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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 20:42 GMT 21:42 UK


Child prodigy teaches the Koran

Mohammed Hussain aims to be a religious leader

He comes from Iran, he is just seven-years-old, and for the past week thousands have been flocking to a hall in London to hear him speak.

Mohammed Hussain Tabatabai is being hailed as a miracle of the Muslim world. He has memorised the entire Koran - the Islamic holy book - but more remarkably he can also interpret and explain it to his elders.

In the past week 13,000 Muslims have flocked to see him at the Islamic Centre in north-west London, where he has been described as a divinely inspired child prodigy.

[ image: Mohammed Hussain holds a doctorate at the age of seven]
Mohammed Hussain holds a doctorate at the age of seven
His father has carefully educated him. He knows all 6,000 verses of the Koran off by heart.

On Thursday night he confidently gave a lecture on the teachings of an Islamic teacher who died 400 years ago.

It is not that unusual for talented Muslim children to learn to recite the Koran by heart, but Mohammed Hussain is said to be the best exponent of the Koran for his age anywhere. Few, if any, other children have his ability to understand and interpret the text.

At the Islamic Centre, theological questions were asked to test Mohammed Hussain. BBC Religious Affairs Correspondent Emily Buchanan chose a random passage to see if he could quote chapter and verse.

He got the answer right, using his photographic memory.

Mohammed Hussain was asked what was so important about knowing the Koran by heart?

He replied that, if he does not feel like praying, the Koran encourages him to pray, and if he wants to bad-mouth someone, the Koran tells him not to.

And asked if he was ever naughty or misbehaved he said: "Yes, sometimes."

Mohammed Hussain aims to be a religious leader, and as he already holds a doctorate he is well on his way.

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