Tajweed refers to the rightful articulation of the words of Arabic. Like English, Arabic is also comprised of sounds that need to be articulated in a proper manner. Muslims in most part of the world are able to know and learn the Arabic sounds however, their articulation is governed by their parent language sound patterns and thus they are seldom able to pronounce the words in a way they are to be pronounced.
In Quran, Allah SWT says: “Those to whom We gave the Book recite it as it should be recited, they are the ones that believe therein.” (2:121)
Listening to the Quran being recited correctly is enough to soften even the hardest of hearts. Muslims and non-Muslims alike find it a deeply moving experience, even if they do not understand what is being said. Every Muslim has to recite Quran in prayers, but many of us do not realise that reciting the Quran correctly while 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 Quran.
What is Tajweed?
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.
The Quran was revealed with Tajweed rules applied to it. In other words, when the angel Jibreel (Gabriel), may Allah SWT exalt his mention, recited the words of Allah SWT to the Prophet Muhammad SAW recited them in a certain way and he showed the Prophet SAW 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 SAW 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 Purpose of Tajweed
The Quran is the word of Allah SWT, and its every syllable is from Allah SWT. 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 Quran, observing the correct pronunciation of every letter with the rulings and characteristics which apply to it, without any exaggeration or deficiency.
Each Arabic letter has a Makhraj (an exit or articulation point from which it originates) and Sifaat (attributes or characteristics). 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, he may change the meaning of the words in Quran recitation. Observing the rules of Tajweed in reciting prevents the reciter from making mistakes in reciting the Quran.
The Ruling of Reading with Tajweed
Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Jazari, may Allah SWT have mercy upon him who was a great Quran and Hadeeth scholar of the 9th Hijri century, stated in his famous poem that details the rules of Tajweed:
“And applying Tajweed is an issue of absolute necessity, whoever doesn’t apply Tajweed to the Quran, then a sinner is he.”Hence, applying the rules of Tajweed is an obligation to keep away from the major mistakes in reciting the Quran.
Types of Errors
The scholars have divided the types of mistakes one might fall into when reciting the Quran into two:
1. Clear mistakes: which usually change obvious things and change the meaning.
2. Hidden mistakes: for which one may need to study Tajweed rules.
The second type of mistake seldomly can be detected by a non qari, a non-expert in the field of knowledge of Tajweed. So therefore, it is necessary to ensure one makes an effort to go seek the knowledge of Tajweed and be content one is reciting the Quran correctly.
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