ABU DHABI // Ahmad Murshed could not speak or read a word of Arabic six years ago when he challenged himself to learn the Quran from cover to cover.
Today the Indian high school pupil, 18, is among the winners of the annual Quran Memorisation Award by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, or Awqaf.
“My father is an imam. He started teaching me the Quran when I was 12, and two years ago I went to a teacher to study its interpretation,” said Ahmad who took first place in the award’s male expatriate category.
The years spent memorising the Quran were not difficult because the goal was rewarding, said Ahmad, who plans to continue his Islamic studies along with engineering at university.
“Seeking Allah’s pleasure is the biggest gain, and after I memorised the Quran many of my friends said they also wanted to start learning. It is not something to neglect,” he said.
Ahmad was among 141 winners who attended an awards ceremony held on Sunday night at the Armed Forces Officers Club in Abu Dhabi.
The award has seven categories, including memorising all 30 parts of the Quran. The overall winner received Dh30,000, with Dh25,000 for second place and Dh20,000 for third. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, praised the winners for their dedication and posed with them for photos.
Impressed by nine-year-old Reem Al Hammadi’s ability to recite verses from the Quran, Sheikh Saif invited the youngster and her family to perform the Haj this year.
“Maybe when he saw her on stage he was impressed by her character,” said Reem’s mother, Ameena Al Hammadi.
Sheikh Saif met the girl along with Dr Mohammed Al Kaabi, head of Awqaf, and asked her to recite the dua’a after learning that she had done so at the Zayed Humanitarian Day event on Friday last week.
Mrs Al Hammadi said she was surprised that Reem was chosen to take part in the event because she had not fully learnt the dua’a a couple of days earlier.
“They asked her if she could memorise it at home and she said yes,” said the mother. “I was scared we couldn’t do it, especially since it is a big official event, but she was braver than me.”