tajweed “And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember;
then is there anyone who will remember (or receive admonition)?” [Quran
al-Qamar 54:17]. And all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all that exists,
and may prayers of blessings and peace be upon the messenger of Allah. The
Noble Quran is the literal words of Allah that He revealed as an infallible
source of legislation for mankind to live an organized life by. It contains
regulations and recommendations about all aspects of life and references to
the Hereafter. Being so important, the Quran must be read, written, and
recited correctly and clearly, so as not to create any sort of ambiguity or
misunderstanding whatsoever. Allah Almighty addressed His Messenger
Muhammad (peace be upon him). tajweed
When Islam was being spread (and it was done so at a very quick pace and
also into non-Arab speaking countries) not everyone’s tongue was
accustomed to the Arabic letters and sounds. Thus, when reciting the Qur’an,
much error and distortion occurred and the Muslim scholars feared (the
perpetration of) that error and distortion. It was at this point that some of
them recorded the rules and foundations that regulate the correct
pronunciation of Qur’an, and they named this the Science of Tajweed.
The rules were not made up by these Scholars. In fact, all they did was
closely observe the perfect readers who read as they were taught by the
Prophet (PBUH) and wrote down for later generations the rules of recitation
of the earlier generations. From the outset, Tajweed was a Science that
cannot be learnt only from a book and will always retain this inherent
quality. The most important part of Tajweed is learning about correct
positions of the organs of speech and the manner of articulation. The Qur’an
can lose its meaning if the letters are not pronounced correctly.
What are the Tajweed rules?
The Arabic word Tajweed linguistically means ‘proficiency’ or ‘doing
something well’. It comes from the same root letters as the word Jayyid,
which means ‘good’. When applied to the Quran, it means giving every letter
of the Quran its rights and dues of characteristics when we recite the Quran,
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. 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 Quran was revealed with Tajweed rules applied to it. In other words,
when the angel Jibreel (Gabriel), may Allah exalt his mention, recited the
words of Allah to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) he recited
them in a certain way and he showed the Prophet 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 (peace be upon him) 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 nonArabs and as Islam spread, mistakes in the Quranic recitation began to
appear, 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 Quran was revealed, even the Arabs have to study Tajweed.
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.”
Sheikh Zakariyyaa Al-Ansari [died in 926 H.] 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 Qur’an.
The scholars have divided the types of mistakes one might fall into when
reciting the Qur’an into two types:
1. Clear mistakes: which usually change obvious things and change the
2. Unobvious (hidden) mistakes: for which one may need to study Tajweed
And the majority of scholars agree that applying the Tajweed rules of Qur’an
such that the Clear Mistakes are avoided is an individual obligation (Fard
‘Ayn) upon every Muslim who has memorised part of or all of the Qur’an.
As for applying all of the rules of Tajweed and avoiding the Unobvious
mistakes then it is (Fard Kifaayah) upon the Muslim ummah. That is, there
must be some students of knowledge who have knowledge of that. This is
because the Qur’an was revealed with the Tajweed rules applied to it and the
Prophet (peace be upon him) recited it back to Jibreel in that way and the
Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) read it in that way, so it is
an established Sunnah.
The Clear mistakes must be avoided by all and to avoid them one must
memorise and read attentively and have knowledge of some basic aspects 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 but prayer behind such a
person is sound.
The List below shows what type of mistakes fall under each category.
Mistakes in words which are clear and inconspicuous, usually changing the
meaning. Mistakes related to correct pronunciation of letters so that letters
are not mixed up. Scholars, and the ordinary Muslims should avoid these.
Examples of Clear mistakes:
• Changing one letter into another, or a short vowel (harakah) into another,
(changing Fathah into Damma or the letter Qaaf into Kaaf etc)
• Not observing the elongations (Madd) at all. Reciting them quickly as if
there is no Madd so that they turn into the length of a vowel.
• Making a madd letter out of a normal harakah.
• Stopping or starting at an incorrect place so that the meaning is spoilt. Like
stopping at ‘Laa ilaaha’ (There is no God), without completing ‘illallaah’
Mistakes which are to do with perfecting pronunciation and are not obvious.
Known only by those who have studied Tajweed rules or experts in this
field. Ordinary Muslims may not know these or perceive these as mistakes.
Examples of Unobvious mistakes:
• Not being totally exact with the elongation of letters: (Making the Madd
shorter or longer by a 1/2 or even 1/4 degree etc.)
• Not observing the attributes of each letter perfectly: (Slightly rolling the
Raa’, or exaggerating the ‘N’ sound in Noon etc.)
• Not observing the rules with which to pronounce letters when they are next
to each other (like not merging certain letters that should be merged
(idghaam) and not clearly pronouncing those which should be clearly
pronounced (ith-haar) etc.)
• Making light letters sound heavy and heavy letters sound light (Except if
by doing this you change a letter into another; in this case it would be an
And of the proofs that the scholars bring to show the obligation of Tajweed
and that it is an established Sunnah 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, aayah 4)
Ali ibn Abi Talib (radi Allahu ‘anhu) said in the explanation of this aayah:
“at-Tarteel is Tajweed of the letters and knowing where to stop (correctly)”.
And of the proofs also is that Allah says in the Qur’an, the meaning of which
‘Those who We have given the Book to, give it its right in recitation ( recite
it as it should be recited)’ (Surah al-Baqarah, aayah 121)
And of the rights 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 (peace be upon
him) and she described it as a recitation ‘clearly-distinguished letter by
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 mas’ood said: “This
was not how the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) recited it to me!”
So, the man asked, “How did he read it to you oh Aba Abdir-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.
Reciting the Qur’an melodiously:
1. The Prophet (peace be upon him) 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.”
2. He would stop at the end of each aayah.
3. 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]”
and he said
4. ” He who does not recite the Qur’an in a pleasant tone is not of us.”
Unfortunately, all too often we find people reciting the Qur’an quickly and
without changing their tone and without any feeling.
5. 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 (peace be upon him) 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.”
6. And once when the Prophet (peace be upon him) 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.”
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 an aayah of Qur’an we should imagine that we are trying to feel
and convey the full message behind that aayah. 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 learnt 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. Sometimes local Mosques will run classes. Qur’an recitation is a
science which was passed down generation by generation through teachers
not just books, with a direct line to the Prophet (peace be upon him)
• Find a 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. There are
many concise Arabic books and in English there are some books as well as
tapes to help. Look for books with some drawings showing you how to
pronounce each letter.
• Listen to Qur’an tapes of reciters who recite very clearly, at a medium or
slow speed (like Sheikh Hudhaify or Sheikh Muhammad Hosary) and try
and notice them applying the different rules of Tajweed. Repeat after them
while trying to apply the rules you’ve learnt. Try to copy their tone and
melody as well and see how it changes as the meaning of what they’re
• Tajweed Mus-haf: You can get a new Mus-haf (copy of the Qur’an), called
Mus-haf at-Tajweed, which has the rules of Tajweed incorporated in the text
of the Qur’an in colour coding! This is very helpful as it prompts you as you
go along. There is also a computer program you can buy with it which
highlights Tajweed rules with recitation.
• Try and apply the rules you learn to the Surahs you have already
memorised and don’t become lazy about reciting correctly. You might have
to revise the surahs by looking back at them.
• Practice and repetition will make perfect insha Allah: 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!’