The word Tajweed linguistically means ‘proficiency’ or ‘doing something well’. When applied to the Qur’an, it means giving every letter of the Qur’an its rights and dues of characteristics when we recite the Qur’an and observing the rules that apply to those letters in different situations. We give the letters their rights by observing the essential characteristics of each letter that never leaves it. And we give them their dues by observing the characteristics of each letter that are present in them some of the time and not present at other times.
The Qur’an was revealed with Tajweed rules applied to it. In other words, when the angel Jibreel (AS) recited the words of Allah to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) he recited them in a certain way and he showed the Prophet (PBUH) the ways in which it was permissible to recite the Qur’an. So it is upon us to observe those rules so that we recite it in the way it was revealed.
History of Tajweed
At the time of the Prophet (PBUH), there was no need for people to study Tajweed because they talked with what is now known as Tajweed so it was natural for them. When the Arabs started mixing with the non-Arabs as Islam spread, mistakes in the Qur’an recitation started appearing, so the scholars had to record the rules. Now, because the everyday Arabic that Arabs speak has changed so much from the Classical Arabic with which the Qur’an was revealed, even Arabs have to study Tajweed.
The Purpose of Tajweed
The Qur’an is the word of Allah, and it’s every syllable is from Allah. Its recitation must be taken very seriously. The purpose of the Science of Tajweed in essence is to make the reciter proficient in reciting the Qur’an, observing 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 Qur’an upon the way of the Prophet (PBUH). as he received it from Jibreel who received it from Allah (SWT) in the Classical Arabic dialect that it came down in.
Arabic letters each have a Makhraj – an exit or articulation point – in the mouth or 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 Qur’an recitation. Observing the rules of Tajweed in reciting protects the reciter from making mistakes in reciting the Qur’an.
The Ruling of Reading With Tajweed
Muhammad bin Al-Jazaree the great Qur’an 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 Qur’an, then a sinner is he.”
So he regarded it as an obligation and he regarded leaving it as a sin. And the majority of scholars agree that applying the Tajweed rules of Qur’an are an individual obligation (à àà) upon every Muslim who has memorized or read part of or all of the Qur’an. That is because the Qur’an was revealed with the Tajweed rules applied to it and the Prophet (SAW) recited it back to Jibreel in that way and the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) read it in that way, so it is an established Sunnah.
The Obligation of Tajweed
The proofs that the scholars bring to show the obligation of Tajweed is that Allah says in the Qur’an,
The meaning of which is: ‘And recite the Qur’an (aloud) in a (slow and melodious) style (Tarteela)’ (Surah Muzzammil, Ayah 4) Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) said in the explanation of this ayah: “at-Tarteel is Tajweed of the letters and knowing where to stop (correctly)”.[An-Nashr of Ibn Al-Jazaree 209:1]. And of the right of reciting correctly is reciting it the way it was revealed. There are various Ahadeeth also showing us the importance of Tajweed. Umm Salamah was asked about the recitation of the Prophet (SAW) and she described it as a recitation ‘clearly- distinguished letter by letter’.[Tirmidhi]
Sa’eed bin Mansoor relates in his Sunan that a man was reciting the Qur’an to Abdullah bin Mas’ood and he recited “Innamas Sadaqaatu Lil Fuqara-i Wal Masaakeen”, so Ibn Masood said: “This was not how the Messenger of Allah (SAW) recited it to me!” So the man asked, “How did he read it to you oh Aba Abdur-Rahman?” So he said “Lil Fuqaraaaa-i Wal Masaakeen”, he elongated the word Fuqaraa and the knowledge of the different lengths of elongation (Mudood) is also from the rules of Tajweed.
Ibn al-Jazari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Whoever is able to read the words of Allah with correct Arabic pronunciation but he deliberately pronounces it incorrectly like a non-Arab, out of arrogance, stubbornness, and complacency, or because he is too proud to go to a scholar who could help him to correct his pronunciation, is undoubtedly falling short and sinning and being dishonest. The Messenger of Allaah (PBUH) said: “Religion is sincerity: to Allah, to His Book, to His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.”
