Koran by Heart: A Documentary

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Siddiq Ather, TMO

movie_11594_posterIsn’t it amazing when you see s small child reciting the Koran (Qur’an)? Isn’t it even more amazing when young children memorize the entire Koran? What if there was a competition with the best young reciters from around the world? What if someone made a film out of it? Done.

Koran by Heart is an HBO documentary directed by Greg Barker that premiered August 1st, 2011. Koran by Heart is a film about the journey of a few participants chosen for the world youth Koran competition in Cairo, Egypt. Simply put, it is the Olympics of Koran recitation.  There are from everywhere; the main characters in the documentary are from Tajikistan, Maldives, and Senegal. The international Koran competition takes place in Ramadan, so this is the perfect holiday-film to watch. 

In a documentary film, in a sense God is the director. It is natural. It is real. That is why it is beautiful. Koran by Heart is a family friendly film, ideal to view during Ramadan. The film is laced with beautiful recitations of the Koran mixed with top-notch cinematography and covered in a deep and moving storyline.  

It is a story about the competitors just as much as it is about the competition. Questions are raised regarding the political and religious states surrounding the competition and the competitors. Who decides what Islam is the ideal Islam. In every nation people breathe in Islam, and breathe out culture.  Different countries have different ways of conducting similar Islamic practices. Analogous to the cultural medley, there are also mixed views as to the degree of traditionalism practiced with varying Muslim countries, and subdivisions within those countries.

Factors such as economic situation, culture, and history all affect the story of these young individuals. You may laugh, cry, or just happen to fall off the edge of your seat in anticipation during the final scene.  Characters like Nabiollah, Rifdah, and Djemal are lively, determined, and in the end, just kids. Each character has his/her own story, and challenges.

The one story that I feel was the most powerful was that of Rifdah, a girl and also one of the younger participants in the competition. She is a bright child, excelling in all subjects, with loads of energy and sparks of genuine curiosity that you can’t help but smile at. However, she is growing up in a household with mixed views regarding women working. Nabiollah, another young competitor, has different challenges; his father wasn’t able to finish his education because of political turmoil that erupted in the region, and the area they live in at the moment does not have a certified school that teaches secular studies.  Nabiollah and his father both want him to have an education.

Koran By Heart is the film to watch this Ramadan. It is an amazing film that may even inspire you to pick up the Koran and read a few chapters. 

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Houston Baller Commits to Duke

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

17USulaimon1AAU201020Houston, Texas boys’ high school basketball player Rashad Sulaimon has committed to Duke University, a school known both for its top-tier men’s basketball and for its top-notch academics. Sulaimon is a shooting guard, and is rated by Rivals.com as the 24th best player in the nation in the class of 2012. The 6 foot 4 inch Sulaimon plays for Strake Jesuit high school.

ESPN.com offers the following scouting report on Sulaimon: Sulaimon is a high energy shooting guard the can score in a variety of ways. He can get to the rim in transition or stop and knock down a pull up jumper. He has three point range and although he is streaky the defense must respect the fact that he can go on roll and knock down two or three in a row. From the wing Sulaimon probes the defense looking for an opening to attack to score or draw and kick to an open teammate. Sulaimon has a great first step and uses a quick catch and go move as well. If the player defending him does not match his energy level Sulaimon will have a big game. This young guard is versatile enough to help at the point because he is a smart player that can handle and pass the ball. Sulaimon is capable of defending both guard positions and could develop into a lock down defender in the future because of his size attacking style of play. Sulaimon is a capable defender but tends to loose focus at times which gets him out of position or he will gamble and pick up a cheap foul. He also has the ability to be more of a factor on the glass on both ends of the floor because of his consistent energy and effort. Sulaimon can make threes but must work for consistency. He can be streaky bad or good. From time to time Sulaimon will rush or get into a hurry which may result in a turnover. Sulaimon is a long and very skilled wing. He has tremendous upside with his skills, athleticism and great energy and effort that he plays with on a consistent basis. He is a natural wing guard that can get on a roll from behind the arc or off the bounce. Sulaimon has all the tools to be a special college player.

Sulaimon also had college offers from other big schools, including Baylor, Indiana, Georgetown, and Georgia Tech. He also had an offer to play for President Obama’s brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, the head men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University. However, in the end, Rasheed chose to play for one of the most revered men’s basketball coaches of all time, Mike Kryzewski.

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