Friday, 8 October 2010

First tajweed lesson: 10 ways of recitation

I remember once my teacher talked about the importance of reciting the Quran with proper tajweed. Knowing how to recite the Quran is a must for every one of us. It’s a fard al-‘ayn not fard al-kifaya which means we all individually need to learn the rules of recitation. She told us if we cannot then at least we should learn to recite the surah Al-Fatihah with tajweed. It made me think whether we really have any valid excuse not to learn the tajweed! Can we really afford to know only surah Fatihah with tajweed? Alhamdulillah most of us are university educated that’s why not knowing the basics of reading the Qur’an is really a big failure for us.
Moreover, now being a mother alhamdulillah I feel like I must prepare myself to learn the tajweed as this is my duty to teach my children the Words of Allah (SWT). Now days it has become a norm to send our kids to the mosque or some sort of supplementary places to teach them the Qur’an. Most of the parents feel that they have fulfilled their responsibility by sending their kids to learn the Qur’an. I really want to be in control of what my children are learning as I believe as parents we know what is best for our children. Being a teacher myself I know how hard it is to teach 20 to 30 children within couple of hours. No way, it is possible to give each one of them proper time and care. Not all of the students are of same abilities. Some are slow learners and some are quick learners but treating them all in a similar way is a recipe for disaster. Working in different sorts of educational institutes has made me rethink about education and how it’s need to be delivered to our children. I am still doing my research on various styles of education. I am hoping to write about my findings very soon insha-Allah.

Now back to the tajweed. Alhamdulillah I have just started my tajweed classes. I was a bit worried thinking since university I haven’t really done any long term course so I may be a bit slow in understanding new concepts. But alhamdulillah our tajweed teacher Umm Fatimah seems a very friendly sister and very approachable alhamdulillah. She has a good sense of humour. May Allah (SWT) reward her for teaching us this important science! She reminded us the reason why we are learning tajweed. Insha-Allah through learning the Quran with proper tajweed we are hoping to get closer to Allah (SWT). This should be our ultimate goal insha-Allah, not to feel ‘proud’ that we know the rules or brag about it! She talked about the history of the Qur’an and how it was compiled and why there are ten different ways of recitation. It was quite fascinating to know all the details alhamdulillah.

The Qur’an is the sacred Words of Allah (SWT) sent to prophet Muhammad (SAW) through angel Jibreel (AS). He (AS) recited the Qur’an to him (SAW) and our prophet (SAW) recited back to him to check that he (SAW) recited the verses correctly. According to a tradition (Hadith), our prophet (SAW) told us to learn the Qur’an from four companions. They are: Ali (Raw), Abdullah Ibn Masud (RAW), Abdullah Ibn Abbas (RAW) and Ubay Ibn Ka’b (RAW). Just to clarify this hadith doesn’t imply that all the other companions didn’t understand the Qur’an but it was the habit of our beloved prophet (SAW) to tell his companions about their individual talents and what they should do with that talent.

These great companions had lots of students who learnt from them about the Qur’an. One of the famous students of Ali (RAW) was Abu ‘Abdir Rahman As-Sulami (RA) and the famous student of Abdullah Ibn Masud was Dhir bin Habashi (RA). Imam Aasim (RA) from Kufa learnt the Qur’an from both of the imams; As-Sulami (RA) and Dhir bin Habashi (RA). Imam Aasim (RA) had two very prominent students: Hafs ibn Sulayman (RA) and Shu’bah (RA).

The ten recitors and  imams :
There were five prominent provinces around the Islamic world where the great imams were very active in their effort to learn and teach the science of the Quran. These were: Makkah, Madinah, Sham, Kufa and Basra. Imam Ibn Katheer (RA) was based in Makkah, Imam Naafi’ (RA) and Imam Abu J’afar (RA) were based in Madinah, Imam Ibn ‘Amir (Ra) was based in Sham, there were three imams based in Kufa: Aasim (RA), Al-Kasaaie (RA) and Hamzah (RA). Imam Abu ‘Amr (RA) and Imam Y’aqub (RA) were based in Basra. So these are the nine imams whose recitation styles are well documented and followed by Muslims. There is one more imam called Khalaf Al-‘Aashar who was the student of imam Hamza (RA). He is the 10th imam and recitor of one style. All these great imams have similar rank and all of them have chains as a proof that their style was valid and followed by the companions. The great fact is all the different styles of recitation are well-documented through the hard work of imams and scholars of that time Subhanallah. Imam Ash-Shataby (RA) has explained the seven ways of recitation. He (RA) compiled a poem to make it easy to remember the various rules. The poem is called Ash-Shaatabiyyah. Imam Ibn Al-Jazaree (RA) explained the other three styles (Ad-Durrah). We cannot imagine how much hard work they had to do to write down all the intricate details of the rules of recitation Subhanallah! The differences are blessing to us. Because of their efforts, we don’t have doubts regarding the 10 different ways of recitation. We respect all of the imams and their work.