It is not permissible for anyone to deliberately change any letter of it when he is able to pronounce it correctly. This is a kind of mistake which is a sin. If a person finds it difficult to pronounce the letters correctly – such as people in whose language some of the Arabic letters, such as ذ, ظ and خ do not exist – they have to try to learn the correct pronunciation, but if they are unable to master it then they are excused, but their example should not be followed, and they should be called upon to strive their hardest to learn and correct their pronunciation. And none of them should lead the prayer unless he is leading others like him who cannot pronounce well either.
Mistakes in Tajweed
The scholars have divided the types of mistakes one might fall into when reciting the Qur’an into two types:
1.Clear mistakes and
2.Unobvious (hidden) mistakes.
Clear mistakes must be avoided by all and to avoid them one must know the rules of Tajweed. If a person falls into the Clear Mistakes, this is considered a sin, and Ibn Taymiyyah even regarded it undesirable for a Student of Knowledge (i.e. someone who knows Tajweed) to pray behind a person who makes Clear Mistakes in their Salaah. As for the Unobvious mistakes, then the ruling on them is lighter and the recitation of a person falling into this type of mistake is regarded as lacking in completeness, and prayer behind such a person is sound.
Reciting the Qur’an Melodiously
The Prophet (SAW) used to recite the Qur’an 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.”[Muslim, Muwatta] He would stop at the end of each âyah [Abu Dawud]. He commanded people to recite in a beautiful voice in a pleasant melodious tone. He said “Beautify the Qur’an with your voices [for a fine voice increases the Qur’an in beauty]”[Bukhari] and he said, “He who does not recite the Qur’an in a pleasant tone is not of us.”[Abu Dawud]
Unfortunately, all too often we find people reciting the Qur’an quickly and without changing their tone and without any feeling. We should put all our efforts into reciting the Qur’an with as much feeling as we can! Have you ever prayed behind an Imam who read with feeling? Well, the Prophet (SAW) said “Truly the one who has one of the finest voices among the people for reciting the Qur’an is the one whom you think fears Allah when you hear him recite.”[Daarimi, Tabaraani]
And once when the Prophet (SAW) complimented Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari 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.”[Bukhari, Muslim]
Let us remember, that the Qur’an is the word of Allah. In it, we find exhortations, warnings, glad-tidings, parables, stories of the past, commands, and prohibitions. Aayaat to make us think, reflect, cry, fear, hope, love, fall down in prostration! How can we recite all of this without feeling!? When we recite a verse of the Qur’an we should imagine that we are trying to feel and convey the full message behind that verse. 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.
Helpful Tips Towards Learning Tajweed
* You must find a Qur’an teacher who has studied Tajweed to listen to your recitation and correct you. Tajweed cannot merely be learned from books, because the movements of your mouth, as well as the sounds, are important and only a teacher can correct you and make sure you are applying the rules correctly. Qur’an recitation is a science that was passed down generation by generation through teachers not just books, with a direct line to the Prophet (PBUH).
* Follow this book containing the rules of Tajweed and learn each rule little by little, applying it as you go along with the help of your teacher. Following the charts will make it even better to understand and remember the rules InshaaAllah.
* Listen to Qur’an tapes of reciters who recite very clearly (you can find that also at www.reciter.org), at a medium or slow speed, and notice them applying the different rules of Tajweed. Repeat after them while trying to apply the rules you’ve learned. Try to copy their tone and melody as well and see how it changes as the meaning of what they’re reciting changes.
* Apply the rules you learn to the Surahs you have already memorized and don’t save any effort about reciting correctly. You might have to revise the surahs by looking back at them.
* Practice and repetition will make perfect InshaaAllah: As Ibn al-Jazaree says in his poem about acquiring Tajweed: ‘And there is no obstacle between it (learning Tajweed) and leaving it, Except that a person must exercise his mouth with it!’
May Allah help us all to give His Book its right when we recite it and make reciting it more beloved to our tongues than anything else. Aameen.
***The Author: Maha M. Rashed (Introduction to Tajweed was completely taken from Maha M.Rashed’s work which is accessible to everybody online. It is a very good compilation of Hadith and Ayah to introduce tajweed, so I did not want to write a new one. Instead, I used the author’s work because of 3 reasons: 1) I believe that knowledge of the Qur’an should be shared with all people 2) I would not write an intro better than the author’s 3) To make the author benefit from the good deed that would come out of people who would use this page to learn more about Qur’an.
Allah knows the best.