By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Philippines has resurfaced in the global roster of champions in Qur’an reading contests with the victory of a Maranao qari in this year’s episode of the yearly Islamic event.
Qari (Qur’an reader/reciter) Mohammad Nadhir Asgar Jr. of Lanao del Sur won the championship in the male category of the world Qur’an reading completion held in Doha, Qatar on April 7-12, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) announced Friday.
Asgar, an internally displaced person (IDP) from war-torn Marawi City, bested 100 finalists among 2,700 competitors that auditioned for the tilt from 50 participating countries, NCMF spokesman Dumapuno Alonto-Datu Ramos Jr. said.
“Alhamdulillah (praise God), this is another remarkable record for our country under the Duterte government,” Datu Ramos quoted NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan as saying in reference to Asgar’s feat.
Asgar is namesake son of fellow Maranao qari, who landed three times in top three places of the world Qur’an reading competitions in early 1070s. He is one of three male competitors sent by NCMF-Bureau of Muslim Cultural Affairs Director Laman Piang to the 2019 contest, Datu Ramos said.
The global Qur’an reading contest had been dominated for over a decade by legendary Egyptian Qari Abdulbassit Abdulsamad since the 1950s.
Abdulsamad retired in 1970s, paving the way for the rise of Qari Hassan Noor, another Maranao figure from Lanao del Sur. Noor was an arch-rival of Qari Mohammad Nadhir Asgar, father of this year’s champ.
In late 1990s and 2000s, another qari from Lanao del Sur, Abdul Jalil Amerol, won the championship twice. Amerol died last year of lingering illness, unfulfilling a dream to win the top slot for the third time, relatives said.
Pangarungan took pride in the victory of Asgar, especially for being one of an IDP from war-torn Marawi City.
The NCMF likewise heralded the victory of 12-year old Maranao IDP Mohammad Nur Casib in the 2019 Metrobank Math Challenge (MMC) held on March 29-30 in Makati City.
Casib, a Grade 6 pupil from a private school in Marawi City bested finalists in the elementary category of the national math tilt, which reportedly drew 403,707 participants from 27,089 schools or 219 divisions in the country.
Casib also bagged the gold medal in the global math challenge on Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, 2018, in Zhejiang, China, making him the first Filipino to win in the international tilt that is held annually.
Last March 2, Aminolah “Rial” Datu-Ramos Polog, Jr., another Maranao, won the championship trophy in the NBA 2K19 Asia Tournament Finals joined by online gamers from Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
Polog works as NCMF IT casual employee to finish his collegiate study and earn partly for his family that is reeling from displacement wrought by the infamous 2017 Marawi siege.