Life & Style | People

World’s youngest Quran reciters in Dubai tell their stories

From 90 contestants only a handful make it to the final leg of Dubai Quran reciting competition

  • By Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz,Staff Reporter
  • Published: 21:00 July 24, 2013

  • Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/XPRESS
  • May the best boy win: Yousuf Esmail is one of the little giants in the final leg of the 17th Dubai International Holy Quran Award being held at Dubai Chambers of Commerce.
Image 1 of 4

Dubai: Arabic is a hard language to master even for native speakers so one can imagine what it would be like for others, especially children from non-Arabic speaking countries competing for the best recitation of the Quran in Dubai.

Recitation of the Quran is a science which needs to be studied so that every letter can be recited with the correct pronunciation. Due to the vastness of the Arabic language, even a small mistake in the pronunciation of a letter or word can alter the meaning of an entire verse. So it has to be read with Tajweed, which linguistically means ‘proficiency’ or ‘doing something well’. When applied to the Quran, it means giving every letter its rights and dues of characteristics and observing the rules that apply to those letters in different situations.

Yet the little participants competing for top honours showed no nerves or awkwardness as they livened up the stage at the ongoing 17th Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

One after another they took to the stage and gave mesmerising performances before a six-judge panel that included Shaikh Ebrahim Al Akhdar Ali Al Qayem from Saudi Arabia, Dr. Shaikh Amer Lorabi from Algeria, Shaikh Abdul Rafe’e Radwan Ali Al Sharqawi from Egypt, Shaikh Mohammad Radi from Thailand, Dr Shaikh Moustafa Atilla from Turkey, and Shaikh Ali Hassan Abd Allah from the UAE.

With the contest entering its final leg, only a handful are now vying for the Dh250,000 prize. When the event began on July 11 there were around 90 participants.

Among those in the fray is Zejani Mohammad from Rwanda. At 11 he is the youngest participant. “I took a break from school so I could focus on the Quran. It took me around one year to memorise it by heart,” said Mohammad, who wants to become a doctor when he grows up.

Another contestant, Luqman Abdel, 12, from Tajikistan, who also wants to become a doctor, said he started memorising the Quran when he was six. “Initially, I would do one page, then two, and so it went on. Arabic is not my first language so it was a bit of a struggle initially,” he said.

Before this event he had participated in three Quran recitation contests in Tajikistan. He got lucky in the third one. “I competed at an Islamic centre and came out a winner, and here I am,” said Luqman, whose brother and father can also recite the Quran flawlessly.

Zimbabwean Yousuf Esmail started memorising the Quran when he was ten. “I don’t understand the language, but my father told me not to worry about it. He says a time will come when I will begin to understand it as well,” said the 12-year-old, who got an opportunity to participate in the event after winning a similar contest in his home country.

Moroccan Anan Mohammad, 14, whose first language is French, reckons he has a slight edge over other participants because he also understands Arabic.

“I started learning Arabic when I was four years old,” said Anan, who has taken part in several reciting competitions in Morocco.

Over the years, DIHQA has brought together experts and students of the Quran on one platform.

Starting next year the competition will be held at a new Dh60 million building in Al Mamzar.

This year’s awards draws to a close on July 29. 

Comments (0)

Your comments

Lifestyle & Entertainment columnists
  • Russell Hemmings
    Life the Hemmings way

    Life coach Russell Hemmings on fears, anxieties and the human psyche demystified

  • Gaby Doman
    Gaby Doman: Notes to myself

    The everyday ups and downs of being a modern woman, according to this globetrotter

  • Uma Ghosh Deshpande
    The Dubai Insider

    TV personality Uma Ghosh Deshpande guides you through the city’s society gatherings and stories

  • Pratyush Sarup
    Design diary

    Dubai-based interior designer Pratyush Sarup lets us in on the world of design

  • Bharat Thakur
    Yoga for you

    Bharat Thakur guides you through practices and wisdom of this ancient science of exercising

Life & Style editor's choice

More from friday

More from Wheels

More from alpha

More from aquarius

  • Noura_Main
    Highly commended finalist: Noura Al Ramahi

    Along with our three fabulous finalists, the judges decided to include a Highly Commended category as the standard of entries to our competition was so high. This goes to Noura Al Ramahi for her stunning villa in Abu Dhabi. Well done Noura – it’s beautiful!

  • IO_141020_Home of the Year awar86
    In pictures: InsideOut Home of the Year Awards

    The InsideOut Home of the Year Awards 2014 party held at the Nawwara Bar at the JW Marriott Marquis on the 20th October went with a swing! Here’s our gallery of a really great night….

  • IO_141014_Casablanca_STF_Stefan07
    InsideOut Home Of The Year finalist: Dana Jaber

    Dana Jaber’s Al Barsha villa was considered by the judges to be bold, original and eclectic. We loved her individual approach to decorating which lends interest and unexpected touches to every room

  • Main_2
    InsideOut Home Of The Year finalist: Helena Brown

    Helena Brown’s home in Umm Suqeim was a favourite with the judges because of the many personal touches, and undeniable sense of comfort and style. Her interest in Feng Shui has helped achieve a calm relaxed ambience

  • claudia (4)
    And the InsideOut Home Of The Year winner is...

    Claudia Baliyan's apartment in Dubai Marina impressed the judges. Here's why

More from insideout