Imam Al-Shatibi Quran Competition; A lot of praise with a few suggestions!

PHOTO CREDIT:Imam As-shatibi Facebook Page

We look at the history, progress, achievements, challenges, and plans for the biggest Quran Competition in North America. Imam Ash-shatibi Quran competition started in the year 2015 in Minneapolis. Since then, it has been taking place in its 8th Year in 2022. This Competition brings together more than 500 students from inside the USA and Canada competing in different categories of the Quran, starting from Juz Amma to 30 Juz Qira’at. Winners receive money prizes, Toyota Highlander, along with an Umrah trip. This Competition has improved since its first year; A better venue, an increased number of participants from out of state, the quality of contestants, more fabulous prizes, and the addition of international judges.

This Competition motivates many students to memorize the Holy Quran. Many winners of this Competition are on their way to becoming world reciters. Part of the Umrah trips is the opportunity for winners to meet wig famous reciters, like Sh. Ali Hudhaify(https://youtu.be/Ubrs9Kbt9ec) and Sheikh Yasser Al Dosar(https://youtu.be/2kfiGOtbyKY) along with prominent sheiks in their Umrah Trip. The Umrah creates a love of Muslim Children for the Holy land and improves their positive image of being Muslim. Some of the students decided to join Islamic Universities after their visits overseas.

Many Younger students have joined Tahfidh Programs in their dugsi after witnessing their classmates and students of their age winning big prizes at the Competition. This Competition also encourages teachers to invest and become more creative in their Tahfidh Classes and use the Imam Shatibi as a standard to measure their student’s progress. In short, this Competition has done an excellent service for the hifdh and preservation of the Quran, and they deserve nothing but our praise. They have made tremendous progress in the Previous years, and I wish to highlight these below.

A better Venue/Registration

Initially, the venue used to be Karmel Masjid, a tiny place with insufficient parking space for everyone. Alhamdulillah the organizers, moved to a new location at Kennedy High school in Bloomington, with bigger space, safer, and better parking spaces, and Big Auditorium for contestants and ceremonies. They modernized the registration process by sending out reminders to teachers, parents, and the community to register students ahead of time and also broadcasting the announcement in Somali, English, and Arabic.

Opening Ceremony/Closing Ceremony

They have improved their delivery of those ceremonies by cutting the time they take and limiting the number of speakers tremendously. They have been making it more efficient by utilizing technologies and consistent master of ceremony(Shout out to Bro Qudbi Dayib).I hope moving on we have fewer speakers and better organization during the giving out of the award.

Website/Live Streaming/No fundraising/campaigning/personal agendas in their ceremonies.

They have updated their website with more information. They have been live streaming every contestant on their Youtube Channel and local Tv Stations. I applaud the organizers for ensuring their ceremonies are not used to raise funds for any cause, political campaigning, or people with personal agendas. They keep the event a place exclusively for promoting the Quran and its people.

Top Notch Preparation

Alhamdulillah, the organizers are constantly working throughout the year by making sure they collect enough funds for the Competition and organize the judge’s travels and stays in Minnesota. We also need to remember this is an effort by volunteers who sacrifice their time, wealth, and families to organize this Competition with the support of individuals and Muslim businesses. A foreign government does not sponsor them at all. Lately, they have been accused of a few things by some members of the community. I wish to bring these accusations so they can read, respond to and work towards fixing them so we can protect the future of this Competition and make it the best in the World.

Lack of Consultation with Teachers

The Leadership of Imam Shatibi is not listening to the teachers, giving them platforms, or reaching out to them to listen to their ideas and concerns concerning the Quran Competition. If they reach out, they reach out to a few or specific teachers. Imam Shatibi’s leadership team needs to find a way to reach every teacher, so their voices are heard. I guarantee this will improve the Competition better. Teachers are the backbone of this Competition and need to be heard. They must be humbled and listen to the teachers to respect their ideas. I understand the lack of Leadership of the Quran teachers in Minnesota makes it difficult for them to find a familiar voice of the teachers, but hopefully, things will change soon.

Inconsistent Criteria and Rules Surrounding the Voice Competition

Many teachers are complaining about the criteria for the preliminary of the Voice Competition. We expect the organizers to set more straightforward guidelines for the preliminary voice competition. In the final phase of the Competition, they have been confusing. Students don’t know if they will read for 5 or 7 minutes, select the Ayat, or if the judges will select for them. I hope the organizers will have more straightforward guidelines concerning the voice competition in its 9th Year session.

Leadership

One of the biggest reasons our centers/falling apart is the failure of Leadership. So far, we have seen a few dedicated brothers running this Competition. Still, in the long run, we need dependable Leadership and people with the correct expertise to help this Competition improve its standard. The Competition needs to have a clear structure of Leadership and form of governance that makes it not one man’s show.

No Process for Filling Complaint

Since this is a competition, people, including students, teachers, and parents, might need to file a complaint against a volunteer, organizer, or judges or report mistakes to the organizers. There is no process for that so far, and it is something we need to improve the Quality of the Competition and maintain.

Award/Prizes Consistency

At the beginning of the Competition, we had an Umrah trip for student winners, their teachers, and parents. Umrah trips for teachers and parents had to be discontinued due to a lack of sponsorship. Last year in 2021, we only had 5 Juz Category in the Qir’aat with a prize of $3500.In this, we had 5 Juz, 10 Juz, 15 Juz, and 30 Juz in the Qir’aat with five juz increasing to $6000 and 30 Juz 1st place, taking home $15000 plus a brand new year Toyota Highlander. Imagine students competing in 5 Juz in one year and moving to 30 Juz in the next year with a category that only has three students. For the Competition, we must make the prizes consistent and think about the future instead of rushing to give our massive awards.

Finally, this Competition is a treasure that belongs to all of us Muslims in Minnesota and is one of the only things we agree on. We need to protect it by supporting it with our words, donating to it, and supporting the volunteers by encouraging their efforts and correcting their mistakes in the best way. The organizers informed us that they are looking to invest and find a location specific for the Competition. If you wish to be part of it, please donate to the cause by visiting their website https://imamshatibi.org/.

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