The science of the Quran recitations includes three main branches:
- The knowledge of the Tajweed.
- The knowledge of the different reading types.
- The different learning moods.
The knowledge of the Tajweed
Tajweed knowledge can be divided into two parts:
- Theoretical rules: The knowledge of the theoretical of Tajweed rules, of its norms, conditions and designation as the prolongation rules (ahkam al madd), the rules of Noon Sakina and Tanween etc. This science’s knowledge is an obligation that is the Muslim community’s responsibility (Fard Kifaya).
- Practical rules: it is the knowledge of practising the rules of Tajweed. This means to know how to recite the Quran as it was recited by the Prophet (peace be upon Him). This knowledge of this science is an individual obligation for each Muslim who desire to recite or memorize some parts of the Holy Quran.
The scholars of Tajweed and recitations agree that the Holy Quran must be read with a specific recitation, exactly in the same way as Jibril (peace be upon Him) transmitted the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him). This is the way that the companions recited the Quran and the scholars who followed them.
There are many proofs of its binding status: Allah the Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا
Or add to it, and recite the Qur’an with measured recitation. (73:4)
He, SWT, also says:
الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَتْلُونَهُ حَقَّ تِلَاوَتِهِ أُولَـٰئِكَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ
Those to whom We have given the Book recite it with its true recital. They [are the ones who] believe in it. (2:221)
According to how it has been revealed, who does not recite the Holy Quran does not recite it as it should be. This way of reciting consists of:
- to take care of your elocution when reading the Qu’ran,
- ensure the letters’ articulation points’ accuracy,
- produce a correct recitation by giving each letter the precise sound which corresponds to it. Putting it in the manner to obtain the perfect result possible.
The knowledge of several recitation types
Origin of the variants
At first, the revelation was only done in one “letter” (harf – huruf), then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon Him) asked Jibril until the Angel taught him to recite the Quran following seven “letters”.
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with Him) reports that the Prophet (peace be upon Him) said:
“Jibril taught me at the beginning to recite the Quran following a single ‘letter’ (harf). And then I called on him repeatedly, and he increased the “letters” to seven “. (Hadith reported by al Boukhari and Muslim .)
We often hear that these seven “letters” correspond to the seven types of “recitations“, which is not correct as we will develop later, inshAllah.
In Surah Al-Hajj, Allah the Almighty says in verse 11:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَعْبُدُ اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ حَرْفٍ
And of the people is he who worships Allah on edge (harf).
Here for the meaning of the word “harf” defined in a certain “way” (in the context of the verse “on edge”).
by Omar Ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be please with Him) said:
I heard Hisham ibn Hakim reciting Sura al Furqan differently from the way of reciting that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon Him) had taught me. And I almost rushed to stop (his recitation). Then I let him finish.
Then I took hold of his garment tightly and brought him before Allah’s Messenger and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I heard this one recite Qu’ran differently from the way you taught me to recite it.”
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon Him) said, “Recite”.
And he repeated the way of reciting that I had heard.
The Prophet (peace be upon Him) said, “This is how he (the Qu’ran) was revealed.”
Then he said to me: “Recite”.
And I did.
And he said, “That’s also how it was revealed. Indeed, the Qu’ran was revealed following seven “letters.” Recite it as you can ”.
(Hadith reported by al Bukhari and by Muslim.)
Are different quran recitations due to the different dialects?
There is an important point to underline from this previously quoted hadith.
Indeed, many tend to say that the different readings result only from the different dialects existing at the time (although this is a strong cause, it is not the only one).
It is well known that Hisham (may Allah be please with Him) was part of the Quraysh (a member of the tribe of the Assad) and that Omar Ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be please with Him) was also part of the Quraysh (a member of the tribe of the Adiy). Also, the Qurayches had only one dialect.
Scholars have indeed issued several dozen opinions on this subject (nearly 40 opinions), but this one remains the strongest, and Allâh is the most knowledgeable.
These variations relate to many words in the Holy Qu’ran. And as it lets appear in the hadith of Omar Ibn Al Khattab. Indeed, Omar Ibn Al Khattab only contested the terms and not the meanings.
These “letters” are a source of diversity and not a contradiction. Thus Allah wanted to facilitate his creatures and not make them difficult to recite the Quran.
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The ten readings, the seven recitations, the seven variants, what’s the difference?
