Watch: Blind Indian teen's flawless Quran recitation in Dubai goes viral

13-year-old Mohammed Essa cannot see, walk or express himself, but has managed to learn most of the holy book without any formal education or external support

Photo: Shihab
Photo: Shihab

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Wed 8 Feb 2023, 4:57 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Feb 2023, 7:06 AM

Dubai-based 13-year-old Mohammed Essa Abdul Hadhi was born with multiple congenital disabilities. He cannot see, walk or even express himself. But his qira'at (Quran recitation) is flawless, and he mimics the recitations of world-famous Islamic reciters. With no formal education or external support, Mohammed has also learned large parts of the Quran by heart.

"From a very young age, we used to play the Quran to him,” his father, Abdul Hadhi, said. “But it was only when he was about four years old that we noticed how quickly he was grasping the verses of the Quran and reciting after it. So, we just fanned his enthusiasm by supporting him."

The Indian expat also observed that not only could Mohammed recite the verses but also change his tone and intonations similar to internationally well-known qaris (reciters) like Abdul Basit 'Abd us-Samad and Sheikh Youssef Edghouch. Support from his family came in the form of his elder sisters Sumayya and Ayesha, who also regularly recite the Holy Quran. “Sumayya first recited Surah Ash-Shams to him,” said Abdul Hadhi. “He still loves reciting those verses.” Mohammed Essa recited the Surah for the Khaleej Times team.

Mohammed does not attend school and is unable to communicate with his family about his need to eat or use the toilet. "Even though he learns the Quran really quick, we are unable to send him to a centre or even a school because his learning depends on his mood,” said his father. “Some days he doesn’t learn at all and other days, he goes through several verses at a stretch.”

Going viral

Last month, Mohammed Essa set a record by reciting Surah Al Baqara, the longest chapter in the Holy Quran, for 2.5 hours at an event organised by the Einstein World Records. He was certified as the world’s first boy with multiple disabilities to memorise and recite the Holy Quran for long hours.

Photo: Shihab
Photo: Shihab

Since then, videos of Mohammed’s recitation have gone viral and appreciation and applause has come pouring in from all over the world. “We are thrilled that people are recognising him and his talent,” said Abdul Hadhi.

However, this is not the first accolade that has come Mohammed’s way. “When he was about 5 years old, we went for Umrah (Islamic pilgrimage),” said his father. “While doing Tawaf (circling around the Kaaba), he noticed that everyone was chanting duas. From the second round onwards, he started reciting loudly. After a point I turned back and there were around 700 people following us. I teared up.”

Abdul Hadhi with his son and Haram police at Kaaba
Abdul Hadhi with his son and Haram police at Kaaba

The recognition of Essa's talent did not end there. Hearing about the young boy who was reciting so beautifully, the imam of the mosque sent a police escort to find Mohammed and Abdul Hadhi. “We were taken to the imam, and we prayed standing right next to him,” said Abdul Hadhi. “Afterwards, the police escorted us to the Hajarul Aswad (black stone near Kaaba) where we were able to touch it. That remains one of our most precious memories.”

Family first

For his sisters Sumayya, a student of BSc. Psychology at Middlesex University and Ayesha, a grade 12 student at Our Own English High School in Al Warqaa, Mohammed is a great listener and the sweetest brother. “I always come and tell him all my problems or about the stress of exams,” said Ayesha. “He doesn’t respond much but he is a good listener. And sometimes, he gives nuggets of golden advice. After speaking to him, I always feel better.”

The family often enjoy long drives because Mohammed loves going out. “He loves being out in the open and going on boats,” said Abdul Hadhi. “We often go to Musandam because he loves being on the water. And on the way, we often eat mandi because that is his favourite food.”

The father and son duo also have a heartwarming ritual every day when Abdul Hadhi gets home from work. “Before leaving for office, he always asks me which Surah would you like to hear when you get back,” said Abdul Hadhi. “When I come back, I have to take him on my shoulders and do an 'elephant ride' while he recites the Surah. It is something we both really look forward to every day.”

Photo: Shihab
Photo: Shihab

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