After 27 years of hosting the National Qur’an Competition, Lagos State again received participants across the country for the 34th edition of the event. From Friday, December 27, 2019 to January 4, 2020, participants displayed their skills in the recitation of the Qur’an. Winners emerged at the end.
Apart from the spiritual benefits of the competition, it has been a platform for the unification of Muslims in the past 34 years. The contest serves as a reminder for Muslims not only to seek the knowledge of the Qur’an but to take heed of the guidance and exhortations in it.
The Musabaqah Foundation for Qur’anic Recitation in Nigeria, which started in 1986, is the brainchild of the Centre for Islamic Studies, Usmanu Danfodiyo University (UDU), Sokoto. Since then, the Musabaqah (competition) has become an annual national event hosted by various states of the federation.
After the 33rd contest in Gombe, Lagos State won the hosting right for the 34th edition tagged, Lagos for Qur’an,’ which held at the University of Lagos. The opening and closing ceremonies took place at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Abdulkadir Obafemi Hamzat, graced the occasion. The presence of the governor, who is a Christian, was to send a message of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence among the adherents of Islam and Christianity.
Among dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony were the Sultan of Sokoto and president-general of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammed Saad Abubakar; Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi Lamido, chairman of the Police Service Commission, Alhaji Musiliu Smith.
Speaking at the event, the vice-chancellor of UDUS, Professor Lawal Suleiman Bilbis, said the annual competition had become a reference point globally as winners would represent the country at an international event to be hosted in Saudi Arabia.
The president, Muslim Community in Lagos State, Professor Tajudeen Gbadamosi, said the success of the event was made possible by the commitment of stakeholders. “Lagos State is the Centre of Excellence; the people of the Qur’an are excellent and the competition promotes excellence, so it is excellence upon excellence. What can be more memorable! he said.
The competition featured six categories – memorisation of the whole Qur’an with tajweed and tafsir; memorisation of the whole Qur’an with tajweed, theoretically and practically; memorisation of 40 consecutive hizbs (chapters) of the Qur’an, with tajweed, practically.
Other categories are memorisation of 20 consecutive hizbs of the Qur’an with tajweed, theoretically and practically; memorization of 10 consecutive hizbs of the Qur’an with tanghim and tajweed, theoretically and practically; and memorisation of Juz’ Amma or any two consecutive Hizbs of the Qur’an with tajweed, practically.
Eligibility for participation includes memorisation of the whole or certain portions of the Qur’an; knowledge and application of the science of Qur’anic competition (Tajweed al-Qur’an); participants must be indigenes of the state they represent. However, a woman may claim her husband’s state of origin. Also, a participant must not be a son or daughter of the serving vice-chancellor of the UDUS; principal officers, any member of the National Organising Committee, staff of the Centre for Islamic Studies or any serving member of the National Panel of Judges.
Also, a participant shall not be more than 25 years of age by December of the competition year. First position winners in any category are not allowed to participate in the same category or below in the subsequent competition. Participation in the state and local government competition is prerequisite for entry.
At the end of the competition, 30 male and 30 female winners, comprising five in each of the categories, emerged. The overall winners were Umar Kabir from Kaduna and Diya’atu Sanni Abdulkadir from Kano. They went home with brand new Nissan Almera cars, among other cash prizes.
Many dignitaries also awarded prizes to the winners, even as all the participants got prizes.
The Shehu of Bornu, Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, crowned the overall male winner while the wife of the deputy governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Khadijat Hamza, crowned the overall female winner.
A six-year-old Abdullahi Said Okanlolohun from Oyo State was the youngest participant in the competition. He won three Umrah (lesser hajj) slots for himself and his parents.
The host state, Lagos, emerged sixth position with six different prizes.
The Sultan of Sokoto urged the Muslim community in Nigeria to take the competition seriously, adding that Muslims should live by the words of the Qur’an to promote peaceful relationship with adherents of Christianity. He further cleared the air on the raging controversy over the alleged persecution of Christians in northern Nigeria, stressing that insurgency and other security challenges in the country are not targeted at any religion.
He said, “Islam is a complete religion. It is a way of life. Whatever you want to do, have or say as a Muslim, is covered in the Qur’an, nothing is left out. Therefore, we take this programme very seriously. Coming together for the Qur’an is very important to us as Muslims. To have our children memorise and recite the Qur’an is very important. It is an opportunity for us to work with the Qur’an because reciting and memorising it are two things, but working with it is the most important.
“When we work with the Qur’an as leaders we will not do the very bad things we have been seeing, in terms of corruption, criminality, extremism etc. Insha Allah, as Muslims in this country we will continue to work with the Qur’an. We will continue to uphold Qur’anic injunctions and obey our leaders, who the almighty Allah has placed on us.
“We want to assure all our leaders, especially political leadership in this country that we will continue to give them sound advice. We will continue to work with you and for you so that Nigeria will be a better place.’’
The chairman of the Police Service Commission also said, “People should support the government to fight insurgency. Islam is a religion of peace and we must continue to project this. Our actions and conduct should always be guided by the fear of God.’’
Governor Sanwo-Olu also acknowledged the fact that Islam is a religion of peace. He said the competition would further enlighten all and sundry and expose Muslim youths to the right side of life as preached through the Qur’an. He assured that his administration would continue to protect the rights of the citizens to practise any religion of their choice without the fear of harassment or discrimination.
“As a country engaged in battle against extremism, this programme will, among other initiatives, promote true understanding of Islam and help make our young people less vulnerable to beliefs that are not consistent with the teachings of the religion.
“As you all know, Lagos State is cosmopolitan, and for centuries, people of diverse religious, ethnic and cultural orientations have lived together in peace, tolerance, mutual respect and understanding,’’ the governor said.
Also, Governor Mohammed Inuwa of Gombe State, represented by his commissioner for education, Dr Habibu Dahiru, said the competition would promote unity and brotherhood among Muslims, especially the youth, in addition to its spiritual and intellectual benefits.
Furthermore, an Islamic scholar, Imam Abdulrahman Ahmad, said the Qur’an covered everything on the surface of the earth. “There is no topic, question or issue that the Qur’an has not exhaustively discussed,” he said, adding that the scripture is an indisputable recipe for sustainable development.
Delivering a lecture titled, Qur’an and Sustainable Development, Ahmed said every human must approach the earth with respect, moderation and balance, adding that the greatest gift the almighty God has bequeathed to mankind is the environment.
“Whenever we approach the earth from a lackadaisical or laissez faire point of view, the earth will also approach us and reciprocate in like manner,” he said.