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Dushanbe hosts CIS Koran-reading competition
Tajiks win 9 of 15 prizes in country’s first international reading
By Dilafruz Nabiyeva
DUSHANBE – Tajikistan, for the first time, hosted an international competition of Koran readers from throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) July 5-7 in Dushanbe.
The 85 young adults, ages 6-25, competed in their choice of five categories: reading the Koran and the rules of orthoepic reading; reciting any part of the Koran on demand and interpreting it; and reading from memory and interpretation of 30 parts of the Koran, 20 parts of the Koran, and 10 parts of the Koran.
The contest had 15 place awards, and each winner earned a cash prize, based on the category and how they placed. The largest prize was US $3,000 (TJS 14,389).
Significance of Koran readings
“Reading the Koran is of great significance in my life, because every time you read through the Koran again, you seem to be reading something new in it,” said Rushan Akshev of Tatarstan, a teacher at the Russian Islamic University (Kazan) who took part in reading and interpretation of 30 parts of the Koran.
“The reading itself, the actual pronunciation of the letters, is of great significance and brings not only spiritual satisfaction but also physical pleasure from the reading,” Akshev said. “And for me it is taking part in the competition that matters, not winning.”
Such competitions can help educate the population about the true meaning of Islam, said Umar Idrisov, chairman of the Spiritual Directorate of Moslems of Nizhny Novgorod City and Nizhny Novgorod Oblast and co-chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia.
“We see how little children are drawn to come and make our hall resound to the sound of their dear young voices,” Idrisov said. “We see how hard they study and read, how eager they are to tell us about the Holy Word of Allah. ... These children who love and study the Koran are like little angels.”
This year’s competition
Tajikistan has held republic-wide Koran reader competitions annually since 2009 and sent winners on the Hajj free of charge, Said Mukaram Abdukodirzoda, head of the Council of Ulema of the Islamic Centre of Tajikistan, said.
“This year, with the support of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and of [Tajik] President Emomali Rakhmon, the Islamic Centre of Tajikistan held a competition at the international level,” Abdukodirzoda said.
The competition consisted of two rounds, with 42 of the 85 entrants advancing to the final round.
Tajik readers won nine prizes after the jurors spent more than two hours determining the winners. Winners also included five from Russia and one from Ukraine.
Abdukodirzoda defended the Tajiks’ success.
“To make the competition transparent and to prevent subsequent disputes, we had a jury including foreigners, … two from Kuwait and two from Saudi Arabia,” Abdukodirzoda said.
Tajiks have traditionally done well at Koran readings, he said.
“For example … at the international competition in Ukraine (СIS - 2010), the first prizes went to Tajiks, and it was the same story in Moscow (CIS - 2011). In Egypt two years ago, a representative of Tajikistan took second place,” Abdukodirzoda said.
The Tajik readers demonstrated broad skills, showing they could read the ayats (verses), knew what they meant and knew where to find them in the Koran, Saudi jury member Mahmoud Saidali Aprifai said.
“It is hard to find kids like this even in our Arab countries,” Aprifai said.
What the readings mean to participants
Such competitions draw support for various reasons.
“I came to the competition to become acquainted with my brothers from Tajikistan and to learn something from them,” said Adar Akhmatov, a pupil at a Crimean school for Hafiz (those who have memorised the Koran) who competed in the 10-part reading and interpretation. “My aim was not to win. Reading the Koran in this world brings rewards in itself. It brings spiritual equilibrium, educates the soul and explains a lot.”
Kompon Komildjon, a second-year student at the Islamic Institute of Tajikistan who competed in the recitation of any part of the Koran on demand and interpretation, agreed.
"Such competitions bring us new knowledge, new acquaintances and new sensations,” Komildjon said. ”I came to take part in the competition and to obtain a blessing. Reading the Koran enables me to select the right path.”