The 27th Tehran International Qur’an Exhibition, the biggest Qur’anic event of the world, is held annually in the lunar month of Ramadan and hosts many Qur’an experts from different countries.
This year, representatives of 15 Muslim countries are participating in the international section of the event in which Muslim’s status and Qur’anic activities of the holy month of Ramadan are on display. Religious propagators from all over the world provide explanations about Qur’anic teachings.
Cheikh Mbacke Faye, a theologist from Senegal, came to Iran to continue his education in religions at the master’s level after four years of studying at Al-Mustafa International University. He is now a doctoral candidate in the contemporary history of Iran.
Al-Mustafa’s main campus is located in Qom, Iran; it has more than 170 campuses in Iran as well as in over 60 countries around the world including South Africa, Albania, Germany, Afghanistan, Indonesia, England, Uganda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Benin, Pakistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Denmark, Japan, Ivory Coast, Sweden, Senegal, Syria, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Ghana, the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Cameroon, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Gambia, Georgia, Guyana, Guinea, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Myanmar, Norway, Niger, Nigeria and India.
Speaking about religious issues in Senegal, he said that 95 percent of the country’s population is Muslim, mainly Sunni, while a small number of Muslims are Shia, who have their special schools and mosques.
In the holy month of Ramadan, children participate in Qur’anic gatherings to read Qur’an in groups, he said. In the past, people used to gather around a fire and read the Holy Book from dusk to dawn.
Suharbul Jannaiz Daud, from Indonesia, who has been in Iran for 14 years to study Religious Sciences, said that although Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, the majority is Sunni, and thus he was obliged to move to Iran to continue his Shia studies.
“In the past, I was Sunni,” said Daud, “but after reading books written by the late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini and Morteza Motahhari, I found my interest in Shia Islam. I want to continue my postgraduate studies in Iran and then move back to my hometown to propagate Islam and teach Qur’anic studies.”
He said that there are many Qur’anic exhibitions in Jakarta covering Qur’anic issues, but what distinguishes Iran’s Qur’an exhibition is that it is exclusively devoted to Qur’an activities.
Jamaluddin Patan from Thailand said that there are some Islamic festivals on the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but none of them are as large as the Tehran International Qur’an Exhibition.
“At this exhibition, I do my best to introduce Islamic activities and Qur’anic issues of Thailand to Iranians. There have been many activities in terms of translation and publication of Qur’anic works including the translation of Qur’an, ‘Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya’ and ‘Nahj ul-Balagha’,” said Patan.
Thailand is not considered a Muslim country; it is a majority Buddhist country. Islam is a minority faith in Thailand, with statistics suggesting five percent of the population are Muslim. That is why I left my country 15 years ago and came to Iran to continue my education in religious studies and go back to Thailand to promote religious trainings, he said.
Aboubakar Karambe, from Mali, came to Iran two years ago to get his bachelor’s degree in Qur’anic studies. According to him, Muslims currently make up approximately 90 percent of the population of Mali and about 1.5 percent are Shia.
He said that although French is the official language of the country, Arabic is taught at schools to enable students to read the Qur’an.
The Tehran International Qur’an Exhibition is one the biggest Qur’an exhibitions, in which Qur’an experts are attending from different Islamic countries, Karambe said. Participation in this exhibition helps people become familiar with Muslim traditions and Qur’anic customs throughout the world.
Imamouddine Ambdillah Bacar, from Comoros, who received his BA in Religious Sciences in Qom, wants to continue his education in Islamic Jurisprudence and the Principles of Islamic Law.
About 98 percent of the population in the Comoros are Sunni Muslim. He said, “I am one of the Shia Muslims who came to Iran to continue my education in religious studies, due to the fact that Shia teachings are very limited in my country.”
Traditionally, children learn the Qur’an from age 4 or 5, Bacar said, explaining that French is the official language of the people, but families try to make their children familiar with Qur’an from the very beginning.
To this end, the Arabic alphabet is taught on a wooden board and children are not supposed to erase the letters unless they know them by heart. In the next step, Qur’anic verses are taught accordingly.
As a reward, once all letters are learnt, parents will distribute some milk and honey among their classmates. After the whole Qur’an is recited, parents will sacrifice an animal.
People in Comoros treat Qur’an memorizers with a lot of respect, he said.
The 27th Tehran International Qur’an Exhibition will run until May 25.