Shariff Idd (5-Year-Old Hafiz)

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According to a huge number of online sources, a five year old Kenyan boy (sometimes he's claimed to be Tanzanian or Nigerian) can recite the entire Qur'an and preach in at least five languages. The boy is alleged to have converted thousands of people all over the world.

Original Source

This article which was printed in the "Scotland on Sunday" newspaper seems to be the original source for the story circulating on a large number of Islamic websites:

UK visit beckons for uneducated Kenyan prodigy who preaches five languages

There are orphans and street children everywhere. So much so that the sight of another small child standing on a street corner hardly merits a second glance. But only when the boy opens his mouth to speak do onlookers realise that Shariff Idd is special. The five year-old speaks in five languages - English French Italian, Swahili and Arabic - even though he is completely uneducated. Shariff is a preacher who draws crowds of thousands in Kenya to his increasingly regular sermons. The Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al Gaddafi is a great supporter following an audience with him earlier this year. Last week was a milestone for the child introduced to gawping throngs as the "miracle boy" of East Africa. He smiled triumphantly when told he had notched up his one thousandth conversion to Islam in a country where Muslims are a minority.

Tours of France and Britain now beckon, according to Hajji Maroulin, one of the boy's four guardians. he will travel as a missionary on a trip to e financed by a Muslim businessman from the Ivory Coast. "When he is not preaching he is just like any other kid - he likes Tom and Jerry cartoons, particularly." Maroulin said. "But when he preaches he changes. At one year old he was able to recite the Koran and went on to be able to preach in Arabic, Swahili and french without any learning. The number of his converts is growing daily." For a child he has strangely adult mannerisms. He speaks confidently, mainly in Swahili unless he is delivering a sermon. Then, he fixes his piercing brown eyes on the person he is addressing without inhibition. His squeaky child-like voice mesmerizes audiences. According to Maroulin, Shariff was born into a Swahili-speaking Catholic family in Arusha, north Tanzania in December 1993: "At the age of two months he refused to suckle his mother's milk and at the age of four months he started reciting verses from the Holy Koran."

Scan of the article which was printed in the "Scotland on Sunday", August 8, 1999.

The boy's first words - "You people repent and you will be accepted by God." - were in Arabic. his concerned parents believed him to be disturbed by "demons" and called pastors to pray for the baby. Eventually, Muslim neighbors interpreted their son's alien speech and his parents later converted to Islam themselves. Although his father died in 1997, his mother remains in Tanzania while her worldly son continues his travels. There is no doubting his pulling-power and in a commercial world his entourage has been quick to produce videos of the high-pitched sermons. He has also been deemed genuine by Kenya's Muslim World League. Kaplich Barsito, 35 from Nairobi, saw Shariff in action addressing a crowd of more than 1,000 in an open are at the Pumwani district of Kenya's capital, and is in no doubt of the boy's abilities.

"He was like a politician, very confident," he said. "He seemed as though he would have been disappointed if there had been less people. The power went off and his minders wanted him to stop but he grabbed a loudspeaker and carried on in Swahili, English and Arabic It was very impressive and he mesmerized the audience with a focused sermon." Shariff himself seems mystified about his power. He said last week that he picked up languages as soon as he heard. "I went to Congo and heard people speaking Lingala (the local language). I just was able to start speaking it."[1]


Muslims Discussing Shariff Idd

Here are a couple of typical examples showing how the story is retold by Muslims all over the web:

User 'Talha' on

I have heard that there is a 5 year old sheikh in Tanzania. His name is Sheikh Sharfuddin al Khalifah. I heard that he was born into a Christian or Jewish family and he was a Hafiz of the Quran from birth. He then started praying salaah from the age of one and a half years. He then made his older brother Muslim, and when their parents found out, they were kicked out of the house. When the government heard about this, they were taken into government protection, he has also made many more people Muslims and he gives speeches all around Tanzania and he is only five years old.[2]

User 'SunShine' on the SomaliaUK Forums:

Allah yeah i heard about this story before.

The boy whilst in the womb would constantly kick his christian mother on her way to church.

Until eventually his mother would turn away from the church and not enter.

This is just another example of the work of allah. His extroardinary gifts and the miracles of his ways.

Lets see how the Kufar explains a childs ability to recite the Quran at the age of one, and preach so swiftly about his religion.

