The Quran should be a catalyst for promoting peace, unity and the well-being of people in Rwanda, the region and worldwide, the Minister for Local Government has said.
Prof. Anastase Shyaka made the remarks on Sunday as he addressed 5,000 Muslims from 25 African countries who had convened at Kigali Convention Centre for a competition to recite the Quran.
They included 51 contestants from the 25 countries including Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, Chad and Rwanda, who participated in the 8th edition of Rwanda International Competition of Holy Quran.
Quran, or Koran, is the sacred text of Islam, which Muslims believe contains the revelations of God (Allah) to Muhammad, the Arab prophet and Founder of Islam.
The three-day competition, which was held in Gicumbi District for the first two days and concluded in Kigali, consisted of asking participants to recite up to 30 juz - 30 parts of varying lengths into which the Quran is divided.
Shyaka said that Quran contains teachings that aim at improving the welfare of people, and their development, such as combating poverty, promoting hygiene and sanitation, tackling stunting, divisionism, but also achieving a happy family which is devoid of conflict and violence.
"Memorising the Quran is good, but it should also be the catalyst to respect its contents, especially leading to love, peace, respecting one another, helping one another, praying and collaborating with others even though we have different beliefs," he observed.
Quran, he stressed, teaches people to live in harmony, cooperate and have unity.
"I hope that those who participated in the Quran recitation competition do not do that for the sake of the competition alone, but are also the ambassadors of what the Quran requests us to do, including peace, which is the meaning of Islam," he said.
Sheikh Ramadan Nahayo, the Head of Quran activities in Rwanda Muslim Community (RMC), said that the objective of the competition is to encourage the young generation to put into practice the words of Allah contained in this Book, the Quran.
The Mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Salim Hitimana, appealed to all Muslims to promote Quran education as it is the basis of Islam.
He said that Muslims should dedicate their life to the religion and give it the value it deserves, and foster the culture of unity and cooperation "because it is the principle of the Muslim who has chosen the future we want."
"We should continue to be characterised by good values that the Quran teaches us, including respecting and doing good to everyone without discrimination of any kind; being men and women of integrity in whatever we do in our daily life, loving our country, and endeavouring for its development," Sheikh Hitimana said.
Khalid Hassan Abdul Kafi Maqbool, Assistant Secretary General for Educational and Scientific Affairs at Muslim World League, said that about 60,000 people have memorised the Quran worldwide thanks to the league's support.
In Rwanda, 100 people have memorised the Quran after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, said the Mufti of Rwanda, Hitimana, who indicated that until April 1994, there was no Rwandan who managed to reach that level of knowledge in the holy book.
Ayub Hassan, a Kenyan was the top performer in reciting 30 juz with a 98.4 per cent score, was awarded with Rwf2.28 million.
He was also granted a ticket for the Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the holiest City for Muslims.
Hassan told The New Times that he managed it thanks to enough preparation for the contest, but also praying to God.
"The knowledge of Quran has many benefits as it enables one to get everything they need, such as having good behaviour and wisdom," he said.
Rwandan Soraya Igihozo was the fifth in the Quran recitation, scoring 94.8 per cent, and received Rwf638,000 in prize.
Each of the 51 participants in the competition got additional $200 (about Rwf170,000).