The fourth edition of an international contest organized by Turkey for Quran reciters wrapped up on Friday with an awards ceremony. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan handed the awards to winners at the ceremony in Istanbul's Fatih Mosque.
Erdoğan poses with the Bangladeshi and Indonesian winners of the contest.
The International Hafiz and Best Quran Recitation Contest started on Jun.11 and brought together 89 reciters from 55 countries to compete before a jury of Muslim scholars from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Morocco and Lebanon. The country's top religious authority, the Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB), organized the event.
Küreyyim Racih, known in the Muslim world as "reisül kurra" of Damascus, or "the master reciter," was invited as a guest of honor with Takdir Feriza Hasan from Indonesia, the winner of last year's contest, and Muhammed Nadhir Asgar from the Philippines who secured the second spot in 2015.
At the event, Erdoğan said that although teaching the Quran was once banned in Turkey, the nation supported learning its recitation and volunteers helped education to thrive despite "open and secret obstacles," referring to the early years of the secular Republic when religious education was strictly regulated and faced prohibitions.
Erdoğan quoted the well-known saying: "The Quran was revealed in Mecca, recited in Cairo and written in Istanbul," respectively referring to the birthplace of Islam, the Egyptian capital where the best reciters emerged and the esteemed calligraphy of Ottoman experts.
"Today, Istanbul is home to the world's best reciters as well," he said. Erdoğan added that reading the Quran should not be confined to recitation and should also include comprehending the meanings of the text. "The current tragic state of the Islamic world stems from a lack of properly reading the Quran and failure to understand it," he said.