22-year-old, Sadiq Akolade Alabi put Kwara on the world map two weeks ago, by winning the International Quran memorisation competition at the Masjid Shaheed Hall in Jordan.
Akolade who hails from Oke-Oyan in Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state defeated 31 other participants from across the globe including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Morocco and Egypt to emerge the winner of the competition
In this interview with ADEBAYO OLODAN, the Industrial Chemistry graduate from the Kwara State University, KWASU, Malete talks about how he was spurred to victory by his brother and younger Quran reciters from Northern Nigerian and how he intends spending the star prize of N2.8million won by him.
How did you develop interest in Quran recitation and memorisation?
Let me start by appreciating my brother, Sheikh Musliudeen Alabi who taught me and others Quran recitation and memorisation while in the Primary School. He will even take us to venues of Quran competitions to develop our interest in the act.
When was the first time you competed for honours?
I made my debut in Quran memorisation in a competition organised by the then governor of Kwara State who is now the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, in 2005. Then I did 2 hibs at the Kwara State Stadium Complex, Ilorin. From then, I have represented Kwara State in 2 hibs category in Edo State (2009) where I won a prize in fourth position. I also competed in Jigawa where I emerged the winner in 2011. From there, I was encouraged each time I saw people that are much younger than me memorising the entire Quran so I move on to 40 hibs which is 2/3 of the Holy book. I enrolled for the competition in Zamfara (2013) and I finished a distant 6th,. After the disappointment, my tutor encouraged me to put in for the same category and a year later when I returned to Jigawa State, I won the first prize. In 2015, I represented Nigeria in Saudi Arabia but I finished 7th.
How were you able to turn that disappointment into victory this time?
The process began after I came second in the last National Quranic competition and having gone through a rigorous process of four stages before I was selected by the Quran Recitation and Memorisation Organisation in Kano, I was more than determined to make Kwara and Nigeria proud.
My tutors told me there are no margins for error at this stage, so I made sure I perfected my memorisation and Alhamdullilahi, Allah crowned our efforts.
Even before the final day of the event, the judges could not hide their excitement over the way I recited the Quran. A colleague from Ghana even told me I will be declared the winner judging by feelers from the judges and the crowd. I was so glad I did it this time despite the fact that my visa to Jordan came out late.
What does it take to memorise the Quran?
First you need some determination and you must be able to devote quality time into consistent recitation of the Quran. No matter how tight your schedule is, you must always create time to revise the Quran because if you leave it unattended to, you may end up struggling to grasp what you may have earlier memorised.
How have you been able to combine academics with Quran recitation?
It has not been easy but Allah’s grace has helped me in surrounding the challenge. What I do while in school is that I wake up every night to recite and memorise the Quran for about an hour. Also after fajr (Subhi prayer), I will go back to revise the Quran, this I will do till 7am after which I prepare for lectures.
How supportive is the state government in promoting Quran recitation?
The state government is doing a lot in that regard just like it was the case under Dr Bukola Saraki. However, there is the need to scale up such promotion in order to dissuade our youths from partaking in social vices and align themselves on the path of Allah.
What do you intend to do with the N2.8 million you won in Jordan?
The money will be judiciously used and spread across various quarters. Don’t forget we have tutors who worked day and night to train us. We also have fathers who prayed fervently and offer us advice when necessary. Added to that is our parents who have also laboured hard and deserved to share in our success story.
How rewarding is Quran memorisation and recitation?
Quran memorisation is not about the financial benefit but an avenue to promote the religion of Islam and its teachings. Organisers of the event normally reward participants in order to project the religion and to encourage participation. I am aware countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates pay winners more probably because they are more committed to the religion and because they have better economy.
Anyone who is more concerned about the financial benefit should not put in for Quran recitation but rather, it is a way to connect with our creator; Allah.
What is your next plan?
I want to win more honours for Kwara and Nigeria in subsequent competitions. I also want to compete in Quran and Tafsir category in the future. I will devote my resources and time to this course and I believe with the support of my tutors and the Kwara State Quran Recitation Committee, we will achieve a lot for the state and the country.