The word Tajweed linguistically means ‘proficiency’ or ‘doing something well’. When applied to the Qur’an, it means giving every letter of the Qur’an its rights and dues. When we recite Qur’an and observe the rules that apply to each letter in different situations, we are giving the letter its right and by observing essential characteristics of each letter, we give its due.
The Qur’an was revealed with Tajweed rules applied to it. In other words, when the angel Jibrael (AS) recited the words of Allah to Prophet Muhammad (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) he recited them in a certain way and showed Prophet Muhammad (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) the ways in which it was permissible to recite the Qur’an. It is upto us to observe those rules and recite it the way it was revealed.
There are over 70 rules of Tajweed but below are some of the basic principles :-
1 – Short Vowels
The short vowel-marks enable the letter to make a sound in a similar way to the English language. In the same way a word cannot be made in the English language without one of the 5 vowels (a, e, i, o or u), in Arabic one cannot make a word without a vowel being used. In case of Alif a “Hamza” is used and then the short vowel is placed on top of it. The sound is a single beat and no further elongation is required.
We have three Short Vowels called Harakaat حركات which is plural of the term Harakah حركة (Movement) in Arabic:
1- Fathah – is a tiny diagonal stroke above a letter and it produces the sound of “ā”.
2- Kasrah – is a tiny diagonal stroke under a letter and it produces the sound of “ī”.
3- Dammah – is a tiny letter waw above a letter and it produces the sound of “ū”.
The Arabic vowels Harakaat (movement) Fathah (a) Kasrah (i) and Dammah (u) are not part of Arabic alphabet, but they are naturally pronounced when letters are joined to make words and words are joined to make sentences.
2 – Sakoon سكون
When Sukoon sign is placed on an alphabet the alpbhat is termed as Sakin (Stationary). In Arabic, a vowel is called Harakah (movement) and an alphabet having a vowel sign is called Mutaharrik (moved). If an alphabet is without a vowel sign or has Sukoon on it, it is called Sakin (Stationary) or Sakinah Letter.
Note : A sakinah letter either does not have any Harakah on it or it has a sukoon and is always preceded by a letter with a Harakah on it.
3 – Qalqalah/Bouncing Rule
Qalqala, which means to echo, is applied whenever the following five letters are skakin in the holy Quran. The rule states that if any of the 5 letters of Qalqalah group is sakin (having sakoon on top of it) then the letter is supposed to be bounced or echoed. The echo will be hard, therefore said with more force, when there is a shaddah on the letter, little lighter when an ayah (verse) of the Qur’an ends with the letter, and finally more lighter when it is within the middle of the ayah (verse) of the Quran. The sound of the echo should be visible when coming across these letters.
5 Qalqalah Letters
ب ج د ط ق
4 – Long Vowels
In order to make the sound longer an additional letter is inserted after the letter upon which the vowel is placed and resulting sound is now longer. The length elongation is measured by either closing an open finger or opening a closed finger. The inserted letter has a Sukoon on it but it is sometimes omitted (in writing).
As the name says these are Long Vowels and we are supposed to stretch them twice long as short vowels.
Note: Reader should make sure that he/she treats all the long vowels equal and stretches them at a constant length.
a- First Form of Long Vowels
In this first form we have three type of Long Vowels:-
1- Alif preceded by Fathah
2- Ya preceded by Kasrah
3- Waw preceded by Dammah
b- Second Form of Long Vowels
1- Alif Maqsurah
The miniature letter Alif placed over a letter is an alternative method to writing a letter having Fat’hah and an Alif after it – thus and will render the same sound (Length: two measures of haarakah).
2- Maddah Ya
The miniature letter Alif placed below the letter is an alternative method to writing a letter having kasrah and ya sakin after it – thus and will render the same sound (Length: two measures of haarakah).
3 – Maddah Waw
Maddah Waw placed above the letter is an alternative method to write Dammah and letter waw sakin thus and will render the same sound (Length: two measures of haarakah).
