Nader Mahmoud Koja.
Nader Mahmoud Koja. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Born with only one lung and a single kidney, Lebanese national Nader Mahmoud Koja grew up with breathing difficulties and other perennial health issues due to his unique congenital condition.

But, he found the Holy Quran to ‘fill’ the void left by missing organs.

One of the 90 contests at the ongoing 23rd Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA), the 21 year old from Tripoli gave a dazzling performance earlier this week, showing no signs of his difficulties.

“I have been dreaming of participating in this prestigious competition from a young age and I thank the Almighty Allah for giving me this opportunity. I have received a warm welcome and much love here and hope to go back from with the best for this world and the hereafter,” said Koja, whose performance on Monday night was very well received.

Taking part in his first international contest that requires contestants to recite from memory five randomly chosen passages of the Holy Quran, Koja pointed to the influence of Holy Quran for his rise.

“Memorising the Holy Quran has been a great honour and it has helped me through my struggle with health issues. Quran has filled a void that I felt in my body and I urge parents to encourage their children to take up memorisation of the Holy Quran,” said Koja, who began the task of memorisation at the age of 14 and completed it in three years.

Koja requires occasional oxygen support and the vacuum on the right side of his chest has affected his chest cavity making his body slightly tilt to the right.

“I am undergoing regular treatment as I get exposed to frequent respiratory infections and I hope to receive complete cure soon. If I manage to be among the winners of the competition here, with the grace of Allah, I think I will be able to afford better treatment, may be even a transplant,” added Koja, a student of Imam Al Bukhari Institute for Sharia Sciences in Tripoli.

Koja says he wants to be an inspiration to others who face hurdles in life that come in different shapes and sizes.

“We should not let our problems come in the way of our journey, we should use these problems to forge new paths. There will be struggles and difficulties, but with faith and dedication anything can be overcome,” he added.

The 23rd edition of DIHQA began on May 7 with the closing ceremony scheduled for May 19.

Winner of the biggest Quran contest in the world in terms of prize money, walks away with Dh250,000 in cash, while the runner up gets Dh200,000, with other participants in the top ten also receiving hefty cash prizes.

Part of DIHQA is the Islamic Personality of the Year Award, which this year goes to Emirati philanthropist Juma Al Majid for his lifelong service to humanity.