The Islamic Center of Minnesota in Fridley held its annual Qur'an recitation competition for youth 4 to 12 years. About 50 children participated in the competition. One of the highlights of the competition was the incredible diversity among the participants. Many of them wearing ethnic dresses and accompanied by their parents looked excited about the event.
Hearing the children come up and recite the Qur'an was a deeply spiritual experience. One was reminded of Muhammad Marmaduke William Pickthall's word describing the Qur'an's recitation as "...the Glorious Qur'an, that inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy."
All participants received goody bags. The winners were awarded prizes at the evening prayer session.
Muslim children memorize portions of the Qur'an from a young age. Some go on to memorize the entire Qur'an and are called "Hafidh" (memorizer of the Qur'an). The Qur'an has 114 chapters and about 6000 verses. This tradition of memorization has helped preserve the Qur'an in its original language for the past 1400 years.
I interviewed Rahema Rashid, who came in 2nd place in the 9-12 year old category in the Qur'an contest to reflect on her journey in the competition.
Wazwaz: Why did you join the Quran competition?
Rehma: I joined the Quran Competition because first and foremost I wanted to get Hasanat(good rewards) from Allah, and also because I wanted to take the opportunity to recite Quran in front of people.
Wazwaz: What was your aim and what did you hope to achieve?
Rehma: My aim was to do my best and I hoped to read the Surah with correct articulation and Tajweed(science of reciting the Qur'an).
Wazwaz. What were your feelings as you were engaged in the process? Were there challenges?
Rehma: I had a short period of time to prepare, so I was nervous, but excited at the same time.
Wazwaz: Describe the journey or process that got all of you excited and committed to the task? How did it start?
Rehma: My younger sister was participating for the competition and as I watched her prepare, I thought that I should participate as well.
Wazwaz. Did you find yourself prepared? Can you describe the place and environment where the task occurred?
Rehma: Attending an Islamic school and finishing a Tajweed course from the Islamic University of Minnesota, helped me prepare myself quickly for the competition. The Masjid was full off enthusiastic children, and excited parents. It was very nice to be there.
Wazwaz: Where you satisfied with the end result? What were your feelings at the end of the journey?
Rehma: I was satisfied with the end result but at the same time I thought that I needed improvement to recite better. I asked my parents how I did, and they said that I did very well. So, I was happy at the end.
Wazwaz. Was it hard to get support? What did you learn at the end about each other, the journey and doing it in the month of Ramadan? Was there something you learned or felt yourself challenged to learn doing this task?
Rehma: I had all the support I needed. I learned that everyone has a unique way of reciting the Quran. The atmosphere was very supporting, and I was very happy that the competition was on the 27th day of Ramadan, which could be Laila-Tul-Qadar(Night of Great Rank), the night when Quran was revealed, and the night is better than 1,000 months. The special thing about this competition was that everyone was a winner and there were no losers. Everyone who participated or listened to the recitation was rewarded with Hasanat(good rewards).
Below are some photos of the event. Thanks to Onder Uluyol for the photos and permission to share them.