Quran Focus Academy Blog

Quran Reading with Tajwid

Literally, ‘tajwid‘ means improvement and perfection. If you do something with tajwid it means you are trying to do it with the utmost quality and in the most perfect way possible. The term is technically used to refer to the science concerned with correct recitation and pronunciation of the Qur’anic words and verses. The relationship is clear between the literal meaning of the word and its technical usage; the literal meaning revolves around perfecting an action or a performance, which is the recitation of the Qur’an as far as the science of Tajwid is concerned.

After the rapid spread of Islam in its early centuries, especially among non-Arabs, Muslim scholars deemed it necessary to put down a set of rules that serve as a reference for the Qur’an learners. So, Tajwid has been the reference for people who wished to recite the Qur’an in a correct manner. This, however, does not deny the fact that the Qur’an cannot be learned independently, without the assistance of a skilled teacher. The unique isnad-based system of learning Qur’an continued to be the recognized way for teaching students how to recite the Qur’an and for training them on Tajwid. In the isnad-based system, a student recites the whole Qur’an by heart, from the beginning to the end, fulfilling the rules of Tajwid to a certified Qur’an teacher, and then the student is certified by the teacher to be qualified to recite and teach the Qur’an. The certificate is called ijazah (license). A typical ijazah lists the teachers of the granting sheikh (the isnad or sanad , an unbroken chain of teachers that goes back to the Prophet).

Tajwid, according to the scholars’ definition, is all about “articulating (the sound of) each letter from its proper point of articulation, and ensuring the correct pronunciation of the genuine characteristics of each sound as well as the occasional ones.” Here, by ‘genuine’ scholars mean the permanent features of a sound without which the sound is never pronounced correctly. The occasional features are those affecting a letter sound due to certain occasional reasons such as the place of the letter in a word, its tashkil, the features of the letters coming before or after it, etc.

A typical Tajwid book starts with an introduction clarifying the significance and manners of reciting the Qur’an, the prerequisites of a correct recitation, the Islamic ruling of observing Tajwid when reciting the Qur’an and the types of recitation in terms of speed. The main body of Tajwid, as clearly stated in the above definition, is concerned with the correct pronunciation of the Qur’an. This is dealt with in the following basic topics:

  1. Points of articulation (Makharij Al-Huruf)
  2. Letters Characteristics (Sifat Al-Huruf)
  3. Other rules of Tajwid related to the sound changes of certain letters due to their places in the word or their surrounding letters, such as the rules of a non-vowel N and M (ahkam an-Nun wal mim as-sakinah) and the types of long vowels (mudud.)

Students of phonetics will find the above topics familiar and similar to what they study. The concept of idgham, for example, is similar to that of assimilation as far as the phonetics is concerned.

It is obligatory, according to the scholars of Tajwid, to observe its rules when reciting the Qur’an. Allah Almighty said, {…recite the Qur’an (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style} (Al-Muzzamil 73: 4)

The verse means reciting the Qur’an slowly with humility (khushu`) and reflection observing the rules of Tajwid such as lengthening the long vowels (madd al-mamudud) and shortening the short ones (qasr al-maqsur)… The command in the above verse indicates obligation as this is the original usage of the imperative form. There is nothing here to indicate otherwise. (Al-Marsafi, Hidayat Al-Qari’ ila Tajwid Kalam al-Bari)

Imam ibn Al-Jazari, one of the earliest scholars of Tajwid, maintained in his Tuhfatul-Atfal, a famous beginner-style Tajwid manual, that,

It is incumbent to observe the rules of Tajwid; those who fail to do so are incurring a sin because the Qur’an was revealed by Allah and transmitted to us with the rule s of Tajwid.

Some scholars, however, hold that it is recommended (mustahab) to follow the rules of Tajwid rather than being wajib(obligatory), as long as the words are pronounced correctly in terms of Arabic and no mistakes are involved of course. Nevertheless, it befits a Muslim to try his best to perfect his recitation. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

The one who is proficient in the recitation of the Qur’an will be with the honorable, obedient scribes (angles), and he who recites the Qur’an with difficulty and find it hard to recite will have a double reward. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Tajwid is just one of the manifestations of Allah’s protection for the Qur’an from any kinds of corruption. Going through books of the Tajwid shows the extreme care given to the minute details of the pronunciation of the Qur’an. All of this is to ensure that the way the Qur’an is recited fourteen centuries after the demise of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is exactly the same as how the Prophet recited the Qur’an. Besides, the isnad-based transmission of the Qur’an guarantees that the rules of Tajwid are fully put into practice in a way that ensures the highest quality and accuracy level when transmitting the Qur’an from one generation to another. Tajwid, after all, is one of a group of sciences created initially to serve the Qur’an and to guard it from corruption such as the Qira’at (science of the recitation versions) and the scripting of the Qur’an (ar-rasm wad-dabt.)

By Muhammad Fathi

In heart of France, Islamic school trains imams

By Pauline Talagrand

SAINT-LEGER-DE-FOUGERET — Deep in the wooded hills of Burgundy in central France, an unusual institute is training unusual students: aspiring French imams who hope to minister to the country’s large Muslim population.

