Dubai: Muaz Mohammad had almost given up on hope when he couldn’t find his name in the top 9 of the Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) contestants. So when his name was announced as the winner of the 23rd edition of the annual award he couldn’t believe his ears.
Mohammad from Libya walked away with a prize money of Dh250,000, beating 89 others, warding off a particularly stiff competition from his North African competitors.
“When they announced the joint winners for the second position, I thought it’s over. I never expected to be on top. I thought some of the others in the top ten were equally good,” said Mohammad, thanking the Almighty for the amazing result.
The 24 year old attributed his success to the prayers and hard work of his parents and teachers. “This is for my parents, whatever I am today is because of them and I thank all my family members and teachers for shaping my career,” added Mohammad.
Mohammad was among six African contestants in the top 10 this year, with the joint second prize going to Moroccan Ahmad Ashiri and Ebrahim Mazou from Niger.
“I can’t believe this, an incredible result for all the hard work I have put in over the years, particularly over the last few months. I thank the Almighty Allah for this gift and I am grateful of the organising committee for giving me this opportunity,” said Mazou.
American contestant Ahmad Bashir bagged the fourth place, maintaining the top five rankings of his compatriots over the last four years.
Continuing the hold of North Africans, the fifth position went to Aiman Brahem from Tunisia, while Syrian Omar Ahmad bagged the sixth place.
The competition involves reciting eloquently the passages of Quran from memory, with each contestant having to recite from five different passages randomly chosen by a computer software.
The competition and the quality of reciters was so good this year that four contestants were awarded the joint seventh place which included Abdul Aziz Shoukri from Algeria, Ahmad Mohammad from Kenya, Abdullah Khalifa from Bahrain and Alsawi Abdullah from Saudi Arabia.
The closing ceremony on Sunday also saw the felicitation of Juma Al Majid with the Islamic Personality of the Year award.
Al Majid, 89, is a renowned Emirati philanthropist and businessman, who was awarded for his lifelong service to humanity, education and restoration of Islamic heritage.
Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum handed over the award to Al Majid and the winners of the Quran competition.
Contestants from 90 countries participated this year.
1. Muaz Mohammad — Libya
2. Ahmad Ashiri — Morocco/Ebrahim Mazou — Niger
4. Ahmad Bashir — USA
5. Aiman Brahem — Tunisia
6. Omar Ahmad — Syria
7. Abdul Aziz Shoukri — Algeria
8. Ahmad Mohammad — Kenya
9. Abdullah Khalifa — Bahrain
10. Alsawi Abdullah — Saudi Arabia