Introduction to Tajweed
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
The word “Tajweed” means to make well, make better or improve.” It refers to the rules governing pronunciation during recitation of the Qur’an. The word “Tajweed” is derived from the Arabic trilateral root ‘ja-wa-da’, meaning to make well, make better or improve.
Definition: “Tajweed (Arabic: تجويد) means to pronounce or recite every letter correctly from its proper origin of pronunciation coupled with its stipulated attributes (Siffaat ul Huroof: صفات).”
What is Tajweed?
Tajweed is one of the most prominent sciences of the Qur‚an. It is a science governed by deep-rooted static rules derived from the oral recitation of the Qur‚an by the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam after hearing the revelation from the Angel Gabriel. This science preserves the meaning of the revealed words of Allah in sound and expression, protects it from any alteration and retains the unique method of recitation. It deals with the accent, phonetics, rhythm and temper of the Qur‚anic recitation. The divine ordinance establishes the recitation of the Qur‚an with Tajweed.
The emergence of this science of recitation is from the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam who taught this science practically and like other Islamic disciplines it is protected both in theory and practice by the zealous and dedicated faithful. Throughout the fourteen centuries since the Qur‚an‚s revelation hardly a generation has passed which has not witnessed celebrated Qurra‚ - the undisputed authorities during their times in this science. The third century of Hijrah marks the beginning of the codification of Islamic sciences. Since that period, Muslim scholars have contributed hundreds of books on the science of Tajweed. The available literature is extremely rich and comprehensive and reflects not only the meticulous zeal of the scholars but also manifests the popularity of this science among the Muslim Ummah throughout the ages.
One should know: There are ten schools of Recitation, the most prevalent of which is the recitation of Imam Asim as transmitted by Imam Hafs.
Importance of Tajweed
An Arabic adage proclaims: “The speech of the kings is the king of all speech.” So, can the Excellency of the speech of the King of all kings – Allah Ta’ala – even be equated with man-made speech? One of the many miracles of the noble Qur’an is that regardless of the number of times it is recited, one never gets tired or bored with its recitation. Allah Ta’ala says in the noble Qur’an, “Indeed the believers are those who tremble with fear when Allah is remembered, and when the verses of the Qur’an are recited before them it increases their belief, and upon Allah they have complete trust.” (8:2)
One of the salient points mentioned in this verse is that when a believer recites the noble Qur’an in the correct manner, it increases his faith and belief in Allah. Reciting the noble Qur’an in the correct manner means to recite it with Tajweed.
- Allah Ta’ala says in Surah # 73, verse No. 4, “And recite the Quran with Tarteel, i.e. in a slow pleasant tone and style.”
- The Prophet (SAW) used to recite the Qur’an in slow, measured and rhythmic tones as Allah had instructed him, not hurriedly, but rather ‘he would recite a surah in such slow rhythmic tones that it would be longer than it would seem possible.’[Muslim, Muwatta]
- He would stop at the end of each aayah/verse. [Abu Dawud].
- He commanded people to recite in a beautiful voice in a pleasant melodious tone. The prophet (said, “Beautify the Qur’an with your voices [for a fine voice increases the beauty of Qur’an].” [Sahih Al – Bukhari]
Unfortunately, all too often we find people reciting the Qur’an quickly and without changing their tone and without any feeling. We should put all our efforts into reciting the Qur’an with as much feeling as we can! Have you ever prayed behind an Imam who read with feeling? Well the Prophet (SAW) said, “Truly the one who has one of the finest voices among the people for reciting the Qur’an is the one whom you think fears Allah when you hear him recite.” [Tabaraani]
- And once when the Prophet (SAW) complimented Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari on the beauty of his recitation, Abu Moosaa said, “Had I known you were there, I would have made my voice more pleasant and emotional for you.’[Bukhari, Muslim]
Let us remember, that the Qur’an is the word of Allah. In it we find exhortations, warnings, glad-tidings, parables, stories of the past, commands and prohibitions. Aayaat to make us think, reflect, cry, fear, hope, love, fall down in prostration! How can we recite all of this without feeling? When we recite an aayah of Qur’an we should imagine that we are trying to feel and convey the full message behind that aayah. Perhaps some of us don’t feel confident.
I believe that this lack of confidence comes partly from not knowing the rules of Tajweed correctly and so fearing that we will make mistakes and partly from not understanding the meaning of what we are reciting. So let us work hard to remove these two obstacles by learning Tajweed and working towards learning Arabic.
