'Koran by Heart' Screens at ICSC

August 9, 2011


Last Saturday, MECA Socal and the Islamic Center of Southern California hosted a screening and Q&A with director Greg Barker for his new HBO documentary, "Koran by Heart." The film gives the viewer a bird’s-eye view of  the world's preeminent recitation competition in Cairo, where 110 Young Muslim's from more than 70 countries perform in front of a panel of prominent judges.

The contestant’s ages range from 7 to 20 and they all compete in the same competition for both their comprehensive memorization of the 600-page text as well as their knowledge of tajweed (rules of recitation). 

This touching story highlights three talented young children from different regions of the world. Djamil, a 10-year-old Senegalese boy and son of a prominent imam from his hometown; Rifdha, also 10, is from the small Island Maldives and one of the only females in the competition; and Nabiollah, from rural Tajikistan, who captivates the judges with his angelic voice in spite of not speaking or understanding Arabic. 

The director follows these three young competitors during their intense preparation and through the exciting a nerve-racking competition in Cairo. Barker creates both an inspirational competition film, reminiscent of American spelling bee competitions and gives an international audience a glimpse into the unique experiences of Muslim children. "Koran by Heart" premiered on Aug. 1, the start of Ramadan, and can be seen throughout the month of August on HBO. 

-- Deana Nasser
(deana@mpac.org)
Hollywood Liaison 

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