Somalis Sweep American National Qur’an Competition

CHICAGO – American-Somali teens from Twin Cities, Minnesota, swept national Qur’an memorization competition organized last week by the Muslim American Society and Islamic Circle of North America.

“Not only did they sweep the entire competition, but they placed every first place possible,” said CAIR-Minnesota Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.

The annual convention of the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) ran from December 26-28.

The MAS-ICNA convention drew thousands of Muslims from across the United States and Canada to McCormick Place in Chicago, known as the nation’s largest convention center.

Out of 400 contestants, 15 Somali girls and boys from the Twin Cities stole the show at the convention.

“Nothing compared to what happened this past week,” Hussein said.

Students were tested for four days, reciting sections of the Qur’an with correct pronunciation of the Arabic text. Competitors are scored 75 percent on memorization and 25 percent on recitation skill.

One winner was just 7 years old. Out of 18 winners, 15 were from Minnesota and 11 were girls.

“It was a tremendous and proud moment for all Minnesotans who were there, not just for Somalis,” he said.

Minnesota contestants had done well in past years, but Ahmed Mohamed, 15, of Minneapolis, proved himself to be one of the best in the nation.


A student at Ubah Medical Academy in Hopkins, he joined other Twin Cities Somali-American teens in dominating the competition at a Qur’an memorization contest in Chicago.

Mohamed, who had been prepping for the competition for three months with the help of leaders from his local mosque, the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center, won the highest prize of $4,000.

“I felt really proud of myself,” he said.

“I noticed that hard work pays off.” In Mohamed’s category, he had to memorize the entire Qur’an, consisting of about 114 chapters.

The Qur’an is a revelation from God, the creator of the worlds, so He is the original author.

There is only one Qur’an which is in Arabic and many translations of the Qur’an in several languages.

There could be multiple translations by different authors in the same language such as English.

The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the archangel Gabriel who used to make the Prophet memorize the Qur’an and made him revise it every year in the month of Ramadan, the fasting month.

Memorizing the Holy Qur’an is one of the most important ways to preserve Allah’s message.

The others are to publish and distribute the book, or the text on the Internet and to recite the parts that one knows to other people.