Dubai: Crowd favourite Abdul Rahman Toqan from Italy bagged the Best Voice award at the 16th Dubai International Holy Quran Awards defeating nine other contestants in a rousing competition.
The special segment of the Quran Awards, the contestants for which were selected by the voice judges, went down to the wire at the Dubai Chambers as 10 young students of the Quran vowed the packed audience with high-quality performances.
I thank Allah for blessing me with a good voice and honouring me, I’m really happy
In a simple yet soulful performance, 20-year-old Toqan edged out others who had given priority to style over substance.
Toqan, who completed memorising the Holy Quran just five months ago, admitted he didn’t even imagine competing in such a prestigious event until recently, let alone winning a prize.
“I could not even dream about participating until last year as I had not even completed Hifz (memorising the Holy Quran), I thank Allah for blessing me with a good voice and honouring me, I’m really happy,” said Toqan, who is a student at the Islamic College of France.
Though still relatively inexperienced in Quran competitions, the boy from Milan has tasted success at international contests in France and Croatia.
“I want to pursue my career as a Qari [reciter] and follow in the footsteps of my favourite Qari Shaikh Mohammad Seddiq Al Minshawi of Egypt. I thank Allah for blessing me and choosing me for his cause and I will continue my pursuit of Quranic knowledge,” added Toqan, who is getting trained in all seven styles of Quran recitation.
Toqan won a cash price of Dh5,000 for topping the best voice competition but readily admitted that he didn’t think he stood a chance to repeat the result in the main segment.
The other four places in the best voice segment went to Omar Abdullah from Tanzania (2nd), Saleh Khalid Jasem from Kuwait (3rd), Libyan Hamza Lasmar (4th) and Mohammad Bu Shaiba from Belgium (5th).
Meanwhile, the main Quran contests came to an end with two more strong performances from Moroccan Hamza Lazar and Mohammad Hamza Vohra from the United States.
Though the official results won’t be out until Wednesday evening, a 19-year-old Bangladeshi who performed on Day One is touted by many as the favourite to win top honours, followed closely by Yemeni Abdul Rahman Ahmad Mohammad.
The results of the competition will be announced on Wednesday in a glittering ceremony expected to be attended by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who is also the chief patron of the annual event.
The winner of the competition gets a cash prize of Dh250,000, while the first runner-up goes home with Dh200,000 and the third-place winner gets Dh150,000. The other seven in the top 10 get cash prizes ranging between Dh65,000 to Dh35,000.
Yousuf Estes, who was earlier chosen as the Islamic Personality of the Year 2012, will also be honoured on Wednesday.