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One daily task changed Liverpool lad’s life

A Toxteth lad who taught himself the Quran off by heart now finds himself in a role with responsibility beyond his years.

Like many young men, 26-year-old Ahmed Qattani loves playing basketball and football, but he couldn’t tell you who’s playing where or in what league. Instead he leads prayers in mosques across the country and offers guidance to local youths he sees him as a role model, whether he likes it or not.

His journey started alone at home in his early teens, teaching himself the Quran by listening on an MP3 player and reciting lines for half an hour every morning. As a kid, Ahmed watched imams preach in person and on YouTube, dreaming of one day filling their shoes. Now he’s achieved his dream of him, and all it took was half an hour of study the Quran each day. Ahmed said: “When I look back, I do get proud and happy that I did that because I think it’s paid off.”

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Ahmed was he “wasn’t always on the correct path”, being dragged in other directions by friends and peers. But his daily reading of him kept him grounded, and he soon found his services in demand. He led his first prayers in a “nerve wracking” experience as a 16-year-old in a small St Helens mosque. Last month, he led prayers in front of hundreds of people at the Pier Head before breaking fast at a public iftar event called Taste Ramadan.

He aims to offer young people the understanding, non-judgment and advice he wishes he’d had growing up. But living life as a role model is a big burden for someone so young. Ahmed said: “You can’t get angry, you can’t show any sort of bad side, for the reason that you don’t want other people to adopt your mistakes, or think it’s okay to be angry or to shout or to throw a chair or just act in a negative way So it’s really difficult, but at the same time, it’s good that it builds your personality and your character, because a lot of people, especially the younger generation, they watch me without me even wanting it.”

This influence carries a responsibility not just to be a good role model in his daily life, but also to make sure he goes about his now-full-time role as an imam with the right intentions. Ahmed said it’s dangerous when religious leaders show off and get absorbed by the idea of ​​being seen and heard. He said: “How I feel, it’s 100% spiritual. Without any doubt, I feel God in front of me. It’s a huge, huge blessing and responsibility that I’m the one leading the prayer. It’s my job to make sure that everyone who’s behind me is listening to the most amazing recitation. That’s in every single prayer, no matter how small.”

One verse of the Quran, he recites with a smile every time because it makes him think of being with his family and community. It says: “Surely those who believe and do good, their Lord will guide them to paradise through their faith, and rivers will flow under their feet in the gardens of bliss.” For Ahmed, this marks a clear distinction between the idea of ​​Islam portrayed in the media and the Islam lived by him, one of peace, love and learning.

It’s the verse a Libyan teacher once used to teach Ahmed how tone and rhythm change delivery of prayers, showing the education doesn’t stop at learning the words off by heart. At the end of the day, beneath the robes he wore at Taste Ramadan and the important role of imams in the Muslim community, Ahmed is just a Liverpool lad making his way through life as best he can.

He’s aware that he is still learning and doesn’t have all the answers, saying: “I’m an absolutely normal person. I’m nothing amazing, I’m not special, I’m not wonderful. I’m just a really, really, absolutely normal person. The only difference is what I love, it has put me in a certain position and role, and that’s what I want. This is what I love from the bottom of my heart.”


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