However, most of us recite according to Imam Hafs (from Imam Aasim RA upon the way of Ash-Shaatabiyyah). So now it makes us think how come this way of recitation is the most popular one. There was a king in Egypt called Farooq who ordered to make lots of copies according to Hafs style and distributed the copies through out the Islamic world. Thus this style has become a prominent one but that doesn’t imply that all the other styles are not valid. Lots of Muslims in Morocco recite according to Imam Naafi’ (RA).

I tried to note down some of the details about the ten different styles of recitation. Please forgive me as it is not really a comprehensive description to follow. This post is to remind myself and my blog readers a bit about how the different styles of recitation came to exist.

Now the fascination story of how the holy Qur’an was compiled in a book form! According to a hadith, prophet Muhammad (SAW) told us that the Qur’an will be in a book form. During his (SAW) time, companions used to memorize the Qur’an through his (SAW) recitation. Only some of the verses were written on leather, leaves etc. There were quite a lot of companions who memorized the whole Qur’an mashallah. Someone who memorizes the Qur’an is called a hafidh. During the era of Sayyidina Abu Bakr (RAW) due to wars, lots of hafidh companions were martyred. The situation made the remaining companions quite worried about the future of the Qur’an. The khalifa sayyidina Abu Bakr (RAW) asked the scribe of prophet Muhammad (SAW) Zayd ibn Thabit (RAW) to make a copy of the Qur’an. Zayd (RAW) used to write letters and some verses from the Quran for our beloved prophet (SAW) and that’s why he was called the scribe of him (SAW). However Zayd (RAW) wasn’t really willing to do the work as he was fearful of doing something which hasn’t been done during the prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s time. He kept making lots of prayers for guidance. Eventually Siyyidina Abu Bakr (RAW) and Umar (RAW) managed to convince him to embark upon this great project Alhamdulillah. Just imagine if they didn’t do this how on earth we would have been able to read the Qur’an! They have done so much for us! No way we can pay them back Subhanallah! May Allah (SWT) reward them with the best, Ameen!

Although Zayb Ibn Thabit (RAW) did agree to make a copy of the Qur’an, he placed a condition. For every verse of the Qur’an he demanded two very reliable witnesses. Alhamdulillah due to availability of great companions, he (RAW) was able to compile a copy. Thus all the verses of the Qur’an have two witnesses except the last two verses of Suran At-Tawba. Now get ready for another beautiful story! Abu Khuzaymah (RAW) was the witness for the last two verses of the suran At-Tawba. Once a Bedouin falsely accused prophet (SAW) of not giving him his stuff back and asked for a witness to prove otherwise although he knew there wasn’t a witness present when the transaction took place. Abu Khuzaymah (RAW) was just passing by and heard the accusation and asked the prophet (SAW) that he wants to be the witness. The prophet (SAW) was surprised and asked him why he wants to be the witness for him when he wasn’t even present there while the transaction occurred. Abu Khuzaymah said he firmly believes that prophet (SAW) has brought the truth from Allah SWT and everything he (SAW) says is the truth so he doesn’t have any doubt that prophet Muhammad (SAW) has given the stuff back to the bedouin. After this incident, the prophet (SAW) stated that the witness of Abu Khuzaymah equals to witness of two people. This took place years before the Quran was compiled and only Allah (SWT) knew that it is going to be Abu Khuzamah who is going to be given the task of being the witness to the last two ayats of suaran At-Tawbah Subhanallah!

So the Qur’an was compiled by Zayd Ibn Thabit (RAW) and was preserved by the khulafae Rashedoon (Era of Sayyidina Abu Bakr RAW and Umar RAW). After Uman (RAW)’s death it was looked after by Hafsa (RAW) wife of prophet Muhammad (SAW) and daughter of Umar (RAW). This one and only copy of the written Qur’an did not have the harakat (vowels i.e fatha, dhamma, kasra ) or the dots . In the beginning the Qur’an was only read by native Arabs so that wasn’t an issue for them. However, as the Islamic empire was expanding so rapidly and the message of Islam was reaching to non-Arabs, reading the Qur’an without the harakat got harder. This also created the possibility of not reciting the Qur’an properly. At the time of Sayyidina Uthman (RAW) Hudhayfah (RAW) came to voice his concern regarding this matter. As a result, they asked Zayd Ibn Thabit (RAW) and some other prominent companions to make some more copies with harakat to eliminate the possibility of not reading the Mushaaf correctly. They (RAW) used the main copy which was kept with Hafsa (RAW) as a guide and later gave the copy back to her. The copies with the harakat (vowels) were sent to different provinces of Islamic empire so that new Muslims can learn the Qur’an with the correct manner.
May Allah (SWT) give us the ability to learn the Qur’an with tajweed and help us to get closer to Him, ameen!

Mishary Rashid reciting Surah Ikhlaas in 10 styles


Umm Ahmad said...


Jazakillah sister for sharing this post, I really wish I could meet your teacher. Can you please tell me which country are you living in and any contact detail (email etc) of this sister who is teaching you?


Anonymous said...

learned a lot

maazrah said...

assalam alaykum,

Could please link to my new free tajweed website:

Fakhir said...

Allah will bless you for sharing this kind deed.

Learn tajweed Online