5 – Double Vowels/Tanween
The Tanween is a term for a letter having a short vowel with a hidden Noon sakin. Instead of writing short vowels and Nun sakin separately, the respective vowel sign is doubled as a shortcut. Thus letter Noon sakin is sounded but written as a double vowel sign.The Tanween signs are generally indicated at the end of a noun, which make a noun indefinite.
a – Fathatain
b – Kasratain
c – Dammatain
6 – Leen Rule
a – Waw Leen
When ” و ” sakin is preceded by the letter with fathah.
When there is a letter with Fathah “a” and the next letter is waw (with or without sakoon) it produces “au” sound. This is called waw Leen or “soft waw” .
b – Ya Leen
When “ي ” sakin is preceded by the letter with fathah.
When there is a letter with Fathah “a” and next letter is ya sakin , it produces “ay sound. This is called Ya Leen or “soft Ya”
7 – Shaddah/Tashdid Rule شدة
When a Shaddah/Tashdid sign appears over a letter, it represents two of the same letter (Double
consonant). The first letter having sukoon and the second letter having its short vowel . A letter having Shaddah/Tashdid sign is called Mushaddad and each of the two letters must be distinctly pronounced twice.
Shaddah is a sound of double consonant, same as in the English language there is, irregular or innocent, etc, but in Arabic the letter is not written twice, it is written once with a sign of shaddah over the letter.
8 – Meem/Noon Mushaddad Rule
If the alphabet Meem or Noon is mushaddad (having shaddah over it), one should rest on the alphabet while stretching its sound equal to 4 harakaat.
9 – Raaw Rule
Raaw Mutahrik : If there is Dammah or Fathah on the letter Raaw then Raaw is pronounced with a full mouth and if there is Kasrah on it then the Raaw is pronounced with an empty mouth.
Raaw is Sakin: In this case we observe the preceding alphabet, if there is Dammah or Fathah on the preceding Alphabet then Raw is pronounced with a full mouth and if there is Kasrah on the preceding alphabet then the Raaw is pronounced with an empty mouth.
Raaw is Mushaddad: as discussed above an alphabet mushaddad is double consonant, which means the same alphabet will be pronounced twice, once with sakoon and second time with harakah on it.
In other Words (Raaw Mushaddad = Raaw Sakin + Raaw Mutharik) its basically combination of both the rules mentioned above.
10 – Laam Rule in the word Allah
If there is Dammah or Fathah before or on the letter Laam then the letter is pronounced with a full mouth and if there is Kasrah on the letter before or on the letter Laam then the letter is pronounced with an empty mouth.
11 – Ikhfa Rule
Ikhfa, which means to hide, is a very common rule in the Holy Quran. It shows up in the Quran often and therefore must be applied many times. The rule states that if anywhere in the Quran Noon Sakin or Tanween is followed by any of the 15 letters of Ikhfa group then the sound of Noon Sakin or the sound of Tanween will be hidden while resting on it. The resting should be long enough so that it is clear from the recitation that a person is resting on the ن. The 15 letters are mentioned below.
15 Ikhfa Letters
ت ث ج د ذ ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ف ق ك
12 – Izhar Rule
Izhar, which means to show, states that if Noon Sakin or Tanween is followed by any of the 6 letters of Izhar group then there will be an izhare halqi and no resting, which means that the sound of noon will not be hidden. In other words instead of resting on the noon a person will read it normally. The Alphabets are as following:
6 Izhar Letters
ء ه ع ح غ خ
13 – Yermaloon/Idgham Rule
The rule of Idgham, which means to merge, states if Noon Sakin or Tanween is followed by any of the 4 letters shown below from Yermaloon group with shaddah over it then the sound of Noon Sakin or Tanween should be merged with the letter while resting on it :
ي م و ن
and without resting with these 2 letters of Yermaloon group :
14 – Iqlab Rule
The rule states that if noon sakin or tanween is followed by the letter ‘Ba’ mutharik then the sound of Noon sakin will be substituted with the sound of Meem sakin and nasal sound. Note this rule applies within a single word or two words side by side.
15 – Horoof Muqattaat/Isolated Letters