Let us remember that the Quran is the word of Allah. In it, we find exhortations, warnings, glad-tidings, parables, stories of the past, commands, and prohibitions. We find ayah to make us think, reflect, cry, fear, hope, love, and fall down in prostration. How can we recite all of this without feeling?
Allah Almighty revealed the Holy Quran upon His last messenger Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (ﷺ) gradually in a period of twenty-three years, more or less. In that era, no recording or printing devices were available as they are now. Therefore, the only possible way to preserve this endowment of Allah was to learn it by heart.
At the beginning of the revelation of the Holy Quran, the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) recited and narrated the verses of a particular chapter (Surah) of the Quran to His companions. Hence, in this way, the recitation of the Holy Quran commenced. Next, the foremost task was to recite the Holy Quran in its proper pronunciation. Thus, the concept of Tajweed was introduced.
Tajweed is an Arabic word that linguistically means ‘proficiency’. It comes from the same root letters as the word Jayyid, which means ‘good’. Therefore, if Tajweed is to be considered with regards to Quran recitation, it means learning the Quran in the proper way by keeping in mind the requisites of Arabic language pronunciation.
When every letter of the Quran is pronounced with proper understanding and the way it deserves to be recited, then we can say that the Quran is being recited with Tajweed. In other words, when the angel Jibril (Gabriel), may Allah exalt his mention, recited the words of Allah to the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), he recited them in a certain way and he showed the Prophet (ﷺ) the ways in which it was permissible to recite the Quran. So, it is obligatory upon us to observe those rules so that we recite it in the way it was revealed.
At the time of the Prophet (ﷺ), there was no need for people to study Tajweed because they already talked with what is now known as Tajweed.
Tajweed Al-Quran means reading every word of the Quran with its proper grammar and pronunciation. The Quran is the most precious Holy book for Muslims, and there is a reward for reading every word. In fact, for a better understanding and accurate readability, it’s obligatory to read the Holy Quran with Tajweed.
Importance of Tajweed
Besides the very fact that the Quran should be recited with Tajweed, as it is the Sunnah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), there are other purposes and importance behind the observance of Tajweed while reciting the Quran. The observance of Tajweed is the fact that the Quran is revealed by Allah Almighty. Hence, being His subjects, it is important that we should read and recite the Quran in the very same way as He has revealed it.
The recitation of the Quran serves the fact that words do not change their meanings. The Quran is in the Arabic language, which is a very sensitive language, and any variation in the form of shortening or elongation of sounds results in a change in meanings. Therefore, observing the rules of Tajweed prevents us from making mistakes while reciting the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran is the book of ultimate guidance. In fact, it’s not a book for reading and reciting only. It’s a book of learning and understanding.
Islam is a practical religion and Holy Quran guides us about every aspect of life. Above all, there is a reward for every single word of the Quran. Arabic is a beautiful language, and especially the writing style of the Quran is matchless. In fact, the reading of the Holy Quran is very sweet and provides pleasure and satisfaction. Most importantly, it provides an accurate sense when we read the holy Quran with proper Tajweed. The Quran is the word of Allah, and its every syllable is from Allah. Its recitation must be taken very seriously.
The purpose of the Science of Tajweed
The essence of Tajweed is to make the reciter proficient in reciting the Quran and to observe the correct pronunciation of every letter with the rulings and characteristics which apply to each letter, without any exaggeration or deficiency. And so, through this, the reciter can recite the Quran upon the way of the Prophet (ﷺ) who received it from Jibril who received it from Allah Almighty in the Classical Arabic dialect that it came down in.
Arabic letters have a Makhraj – an exit or articulation point – in the mouther throat from which they originate and they also each have Sifaat – attributes, or characteristics – particular to them. Knowing the Makhraj and Sifaat of each letter is an important part of Tajweed. Sometimes two letters have very similar exits which makes mixing them up easy. So, if a person does not know the attributes of each letter there is a danger that he will change the meaning of the words in the Quran recitation.
Observing the rules of Tajweed in reciting protects the reciter from making mistakes in reciting the Quran. The Messenger of Allah said: “Whosoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah will receive a Hasanah (good deed) from it (i.e. his recitation), and the Hasanah (good deed) is multiplied by ten. I do not say that Alif-laam-Meem is (considered as) a letter (in reward), rather Alif is a letter, laam is a letter, and Meem is a letter” (Reported by At- Tirmidhi, Ad-Darami).
The Prophet also said: ”Verily he who has nothing of the Quran in his heart is like a house (which has been) destroyed” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi). The Holy Quran is the greatest blessing of Allah Almighty not just for Muslims but for all human beings. It carries great knowledge, whether regarding the universe or about human life in general. Besides the enriched knowledge, the recitation of the Quran carries religious and spiritual benefits for Muslims. The Holy Quran is the literal words of Allah Almighty that He revealed as an infallible source of legislation for mankind.
Being so important, the Holy Quran must be recited correctly, so as not to create any sort of ambiguity or misunderstanding. Allah Almighty addressed the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the Quran, “…And recite the Quran with measured recitation” (73:4).
The ruling of reading with Tajweed
Muhammad bin Al-Jazaree, the great Quran and Hadeeth scholar of the 9th Century (Hijri), says in his famous poem detailing the rules of Tajweed: “And applying Tajweed is an issue of absolute necessity, whoever doesn’t apply Tajweed to the Quran, then a sinner is he.” Sheikh Zakariya Al-Ansari [died in 926 H.] also said in explanation of this verse in his book Sharh al-Muqaddimah al- Jazariyyaa: “It is required to observe all of the Arabic rules in that which changes it and ruins the meaning”. So, he regarded it as an obligation to keep away from the major mistakes in reciting the Quran.
The scholars have divided the types of mistakes one might fall into when reciting the Quran into two types:
- Clear mistakes: which usually change obvious things and change the meaning.
- Unobvious (hidden) mistakes: for which one may need to study Tajweed rules.
Allah says in the Quran: “And recite the Quran (aloud) in a (slow and melodious) style (tarteela)” (73:4). The Quran also states: “Those to whom We have given the Scripture, and who recite it as it ought to be recited, they truly believe in it; and those who disbelieve in it, they are the real losers” (2:121).
The Prophet (ﷺ) used to recite the Quran in slow, measured, 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.” He would stop at the end of each ayah. He commanded people to recite in a beautiful voice in a pleasant melodious tone. He said: “Beautify the Quran with your voices [for a fine voice increases the Quran in beauty]”. The Prophet also said, “He who does not recite the Quran in a pleasant tone is not of us.”
Unfortunately, all too often we find people reciting the Quran quickly and without changing their tone and without any feeling. We should put all our efforts into reciting the Quran with as much feeling as we can. Have you ever prayed behind an Imam who read with feeling? Well, the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Truly the one who has one of the finest voices among the people for reciting the Quran is the one whom you think fears Allah when you hear him recite.” Once when the Prophet (ﷺ) complimented Abu Moosaa al-Ashari 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.”
Let us remember that the Quran is the word of Allah. In it, we find exhortations, warnings, glad-tidings, parables, stories of the past, commands, and prohibitions. We find ayah to make us think, reflect, cry, fear, hope, love, and fall down in prostration. How can we recite all of this without feeling? When we recite an ayah of the Quran, we should imagine that we are trying to feel and convey the full message behind that ayah.
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.