Sheikh Abdallah Daudi Muhammed is an accomplished murattal and mujawwad reciter and a Qari in 7 Qira’aats. Sheikh Abdallah is 34 years old and originally comes from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Sheikh currently resides in Birmingham and is a Quran teacher at the Birmingham Quran Academy.
In this interview Sheikh Abdallah shares his journey with Quran.
Sheikh Abdallah you are a hafidh and a Qari in the various recitals, what motivated you in wanting to do hifdh?
When I first started to learn Quran I wasn’t thinking about memorisation as I thought it would be too hard for me, but when I went to study in Yemen I started to learn about Qira’aat (the different ways of reciting the Quran) and my teacher told me that if I wanted to be a proper Qari in Qira’aat then I would need to memorise Quran because you need to be able to have grasp of the Quran, answer questions with daleel (evidence) about how to read. From then I started to memorise Quran.
How old were you when you finished memorisation and how long, approximately did it take you?
I started when I was 22 and it took me about 2 and a half years.
Subhanallah that is quite old, gives the rest of us some hope. You mentioned that you completed hifdh in Yemen, how did you move from Tanzania to Yemen?
My sheikh Sheikh Hussain Ahmed Badawi, is a famous sheikh in Tanzania. The first president, Nyerere, used to invite shayukh to make recital and dua. He was not a Muslim, but would call Muslim scholars and speakers, but after some time, for some reason, Sheikh Hussain Ahmed Badawi was expelled from Tanzania and given 24 hours to leave. After that he went to Sudan, Congo and Kenya. Then afterwards the 2nd president, who was Muslim invited him back to open an institute for teaching Quran. The sheikh was close to Habib Umar bin Hafeez who was the principle of the Islamic institute in Yemen called Darul Mustafa. Habib Umar came to Tanzania and I met with him. Habib Umar agreed that my friend and I could come to Yemen. So, alhamdulillah we went to Yemen where we studied Quran, fiqh and other Islamic knowledge.
How did you cope with Hifdh? Did it come easy to you or did you find it difficult?
Quran memorisation is not easy, it’s hard. You have to work hard because it is something of weight and value. When I was memorising I was taking many other Islamic courses so it made it difficult to find time, but alhamdulillah I completed it.
Which part was hard, was it difficult at the start, did it get easier?
When you start it seems hard, but everyday you are reading and memorising and it gets easier. Always the beginning is difficult, eventually you get into a routine.
After you finished your hifdh, what came next for you?
Before I started hifdh I was studying many courses, like fiqh and Arabic. After 2 years I decided to join the Quran group and specialise in Quran as it was my passion. I spent a total of around 4 years in Yemen. My last 2 years were dedicated to Quran studies, where I did memorisation and studied Qira’aat (different modes of recital) both at the same time.
So you must have been full time, when did you day start and end?
There was no break, continuous almost like 24 hours. This is the commitment that Quran requires.
Sheikh you have a unique voice, very deep, my children they love your voice, how did you get that voice? Is that your natural voice? Did you do voice training to get that voice?
I can say that this is my natural voice. In Tanzania when I was learning Quran, one of my sheikhs said that he felt I had a talent in reciting and a unique voice and they would like to send me to a sheikh who is a specialist. So they sent me to the sheikh, who was the one I mentioned Hussain Badawi and he taught me how to tune and get the most out of my voice. But this is my normal voice and my normal recital.
That explains why when we try to imitate you voice we never get it right. When you were learning which reciters did you like to listen to?
First when I was doing murattal recitation, I used to listen to Minshawi and al Husary. These two Egyptian reciters were the ones I listened to the most and they are famous, Minshawi has a very nice recitation and Husary is very strong in makhaarij and is slow in reading. In mujawwad I was listening to Mustafa Ismael, Raghib Mustafa Ghalwash. People say that my voice sounds like Raghib Mustafa Ghalwash and they feel like I’m copying him. Possibly it is true as I was listening to him a lot so maybe I took his characteristics.
What is your favourite surah, the one you love to recite the most?
The whole Quran is special, any part you read becomes your favourite part if you understand it and feel it’s meaning.
Sheikh you have also taken part in competitions, can you give us some examples of competitions you took part in.
The big and famous competition in the world takes place in Tehran, Iran. I went twice to Iran, first time I went in 2003 when I was still young and I didn’t have much knowledge or experience with reciting and I didn’t get very far. In 2010 I went again and alhamdulillah I took 2nd place.
Sheikh you are now a teacher of Quran, when did you decide to teach and where have you taught?
I’ve been a teacher for a while. In Tanzania, before I went to Yemen, I was teaching. After I finished Quran by looking – actually there we don’t finish Quran by looking, you get to a stage where you are capable of reading and able to finish it yourself. So I was teaching in Dar es Salaam before I went to Yemen. Then after I came back from Yemen I went to Malaysia at an institute called Maahad Tahfiz Negeri Pahang where I taught for 3 years after which I went back to Dar es Salaam and then came to the UK where I am teaching now.
As someone who memorised Quran at an older age what advice would you give to anyone who wants to memorise Quran?
Whatever you memorise you need to keep alive. It is not just about memorising, but you need to make the hifdh strong by working hard, especially in revision. The number of pages you do is not important, what is important is retaining that. We have 5 salah in the day, in order to make the hifdh strong after every salah perhaps read one quarter or a half after every salah that will make you. Also I recommend learning Arabic, it will help you understand the meaning of the Quran and aid memorisation.
Below is a clip of Sheikh Abdallah reciting Surah Rahman in maqaam Kurdi