A six-year-old schoolboy became one of the country's youngest student preachers when he gave a sermon at a Ramadan forum in Dubai. Ibrahim Muneer, from Egypt, spoke at the ninth Ramadan Forum organised by Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, calling on worshippers to remember God is observing them in their everyday lives. The main tent at the forum, which runs for 16 days and started on August 12, holds 4,000 people.
Ibrahim's mother, Manal Fathi, said she has been planning for this day since her son was two years old. "Ibrahim practised many times in front of friends and neighbours, but he was very nervous about addressing a large audience, he wanted to back out on the day," she said. "So, I took him to the mosque near our house and asked the imam to give him the microphone and make him present his speech in front of worshippers after the afternoon prayers."
It paid off, and when faced with the crowd the six-year-old overcame his nerves. "I saw the people looking at me, so I started with Salam Alikum and went on with my speech," said Ibrahim. "I want to do this again - and in front of more people." Ibrahim spoke as part of the Ummah preacher programme, which aims to encourage youngsters to become imams. "When they started the Ummah preacher programme five years ago, I used to cry when I saw the children give their speeches, and since then I wanted my son to do the same," his mother said.
Last year she started helping him memorize some verses of the Quran, so that he would learn to properly pronounce and articulate words. When Ibrahim reached first grade at school, his mother enrolled him in the programme. Ibrahim was assigned a speech and learned it in less than a week in between snacks, PlayStation and watching TV, his mother said. Ibrahim said he wants to be an imam like Sheikh Mashary al Afassi, a renowned Muslim scholar "because of his beautiful voice and speaking skills" and also practice medicine.
Hassan Abdul Aziz, 12, a seventh-grade student, also addressed the tent this weekend, calling on Muslims not to simply seek God's help in a time of crisis. The forum includes 19 lectures in Arabic, six in English and one in Tagalog. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org