What is the importance of the Tajweed?
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 organised 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).
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 non-Arabs 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:
- Clear mistakes: which usually change obvious things and change the meaning.
- Unobvious (hidden) mistakes: for which one may need to study Tajweed rules.
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.
Reciting the Quran melodiously:
- 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.”
- He would stop at the end of each Aayah.
- 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
- ” 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.
- 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.”
- 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 reciting changes.
- Tajweed Mushaf: You can get a new Mushaf (copy of the Qur’an), called Mushaf 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 in sha 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!’. And always remember “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].
Start your Quran journey now by learning how to read Quran with Tajweed.