Inshallah we'll see more of this in the future. [3]

We see that:

  1. While he was gestating, little Shariff would kick his (Christian) mother while she was on her way to church - causing his mother to avoid going there.
  2. Little Shariff was apparently a hafiz from birth
  3. The boy is now a Shiekh, and possibly a former Jew or Christian
  4. To showcase the 'evil' nature of the kaffir, we find that his Jewish (or Christian) parents kicked him out of the house when he converted his older brother to Islam.

In the above examples, the story has been heavily embellished during its various retellings, containing information that was not present in the original report. The majority of the embellishments (with only a few showcased here) concern the religion of his parents and the evil nature of the adherents to said religion, who would dare to act so cruelly to a small child.

Muslims Who Have Seen Shariff Idd

Some Muslims who have seen Shariff Idd say the whole story is an elaborate hoax. Here's what several of them have to say about it:

User 'momineqbal' on forum:

"I have a video of this one also. And to me it looks like some one has made the boy by heart few arabic sentences and few verses of the Quran and he always starts off in a high pitch with gestures and all that. Seems like some one is making pretty good business doing this."[4]

User 'dhiyaa' on forum:

"He is not the genius he is portrayed to be. His so-called Arabic sermon is just few famous words and duas from khutbahs that are delivered in all mosques. Nothing else. His English, in one instance that he did use English, seemed to have been memorized as he could only say, "Allah, the merciful, beneficent says in the Quran..." and then he stopped English, read the ayah in Arabic and then recited a some duas and that was it. I think it's just exploitation of a little smart child and those who are doing this to him, I suspect, are just trying to make money."[5]

User 'eleanor' on forum:

"The boy has been taught some verses and that's all. When he is questioned further or asked to recite something different he is bewildered. His father always tries to jump in and answer for him. They had taken him around America at the time of our discussion. He was supposed to have been responsible for thousands of conversions (not necessarily a bad thing). Anyway, maybe someone can hook you up to the old thread?."[6]

Muslim Eyewitness Testimonies

This Muslim on an Islamic website says it like it is: it's a "HOAX!!"

"this past summer a brother who attends our tafseer class in Virginia, went to see this "miracle boy" in Philadelphia. The brother told us he is convinced that the entire thing is an elaborate scam done by either the Christians or the Sufis with the intent to hoodwink the Muslims.
. . .

the Quran reciter on the videotape is NOT the boy. In fact, the video never shows the boy reciting anything from the Quran.
. . .
Before the boy's entrance, the bodyguards would pass around a collection basket for people to donate money. People were never informed as to what the money they were donating was for or how it would be used. It was apparently assumed the money was for the boy himself, thus many people donated large sums of money.
. . .
Later when the boy's father was not present, some attendees asked the boy to recite some suras. At first, the boy acted as if he didn't understand what was being asked. The bodyguards appeared irritated and said it was not proper for anyone to order the boy to recite. People replied that they were not ordering anything, but were simply asking IF he could recite SOMETHING so that people could hear him. A translator then asked him to recite some suras such as Ar-Rahman, Al-Mulk, etc. and the boy replied, "I don't know that". They then asked him to recite suratul Ala, to which he replied again, "I don't know that". They then asked him to recite suratul Ihklas, he said, "I don't know that". It then became obvious to everyone that the boy knew nothing of the Quran, and was simply fooling everyone with an elaborate and well-concieved con.

When the father returned and noticed what was going on, he quickly hustled the boy and his bodyguards out of the auditorium. Many attendees felt betrayed, especially when it was discovered that the boy and his "family" left town soon thereafter and their whereabouts were unknown.

If this is a scam, obviously the boy is not to blame, but rather the dajjaleen who are parading him before the Muslims as a pseudo-prophetic persona with the express intent of fleecing masses of Muslims from their money.[7]

Here is another example of someone who saw him, thought it was all a hoax, yet still hopes the deceit would bring new converts to Islam:

"He came to my neighbourhood mosque - Islamic Center of New York - several months ago. Our imam put him in front of the congregation and dispelled alot of myths about him. One of such is that he has not memorised Quran....maybe a sura or two. When asked questions, he answered like a normal little boy.
. . .
I just remember walking away thinking it was all a fraud. Whatever the case, I just hope he has touched some people and brought them to Islam."[7]

See Also

  • Hoaxes - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Hoaxes