Mosques around the world reverberate with melodious voices of qaris, reading the Quran in various Muqabala events held specifically in the month of Ramadan.

Muqabala, a comparative recitation of the Quran believed to have been performed by the angel Gabriel and Prophet Muhammad, has remained an enduring tradition associated with Ramadan all over the world. From Asia and the Middle East to Europe and Africa, mosques reverberate with melodious voices of qaris – people who read the Quran following the rules of recitation.

As per authenticated hadiths, two Muqabalas were held during the last Ramadan Prophet Muhammad observed before departing from the world.  

As the Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan, according to the Muslim faith, the Prophet listened to the angel Gabriel reading Quranic verses and He then read them back to the angel.

Muqabala in Erzurum, Türkiye
Muqabala in Erzurum, Türkiye (AA)

Prophet Muhammad's companions and their family members also held Muqabala ceremonies during Ramadan. It is said that the Prophet would listen to those who recited the Quran well among his companions, and sometimes he could not hold back his tears.

The tradition spread along with Islam, and the Caliphs and Sultans became faithful proponents of it.

Historian Ibn Khallikan mentions that Zubaydah, wife of the fifth Caliph of the Abbasid dynasty Harun al-Rashid, had about 100 servants who memorised the Quran and listened to them in her palace.

At the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, in the section where the sacred relics are preserved and exhibited, the tradition of reciting the Quran at almost every hour of the day continues today.

Muqabala in Tokat, Türkiye
Muqabala in Tokat, Türkiye (AA)

There is no fundamental change in the Muqabala tradition that is kept alive in the Islamic world today. In some Balkan countries, such as Macedonia, Muqabala begins even before Ramadan.

During Ramadan in old Istanbul, Muqabala performances in mosques commenced fifteen days before Ramadan. During the Ottoman period, there were mosque attendants called ‘cuzhan’ who were tasked with reading 20 pages of the Quran before prayers. In addition, imams and muezzins with beautiful voices were appointed in some large mansions to perform Muqabala after the sahur.

Muqabala in Antalya, Türkiye
Muqabala in Antalya, Türkiye (AA)

It is believed that the muqabalas in the Eyup Sultan Mosque in Istanbul had divine powers and even the people joined the recitations at the mosque during Ramadan. Even the Sultan sometimes participated in these programmes.

Today, Ramadan Muqabalas in Türkiye usually start on the first day of Ramadan and are completed on Arafe, a day before Eid. In Istanbul, especially in the big mosques, well-known hafizes still perform the tradition during Ramadan. It is also common for women to get together at home and listen to Muqabala.

Muqabala in Uganda
Muqabala in Uganda (AA)

Egypt is famous for its hafiz reading in mosques and houses, and on radio and television during Ramadan. Some radio stations broadcast Quran recitations continuously.

Source: TRT World