- Abu Dharr (R.A) narrated, the Messenger of Allah () said to me: "O Abu Dharr! If you learn one verse from The Book of Allah (The Quran), it is better for you than to voluntarily pray one hundred rak‚as (units of prayer), and if you learn a category of knowledge (religion), regardless if it is applied or not, it is better for you than to voluntarily pray one thousand rak‚as." (Ibn e Majah, Sunan; Ibn Hajar Al-‚Asqalani, Mukhtasar At-Targhib wa-t-Tarhib; Al-Ghazali, Ihya‚ ‚Ulum Ad-Deen)
From the Qur’anic verses and Hadith mentioned above, I can say that it is necessary for every Muslim/Muslimah to learn Tajweed.
Revelation of Quran in seven Ahruf
According to Hadith literature, the Qur‚an is revealed in seven Ahruf (the plural of harf). The most famous of those Hadiths is reported in the Muwatta compiled by Malik ibn Anas.
· Malik Ibn Anas has reported: Abd Al-Rahman Ibn Abd al-Qari narrated: “Umar Ibn al-Khattab said before me: I heard Hisham Ibn Hakim Ibn Hizam reading Surat Al-Furqan in a different way from the one I used to read it, and the Prophet himself had read out this surah to me. Consequently, as soon as I heard him, I wanted to get hold of him. However, I gave him respite until he had finished the prayer. Then I got hold of his cloak and dragged him to the Prophet. I said to him: “I have heard this person [Hisham Ibn Hakim Ibn Hizam] reading Surah Al Furqan in a different way from the one you had read it out to me.” The Prophet said: “Leave him alone [O ‘Umar].” Then he said to Hisham: “Read [it].” [Umar said:] “He read it out in the same way as he had done before me.” [At this,] the Prophet said: “It was revealed thus.” Then the Prophet asked me to read it out. So I read it out. [At this], he said: “It was revealed thus; this Qur’an has been revealed in Seven Ahruf. You can read it in any of them you find easy from among them.
Many reports contradict presence of variant readings:
- Abu Abd Al-Rahman al-Sulami reports, "The reading of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Zayd ibn Thabit and that of all the Muhajirun and the Ansar was the same. They would read the Qur’an according to the Qira’at al-‘ammah. This is the same reading which was read out twice by the Prophet to Gabriel in the year of his death. Zayd ibn Thabit was also present in this reading [called] the ‘Ardah-i akhirah. It was this very reading that he taught the Qur’an to people till his death".
- Ibn Sirin writes, "the reading on which the Qur’an was read out to the prophet in the year of his death is the same according to which people are reading the Qur’an today".
- From Abu Hurairah: The Messenger of Allah said: "The Qur‚an was sent down in seven Ahruf. Disputation concerning the Qurʾan is unbelief" - he said this three times - "and you should put into practice what you know of it, and leave what you do not know of it to someone who does."
- From Abu Hurairah: The Messenger of Allah said: "An All-knowing, Wise, Forgiving, Merciful sent down the Qur‚an in seven Ahruf."
- From ʿAbdallah Ibn Masʿūd: The Messenger of Allah said: "The Qur‚an was sent down in seven Ahruf. Each of these Ahruf has an outward aspect (zahr) and an inward aspect (batn); each of the Ahruf has a border, and each border has a lookout."
The meaning of this Hadith is explained as: As for the Prophet‚s words concerning the Qur‚an, each of the Ahruf has a border, it means that each of the seven aspects has a border which God has marked off and which no one may overstep. And as for his words each of the Ahruf has an outward aspect (zahr) and an inward aspect (batn), its outward aspect is the ostensive meaning of the recitation, and its inward aspect is its interpretation, which is concealed. And by his words each border ...... has a lookout he means that for each of the borders which God marked off in the Qur‚an - of the lawful and unlawful, and its other legal injunctions - there is a measure of God‚s reward and punishment which surveys it in the Hereafter, and inspects it ...... at the Resurrection…….
- Abdullah Ibn Masʿud said: The Messenger of Allah said: "The first Book came down from one gate according to one harf, but the Qur‚an came down from seven gates according to seven Ahruf: prohibiting and commanding, lawful and unlawful, clear and ambiguous, and parables. So, allow what it makes lawful, proscribe what it makes unlawful, do what it commands you to do, forbid what it prohibits, be warned by its parables, act on its clear passages, trust in its ambiguous passages." And they said: "We believe in it; it is all from our Lord."
- Abu Qilaba narrated: It has reached me that the Prophet said: "The Qur‚an was sent down according to seven Ahruf: command and prohibition, encouragement of good and discouragement of evil, dialectic, narrative, and parable."