(MENAFN - Arab News) The top two prizes of the King Abdul Aziz International Qur'an contest, which was held at the Grand Mosque in Makkah recently, went to non-Arabs from Nigeria and Bangladesh, an official said.
Abdullah Basfar, secretary-general of the Jeddah-based International Qur'an Memorization Organization (IQMO), told Arab News: "The King Abdul Aziz competition is the mother of all international Qur'an contests."
Basfar said it encouraged 20 Arab and Muslim countries to hold similar international contests.
More than 6,000 students from different parts of the world have taken part in the King Abdul Aziz contest since its inception 35 years ago. They included Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, and Ali Al-Thubaity, the imam and khatib of the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah.
Speaking about the contest's significance, Basfar said it encourages Muslim youth to learn and memorize the Holy Qur'an, follow the way of life shown by the Qur'an and Sunnah and keep them away from extremism and violence.
A total of 150 contestants from 61 countries took part in the Makkah competition. Islamic Affairs Minister Saleh Al-Asheikh distributed the prizes to the winners. He highlighted the resurgence of Islam all over the world, despite smear campaigns by its enemies. He cautioned about moves to create divisions among the Ummah by proponents of destructive thoughts.
Kabiru Abubacker Mousa from Nigeria won the first prize (SR100,000) in the first category while Mohammed Najm Abdul Kalam Azad from Bangladesh (SR80,000) won the top place in the second category. Abdul Kareem Abubacker (SR60,000), Ameen Mohammed Aftab Alam from Saudi Arabia (SR30,000) and Khaled Mohammed Jobi from Mauritius (SR25,000) were the top winners from the remaining three categories.
Second place winners were: Adel bin Mahmoud Ghulam Al-Khair from Saudi Arabia (SR90,000), Abdullah bin Ahmed Al-Khalaf, also from Saudi Arabia (SR70,000), Saeed Ahmed from Bangladesh (SR50,000), Akram Mohammed Al-Maleeki from Yemen (SR25,000), and Suwaid Bilal Ishaq (SR20,000).
Third prize winners were: Naeem Balout from Lebanon (SR80,000), Rakan Ibrahim Khidr from Iraq (SR60,000), Abubacker Sulaiman Buji from Nigeria (SR40,000), Habibullah Sirajul Islam from Bangladesh (SR20,000) and Sham Saeed Sham from Tanzania (SR15,000).
Basfar said his organization was holding 35 countrywide contests, and three regional contests for Europe, Africa and Asia. "We also hold special contests for girls," he said.
Mansour Al-Sumaih, secretary-general of the King Abdul Aziz competition, said it had attracted contestants from all over the world. "They will return as messengers of peace and goodness to their respective countries."
Muhammad Abdul Aal Al-Sheikh from Sudan, a contestant, thanked Saudi Arabia for the encouragement it has given Muslim youth to learn and memorize the Qur'an. "The contest has given us an opportunity to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet's Mosque."