Friends, family and classmates will greet a Twin Cities teenager at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Wednesday night to celebrate his win at an international Quran competition.
Ahmed Burhan Mohamed, 16, of New Brighton became the first American to take top honors in the Dubai International Holy Quran competition. He beat contestants from more than 100 countries.
Mohamed studies the Quran at the Abubakar as-Saddique mosque in Minneapolis. Executive Director Abdullahi Farah said the contest is intense, and the participants are judged on how well they have memorized all 114 chapters of the Quran.
The judges also pay attention to the contestant's voice, pronunciation and overall eloquence. He marveled at the fact that a kid raised in America could best contestants from predominantly Muslim countries, including Somalia, where Mohamed's parents are from.
"It's a huge achievement, historic, for our mosque, for the city of Minneapolis, for Minnesota, and for the U.S.," said Farah.
Mohamed attends the Ubah Medical Academy Charter School in Hopkins. He wins a prize of about $68,000.
Mohamed is a national champion for his recitations of the Quran. He told the Gulf News he began memorizing the Quran at age 7 and completed it five years later.
"It's a great feeling and an unbelievable result," he said of this week's victory, according to the news site. "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."