RNA - Some Minnesota students have earned some serious bragging rights.
They dominated a recent national competition in Chicago that tested their knowledge of a book written entirely in Arabic: The Quran.
Fifteen-year-old Ahmed Mohamed has been learning to recite the Holy Quran since he was a small child.
“Traditionally, especially Somali people, they start learning the Quran when they are like five or four,” said Abdiaziz Jama, a Quran teacher at Abubakar As-Sadique Islamic Center in Minneapolis.
The goal? To learn all 604 pages. Every. Single. Verse.
Ahmed was one of 75 Minneapolis students who traveled to Chicago to put their Quran quizzing skills to the test. The annual Muslim American Society - Islamic Circle of North America convention drew thousands of people and the Quran competition was intense.
“They recite a verse, and you have to continue on, continue on the rest of the page,” described Mohamed.
The judges read one verse, picked at random, and the students must recite the rest of the verses on that page from memory in Arabic. And, there are points for style too.
“The pronunciation should be perfect. The letters, the characteristics of letters, the way you are saying it, so there are a lot of different ways, they are looking at it,” said Jama.
When the competition was over, all 18 of the top finishers were Somali Americans. Thirteen of them were from Minnesota, including Ahmed Mohamed, who captured the top prize in the toughest division.
“I felt really happy, my hard work paid off finally, yeah, that's how it feels,” said Mohamed.
“The whole center, the whole community of Somali Community, especially in Minnesota, felt blessed and happy about it,” said Jama.
Abubakar As-Sadique Islamic Center is the home mosque for 11 of the prize winners.