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Ramadhan Kareem: Beyond the Qur’anic Recitation Competitions!

By Sheikh Muhammad Mahmud Turi
In the name of Allah who states “those to whom We have given The Book study it as it should be studied; they are the ones that believe therein; those who reject faith therein, the loss is their own” Q2: 121.

May the everlasting peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad and his purified Progeny.

As the remaining days of Ramadhan move fast, I urge us to put more effort to acquire the pleasure of Allah the Most High through accelerated measures in the same direction. We should not forget the goal for which we are fasting and the various acts of worship through which we may gain His pleasure!


Towards the end of the month we face the “Layalul qadr” –nights of majesty when traditionally Muslims concentrate more.


Generally, the followers of Ahlul – bait hold nineteenth, twenty first and twenty third nights based on authentic narrations while other Muslims hold the odd days of the last ten of the month! The night of majesty is one but is not known specifically. As such we are encouraged to keep prayerfully awake on the expected nights so that we may succeed.


Iitikaaf or seclusion is part of the traditional acts of worship done in these days which brothers and sisters courageously to participate. However, there are rules and regulations governing this worship that must be abided by. So as we engage more in these acts, we should never forget to pray for this oppressed Ummah which is completely besieged in the conspiracies of its enemies.


Qur’anic recitation competition is the piece I write on this week. Firstly, being in Ramadhan – the month of Qur’an. Secondly, in some countries schools and organizations organize such recitation competitions in this month, and thirdly; to stress some relevant points for the Ummah in general.


“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, To those who fear Allah; Who believe in the Unseen, Are steadfast in prayer, And spend out of what We have provided for them; and who believe in the revelation Sent to thee, and sent before thy time, And (in their hearts) Have the assurance of the Hereafter” Q2:1 – 4

This competition was started some decades ago with a view to improving the general Qur’anic sciences! More than any other time, the competitions run in categories are generally promoted at various levels from local to international.


In Nigeria, the competition is organized from local government to national level. The successful competitors in various categories emerge from the usual recitation competitions organized in stages. These competitions are mostly sponsored by governments from time to time. However, some non- governmental organizations and philanthropists partake in the exercise.


Generally, the winners are honored with various prizes such as hajj seats, cars and houses among others. The rationale behind the incentives is to serve as inducement to all students and stakeholders in as a whole.

Schools are generally relative and comprises both ordinary and advanced. Being blessed with Islam, children in Hausa land generally start with traditional Qur’anic education. They are taught from the primary alphabets in stages to the level of memorization as the case may be.


At certain stage, they are made to learn some jurisprudential rules and regulation governing acts of worship as well.

The Islamiyyah schools became very popular in the recent past with relatively more organized form of scholarship on a wider scope covering the noble Qur’an, hadeeth and jurisprudence.


We also have the mass literacy which mainly comprises of adults. Interestingly, it is organized and run in a very flexible way to contain people with different backgrounds. In fact, the system provides a good means of distance learning and correspondences with successful result.


Tajweed is simply a discipline meant to prevent the Qur’anic reciters from mistake in the cause of reading the noble Qur’an. Allah says “Verily this is a revelation from the Lords of the worlds; which came down the truthful spirit. To thy heart that thou mayest admonish in the perspicuous Arabic tongue” Q26: 192 – 195.


So as the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic language, there are rules and regulation governing pronunciation and other aspects of the language that must be strictly followed. Despite the fact that the messenger of Allah was himself an Arab but he was taught and supervised on this Qur’an “Move not your tongue concerning (the Qur’an) to make haste therewith. It is for US to collect it and to promulgate it” Q75: 16 – 17.


Allah also said “Be not in haste with the Qur’an before its revelation to you is completed, but say o my Lord! Advance me in knowledge” Q20: 114.


In a hadeeth, the prophet is reported to have said “Gabriel would place before me the Qur’an for review once a year, but this year he did it twice which indicates that the time for my departure is close at hand”.


So in the light of the verses and hadeeth, we are generally encouraged to put more effort in Qur’anic scholarship so that we can study the book as Allah wants “Do they not then Earnestly seek to understand The Qur’an, or is it that there are locks upon their hearts?” Q47:24.


And no exception in this case, it is not only the children will study but all Muslims. Inability of a Muslim to accurately read the noble Qur’an is no doubt a shame irrespective of sex. With the help of Allah, memorization of the noble Qur’an was highly simplified for this Ummah. Historically, it took many of the pious predecessors decades to memorize it unlike now when children in their teens are blessed with the same!


The Qur’an is memorized in proportionate circle. For example, based on some Fudiyyah plans, students memorize in five years. This is successfully proven in Kano Fudiyyah nursery and primary school for several years. Other schools have their own systems of memorization as well.


Listening the holy Qur’an is also important part of worship “I have only created Jinn and men that they may serve Me. No sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed Me” Q51:56 – 57.


And absolute silence and meditation is needed when the Qur’an is recited “When the Qur’an is read, Listen to it with attention, and hold your peace, that ye may receive mercy” Q7:204.


Such listening is abundantly rewarded and draws one closer to Allah the Most High. “No falsehood can approach it from before or behind it. It is sent down by one full of wisdom, worthy of all praise” Q41: 42.


In addition to memorizing the holy Qur’an, our children must learn other aspect of knowledge which is the Qur’an is undoubtedly the basis. As I have extolled in detail in word educational dynamism: the undisputed pride of Islamic civilization, they should be taught on the jurisprudential aspects and various professions.


We are very grateful to Allah that the Fudiyyah schools founded and named after our great grandfather sheikh Uthman bin Fodio by the charismatic leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria, sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky have greatly succeeded in this direction. Different sets of such teenage students are graduated yearly in hundreds across the country especially in the grand annual memorizers’ day graced by the revered Sheikh in Kano.


No doubt, the teachers, students, parents and the representatives of the Islamic movement at various levels deserve commendation in this regard. And as we urge all to keep the tempo, we pray to Allah to reward them and all contributors in whatever form abundantly!


Most important point I want emphasize is the practice of the teachings of the noble Qur’an. We must be sincere in all our actions so that our Qur’anic studies should not be geared towards fame or success in the competition. But, we should make sure that we reflect the teachings of the book to the best of our ability so that we symbolize a mobile Qur’an!


Dr. Alwani argues that there are two levels of reading the Qur’an; the first level consists of cultivating spiritual upliftment while the second one urges man as vicegerent to study the cosmos for the purpose of positive action on earth. Performing the two readings together and keeping a balance between them are prerequisites for well – being in this world and in the hereafter.


So the teachers of the Qur’an who were described as the best of us in a hadeeth, the students, parents and indeed all Muslims are expected to live strictly in accordance with the teachings of the book as vicegerents of Allah on earth just as A’isha mother of believers described the ethics of the noble prophet as the holy Qur’an in its entirety!


Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah.