Abu Dhabi: When the azan (adhan) is recited in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the Islamic call to prayer echoes not just on the premises of the UAE’s largest mosque with many firsts to its credit.
It goes far beyond to reach all areas across the country’s capital as it is broadcast live to all the mosques.
Thus the voice of the seven multi-national muezzins at the Grand Mosque, in turns, invites Muslims in the entire emirate to pray five times of the day.
One of them is Shaikh Ahmad Naseem, the only Indian muezzin in the team, who has gone beyond the call of his duty.
He is teaching the right method of reciting the Holy Quran through YouTube videos.
The importance of Tajweed
“The Holy Quran should be recited with the Tajweed rules applied to it,” Shaikh Ahmad told Gulf News in an interview.
Tajweed refers to the set of rules governing the way in which the words of the Quran should be pronounced during its recitation.
“Reciting the Holy Quran correctly is compulsory for all Muslims. Even if they are reciting the chapters without understanding the meaning, they should follow the correct pronunciation of every letter with the rulings and characteristics that apply,” he explained.
It is this very reason that prompted Shaikh Naseem to start a YouTube channel to help believers recite the Holy Quran in the correct way.
“There are many videos of experts reciting the Holy Quran. But I couldn’t find any that shows the lip movements of the reciter. All the videos that I found online had only the audio clips attached to photos. It is important to see the lip movements to understand the phonetics of the words in the original version of the Quran in a better way.”
His channel has covered 114 chapters of the Quran in as many episodes and has had tens of thousands of views. The videos also display the portions of the Quran being read in writing, so that it helps viewers see both the text and the reciter’s lip movements.
Supported by the Awqaf (General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments) in Abu Dhabi, the project launched last year was the result of a lot of hard work, said Shaikh Ahmad who has been working with the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for over 10 years.
His journey of learning Qiraat, or the recitation of Quran, began from his childhood in the south Indian state of Kerala.
“I had started attending madrasa since I was four. When I turned nine, I started studying Quran and completed memorising it in two years.”
“Other entities in the UAE can now benefit from this service through direct linking to [the] internal system. Once the requesting entity [has] filled the form for linking to the service, Awqaf will contact it to provide technical support and activate the service,” according to the website of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.
He said it was his mother’s desire that all her children learn to recite Quran.
After memorising the Holy Book at the young age, Shaikh Naseem took part in various Quran recitation competitions and won prizes in national and international levels.
Expertise in Qiraat
In 2005, he set off for Saudi Arabia to gain expertise in a variety of Qiraat from Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque) in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah (the city of Madinah).
Subsequently, he joined Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in 2010.
Hailing from Thrissur district in Kerala, which houses the oldest mosque in India –the Cheramaan Juma Masjid which was built in 629 AD — getting an opportunity to work with the UAE’s largest mosque was a big blessing for Shaikh Naseem.
“Allah has blessed me with this duty of calling people to prayer and leading them to Him. Being an Indian, I feel proud and blessed to have been chosen to work in an Arab country and such a great mosque. It feels great when the Azan from this mosque goes to every mosque in the emirate through the Unified Azan service,” said Shaikh Naseem.
The eldest two of his seven children are also following in his footsteps by learning the Quran at a young age.