The Ice Bucket competitor: Can the Quran Challenge go viral?

(RNS) Move over Ice Bucket Challenge. Muslims have a new take on the viral social media phenomenon: the Quran Challenge.

The new campaign seeks to raise awareness and funds for Muslim "da’wah" -- a call to propagate the faith -- by reciting verses from the Quran on various online platforms.

Issam Bayan, a 26-year-old student and professional Islamic singer, came up with the idea as a way to awaken Muslim piety, just as the Ice Bucket Challenge raised awareness and well over $30 million for ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease..

While the #QuranChallenge has no specific cause, Bayan, who lives in Germany, said he wanted to make it available to all Muslims regardless of their financial ability to make a contribution. In an email interview, he said the benefits for this challenge are the rewards that a Muslim receives for reciting the Quran.

Bayan posted his first video to Facebook and YouTube on August 30 with the words, “Let’s collect the rewards and challenge your friends by reciting some verses of the Holy Quran.”

There are now thousands of videos and photos of Muslims in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. taking up the challenge on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Terje Ostebo, coordinator of the Center for Global Islamic Studies at the University of Florida, said, the Quran Challenge is “another fascinating function of the interaction between Islam and social media,” a way of extending the public nature of recitation to a broader audience -- the world.

All of the recitations are in Arabic -- the language of the Quran.

Ostebo said the majority of people taking up the Quran Challenge are young, Internet-savvy, Muslims.

“Young Muslims are caught in between tradition and modernity,” said Ostebo. “They are struggling with how to be a Muslim in a non-Muslim context and appeal to Internet and through memes to amplify their piety and identity.”

During the Arab Spring, the series of anti-government uprisings that spread across the Middle East in early 2011, Ostebo said, people talked about the role of social media, but it was always intertwined with actual events.

Still, Ostebo wonders if the challenge will have a real-world effect without a recognizable charity involved.

“To make a real impact, it has to be connected to the on-the-ground situations of these Muslims who are searching for identity in a globalized Muslim world," he said.



  1. I found it totally sickening that Bayan excluded “sisters” from his “challenge”. It reminded me that islam, and most other religions are “man” made, and “man” serving, and all relegate woman to a lower class than themselves. No just, and righteous creator of all, if their was such a thing, would create beings to love it (or need to), and then cause 1/2 of them to be treated in such a lowly manner.

  2. Well, E, you see just one reason I share as I do (sisters, daughters, mothers). So many women do not even see this, for if they did, they would revive themselves, and ask government, and their religious denominations, to look at the practices of our society (THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA), to better understand what is “legally” indecent, and or undermining. I am no feminist, but it does not take too much in the area of thought to see that man climaxed on their idea that Eve was guilty, and therefore of a lesser status in God image. The whore for the masses? A war on women? Who/what in society today pushes this agenda, all the while using “God” or “Prophet”as source for this mental high—permitting them to smack around an eight-year-old ‘Muslim’ daughter at the mall because she allowed her head to get a little wet at the fountain like her brothers were doing—ALL IN THE NAME OF WHO? (something I shared already here on RNS). And our society is okay with this? The Religionists are fighting a selfish war, but history does repeat … and repeat …

    “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

    Prophesy rather than law? Do you think ‘the writers’ misunderstood the message; perhaps writing it in such a way that skewed the remnant on the REALITY OF “WHAT IS WISDOM” …?

    Just look at what has been spewed from the pulpits on the Woman at the Well in the Gospel of John. The Religionists have taught for centuries that she is a prostitute. No where does it say this! Man does not hear in the Language of the Spirit. If this simple Truth is missed, imagine how many other Teachings have been missed 😉

    So God created Man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.


