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Sri Lankan bags first prize at Qur’an contest

Sri Lankan Riski Mohamed Riskhan won the first prize at the 33rd King Abdul Aziz International Contest for Memorization of the Holy Qur’an, which concluded Wednesday in Makkah.
The competition, held under the auspices of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, was attended by participants from 53 countries throughout the globe. The award carried a cash proze of SR 100,000 for the first prize winner. Riskhan represented Madrasathul Ilm from the Colombo Grand Mosque.
The annual event, which promotes the memorization and recitation of the Holy Qur’an, was conducted by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Call and Guidance in the Kingdom.
Riskhan, 14, is from Colombo and had undergone a Qur’an recitation course from the madrasah attached to the Colombo Grand Mosque.
Following Jumma prayers at the Colombo Grand Mosque yesterday, Riskhan recited some of the Qur’anic verses for the congregation.
“The Sri Lankan boy Riski Mohamed Riskhan has created history by winning an international Qur’an recitation contest in the Kingdom,” Consul General in Jeddah Adambawa Uthumalebbe told Arab News yesterday.
“This is the first time a Sri Lankan has won this international annual competition, beating participants from 53 countries,” said Sri Lankan Senior Minister Abdul Hameed Mohammed Fowzie, who is currently in the holy city of Makkah.
On arrival in Colombo, Mohamed Riskhan received a hero’s welcome on Wednesday for his accomplishment.
He was received at the Bandaranaike International Airport by M.K.D.S. Gunawardena, the deputy minister of Buddha sasana and religious affairs, and Mervyn Silva, minister of public relations and public affairs.
Western Province Gov. Alavi Mowlana, parliamentarian A.H.M. Azwer, Presidential Coordinator on Muslim Religious Affairs Hassan Maulana, and other Muslim dignitaries were also present.
Azwer told Arab News from Colombo that this was a unique honor not only to the Muslim community on the island but also to the entire nation. “It was fitting to note that being a member of the minority community, Mohamed Riskhan got a heroic welcome from all sections of the Sri Lankan community for his splendid performance at the international competition.”
Riskhan comes from a poor family. His father earns his livelihood working as a three-wheeler rickshaw driver, and his younger sister and mother live in a city dwelling meant for the poor.
“The contest aimed at highlighting the Kingdom’s interest in the memorization and recitation of the Holy Qur’an. The Kingdom wants to promote learning of the Holy Qur’an among the Muslim youth,” Salman bin Muhammad Al-Amri, public relations director of the contest, said in a statement. He added that out of 161 contestants from 53 countries, 87 competitors were sent by their respective governments, while 66 represented Islamic organizations in Muslim and non-Muslim countries.
The contest had 10 judges, four of whom were from the Kingdom. The other six came from Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Malaysia, Pakistan and Nigeria. The Kingdom spends annually more than SR 100 million for the contest without seeking any material motive, the director said.
The five topics of the contest were the memorization of full text with correct intonation, commentary and meaning of words, and memorization of 20 continuous juz (parts) with intoned recitation.
The winner of the first prize received a cash award of SR 100,000, the second SR 90,000, the third SR 80,000, the fourth SR 70,000 and the fifth SR 60,000.

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