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Episode Two

“Remember to revise your tajweed (laws of Qur’an recitation) before the program starts.” Ustadh Sulaimãn advises ‘Abdullãh Muh’d Awwal who is preparing for a Musaabaqah (competition).

The students of The Citadel Group of Schools have just finished their Fajr (dawn) Salaah and have also completed the early morning Adhkaar (Invocations) that they do in congregation daily. Though Ustadh Sulaimãn objected to this practise when he joined the school opining that it is bid’ah (innovation),because the holy prophet and his companions did theirs individually. The school’s principal argued that it is not, saying the students do it congregationally for learning purpose. Ustadh Sulaimãn reluctantly agreed but explained it to the students.

The Citadel Group of Schools is a school founded by a retired principal, Alhaji ‘Abdus Salaam Abubakr in Ile-Ife,Osun state,in 1995. The school has the nursery and primary section, the junior secondary and the senior secondary schools. The school has a relatively large number of students to boast of. It is also known for its strict compliance to the sunnah. It runs day services for all students and boarding services to secondary schools students only.

“When are you leaving for Lagos?” Shaykh Murtadho Muslih,the school principal asks Ustaadh Sulaimãn,the head of Arabic and Islamic Studies Department of the school.

Around three in the afternoon in shaa Allah, the event starts at 10:00pm.” Ustadh Sulaimãn replies.

“I believe you’ve prepared the boy perfectly well as this competition may be keener than the last competition.” The principal says,patting the Ustadh at his back.

“We’ve tried our best; may Allah Ta’ala assist us.” He prays.

“Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem,Haa Meem…” Recites Abdullah as he revises with his mentor Ustadh,one of the school’s Hifz (Qur’anic memorisation) teachers. He recites offhand while his teacher also listens and corrects where necessary without looking at the Qur’an also.

Ustadh Idris is revered for his retentive memory for he hardly forgets even a verse of the glorious Qur’an or any other thing he memorised. He has memorised the whole Qur’an at ten years old and memorised more than five hundred ahadith (traditions of the prophet). He also memorised many couplets. His melodious voice is always reckoned with for when he recites the Qur’an, he reminds listeners of Abdur Rahmãn Sudais.

“Success is yours,in shaa Allah, you’ve really prepared well and the reward for good preparation is success.” Ustadh Idris reassures Abdullah as they round-off the revision.

“Jazaakumullah Khayraa Ustaadhiy,you really assisted me to this stage,that is why I dedicate all my achievements in Qur’an to you.” Abdullah expresses his appreciation. It is dhuhr time as the school Mu’adhin (Caller to prayer) he rises to make the call to prayer.

“Abdullah!” Ustadh Sulaimãn calls after the completion of his adhkaar.
Abdullah joins him outside since he is heading outside already.

“Don’t forget to meet me in the office by 2:30pm to set-off for the journey.” He shakes ‘Abdullah’s hand.
“Yes sir,I only want to take my lunch.”
“This is 1:45pm already.” He reminds him.

“Please, bring that prayer mat,we need to observe two raka’ats of naafil before setting off.” Ustadh Sulaimãn tells ‘Abdullah as he enters the office.” He takes the mat and lays it in a corner of the office.

“Hope you are still in the state of ablution?”

“Yes sir.” He replies as he tries to put his leg beside that of ustadh Sulaimãn.

“No,this is a voluntary prayer,we don’t need to pray it in congregation.” He explains softly.

At the motor park,Ustadh Sulaimãn instructs ‘Abdullah to recite the invocation for journey silently as they approach a man believed to be a bus driver.

“Subhaanal Ladhiy sakhkhara lanaa hadhaa,wa maa kunnaa lahu muqrineen,wa innaa ilaa Rabbinaa lamunqalibuun. Allahumma innaa nas’aluka fee safarinaa haadhal birra wat taqwa wa minal ‘amali maa tardaa. Allahumma hawwin ‘alaynaa safaranaa watwi ‘annaa bu’dahu. Allahumma anta saahibu fis safarinaa wal khaleefatu fil ahl. Allahumma ashibnaa fis safarinaa wakhlufnaa fee ahlinaa. Allahumma innee a’uudhubika min wa’saa’is safar,wa ka’batil mandhar,wa suu’il munqalab fil maal wal ahl.” Abdullah chants silently as his lips beat each other gently.

As the bus zooms off, Ustadh reminds ‘Abdullah of the invocation for riding in a vehicle.

“I’ve done it sir.” is his reply.

He turns on his Mp3 to listen to his favourite reciter ‘Abdullah Matrudi. May be due to the same name they share,Abdullah’s recitation is a replica of that of Matrudi. Placing the headset at its position, he rests his back on the passenger’s backrest.

At around 7:30pm,the bus arrives Oshodi on Lagos. Ustaadh Sulaimãn and ‘Abdullah observe their Magrib and ‘Isha Salaah together. They have observed ‘Asr ( shortening the four-units prayer to two-units prayer as prescribed in Islam for travellers) when they had a stopover at Ibadan.

The journey from Oshodi to Balogun in Lagos Island is short and less stressful when compared with the one from Ile-Ife. Abdullah is so excited at the sight of the Lagos Lagoon while on the Third-mainland bridge that he can’t hide his amazement from his teacher.

“Ustadh,is this an ocean? It’s so big.” He exclaims out of excitement.

