Wearing the red and white "imama" head covering and long robe of observant Muslims, Amjad Abu Sadio preaches weekly to dozens of worshippers with a serious and confident face.

He has given classes at 40 mosques in Gaza. Abu Sadio has memorized 75 percent of the Quran, earning the honorary title of shaikh. He hopes one day to study and earn a degree.

Preaching sermons

The boy stood on Wednesday at the front of a mosque in Gaza City, speaking in a loud and unwavering voice and gesturing with animation, undeterred by the fact that he is considerably smaller than his teacher.

"I discovered my ability to give speeches when I was at school and present a paper in front of the students"

Amjad Abu Sadio

"I discovered my ability to give speeches when I was at school and present a paper in front of the students," Abu Sadio told journalists on Wednesday.

"After that, my family, friends and school encouraged me to present it in front of people in the mosques."

Official studies

It is not uncommon for boys who know portions of the Quran by heart to be called "shaikhs." But Muslims must study for years and receive a degree in Islamic law before they become official shaikhs.

Abu Sadio's teacher, Shaikh Ismail Kahloot, said that the boy is determined to be one of the best shaikhs in Gaza someday.

Abu Sadio takes free Islamic classes offered by the Palestinian Authority. The Palestine Charitable Association sponsors the boy by driving him around to the mosques where he gives his lectures.