This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the late and great Egyptian reciter Shaykh Muhammad Siddiq Al-Minshawi – a man who has inspired a generation of young Quranic reciters. On the 20th June 2019, the historic Auwal masjid in Bo-Kaap, where Islam was kept alive during the dark of apartheid, will host a special programme in his honour.
Shaykh Minshawi was born on 20 January 1920 and died on the 20 June in 1969, at the age of 49 years old. The al-Minshawi ancestry is traced to the province of Minsha, in the province of Suha in upper Egypt. He memorised the Quran at the age of 9 year old and his father Muhammad Siddiq Al-Minshawi, a Qari himself, sent him to Cairo to study tajweed and qira’at. After completing his studies, he returned to Minsha and started accompanying his father at various public events, where he soon developed his own style of recitation.
“Shaykh’s God-given voice is unique, and his choice of recitation made him stand out more. We were fortunate in the 1970’s and 80’s to be able to listen to the limited amount of cassettes at the time. What he did for our hearts and minds…he enhanced our relationship with the Quran and made us yearn to recite more,” enthuses Shaykh Londt, the imam of the masjid and founder of the Dar Ubaiy Institute, who himself has inspired many Cape reciters.
In the 1940’s, Shaykh Minshawi’s fame grew beyond the borders of upper Egypt and he recited in various other provinces. After declining previous requests to recite on radio and television, by chance Shaykh Minshawi was invited to an event where he recited on air. Londt says this was the first occasion in which the Egyptian Broadcasting Corporation had a conducted a live broadcast. He was later appointed as the official reciter of one of the grand mosques in Giza in 1953, which saw him relocating to Cairo.
Shaykh Minshawi was a colleague of the famous Shaykh Abdul-Basit ‘Abdel-Samad, who is highly regarded in Cape Town. But Londt says Shaykh Minshawi had his own recognition in the ranks of Quranic reciters.
Shaykh Minshawi is known as one of the five madraris of recitation, which includes shaykh Abdul-Bassit, Shaylh Mahmoud Khalil Khusari, Shaykh Mustafa Ismail and Shaykh Mahmoud Ali Al-Banna.
“They left their mark on the scene of Quranic recitation in Egypt and the Arabic world and beyond. Reciters drew from them back then and are still influenced by their manner and style.”
Shaykh Minshawi is known as the ‘crying reciter’ because of his unique resonance, warmth and emotional attribute to his voice. Londt says he recalls conversations with senior reciters who were a testament to the character of the great Minshawi.
“Shaykh Mohamed Mahmoud Tablawi was younger than Shaykh Minshawi and he said that with all the senior reciters that he had the honour of reciting with, Shaykh Minshawi left him humbled. Shaykh Minshawi always honoured him by asking his opinion, despite him being the senior and having a level of competency and fame.”
On Thursday 20th June, the Auwal masjid will host a special commemorative programme in honour of Shaykh Minshawy to be broadcast live on VOC at 8pm, shortly after the State of the Nation address. Amongst the reciters will be Muhammad Adiel Brown, Yusuf Davids, Rafieq Salie and Bienyamien Toufie.
The event is open to the public.