“No, it’s a lagoon,with its source from the Atlantic ocean,it’s big indeed.” The teacher coos.

At exactly 9:00pm they arrive the venue for the Qur’anic competition and they look for a corner to settle for their dinner,a light meal of Eko and Moin Moin.

The organizer of the competition is N.A.M.U.S. N.A.M.U.S is the acronym of National Association of Muslim Schools. It is a body for all Muslim schools in Nigeria as the name implies, carrying out lots of activities for the progress of Muslim schools in Nigeria. Prominent among their programmes is the biennial Qur’anic competition.

The competition is of four levels; the local level for all interested Muslim schools, the winner at this level proceed to represent the L.G.A at the state level. The winning school at the state level represents its state at the zonal level, i.e its geopolitical zone. The winners at this level then meet at the National level to determine the champion.

Abdullah Muh’d Awwal represents his school The Citadel Group of Schools at the local level. He’s a SS1 student ,therefore one of his seniors should have been the school’s representative but he was chosen through the competition organized by the school,since the school has a large number of Hufaadh (Qur’anic Memorizers). He grabs #100,000 for himself and ten sets of Computer systems for his school as the winner.
He moves to represent his local government, Ife central at the state level. Coming first at this level,he gets rewarded with sponsorship to make pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and his school masjid will be renovated. As the winner of the state level,he takes step to the zonal level representing Osun state. He tops at this level and gets a car for himself and #200,000 for his school.

He’s now representing the South-West geopolitical zone at the National level. He looks forward to win the prize for the first position; a full scholarship to any Nigerian University, #50,000 and twelve sets of computer systems for his school.

“Abdullah, why are you participating in this competition?” Ustadh Sulaimãn quizes as they wait for the commencement of the programme.

Surprised with the question,’Abdullah is short of words,he prefers to remain silent.

Looking straight into his eyes,Ustadh Sulaimãn continues inquisitively, “to earn prizes?”

“Can there be any other reason sir?” ‘Abdullah blurts.

“Yes and that should be the main reason for your participation, Allah’s pleasure is to be sought, not the prizes.”

“Sir,we shouldn’t be here in that case,so we could purify our intention better.” Abdullah reasons lowering his gaze from his Ustadh (teacher).

“Read the Qur’an only for His sake and consider the prizes as benefits from Allah only and you will be happy even if you come last.”

“Sir,is that possible.” He inquires.

“It seems impossible, this is the reason why some scholars have opined to its impermissibility.”
Abdullah sighs.

“Though it is permissible, all you do is to re-new your intention whenever you read the Qur’an. May Allah Ta’ala let you excel.” Ustadh Sulaimãn concludes.

The programme starts by 10:00pm,after the opening prayer,recitation from the holy Qur’an,short lecture on sincerity and invitation of participants and guests to their seats,the competition starts.

The participants are to be tested based on complete Qur’an and laws of Tajweed.
The competition is tough since the participants are champions of champions. Abdullah meets eloquent reciters like himself.
Abubakr Daawud of Edo state representing South-South, Muh’d Jaami’ Qaasim of Kogi representing North-Central, Habeebullah Talhah of Abia representing North-East, Sulaimãn Thaani of Kaduna representing North-West, ‘Abbas ‘Abdullah of Borno representing North-East and ‘Abdullah Muh’d Awwal of Osun representing South-West.

The venue of the competition,the Lagos State Central Masjid Multipurpose Hall is full to the brim. The spectators are enjoying the melodious recitations of the Hufaadh. ‘Abdullah recite his recitations slowly and steadily just like the great reciter ‘Abdullah Al Matrudi. His recitations make the whole hall moved as those that understand the meaning of the Arabic words of the Qur’an ruminate upon its messages.

After the keen competition, Abdullah manages to have a draw with ‘Abbas ‘Abdullah of North-East at the top position.

The Chief Judge after careful deliberations decide to throw a comprehensive question in Tajweed to the two contenders and the first position goes to who answers it more correctly.
Shaykh ‘Abbas Zakariyyah,the great scholar of Tajweed and teacher of most scholars of Tajweed in Nigeria,fondly known in and out of Nigeria as Al Qaariy Al Ibadaaniy happens to be the Chief Judge.

He tells the contenders to recite all the lines in the poem TUHFATUL ATFAAL (a small book on tajweed). A great task it is indeed!

‘Abbas ‘Abdullah tries his best to read the whole lines but only with difficulty, while ‘Abdullah Muh’d Awwal reads his with utmost ease.

The moderator,a Southwesterner is very happy and he shows it by congratulating ‘Abdullah Muh’d Awwal even before the judges announce the final result.

“This is the first time South-West will be winning this competition, therefore I congratulate you for making us proud.” He praises.

This doesn’t go well with the judges and ‘Abdullah has to pay the penalty. The Chief Judge throws him a question for him to be the bonafide winner.

Abdullah answers the question correctly and wins the first position prize of full school throughout his years in University, #50,000 for himself and twelve sets of computer system for his school.
The whole hall hails him,since most of them are southwesterners and they are the winners of this great competition.

The question ‘Abdullah answered to secure his first position is ” Who is the first to author a book on Tajweed?”
Comment his name if you know it.

©Alfuad Folami Adewale

∆ I’m sorry for the late update but this will still reoccur because the editing delays.
To check for the previous episode check my Facebook timeline @ Abu Ja’far Alfuad Folami.
Jazaakumullah khayraa.

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