Champion Chanters Win Trips to Malaysia

Cham Muslim chanters wrap­ped up a two-day Koran-reading con­test Thursday, with two winners announced for a chance to travel to Malaysia for the Asian Youth championship.

After two days of chanting Kor­an excerpts chosen by a panel of judges, the top two winners were an­nounced Thursday evening: A man named Sofian from Kratie province and Aminas Pimpialy, a wo­man from Stung Treng prov­ince, won the trips to Malaysia.

The Koran is the holy scripture for Muslims. And while there are an estimated 200,000 Cham Mus­lims in Cambodia, not just anyone can chant from the holy book, said Mohamat Salas, a contestant in his mid-20s.

“[But] for a person who has ex­perience, it is normal to chant,” he said. He had been practicing chant­ing the Koran for as long as he could remember, he said, although he admitted that even now he couldn’t understand all of the text. Thirty-two candidates, hailing from every province in the country, gathered in Chrang Chamreh commune, Russei Keo district for the competition, where they were judged on precision, pronunciation and the timbre of their voices as they chanted passages of the Koran for 12 minutes.

The Koran is chanted in Ar­abic, but some of the words are an­cient and only understood by old­er Islamic scholars, Mohamat Salas said. “I came to the contest not be­cause of going overseas, but be­cause I train the younger generation to learn the Koran holy book,” he said. “If we chant the holy book, God will bless [our] next life.”

About 200 people of all ages crowded around the outside of the Chrang Chamreh commune mosque. The judging committee stayed inside the mosque, listening to the chants over a loudspeaker.

“I came here because I want to know who is chanting, and listen to the sweet sound and boost the Koran chanting practice,” said onlooker Hzek Karyyer.

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