The Western Cape scored big at the 10th South African National Quran Memorization Competition (SANQC) this past weekend, as local hafith student Muhammed Sheikh took home top honours in the full Quran category. Sheikh, presenter of VOC’s Born to Serve programme, beat out a tough field of fellow hufaath in Midrand, Johannesburg. He was joined by 15th juz category winner, Ziyaad Moola of Lenasia and five juz category winner, Muhammed Aziz of Pietermaritzburg.
All three victors will now have the opportunity to test their skills on an international stage when they represent South Africa at the annual King Abdul Aziz Memorization Competition, which is held at Masjid al-Haram in Makkah.
Competitors were judged on two components, the first being their actual level of memorization and the second, the manner in which they recited taking into account fluidity, presentation, fluency and tajweed. All entrants were given the beginning of an ayat and requested to continue for another one and a half pages.
Speaking to VOC News on Monday, Sheikh was full of praise for the standard of competition seen throughout the competition, as well as the enthusiasm shown by fellow competitors towards the recitation of the Quran. He described his success as a treasurable moment, especially in having his efforts recognised by the esteemed panel of judges.
“In all the categories, the competition was very tight. All these students prepared really well and were geared up for the competition. In the end I think it actually came down to small differences, and half points that separated first from second, and second from third etc.,” he said.
Whilst competitors would have spent several months preparing to ensure they were up to the standard required for such level of competition, Sheikh was keen to point out that practice of the Holy Quran was a lifetime activity for students, and not just pre-competition. In addition to ensuring they were well versed in recitation, he stressed that quality in the way one recited was also of utmost importance.
“If I had to look specifically at this competition, preparation starts months in advance. From three to four months we aspire to recite a juz or maybe three ajazah a day,” he explained.
With Sheikh and his fellow victors expected to compete in the Saudi Kingdom later this year, he is expecting an extremely high calibre of competition. Over 90 countries are expected to compete this year around.
“I think given a person’s background and them reaching this national level and competing against the rest of the country, it should give them the confidence and some ground in terms of representing SA on this international platform,” he said.
SANQC National Coordinator, Maulana Mohammad Seedat described the response to the event as overwhelming, adding that the beauty of the event was that students were competing on matters relating to the Holy Quran.
“All in all it was a night of the Quran, a night spent in company with the ulema and qurah and students,” he expressed.
Seedat said many of the students left the evening extremely positive, regardless of not being successful in their endeavour to come out tops in their respective categories.
“The competition was healthy and the adjudicators that were present that oversaw the proceedings, alhamdulillah they have a very pleasing result,” he added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)