وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْءَانَ تَرْتِيلًا
And recite the Qur’an with Tarteel.(73:4)
Tarteel is “recitation in proper order” and “with no haste.”
The Arabic word translated as “slow, measured rhythmic tones” is Tarteel. It is also the term used to define the rules explaining proper recitation of the Qur’an in the manner that Jibraeel revealed it to Muhammad(PBUH).The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said, ‘Indeed Allah desires that the Qur’an be recited in the manner it was revealed.’
While reciting properly,one has to keep in mind all the rules of Tajweed. The interpretation of the above mentioned verse according to Ibn Kathir is “recite the Qur’an slowly, making the letters clear, for this is an assistance in understanding and pondering the meaning of the Qur’an.”
The fourth caliph Ali ibn-Abi-Talib said that tarteel is delivering words according to their makharij (outlets for sound or intonations). Saying the words clearly and slowly and reciting with understanding and uttering the contents correctly is of prime importance. One should neither recite the Qur’an with such speed that it might become incomprehensible and bore the listener nor the recitation be so slow that it takes a long time and puts the listeners off. According to him(PBUH) “Following the middle path is a virtue”
What is Tajweed.
Tajweed refers to the rules governing pronunciation during recitation of the Qur’an.The word Tajweed linguistically means ‘proficiency’ or ‘doing something well’. The term is derived from the trilateral root j-w-d meaning “to make well, make better, improve”.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.
Every single Muslim has to recite Qur’an in Salah but many of us do not realize that reciting the Qur’an correctly, observing the rules of recitation is not an advanced science for expert reciters alone, rather it is an obligation upon each and every one of us whenever we recite the Qur’an.Tajweed is a religious duty when reciting the Qur’an.
The purpose of Tajweed
The Qur’an is the word of Allah, and its 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) who received it from Jibraeel, 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 List below shows what type of mistakes fall under which 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 Obvious 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 changed. Like stopping at ‘Laa ilaaha’ (There is no God), without completing ‘illallaah’ (except Allah).
Not-so Obvious mistakes:
Mistakes that are not immediately apparent,these are to do with perfecting pronunciation and are not obvious. Known only by those who have studied Tajweed rules or experts in this field. An Ordinary Muslim may not know these or perceive these as mistakes.
Examples of Not-So Obvious 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 (id-ghaam) and not clearly pronouncing those which should be clearly pronounced (idh-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 obvious mistake.)
Reciting the Qur’an melodiously
1. The Prophet (PBUH) 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(PBUH) said ” He who does not recite the Qur’an in a pleasant tone is not of us.” Unfortunately all to often we find people reciting the Qur’an quickly and without changing their tone and without any feeling.
4. 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 (PBUH) 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.”
5. And once when the Prophet (PBUH) complimented Abu Musa al-Ash’ari on the beauty of his recitation, Abu Musa said “Had I known you were there, I would have made my voice more pleasant and emotional for you.”
6- Umm-e-Salamah was asked about the recitation of the Prophet (PBUH) and she described it as a recitation ‘clearly-distinguished letter by letter’.
Let us remember, that the Qur’an is the word of Allah.When we recite an ayah of Qur’an we should imagine that we are trying to feel and convey the full message behind that ayah. 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. Qur’an recitation is a science which was passed down generation to generation through teachers not just books, with a direct line to the Prophet (PBUH)
•Practice and repetition will make it perfect in-shaa-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!’
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!