Pinoy Muslim brings pride to predominantly-Christian country

KUALA LUMPUR — A Muslim Filipino has brought pride to the Philippines, a predominantly-Christian country, as he won second place in an international Quran reading competition held here at the Putra World Trade Center last week.

Official results presented by the 53rd International Quran recitation council revealed that Saudi M. Gandisa, a 24-year-old Arabic teacher from Maguindanao, got second place in the competition, only .89 percent away from Amariahman bin Abas, a Malaysian contestant, who got first place with a score of 89.26.

Gandisa will go home with a cash prize of 22,400 Malaysian Ringit and a gift certificate from Malaysia Department of Islamic Development (Jakim).

At least 61 participants from 37 countries participated this year’s reading competition of the Islamic religious book, an event organized by the Malaysian government since 1961 — in a bid to strengthen ties among Muslim countries in the world.

Around 2,000 people from around the world filled the Merdeka Hall of the Putra World Trade Center here during the event.

Meanwhile, Filipina contest Rahima M. Panondiongan, 29 years old of Marawi City, also placed fifth, following top contestants from Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam. Organizers, however, only award top three contestants.

Gandisa and Panondiongan are finalists of the Quran reading competition held in the Philippines last June.

Filipino Muslims, comprising 5 to 9 percent of the country’s, are known to have aced the Quran reading competition over the years, including Prof. Hassan Sarip who won in the 1979 international contest in Tripoli, Libya.

Other Filipinos who became well-known globally include Ustadza Bantayao Parahiman who won the top title in the female category of the 2002 World Qur’an reading contest in Malaysia.

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