Ahmad Burhan Mohammad Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: American Ahmad Burhan has won the top prize at the 22nd edition of the Dubai International Holy Quran (DIHQA) Awards. Winning the top prize of Dh250,000, Burhan was awarded on Tuesday during a glittering ceremony at the Dubai Cultural and Scientific Association auditorium.

Following Burhan closely were two North African participants, Hamzah Al Basheer from Libya and Mohammad Maarif from Tunisia, who won the joint runners-up prize of Dh200,000, while Algerian Ahmad Herkat won the fourth prize.

Saudi Arabia’s Alsaawi Ebrahim took the fifth place.

North African and Saudi participants have traditionally done well in DIHQA winning several top prizes. However, over the last few years, American participants have consistently done well in the competiton, grabbing second places in three previous editions, but this is the first time a US candidate has won the competition.

Tuesday’s ceremony also saw the presentation of the Islamic Personality of the Year Award to Shaikh Ali Bin Abdul Rahman Al Huzaifi, one of the longest serving imams of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

Shaikh Al Huzaifi is among the leading Islamic scholars and one of the most respected voices in the Islamic world.

Leading daily prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque for more than four decades, Shaikh Al Huzaifi is followed across the Islamic world for his soulful recitation of the Holy Quran.

“Shaikh Al Huzaifi has been leading Muslims in prayers and teaching them Islam in one of the most sacred spots on earth, the Prophet’s Holy Mosque, a leading hub and a main source of inspiration for Muslims all over the world,” said Ebrahim Bu Melha, adviser to the Ruler of Dubai for Cultural and Humanitarian Affairs and head of DIHQA Organising Committee.

Shaikh Al Huzaifi, who has a PhD from Al Azhar University, teaches several Sharia sciences, including the Qiraat (Art of Quran recitation) at the Islamic University in Madinah.

“We are honouring Shaikh Al Huzaifi for his tireless services to Quran and Islam in his multiple roles. This honour will definitely give pleasure to all Muslims who follow him in prayer, listen to his soulful recitations of the Quran, or have been taught by him,” added Bu Melha.

The DIHQA’s Islamic Personality of the Year Award is among the most prestigious awards in the Islamic world, honouring leading scholars and institutions of the Islamic world for their services to the Holy Quran over the last 22 years.

Last year, the award went to Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, while several luminaries of the Islamic world were honoured in the previous editions including former Bosnian president Ali Ezzat Begovic, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr Ahmad Al Tayyeb, and Dr Abdul Rahman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Sudais, Grand Imam of the Holy Mosque in Makkah.

The annual event is split into three segments, beginning with lectures on the first seven nights of Ramadan, followed by the Quran recitation contest and awarding the Islamic Personality of the Year.

This year the competition saw a record 104 participants.

Top winners

■  Ahmad Burhan, USA
■  Hamzah Al Basheer, Libya
■  Mohammad Maarif, Tunisia
■  Ahmad Herkat, Algeria
■  Alsaawi Ebrahim Abdullah, Saudi Arabia
■  Oumarou Drame, Mali
■  Khalid Abdinasir Moalin Ahmad, UK
■  Abdul Latif Abdul Majeed Bastaki, Bahrain
■  Nasser Nihad Ebrahim Dib, Jordan
■  Hassane Jibrilla Oumarou, Niger
■  Jawhar Abdulahi Mohammad, Ethiopia