  3. In addition, E, I see that the government of the United States is concerned, and taking steps, to try to keep the youth from JOINING THE EXTREMIST FACTIONS. They do not see these things they have permitted in our society, actually endorsing them, which has led to disgruntled and disillusioned members, causing them this vulnerability… this instability. And the Religionists are still hollering their same old same old … while the teachers of their students are now packing guns … Meanwhile, the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH still views women as baby breeders … or, sends them out to uncultivated fields to be butchered like cattle. These women are NOT skilled for the work in arenas of foul play. AND IT IS FALSE TO TEACH THAT SPIRIT DESIRES THIS. Once again, Teachings misunderstood, and misused. I think some of these “radicals’ have a marriage with death more than LIFE. You have only to see the lacerated figures on the cross dripping blood for the children to fixate on.

    Society needs to wake.


  4. Why raise money for curing a disease named after a kafir when you can spread awareness of the glory of the Prophet? Insh’Allah, the Quran Challenge will blow the Ice Bucket Challenge out of the water!

  5. For your information, Mr Issam Bayan has posted later on that all females are welcome to take part in the challenge as well. I follow all his post on facebook. Please do not spread lies and hate. Thank you.

  6. Lina, I am thrilled to hear that Banyan has changed his mind and is “allowing” woman to take part. Also, I spread no more falsehood than his video did as that was what he said at that time. If he is not an honest man, you may want to reconsider being his facebook “follower”.

    This is a bold move on his part considering he risks alienating other muslim men who are more fundamentalist. However, it does not change the clear message given by the koran and hadith. Women are not equal to men, which is no different than what is written in the bible, although perhaps much more direct.

    Until men cast away these “man made” creations; holy texts and
    gods, women are going to be subjugated by man.

    Although it should be obvious by now, I am not a believer, I can’t even imagine a just god who would condone that his creations be treated like that. It is simply mans way to control woman, and it is working very well, unfortunately, as your defense of Bayan demonstrates.

  7. Omarjan, Tell me, do you think the name of the disease keeps it away from the faithful of islam? Do you think women should be allowed to take part?

  8. Only Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.
    mohammed was not a good man or a faithful man at all.
    Do not follow the devil’s passage.

  9. Dear Earold D.Gunter,

    the only reason why I started saying that sisters shouldn’t take part was that I was afraid that this challenge could take an unislamic way. Actually I didn’t say it’s forbidden. Later I posted, that sisters could take part, but with some more rules. In islamic comprehension the voice of a woman is allowed as long as she don’t talk softly [because of tempting]. This is the Islam. And that men and women aren’t equal is right. The women, especially the mother in Islam has so many rights that some men are gonna jealous. When you are really interested to get more knowledge about Islam, please visit some mosques in your region and ask the Imams. Don’t search for knowledge on Google. We Muslims do many mistakes and only a few Muslims represent the Islam. But never judge the Islam because of Muslim’s mistakes. Cat Stevens aka. Yusuf Islam says: Thank God I learned about Islam before I met Muslims.”

    Islam is beautiful but a lot of Muslims make it cruel. I hope for you to be more respectful and less hasty with judging others for their mistakes. Nobody is perfect 🙂

    Peace & Wassalamaleikum

  10. Issam Bayam,
    Thank you for your reply. The fact that this could possibly “take an unilsmic way” if women participated, and that you used the term “allowed” kind of proves my point. In islam, as well as christianity women are not treated as equal to men. I do not feel I disrespected you, I was simply commenting on the misogyny that is prevelent in most religions.

    I applaude that you are attempting to help others, regardless if that is by means of something in which I do not believe. My response to your critic Omarjan should have led you to believe that. Also, I did not ever use the term “forbidden”, but rather “excluded” as forbidden has such a harshly religious conotation.

    I have read many things in my lifelong quest for somthing beyond the here and now, including your holy texts. All have come woefully short of satisfying my needs, and all have required faith, which is something that requires the exclusion of reality. No visit to any religious organization will work as they all worship a god made in their image. Until proof is given, and that would require much, I must conclude that I have no reason to believe a god exists.

    Peace & love

  11. Lina,

    Hell is full of women—Women lack common sense—Women have deficient minds.

    Are these true, Lina?

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