The Gambian leader has rewarded the nine winners of the three categories of the Azaan, Zikr and Quranic recitation competition. The awards were given to winners of the first, second and third places in each of the three categories. The event was held at State House in Banjul.
The two-day event, organised by His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, as part of activities marking the country's 48 years of nationhood, brought together 154 participants from different Daira groups, Madarassas, Mosques and religious associations across the country.
It started on Thursday and ended Friday with a record turnout of 60 candidates for the Azaan category, and 35 for the Quranic recitation. More than 40 Daira groups also took part in the competition.
Addressing the gathering, President Jammeh congratulated the winners for their participation and promised that the competition will be an annual affair. He said it was meant to instill strong Islamic values into young Muslims and give the Islamic Ummah the courage to face up to the challenges Muslims continue to grapple with. He said from now on such competitions would be featured in every national celebration.
President Jammeh equally used the opportunity to urge all Muslims to guard their religion against the enemies of Islam, more especially those who hide behind Islam to commit terrorist activities.
"Islam is a religion of peace and as Muslims we should worship only Allah and nobody else. We are worshipping Him alone and I see no reason why we should hide our religious identities," he said, adding that Islam is the only religion that would guide Muslims through to Heaven. He further stated that the Azaan competition was also included in the competition because of how it is being done by some people.
Meanwhile the first, second and third winners for Zikr, Azaan and Quranic recitation were each given a handsome amount of cash.
Also speaking at the gathering, the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Abdou Kolley, thanked the Gambian leader for initiating the competition, which he described as historic in the country.
"Never have I ever heard 77 Azaans being called one day and on the same day," he remarked.
This, according to Minister Kolley, is meant to enlighten people on the importance of Azaan and its characteristics.
Dr. Mbaye Kebba Kah, who moderated the programme, and Imam Ebrima Jarju, both echoed similar sentiments.
Dr Kah noted that a total of 154 participants took part in this competition and nine out of the number won prizes. He thanked President Jammeh for sponsoring the event and prayed for Allah to reward him abundantly.
The occasion was graced by the Imam Ratib of Banjul, Alhaji Cherno Alieu Mass Kah, cabinet ministers, and ambassadors, among other renowned Islamic scholars.