Thajweed means to improve, to make better.
Thajweed of the Holy Qur-an means the knowledge and application of the rules of recitation so the reading is as the recitation of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S.
How can you learn tajweed?
Tajweed and its application can only be learned with a qualified teacher.
The rules themselves can be studied independently, but their correct application can only be done by listening to, reciting to, and being corrected by, a qualified teacher of the Qur’an.
Do all Arabs know how to recite the Qur’an with proper tajweed?
Unfortunately many do not know proper tajweed. In the days of the Prophet, peace and blessing upon him, there was no need for the study of tajweed because they talked with what is now known as tajweed; in other words, it was natural for them. Now, over 14 centuries later, colloquial Arabic has changed radically from the classical Arabic with which the Qur’an was revealed, and Arabs have to study tajweed, just in the same way that non-Arabs do.
I want to learn to recite the Qur’an with proper tajweed, but don’t know where to start.
The first step is finding a qualified Qur’an teacher who will listen to you and point out your mistakes, and help you practice fixing them. You will need to learn the Arabic letters and vowels too.
What if there aren’t any qualified teachers where I live?
Then your task is going to be a little harder, but certainly not impossible. You need to work with tapes of good reciters, for example, Sheikh Abdullah Basfar, or Sheikh Mohammed Hosary. There are sets available on the Internet and in Islamic stores that are called “mu’alm”. In these sets, the reciter reads a phrase, and then there is a blank space on the tape, allowing the student to repeat what the reciter has just read.
You will need to work on the pronunciation of letters by getting a description of the articulation points and practice placing your tongue, lips, or finding the place in your throat where the letter is articulated from, and compare it to the letter when recited by the Sheikh.
Common Tajweed Mistakes
The two most common tajweed mistakes made by non-Arabs are the timings of the vowels, and medd letters, and in the articulation points of the letters. The first type of mistake has been addressed in the first of what will be, insha’ Allah many tidbits; please see the tidbit lesson link. The second type of mistake, that in the letters themselves, is a major problem that needs to be addressed by all non-Arabs, whether they are Westerners, Europeans, Africans, from the Indo Pakistani subcontinent, or from Eastern Asia. At the outset, the letters that occur in Arabic that are not common in other languages would be what one would imagine to be a problem, but in fact, there are letters in Arabic that are similar to other languages, but do not share the same articulation points with their counterparts.
The letters that occur in Arabic, that are not common in other languages are:
The articulation points of all the Arabic letters will be described later, insha’Allah in a future tidbit lesson.
Letters that have similar sounds in other languages, but in fact have different articulation points are:
The first two (starting from the right), use the tip of the tongue from the top side and what lies opposite from the tip of the tongue from the gum line of the two top front incisors. Many different languages have similar letters, as in English there is “d” and “t”, but they articulate these letters at a posterior position in the mouth from what the Arabs use as an articulation point. The result is an incorrect pronunciation of these letters when reading Qur’an.
The next two letters also are used in other languages. Most notably the kaf in Arabic is similar to the “k” in English. Many languages pronounce this letter farther back in the mouth than the correct Arabic position. The deep part of the tongue meets up with the hard palate in Arabic to pronounce this letter, not the soft palate, as many mistakenly use.
The ra’ and lam are two letters that non-Arabs have some difficulty in pronouncing correctly. The ra’ uses the tip of the tongue and the top of the tip and the gums of the two top incisors, but the trick to the ra’ is actually hitting the gum. Many Muslims try to pronounce the ra’ without touching the tongue to the gum. Some mistakenly use the throat, like the French do in the French “r”. The Arabic lam has the widest use of the tongue of any other letters, but uses only the end of the sides of the tongue until it ends at the tip, which then hits the gums of the front upper eight teeth.
The above are just brief summaries of the letters, and as stated before, insha’ Allah soon a tidbit lesson will be posted with all the articulation points discussed in detail.
A third mistake incurred by Arabs and non-Arabs alike is in making proper stops and starts. There is more than one aspect to this mistake. The first aspect is that the proper way to stop on a word is by putting a sukoon, or absence of a vowel on the last letter of the word. It is not allowed to stop using the harakah, or vowel on the last letter of the word. The second aspect of stopping is that of stopping at a place that doesn’t contradict the meaning intended by Allah, the Exalted. The same mistake can occur when starting up after stopping and taking a breath. One cannot just start on the next word arbitrarily, instead the meaning needs to be considered, and the start should be on a word that portrays the correct and complete meaning, even if the reciter needs to go back two or three words. The stop and start will be explained in detail, insha’ Allah in future tidbit lessons.
