Moscow International Quran Recitation Competition

22 December 2023

In the first centuries after its emergence, Islam spread rapidly among non-Arabic peoples. In the first centuries after its emergence, Islam spread rapidly among non-Arabic peoples. Due to the lack of a uniform norm of pronunciation of individual sounds and their combinations, representatives of other nationalities made a large number of mistakes when reading the Quran, even though they knew Arabic. Then Muslim scholars thought of developing a set of rules to guide students of the Holy Scripture.

The word tajweed comes from an Arabic verb that literally translates as to do something in the best possible way. In other words, to do something with tajweed means to try to give the fruits of one’s labor the highest qualities, to make them as perfect as possible. But in its special meaning, tajweed is the correct pronunciation of the holy text of the Quran.

The discipline of Tajweed teaches the rules of competent, from the point of view of orthoepy, reading of the Koran. Within the framework of Muslim science, the coverage of the problem began in the second half of the IX century. The heritage of Muslim philologists represents various treatises and works on Tajweed. All sounds have a meaning, so correct reading of the Quran is a prerequisite for comprehending the divine truth and getting closer to the Almighty.

Tajweed helps the voice to sound free and beautiful, without aiming to make the recitation of the Holy Book more difficult. In addition to avoiding errors in interpretation, Tajweed also makes it easier to memorize the texts of the Quran. It is difficult for the uninitiated to imagine that there are people who know the text of the Holy Scripture from memory. Keepers of the Quran who memorize it by heart are called hafiz. Sometimes even a small child can become a hafiz.

It is not just a scientific discipline involving a vast library of theoretical works and many hours of diligent practice. Tajweed can rightly be considered a true art, as evidenced by the numerous Quran recitation competitions in Islamic countries: Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya and many others. Thanks to the participation of Russian Muslims in them, the Union of Muftis of Russia came up with the idea of organizing a similar competition in Moscow.

The first Moscow Quran recitation competition was held in 2000 as a competition mainly among students of madrasas in the Russian capital, which was later expanded to the regional level. The first competitions showed the revival of the Quranic school in Russia. Since 2005, the event became all-Russian, and in 2007 it acquired the status of an international event. In 2010, the competition was officially recognized at the state level.

The competition is open to any willing male between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five. Applicants must know Tajweed and be recommended by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs or a Muslim religious organization of their country, as well as be winners of national competitions. The geography of the event expands every year, forcing the organizers to hold several qualifying rounds before the final competition.

Although the organizers themselves do not seek to call the event a competition implying tough rivalry, declaring the contest a celebration for all believers and a review - a kind of selection of the first of the best. In addition, the organization of the event has long gone beyond just the competition, as today the program traditionally includes exhibitions, briefings, performances, concerts and workshops.

For example, the XVIII Moscow Recitation Competition in 2018 was held as part of the international Festival of the Quran - in addition to exciting recitation of the Holy Book, the audience was presented with exciting numbers performed by famous nasheeds (Muslim chants) performers. In addition, guests could visit the oriental bazaar, where designers of confessional clothes showed their own novelties. The scale of the event is emphasized by the scale of the venues - every year large concert halls in Moscow are involved in the contest.

Anyone can attend the event, including non-Muslims. Given the attention to the contest, the only limitation is the capacity of the hall. For several hours in a solemn atmosphere, spectators discover new things, foreign participants get to know Russia, where their co-religionists live, and representatives of other religions come into contact with the precepts of the Quran. The funds raised from ticket sales are donated to charity. If you are unable to attend the event, you can watch the broadcast online - the official community of the competition in the VKontakte social network provides a link.

Special guests, in addition to the participants and spectators themselves, are the honorable members of the jury, who have the responsible task of giving a balanced assessment of the applicants’ skills. The annual judging panel includes world-renowned reciters and hafizes of the Quran, the strongest scholars of Islamic sciences and recognized experts in various fields of theological knowledge. At the XX Moscow International Recitation Contest, the head of the judging panel, Imam-Khatib of the Prophet’s Mosque in Radiant Medina, Sheikh Abdulmuhsin Al-Qasim, was awarded the highest award of Russian Muslims - the Al-Fakhr Order of Honor.

The Moscow International Quran Recitation Competition is recognized as one of the best events of this format. In 2015, the competition received a special prize from the Dubai Quran Award for its high level of organization. The event is a vivid example of fruitful diplomatic cooperation between the countries. High-ranking officials of Muslim states are interested in supporting the contest, as evidenced by the presence of representatives of ministries of Islamic affairs, as well as major international Islamic organizations among the guests. Undoubtedly, the contest raises Russia’s prestige in the Islamic world.

At the XXI Moscow International Quran Recitation Competition in 2023, for the first time in the history of the project, the main prize was awarded to a Russian, Ayemiddin Farkhudinov. The winner learnt the Quran by heart at the age of ten. Ayemiddin is from the Tula region, speaks several languages and is currently studying at the Islamic University in Medina. Ayemiddin Farkhudinov’s victory emphasizes the importance of the competition for education in the spirit of traditional Islam in Russian society.

Tajweed is just one of the manifestations of how the Almighty protects the Quran from any damage. The observance of Tajweed guarantees the high quality and accuracy of the oral transmission of the Holy Scripture from generation to generation. With regard to winning or losing in the competitions on skillful recitation of the Quran, one can quote the words of the Chairman of the Council of Muftis and the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia, Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gaynutdin, from his welcome letter to the participants of the XIX Moscow International Recitation Competition, ‘Truly, there are no losers in our competition, because all reciters of the Holy Quran are already winners in the way of Allah Almighty’.



GSV "Russia - Islamic World"

Photo: Masjid Pogung Dalangan/Unsplash