
Islam (the name of the religion, whose followers are called Muslims) is a monotheistic
religion, whose holy book is called the Qur'an. The Qur'an is believed to
be the word of God spoken through the prophet Muhammad from 609-632 CE (Common Era
is preferred over AD (Anno Domini or "year of the Lord") since the Islamic
world doesn't believe Jesus was the messiah). Islam believes Muhammad was the
last prophet sent to earth by God, the last in a long line of prophets, which includes
Moses, Abraham, and Jesus among others.
Muslims follow five pillars of their faith: testimony, prayer, alms-giving, fasting,
and pilgrimage. These pillars, and other tenants of their faith, can give great
structure to their lives as some foods, like pork, are forbidden and every Muslim
is expected to pray five times a day. However, the level of participation in each
of these pillars and to what degree Islam influences an individual's life varies
from person to person and community to community. Generally speaking, Brunei has
a mix of both liberal and conservative Muslims in how they practice.