Early in the morning, some 200 students from across the country stream into the European Institute of Human Sciences de Saint-Leger-de-Fougeret, where they learn to chant the Koran and study Islamic theology and Arabic literature.

After seven intensive years of study, only 10 or so graduates each year to lead prayers or preach at mosques. There is no doubting the need for new imams.

Estimates of France’s Muslim population vary widely, from between 3.5 million and 6.0 million, though there is little hard evidence as to how many are practising. In any event, France’s Muslim community is the largest in Western Europe.

Relations between the authorities and Muslims, many of them second- or third-generation immigrants, chiefly from North Africa, have often been tense.

Some younger Muslims have been tempted by extremist jihadist views and France has implemented a contentious ban on women wearing full veils.

Over the past nine years, various governments have encouraged the professional training of local religious leaders. Interior Minister Manuel Valls recently backed the practice, even if the job of imam is badly paid, if at all, and enjoys no official recognition.

The initiative goes back 20 years when the Union of Islamic Organisations in France, which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, converted a former children’s holiday centre into the institute. Its stated aim is to train imams equipped “with a solid knowledge of Islam and the socio-cultural realities of Europe.”

The idea was to provide an alternative to the recruitment of foreign imams, who often spoke no French and had little or no knowledge of French lifestyles.

“The training of imams who are products of French society is vital: Today 70 percent of the faithful don’t speak Arabic,” said the institute’s director Zuhair Mahmood.

Initially financed by the Gulf States, the school depends heavily on fees of about 3,400 euros ($4,400) a year — board and lodging included.

“Since I was small I have dreamed of becoming an imam,” said 18-year-old Wahib, who did not want to give his last name, “but seven years is long and there are no grants.”

Apart from the rural setting, the atmosphere in the run-down prefabricated corridors of the institute is like that of any other college.

At break time men, often bearded, and women, all of them wearing head scarves, wait for coffee. The women can follow the 20 hours of weekly courses but cannot become imams.

Said, who also did not want to give his last name, was born in Morocco and now living in Nice in southern France. He took correspondence courses for two years and has now left his family to “deepen my knowledge of Islam” and “if I succeed, become an imam.”

“It’s my vocation,” he says. “I would love to pass on my knowledge to others and above all fight against extremism.”

There are about 10 people in his class. They listen to the interpretations of a Koran sura, or chapter, as part of a third year theology course, which also includes an introduction to French law. They then recite a passage from the Koran.

“Being an imam, it isn’t something that happens,” the 33-year-old Said told AFP. “It’s a real responsibility, We have to be safeguards. He lamented the fact that “moderate imams are ignored by people in the middle of an identity crisis.”

“Radicalism is always the result of ignorance,” Said’s theology teacher Larbi Belbachir added.

“You cannot pass on a message without knowing French. Islam can adapt and does not forbid you to respect the law.”

Traditionally, congregations of the faithful choose their imams, who carry out their duties as volunteers or are paid by gifts. Those presiding in large mosques can earn 1,500 euros ($1,950) a month. They are classified as educators or teachers but never as imams.

“When this profession is recognised and paid as such,” Said suggested, “perhaps there will be more vocations.”

How to perform Wudu (Ablution)

Step 1:
Intention. Since Islam teaches us that intention forms the basis of any action, it is necessary that, before you perform Wudu, you make the niyyat or intention for it. This will not be a verbal act – you only have to mentally prepare yourself for an act that will cleanse and purify you.

Step 2:
Say Bismillah. Recite bismi-llāhi ar-raḥmāni ar-raḥīmi (In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful).

Step 3:
Begin by washing your hands. Completely wash your right hand three times with clean water, then move on to the left and repeat. When washing, remember not to miss any part of the hands – wash between the fingers and thumb, too.

Step 4:
Rinse mouth. Take water in your right palm and rinse your mouth with it, thrice. Do not swallow the water on purpose, but spit it out every time.

Step 5:
Cleaning the nose. Using your right hand, carefully and gently put water into your nostrils, before exhaling it. Perform this step three times.

Step 6:
Wash your face. Thoroughly wash your face, beginning from the hairline on your forehead and from one ear to the other. This step, too, must be performed three times.

Step 7:
Wash your arms. Begin with your right hand. Wet it with water, and wash from your wrist up to your elbow. Repeat thrice; then do the same to your left arm.

Step 8:
Perform Masah. Usually, Masah refers to the religious act of cleaning one’s head, in a specific way, with a small amount of water. For performing Masah, wet your hands and place your palms, flat, on the top of your head (where the hairline begins). Wipe them to the back of your neck, and then back again to the front. Now wet the back of both ears by placing your thumbs behind them. Use your index and middle fingers to wash the front and back of your ears. Masah is done only once.

Step 9:
Wash feet. Start with your right foot. Wash it thrice from the toes, up to the ankles. Make sure you wash between your toes, too. Do the same to your left foot.

Remember: Once Wudu is performed, it does not need to (but can) be performed again until it is invalidated.