What is currently called the “seven recitations” does not come from the Qu’ran or the Sunnah. It is an ijtihad (effort of reflection) of Ibn Mujahid (may Allah forgive him).
Many think that these seven recitations are precisely these seven “letters”, but this number seven is only a coincidence with the seven “letters” mentioned previously in the Sunnah sources.
Three recitations completed these seven, bringing the number of readings to 10, all being authentic and infallible transmission up to the Prophet ٍ (peace be upon Him), which respect all the 7 variants.
So in these 10 recitations, one can find up to seven variations for a single verse, although most of the verses have only one variation.
As for the well-known recitations, they are:
- Ibn ‘Amr (from Châm) died in 118. (ibn Dhakwân and Hichâm reported from him)
- Ibn Katheer (from Mecca) died in 120. (Al Bazzy and Qunbool reported from him)
- Nafi ‘(from Medina) died in 169. (Qaloon and Warsh reported from him)
- ‘Asim (from Kufa in Iraq) died in 127. (Shu’ba and Hafs reported from him)
- Hamza (from Kufa) died in 156. (Khalaf and Khallad reported from him)
- Abu ‘Amru (from Basra in Iraq) died in 154. (Ad Doury and As Soussy reported from him)
- Al Kassai (from Koufa) died in 189. (Abu Al Hârith and Ad Doury reported from him)
For the ten recitations, we add the following three:
- Khalaf (from Kufa) died in 229. (Idris and Ishaq reported from him)
- Abu Ja’far (from Medina) died in 130. (ibn Wardan and Ibn Jammaz reported from him)
- Ya’qub (from Kufa) died in 205. (Rooais and Rawh reported from him)
What means the words “qary قارِئ”, “rawy راوِي” and “Tariq طَريق”?
Here is a small, simplified summary:
- Each reader “qary” has students who report from him. These students are reporters, called a “rawy“.
- And each reporter has students who report from these. It is these that we call the “Tariq” (path in the chain of transmission), as well as all those below in the chain of transmission.
For example, Asim is a reader (Qari), and two reporters (Rawy) took from him: Chu’ba and Hafs. Then two recognized students of Hafs report from him. They are Amru and Ubayd ibn Sabah. Then El Fil and Zaraan took from Amru, etc.
All these names representing the same “Tariq” in the chain of transmission.
The different learning modes
- The first level: “التَّحْقِيق” at tahqiq, which means precision. It consists of fully realizing the letters’ sounds, the long and short vowels, and the hamza ء. The recitation must be calm and slow. At tartil will be done with great precision, and this for educational purposes. When the reader reads according to at-tahqiq, he should not go overboard by unnaturally lengthening certain letters.
Example of Tahqiq recitation of the Holy Quran:
- The second level: “الحَدْرُ” – al hadr, dynamic recitation. This is a fast-paced recitation that takes into account the Tajweed rules.
Example of al hadr recitation of the Holy Quran:
- The third level: “التَّدْوِيْرُ” at tadwir, also called tajweed. It is the intermediate recitation. It is an intermediate level between tahqiq and al hadr.
Example of Tadwir quran recitation:
Note: At the Prophet’s time (peace be upon Him), there was no need to theorize Tajweed because it was their own language.
With the arrival of non-Arabic speakers in the community, then the evolution of the language and dialects among Arabic speakers, it was very quickly necessary to define the rules which govern the language and the recitation of the Saint Qu’ran.
A qualified person only does the correction of the recitation. Of course, you can always learn the rules from a book or a site on your own, depending on your abilities, but a competent ear must hear the correction and recitation.
Thus, it is incumbent on a person wishing to correct his recitation, to find near his home a teacher recognized as competent and to recite to him what he wishes to correct from his recitation.
Preferably he will start with what is fundamental to him for his religious practice and seek to correct Sura Al-Fatiha, then the suras that he memorizes and recites in prayer. The recitation of Al-Fatiha is a pillar of the prayer. It is, therefore, necessary as a priority to purify its recitation of all serious faults.
If, however, a person cannot find a competent teacher, he will try, as much as he can, to correct himself by listening to audio recordings and listening to the Saint Qu’ran. For example, it will take as references:
This tajweed rules lesson is now finished. The next one will be insha’Allah about the mistakes of the reader while reciting the Holy Quran.