KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia will host the 53rd edition of the International Quranic Reciters Assembly from July 16 to 23 at the Dewan Merdeka in the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here.
Islamic Advancement Department of Malaysia's (Jakim) Director-General Othman Mustapha said 81 Qari (male Quranic reciters) and Qariah (female Quranic reciters) from 50 countries would be taking part in the assembly.
This year's winner in each category will take home RM32,200 as compared with RM12,800 last year while the runner-up and third placed reciters will receive RM22,400 and RM13,600 respectively, he said.
The consolation prize is RM4,800.
Othman said this year's edition of the International Quranic Reciters Assembly would not have the rules on 'Bacaan Taranum' introduced two years ago at the local competitions as the panel of judges opined that the participants have different style and qualities in reciting the Quran.
The judges have found that the quality of Quranic reciting among the assembly's participants have improved over the years and they would be given marks based on fasohah (vocabulary), taranum, vocal and tajwid (pronounciation).
Jakim also provides the opportunity for the participants to improve their reciting qualities by providing the Tahsin course prior to the assembly.
Othman also said the participants would be taken to visit exhibitions, quiz events as well as seminars related to Quran.
He said Malaysia being an Islamic country is committed in inculcating the Quranic culture among the present generation.
This is to inculcate the people with interest in reciting and understanding the contents of the Quran apart from applying the Holy Book's principles in the day to day life affairs, said Othman.
He said the assembly with its theme 'Understanding is the Basis of People's Unity' is geared at enhancing the ties among Islamic nations.
"Understanding among the Muslim communities is essential in creating strong and formidable ties that will reinforce the solidarity of Muslims in the world.
"This is important as it acts as the shield and tool to overcome various threats and allegations that try to destabilise and compromise the harmony among Muslims," said Othman.
MALAYSIA's ROLE IN ADVANCING ISLAM
The first edition of the International Quranic Reciters Assembly was staged in 1961 on the initiative of the country's father of independence Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj.
A year earlier, Tunku Abdul Rahman who was also the Chief Minister had pledged to make Malaysia as the Islamic dakwah centre of Southeast Asia, paving the way for the staging of the first edition of the assembly.
Othman said, in line with the original objective of the assembly, Malaysia has played a significant role in the advancement and development of Islam in the world.
"This event, which upholds the sanctity of the Quran is in line with the religion's standing as the nation's official religion apart from projecting Islam's principles throughout the world," said Othman.
The 52nd edition of the assembly held last year saw the participation of 73 participants from 43 countries, as against 13 participants from seven Asean nations in its first edition held in 1961.
"The higher number of participating reciters indicates that Muslims worldwide are keen to participate in the Quranic Reciters Assembly that we organise.
"Jakim's initiative has been emulated by countries like Iran, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei and Libya as they too hold their respective international Quranic reciters assembly.
"They (countries) look to Malaysia as a sign of the success where a Qari and Qariah can show their ability in Quranic recital," Othman said.
He said 1,200 tourists from the Muslim community worldwide were expected to be at the event along with 30 Imam from Cambodia.
Elaborating on this year's theme for the event, Othman highlighted on the Islamic perspective where unity can be achieved within the general society and among Muslims themselves.
He said this comes in two dimensions - the physical unity in the country as well as that in the spiritual form.
Othman said Islam is a religion that facilitates easy cooperation and understanding apart from providing a sense of belonging among its believers.
He cited an example where the Prophet built a mosque in Medina to foster unity and acts as a social institution for the Ansar (the group of Medina residents who embraced Islam) and Muhajirin (those who followed the Prophet in migrating to Medina).
The unity established then is not limited to the Muslims alone but also extended to the Christians and Jews who live peacefully in Medina, he said.
"In the first year of Hijrah, the Muslims were only a minority in Medina but their noble moral values as well as virtues and deeds had resulted in the birth of a united and formidable nation under the leadership of the Prophet," he said.
MOMENTUM FOR RAMADAN
Othman also explained that this edition of the assembly is being held during the month of Syaaban, on the run up to Ramadan.
"The move aims to make Muslims appreciate the Quran and be close to it apart from acting as a momentum in welcoming the month of Ramadan.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin is scheduled to grace the opening of the event on July 16 while the Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong the Sultan of Kedah Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah will officiate the opening ceremony.
Malaysia will be represented by Negeri Sembilan's Qari Amirahman Abas and Qariah Suraya Abu Hassan of Johor. The duo emerged as the champion in the respective Qari and Qariah category at the 54th national-level Quranic Reciters Assembly held recently.
The reciters assembly is held from 8.15pm to 11pm nightly. It is also available live on television at TV1 as well as Jakim's web TV at www.islam.gov.my.
-- By Wan Khairul Sahara Ahmad Ghazali / BERNAMA