Twenty eight participants from as many countries from Africa, Middle East and Asia are taking part in the President Yahya Jammeh International Award for Qur’an Memorisation Competition in The Gambia.
The competition, sponsored by the Gambian leader, forms part of activities marking the 22nd edition of the July 22nd Revolution. The competition aims to serve as a platform for Muslims to read and understand the teachings of the Holy Qur’an so that the weight of problems Muslims face today as an Ummah may be lightened.
Speaking at the opening session of the competition, the Basic Education Minister Fatou Lamin Faye thanked the initiator of the competition. She expressed gratitude to Allah for granting all of them the opportunity to gather to witness such important occasion which is the first of its kind.
“I am delighted and profoundly honoured to be accorded the opportunity to deliver the welcome remark at this auspicious occasion. I would like us all to recognise and applaud the heroic move by His Excellency the President for not only declaring The Gambia an Islamic Republic but also promoting the learning and practicing of the teachings of the Holy Qur’an at a time when Muslims and the Islamic religion continue to be stigmatised,” she said.
She added that since President Jammeh assumed the mantle of leadership in 1994, significant strides have been registered towards the promotion of Islam in The Gambia, testimonies of which are the financing of the construction of mosques throughout the country.
“Today Islam is facing its greatest challenges of the century being placed under the microscope and watched through numerous lenses and perspectives. There are several misconceptions being portrayed about Islam which include but not limited to internal divisions within the Ummah, the suicide bombings, and the horrific acts perpetrated by so-called followers of Islam and have left mostly true Muslims wondering how to defend or even exercise their religious rights and obligations in some countries.”
The Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW, she went on, has stated that whenever the affairs become dubious as a dark night you should resort to the Holy Qur’an for it is an intercessor whose intercession is accepted, and it is a witness which has been acknowledged.
She told a conference full of scholars, academics, religious and prayer leaders and students that the Qur’an serves as a reminder of one’s duties to Allah. “Also the Qur’an provides historical accounts of past events which are sometimes mentioned as a challenge and also as a lesson for us to learn from,” she further told the gathering.
Considering the numerous benefits of the Holy book of ours, according to her, initiating this international competition is an important milestone in increasing Muslims’ love, perception, appreciation and understanding of the Qur’an as the true word of God which provides humanity the spiritual and intellectual consciousness needed in order to become a forward thinking human race.
“As we witness this momentous event, I would like us all to reflect on the Gambian President’s love not just for Gambians but also for humanity as a whole by his initiative of creating an avenue for Muslims to read and understand the teachings of the Holy Qur’an so that perhaps the weight of problems we face today as an Ummah may be lightened. Seeing these young men here today ready to contest in the reading of the Holy Quran is indeed a blessing, a source of inspiration and a source of hope that perhaps all is not lost. Finally I pray that as Qur’an is light may that light illuminate our hearts and may the blessings and the mercy of Allah descend on our beloved President for being a very understanding and supportive leader who is willing to stop at nothing in order to ensure that the religious values of our beloved country are upheld,” she said while extend words of gratitude and thanks.
Also speaking at the occasion were the Minister of Religious Affairs, Dr Abubacarr Senghore and Modou Lamin Touray, President of The Gambia Supreme Islamic Council.
Meanwhile the 28 countries participating in this competition are; Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameron, Chad, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Senegal, Somalia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Yemen, Benin, Qatar, and The Gambia.
They are being judged by juries from Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Senegal, Morocco, Algeria and The Gambia.
by Musa Ndow