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Recent ELHS Grad Memorizes The Quran

Mohiudeen Kareem and Fareed Kareem photo
Scott Pohl
Fareed Kareem (right) at the Islamic Center of East Lansing, with his father, Mohiudeen. Fareed has committed the Quran to memory.

If you’ve ever tried to memorize a lengthy passage like verses from the Bible, you’ll recognize what a daunting challenge it can be. Imagine, then, memorizing an entire book, in a language other than your native tongue.

Recent East Lansing High School graduate Fareed Kareem has done exactly that.

WKAR’s Scott Pohl has the story of a young man who has committed his holy book, The Quran, to memory.

Fareed Kareem's memorization of The Quran qualifies him to lead the Islamic Center of East Lansing in prayer as a Hafiz. Interestingly, he says he doesn’t really speak Arabic very much aside from his prayers.

An Islamic Center Facebook post about his achievement indicates that The Quran consists of 114 chapters and totals more than six-thousand verses. During the holy month of Ramadan, the entire Quran is quoted aloud in parts every night, an act assisted by Fareed this year. “I still serve at the Greater Lansing Islamic Center. I do stuff for them like I lead some prayers," Fareed says. "Hopefully, I can get more involved in the community as I get older.”

Non-muslims might wonder why anyone would take on such a daunting task. Fareed explains that memorizing The Quran has historically played a role in Islam. “The Quran was sent down over a thousand years ago," he continues, "and word for word has been transmitted down from student to student all the way to people like me, all over the world.”

Fareed Kareem’s parents sent him to the privately run Institute of Islamic Education in Elgin, Illinois near Chicago. There, his regular school curriculum included instruction on The Quran. He wasn't enthusiastic at first when his parents told him about the move, but he got into it with their encouragement.

Fareed’s father Mohiudeen Kareem says his son was interested in memorizing The Quran from an early age, and often finished first or second in childhood Quran memorization competitions at the Islamic Center. Originally from Nigeria, he’s lived in East Lansing for 13 years. “I feel accepted, I feel so welcome," Mohiudeen says. "I’m able to do everything I need to do, some of them that were not even available to me in the country I came from. This is a place where I always recommend people to come if they want to practice their true religion.”

Fareed Kareem hopes to study biology at Michigan State University and become a dentist.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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