Local teen is first American to win prestigious international Qur’an recitation contest

June 6, 2018 GMT

A Twin Cities teenager representing the United States has won a prestigious international Qur’an recitation contest, a first for an American.

Ahmad Burhan Mohamed, a Hopkins School District student, won the Dubai International Holy Qur’an Award in the United Arab Emirates, his school principal said Wednesday.

The high school junior at the Ubah Medical Academy charter school in downtown Hopkins came out on top among the 104 participants, a record for the event in its 22-year history, according to Gulf News, the most widely read English-language newspaper in the Middle East.

First place earned him the U.S. equivalent of roughly $68,000.

Mohamed, of New Brighton, took to the podium last week and recited from the Muslim holy book for more than 11 minutes. He was awarded his prize Tuesday at the Dubai Cultural and Scientific Association auditorium.

“It’s a great feeling and an unbelievable result,” the News quoted the victorious Somali-American as saying. “I never thought I would win, because the competition was tough, but I am grateful to Allah for this blessing. It is particularly sweet to know that I am the first American to win here.”

Principal Musa Farah described Mohamed as a “wonderful kid, very hardworking” who is also a “most respectful, polite kid.”

Mohamed does well in all of his classes, is earning college credits now and ranks among the school’s top 10 in grade-point average, Farah said.

The school, which primarily serves East African immigrants, is organizing a welcoming party for him and his father when they arrive Wednesday night at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Not surprisingly, Mohamed will be back in school Thursday morning after his long-distance travels, and there will be more well wishes awaiting him there, the principal said.

Gulf News said that Mohamed has been memorizing the Qur’an since the age of 7 and completed the task when he was 12. He has won several Qur’an memorization competitions in the United States.

Last December in Chicago, Mohamed won in his category at the national Qur’an memorization competition sponsored by the Muslim American Society and Islamic Circle of North America. Mohamed and the other young competitors were graded on memorization, worth 75 percent, and the balance on recitation skill.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482