The letter Qaf: To pronounce, raise the back of your tongue to the upper palate, and make the sound from the back of your mouth.
The letter Dhaad: Raise the side of your tongue to touch your upper molar teeth, the sound being about 1 1/2 beats.
The rule of Hems: a slight breathing that should be articulated with certain letters such as the letter fa or seen.
Tajweed [the study of the pronunciation of the words and letters of the Quran] is an extremely precise science. Every letter of the Arabic language has a particular makhraj, or ‘exit’, a specific location in the tongue, mouth, throat, or nose from which the sound should be emitted. The science also includes knowing when to elongate certain words and for how long, and the manner in which to stop between sentences. (There are some examples above.)
In Syria in the past few decades, women have, masha’Allah, taken the forefront when it comes to study of the Quran in all its different sciences, from it’s law to it’s letter. Thousands of women have studied, memorized and acquired ijaazas [teaching licenses], and have now established an informal system of teachers, which makes it extremely easy for any woman to study the Quran.
For Tajweed, a student must first learn the rules of pronunciation and memorize a classic poem in which all the rules are described in metre (called the Jazariyya). She then has to read the Quran with a qualified teacher, from cover to cover, with minimal mistakes. A teacher will meet her students in her home for individual lessons (usually daily, that take upwards of one year) and teach them free of charge. Periodically, the student must go with her teacher to the ‘doctora‘, a shaykha who has expertise in the Quran who checks her progress, and sees if there are any mistakes her teacher is overlooking. After completing the entire Quran, she then reads in front of Shaykh Shukri, hafidhahullah, who has been testing students in Tajweed and Hifdh for half a century or more. With his approval, the student is granted an ijaaza. All of the teachers and the doctora are qualified to give ijaazas, but they all defer to the shaykh because of his stature and his elderly age.
My anisa (the title used commonly in Syria for a female teacher, equivalent to shaykha, ustadha, or ms. I suppose) has an ijaaza not only in Quran (memorization and Tajweed) but in the 10 Qira’aat [the different, acceptable pronunciations of the Quran, which are very restricted and do not change the meaning]. She, in short, rocks :) I’ve noticed that people who are serious students of the Quran have this quick wittedness, this sharp intelligence about them, and she is a perfect example of that.
There is something very beautiful about the study of Tajweed. It’s very clear and straightforward, black and white, without the murkiness of differences of opinion. It’s a completely static science. You’re either doing it right, or you’re not. And if you’re not, the only reason is because you are not practicing enough. There are no personal factors involved.
And it’s so beautiful to consider that you are learning to say the words of Allah, articulated to us by Rasulullah, salAllahu alayhi wa salam, in the exact manner it was revealed to him. After mastering this science you receive a diploma of sorts, that links your name to that of your teacher, to their teacher, to their teacher, going all the way back to Rasulullah, salAllahu alayhi wa salam, to the Angel Jibreel (alayhis salaam) to Allah. It’s something beyond words if you stop to think about it. Picture your name in that chain of narration😉
Personally, I’ve had a really difficult time in studying tajweed. Your tongue just gets accustomed to only pronouncing certain letters, and to pronouncing things in the ‘accent’ normative to your native language. To have to change that is difficult. You have to read *A LOT*, practice *A LOT*, and force yourself through this practice to change something which is almost an intrinsic part of your being. And it takes a lot of time. It’s not something you can do over night, and it’s not something you can ‘cram’ for the night before.
Changing something you feel is unchangeable within you to be in conformity with the Divine words; having to really put in honest and sincere effort, and not being able to get away with doing a half-hearted job; working for a goal that takes a lot of patience, the fruits of which cannot be seen until much further down the line… Sound familiar? :) It has so many parallels to the spiritual struggles we are all going through.
One interesting Tajweed rule I’ve learned is called Madd ‘aarid li sukun: Part of the rule is that if you wish to end on a word, you have to end on a sukun [a full stop], even if that word has a fatha, kasra, or damma that would normally be pronounced. So, the stop is not really there, but because you wish to end your recitation there, you pretend as if it is. I think we all sort of do this with our study of Islam… there really isn’t an end, but we just put a stop to it wherever we choose to… but there’s always more to read😉
I have about 20 ajzaa’ (chapters) left before I complete the Quran with my Anisa… so please pray for me!