It is often wondered as to why the Qur’an must be recited with specific rules and with meticulous precision, and to the purpose behind Tajweed, an entire science and study dedicated to perfecting the recitation of the Qur’an. What is the significance behind these rules and do they apply to expert reciters alone or to the general Muslim population as a whole? Is the study of Tajweed an obligation upon you and me, or is it something we may overlook…
‘And recite the Qur’an (aloud) in a (slow and melodious) style (tarteela)’
[Quran, Surah Muzzammil, Ayah 4]
Ali ibn Abi Talib (radi Allahu ‘anhu) said in the explanation of this aayah: “At-Tarteel is Tajweed of the letters and knowing where to stop (correctly)”. [An-Nashr of Ibn Al-Jazaree 209:1]
The word Tajweed linguistically means ‘proficiency’ or ‘doing something well’, and shares the same root letters as the Arabic word ‘Jayyid’ (meaning ‘good’). When applied to the Qur’an, it means giving every letter of the Qur’an its rights and dues of characteristics and observing the rules of recitation in different situations so that the meaning comes out as intended by the Qur’an.
The Qur’an, which linguistically means ‘that which is recited’, was revealed to our beloved Prophet saw through angel Jibreel with Tajweed rules; meaning that the words of Allah were recited to him in a certain manner and he was taught the ways in which it was permissible to recite the Qur’an. He then recited the Qur’an in this manner to the Sahabah, who recited it in this manner to those who came after them, and so on, and so it is an established Sunnah. Hence, this methodology and study of the proper recital of the Qur’an was compiled after the death of the Prophet saw, in accordance with his instructions, in order to preserve the rules of recitation for future generations to learn and has Alhamdulillah reached us today, through books and scholars of the Qur’an.
The majority of scholars agree that applying the Tajweed rules of Qur’an such that the Clear mistakes are avoided is an individual duty (Fard ‘Ayn) upon every Muslim who has memorised part of or all of the Qur’an, and avoiding the Obscure mistakes is a collective duty (Fard Kifaayah) upon the Muslim Ummah. That is, there must be some students of knowledge who have knowledge of that.
So, therefore, it is upon all Muslims to observe Tajweed rules to the best of their abilities so that they may recite the Holy Qur’an in the way in which it was revealed, and to protect them from falling into making mistakes or changing the meanings of words whilst reciting the Qur’an.
May Allah grant us all the ability to learn Tajweed and read His Book with due diligence, may He make us prolific reciters of the Qur’an and pioneers of the Ummah, and may He make the Qur’an a companion for us in our graves and an intercessor for us on the Day of Judgement.