International Quran Recitation Association (IQRA) was formed at the end of January in 1966 in Pakistan. This was the first organization of Quran Reciters (Qari’s) in the world. The constituting members unanimously accepted the name ‘International Quran Recitation Association (IQRA)’. The abbreviation form IQRA is composed from the first letters of each name of the organization .The persons behind formulation of International Quran Recitation Association (IQRA) are as follows:
- Sheikh Mahmoud Khalil Al Hussori (Egypt) -First President of IQRA
- Qari Zaher Qasemi (Pakistan) – Secretary General of IQRA
- Sheikh Qari Abdul Basit Muhammad Abdus Samad (Egypt) – Executive member
- Qari Muhammad Yusuf of the then Pakistan (after independence Bangladesh) – Executive member
- Qari Ali Muhammad Sharfuddin (Yemen) – Executive member
- Qari Shakir Qasmi (Pakistan) – Executive member
- Qari Muhammad Ilias (Pakistan)- Executive member
- Mawlana Asif Qasemi (Pakistan) – Executive member
The first international Quran recitation conference was organized in February, 1966. The second conference was organized in the following year, January 1967.The conference took place at Karachi, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet under the auspices of IQRA. The conference was inaugurated by the then Governor of West Pakistan, General Muhammad Musa and the then Governor of East Pakistan, Abdul Monaem Khan. Quran Reciters of 17 countries attended the conference and they were selected as life members of IQRA .They are as follows:
- Egypt:– 1. Sheikh Mustafa Ismaeel, 2. Sheikh Mahmoud Khalil Al Hussory, 3. Sheikh Abdul Basit Muhammad Abdus Samad, 4. Sheikh Ahmad Addiasti Abul Ma’ti, 5. Sheikh E’ta Sulaiman Rizk.
- Pakistan:– 1. Qari Zaher Qasemi, 2. Qari Muhammad Yusuf (Bangladesh), 3. Qari Muhammad Ilias, 4. Qari Shakir Qasmi ,5. Qari Asif Qasemi, 6. Wahid Zafar Qasemi
- Lebanon:– 1. Sheikh Salah Uddin Kabbara , 2. Qari Mahmoud Shamtoly
- Yemen:– Qari Ali Muhammad Sharfuddin
- Malaysia:-1. Qari Hasan Al Azhari, 2. Qari Haji Ismaeel Hashim
- Turkey:– Qari Abdur Rahman Gorses
- Morocco:– Qari Abdul Hamid Hassaein
- Iran:-1. Qari Ibrahim Arefi, 2. Qari Mahdi Ruk’abi, 3. Qari Muhammad Rabyi
- Indonesia:-1. Qari Muhammad Basori Alwi, 2. Qari Abdul Aziz Muslim, 3. Qari Fuad Zain
- Iraq:– 1. Qari Hafiz Salah Uddin, 2. Qari Abdur Rahman Towfik
- Saudi Arabia:- Qari Muhammad Jamil Ashi
- Sudan:– 1. Qari Ahmad Ismaeel Al Baily, 2. Qari Sayed Usman Mansoor Al Barrudi
- Nigeria:-1. Qari Alhajj Yaqubu, 2. Qari Alhajj Arkasu Woyo
- Philippine:- Qari Sa’aduddin Ai Alwi
- Sri Lanka:– 1. Qari S. M. Buhary, 2. Qari M.M. Zakariya
- Thailand:- Qari Sayed Mahmoud
- Soviet Union(Russia):– Qari Rahmat Ullah
Following after the second conference some political crisis and within few years the death of the IQRA president along with some other important members, the activities of International Quran Recitation Association (IQRA) came to a halt.
Qari Muhammad Yusuf (Rah.) originated from East Pakistan (after independence Bangladesh) who was the founder member of IQRA and who used to be the senior Qari of Radio Karachi and Pakistan Television. He was one of the organizers of liberation war during 1971 based in Karachi. As the liberation was declared on 26th March 1971, Qari Muhammad Yusuf was suspended from Karachi Radio and Pakistan Television for his active participation and engagement in the organization of liberation war of Bangladesh and arrest warrant was issued on him by Pakistani government. Then he left everything and returned to Bangladesh.
After Independence, in 1972 Qari Muhammad Yusuf was appointed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the Shaikhul Qurra (Chief Qari) of Bangladesh attached to Bangladesh Radio and Television. Qari Muhammad Yusuf began to nourish the dream to revive IQRA activities in Bangladesh. Due to lack of resources and many other priorities for a new Republic, his dream was not soon turned into reality.
In 1991, Qari Muhammad Yusuf managed to reactivate IQRA in Bangladesh. Under the auspices of International Quran Recitation Association (IQRA) Bangladesh, the First International Quran Recitation Conference was held at Outer Stadium, Dhaka on 15th November 1991. The conference was inaugurated by the then Honorable President of Bangladesh, Mr. Abdur Rahman Biswas. IQRA has been consistently organizing Quran recitation conferences at several locations in Bangladesh since 1991 till now. During the 29 years of journey in Bangladesh, IQRA organized 20 conferences at different locations in Bangladesh.