One note that is of utmost importance. It is vital that the Muslim learn the Arabic letters and vowels and recite the Qur’an using them, NOT a transliteration. Transliterations do not take into account the various letters that sound similar to the untrained ear, but are very different in pronunciation. The Qur’an is the word of Allah, revealed to man as a guidance, and we have to be extremely careful to read it, as best we can, with proper pronunciation. Reading a transliteration can lead to changing the meaning of the Arabic Qur’an by mispronouncing letters.
Manners when reading the Qur’an
Manners of the Heart
A. Understanding of the origin of the words
This is an indication to the greatness of the words being read, and the bounty of Allah; Glorified is He, to His creation when He addressed His creation with these words.
B. Putting into the heart the understanding that these are not the words of man.
Through this the reader should think about the characteristics of Allah the Exalted.
C. Presence of the heart while reading.
Through this the reader should throw away other thoughts while reading the Qur’an.
D. Pondering the meaning.
There is less reward in reciting the Qur’an without understanding the meaning. The Qur’an was revealed for guidance and this can be achieved through recitation accompanied with pondering.
E. Understanding the meaning.
This means interacting and reacting to every verse according to what is proper for it.
This means that the reader feels that every message in the Qur’an is meant especially for him personally.
External Manners for reading the Qur’an
A. Purity of body and clothes and place.
B. Facing the Qiblah.
C. Seeking refuge from rejected Satan and reading the basmalah.
Not reading when yawning.
D. Avoiding cutting off reading to talk with people.
E. Stopping at a verse of warning and seeking protection with Allah, and stopping at a verse of mercy and asking The Merciful for His Bounty.
F. Humbleness and crying when reading.
Imam An-Nawwawi may Allah be Merciful to him said: Crying when reading the Qur’an is a characteristic of those who know Allah (know Him through His names and Characteristics) and the feelings of the righteous.
PRINCIPLES OF TAJWEED One who wishes to learn a science needs to know its principles so that he will gain insight into the sought science. There are several principles in the science of tajweed that should be understood:
1. Its definition By linguistic definition: Betterment
Applied definition: Articulating every letter from its articulation point and giving the letter its rights and dues of characteristics.
Rights of the letters are its required characteristics that never leave it. The dues of the letters are its presented characteristics that are present in it some of the time, and not present at other times. i.e. the medd, idgham
2. Its formation
The words of the Glorious Qur’an and some said Honorable Hadiths also.
3. Its fruits
It is preserving the tongue from mistakes in pronunciation of the Glorious Qur’an during reading.
4. Its precedence
It is one of the most honored of sciences and one of the best of them due to its relation to Allah’s words.
5. Its place within the sciences
It is one of the Islamic Law sciences that are related to the Glorious Qur’an.
6. Its founder
The rule setter from the practical point of view is the Messenger of Allah
because the Qur’an was revealed to him from Allah, the most High, with tajweed, and he, was instructed on it from the Trustworthy, Jibreel, peace be upon him, and taught it to his companions, who then taught it to their followers and so on until it came to us by these chains. The rule setters from the scientific point of view are the scholars of Qur’anic sciences, such as Abu ‘Ubaid Al-Qasim bin Sallaam.
7. Its precept
Knowledge of tajweed is fardh kifayaah, meaning some of the Muslim community must know it, and its application is fardh ‘ain, required by all Muslims (men and women) who have the complete Qur’an or part of it memorized, even if only one surah.
8. Reasons for its rules
Guarding the Glorious Qur’an and preserving it from distortion. The Arabs mixed with non-Arabs after the spread of Islam, and the Muslims feared that the Arab tongue would become corrupted with this intermixing. It then became mandatory for rules to be put down that would preserve the recitation of the Qur’an from mistakes, and guarantee the reader of the Qur’an integrity of pronunciation.
9. Its principles
The knowledge of tajweed is contingent on four matters:
1. Knowledge of the articulation points of the letters
2. Knowledge of the characteristics of the letters
3. Knowledge of what rules change in the letters due to the order of letters
4. Exercising the tongue and a lot of repetition.