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Orators are not made, they are born
August 30, 2014
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Eight-year-old Ibrahim Faheem Shabandri, a Sharjah resident, received accolades across the globe for winning the UAE’s ‘Preacher of the Nation’ award in the Arabic category.  Tanvir Usman of The Gulf Today has the details.

Sharjah: It is true that leaders are born not made, so are orators. The majority of orators are gifted and not trained. And age certainly is no bar.

This applies best to eight-year-old Ibrahim Faheem Shabandri,  a Sharjah resident, who received accolades across the globe for winning the UAE’s ‘Preacher of the Nation’ award in Arabic category.

The eight-year-old surpassed 70 contestants in a competition held in Dubai last month and organised by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmad Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation.

The Gulf Today spoke to him about his plans and mentors whom he idolises.

Ibrahim, the young winner of the prestigious award, is aiming high and is keen to become a renowned Islamic preacher in the future.

“Sheikh Suleiman Al Jubailan of Saudi Arabia is my favourite religious orator and I want to become an Arabic and Islamic speaker like him. It is my dream that I wish to be fulfilled,” he said.

The young lad hit the headlines in the UAE and in his home country India after being adjudged victor of the coveted title. The media gave prominent coverage to the young winner.

Ibrahim hails from Bhattkal, a town in the Indian state of Karnataka. 

“When I went on stage to deliver the religious sermon in front of the mostly Arabic speaking audience, I was confident, though it was my first participation in any contest but still I knew that I would emerge on top and nobody can beat me. I remained invincible till the end, I proved it,” Ibrahim said.

Tremendous reactions of his loved ones made him joyful after the triumph.

“I was very happy. Response of the relatives and friends was overwhelming. Immediately, laudatory messages started pouring in. I got congratulatory messages and phone calls from the UAE and back home  India. Relatives and friends brought sweets and gifts for me as well. Those moments are unforgettable,”  he recalled.

His mother is his mentor and he expressed immense gratitude for her.

Praising his parents, he said: “My parents are very supportive, my mother especially played a pivotal role in my preparations for the contest. Without her support it would have been impossible for me to achieve this. I am very thankful to her.”

A student of Islamic Studies and Quran memorisation at Ibn Khaldoun School in Sharjah, he said: “Most of my teachers belong to Egypt and Syria. Tahira Sayed who teaches Islamic Studies is my favourite teacher.”

The Arabic-medium student spends a decent amount of time on polishing his Arabic language skills at home helped by his mother.

“Arabic is not my mother tongue and I usually spend more than three hours a day to improve my Arabic language and oratory skills. I also go to a nearby mosque for memorising the Quran from a teacher,” he added.

Inspired by the world’s reputed Islamic scholars like Zakir Naik, Abdur Raheem Green, Nouman Ali Khan and Yusuf Estes, the third-grader regularly listens to their speeches on YouTube and also meets them as and when they visit Dubai to attend lectures and seminars.

“These famous scholars are my source of inspiration. Last year I got an opportunity to meet them in Dubai. That was impressive. I felt greatly honoured to meet the famous Islamic personalities,” the boy said.

“My request to all the parents is to allow their children whatever subjects they want to study but encourage them to learn Arabic as well,” Ibrahim urged Muslim parents.

Ibrahim’s extra-curricular activities include cricket and net surfing.

“I play cricket in leisure time. I also surf the internet, watch Islamic programmes of Peace TV and listen to lectures of my favourite scholars,” he elaborated.

Faheem Shabandri, a proud father of Ibrahim, told The Gulf Today: “I am very thankful to Almighty Allah who bestowed my son with this achievement at such a young age. It is all because of his constant hard work and commitment.”

Father-of-four children, Faheem said Ibrahim is different to his other siblings and unlike them spends most of his time in studies.

“He prefers to remain at home keeping himself busy with studies. He often leads his young brother and sisters in prayers at home; he likes to gather his siblings at home and give them lectures,” he added.

Faheem advised parents to encourage their children to learn Arabic as it helps them understand the Holy Quran.

“I would ask the parents of Muslim children to encourage their kids to learn Arabic language as it is easy to learn when they are young. I want Ibrahim to complete the memorisation of Quran as early as possible. I also want him to get admission to Madina University, Saudi Arabia, for higher Islamic Studies. It is my dream to see him delivering Islamic lectures within the next couple of years,” Faheem added.

Faheem Shabandri applauded the efforts of the UAE leadership in inviting world renowned Muslim scholars to the country to give lectures on various topics.

“I appreciate the UAE authorities who arrange these kind of religious conferences on regular basis. We can find the future leaders and Islamic orators through such conferences,” he added.

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