Abdullah Elraghy, Sci ’10, and Omar Khalil, ArtSci ’11, beat seven Ontario universities to win the Qira’atul Quran Competition (QQC) for Queen’s last Saturday.
The competition, which is in its 12th year, is hosted by McMaster University. Queen’s participated for the first time last year, losing first place in a tiebreaker.
Elraghy and Khalil won $1,500 for the Queen’s University Muslim Student Association (QUMSA).
The QQC tests participants on the Quran, the religious book of Islam.
“You’re tested in two main things: your memorization and your recitation,” Elraghy said, adding that recitation is the most important part of the competition.
Participants must recite the Quran following the rules of the tajweed, which is the science of pronouncing the letters of the Arabic alphabet.
Elraghy said in order to prepare for the QQC, he and Khalil had to memorize every word and letter of the 604-page religious text.
“You have to prepare that so that you can recite the entire thing from your memorization by heart and, not only that, but also be able to recite it from wherever they [the judges] tell you to start,” Khalil said. “We’re not talking memorizing, kind of the general meaning. We have to memorize letter for letter.”
Elraghy and Khalil studied with teachers who earned special permission to transmit the Quran. They both studied under Qutaiba Al-Bluwi, a former Queen’s graduate student, and Zubair Wali.
“When I met our teacher … I read the Quran like I read the newspaper,” Khalil said. “I didn’t know there was a specific science. [Al-Bluwi] taught me from scratch.”
Khalil said he and Elraghy were both happy to represent Queen’s.
“For Muslims from Queen’s to go out there and compete against universities that represent cities that have the most Muslims in Canada and win a competition that revolves around the essence of Islam … it kind of speaks out,” he said, adding that he thinks Queen’s is underrated in the competition because it has a reputation for not having a large Muslim population.
Both students plan on helping other Muslim students get involved in future QQCs.
“Just keep it up because [the QQC] started as an idea and now it’s big, and in the future it could be really even bigger,” Elraghy said.
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