By Ainul Huda Mohamed Saaid
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- The excitement generated by tomorrow's 14th general election has somewhat overshadowed the 60th International Quran Recital and Memorisation Competition that is now taking place at the Putra World Trade Centre.
A total of 60 participants from 26 countries are taking part in the event, which started yesterday and will conclude on May 12.
Qari (male reciter) Aljesa Asani, 37, from Macedonia, said the Malaysian government\'s efforts to organise the annual competition have been crucial in attracting public attention to the Quran, as well as promoting Islam as a religion of peace to the world.
He also viewed the competition as a platform to strengthen the bond of brotherhood among the Muslim participants who were multiracial and came from different parts of the world.
"It's very important because this competition in Malaysia involves many countries and I get to meet Muslims from all over the world and make friends with qaris from different nations," said the father-of-two, adding that he has befriended a few participants from Turkey and some African countries and they were already communicating through WhatsApp.
Aljesa, who is an imam and religious teacher in the Macedonian city of Gostivar, said scientific research has shown that by reading the Quran using the correct method, one could improve one's health, as well as reduce stress and overcome depression.
"When we read the Quran using the right method, it will create vibrations that will have a good effect on the mouth.
"And, if we follow the right mode of reading and take deep breaths, it will be beneficial for our brain," said Aljesa, who is also an expert in Islamic history and the first person from Macedonia to take part in the International Quran Recital and Memorisation Competition.
QURAN UNITES THE UMMAH
Seu May Yam, 52, a qariah (female reciter) from Cambodia, said although the competition's participants hail from different backgrounds and speak in different languages, communication was not a barrier as they spoke Arab, the language of the Quran.
The religious teacher hoped Malaysia would continue to hold the competition every year for the sake of uniting the ummah (Muslim community).
"It's a good competition because verses from the Quran are being recited publicly," she said.
This is the third time she is participating in this competition but Seu said she would not take part next year as she wanted to make way for a younger qariah.
The inaugural International Quran Recital Competition was held in Kuala Lumpur on March 9, 1961. The then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had voiced his intention to hold an international-level competition when he officiated the closing ceremony of the very first national-level Quran Recital Competition in 1960.
The Malaysian government has been faithfully organising the international-level Quran Recital Competition every year, showing that it is committed to promoting the Quran reading culture and understanding the true gist of its verses.