Arabic Basics & Tajweed

 fiqe3 tajweed

[73:4] ...and recite the Qur'aan clearly with Tarteel (in a distinct and measured tone).


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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 of characteristics when we recite the Qur'an and observing the rules that apply to those letters in different situations. We give the letters their rights by observing the essential characteristics of each letter that never leave it. And we give them their dues by observing the characteristics of each letter that are present in them some of the time and not present at other times.

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 the Prophet Muhammad (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) he recited them in a certain way and he showed the Prophet Muhammad (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) the ways in which it was permissible to recite the Qur'an. So it is upon us to observe those rules so that we recite it in the way it was revealed.

 Arabic Alphabets

Arabic language has 28 basic alphabets which take different shapes depending on the positioning within the word itself i.e. it may have a different form if used as a first, middle or last letter. Some letters can be combined with the next letter while other can't be combined and have to be written by themselves. All basic Arabic letters are consonants. The following table summarises all letters, their shapes (as isolated, or when used in the beginning, middle or end of the word), basic pronunciation and transliteration.

 
Letter Sound Transliteration End Middle Beginning Isolated (Original) Form

’alif

ā

ـا

ـا

ا

ا

bā’

b

ـب

ـبـ

بـ

ب

tā’

t

ـت

ـتـ

تـ

ت

thā’

th (also )

ـث

ـثـ

ثـ

ث

 jīm  j  ـج  ـجـ  جـ  ج
 ḥā’  h  ـح  ـحـ  حـ  ح
 khā’  kh  ـخ  ـخـ  خـ  خ
 dāl  d  ـد  ـد  د  د
 dhāl  dh (also )  ـذ  ـذ  ذ  ذ
 rā’  r  ـر  ـر  ر  ر
 zā’  z  ـز  ـز  ز  ز
 sīn  s  ـس  سـ  سـ  س
 shīn  sh (also š)  ـش  شـ  شـ  ش
 ṣād    ـص  ـصـ  صـ  ص
 ḍād    ـض  ـضـ  ضـ  ض
 ṭā’    ـط  ـطـ  ط  ط
 ẓā’    ـظ  ـظـ  ظ  ظ
 ‘ayn    ـع  ـعـ  عـ  ع
 ghayn  gh  ـغ  ـغـ  غـ  غ
 fā’  f  ـف  ـفـ  فـ  ف
 qāf  q  ـق  ـقـ  قـ  ق
 kāf  k  ـك  ـكـ  كـ  ك
 lām  l  ـل  ـلـ  لـ  ل
 mīm  m  ـم  ـمـ  مـ  م

nūn

 n  ـن  ـنـ  نـ  ن
 hā’  h  ـه  ـهـ  هـ  ه
 wāw  w / ū / aw  ـو  ـو  و  و
 yā’  y / ī / ay  ـي  ـيـ  يـ  ي

Hamza: The 29th letter?

Hamza (Arabic: الهَمْزة‎, (al-)hamzah) (ء) is a letter in the Arabic alphabet, representing the glottal stop [ʔ]. Alif doesn't have a sound of its own but when you say "Aaa" its actually Hamza (and Fatha on top) which is making the sound. Hamza can also be on top of Yaa and Waw.

Where the letters are pronounced from?

Commonly mispronounced letters

The following table groups letters which are commonly mispronounced due to lack of knowledge of Tajweed, please keep these sets in mind and note that they must sound distinct and different from each other and a note has been placed to indicate the part of human vocal system where the sound originates from.

Letter Sound Letter Sound Sound Letter

ع

‘ayn

’alif

ا

ṭā’ (Full mouth)

ط

ṭā’

ت

 ṣād

ص

sīn

س

thā’

ث

hā’ (chest)

ه

ḥā’ (deep throat)

ح

ghayn

غ

khā’

خ

ḍād

ض

dāl

د

ẓā’

ظ

zā’

ز

dhāl

ذ

kāf

ك

 

 

qāf

ق

Three (3) 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.

 جِ   جَ   جُ Arabic letter with Short Vowel
Kasrah Fatha Damma Short Vowel Name
 Bottom  Top  Top Short Vowel placement
 i  a  u Short Vowel Sound
 The "i" in sit  The "a" in ba  The "u" in put Similar English Sound

 

Letter with Kasrah
Letter with Fatha Letter with Damma
Isolated (Original) Form

اِ

اَ

اُ

ا

بِ

بَ

بُ

ب

تِ

تَ

تُ

ت

ثِ

ثَ

ثُ

ث

 ِج  َج جُ  ج
 حِ  حَ  ُح  ح
 خِ  خَ  ُخ  خ
ِد  دَ  ُد  د
 ذِ  ذَ  ُذ  ذ
 رِ  رَ  رُ  ر
 زِ  زَ  زُ  ز
 سِ  سَ  ُس  س
 شِ  شَ  شُ  ش
 صِ  صَ  صُ  ص
 ضِ  ضَ  ضُ  ض
طِ  طَ  ُط  ط
 ظِ  َظ  ُظ  ظ
 ِع  عَ عُ  ع
 غِ  َغ  غُ  غ
 فِ  فَ  فُ  ف
 ِق  َق  قُ  ق
 كِ  كَ  ُك  ك
 ِل  لَ لُ  ل
 ِم  مَ مُ  م
 نِ  نَ  نُ  ن

هِ

 هَ  ُه  ه
 وِ  وَ  وُ  و
 يِ  يَ يُ  ي

Arabic Alphabet Song

Three (3) Long Vowels

In order to make the sound longer a letter is inserted after the letter upon which the vowel is placed and resulting sound is now  longer and equal to the sound of one Alif. The length elongation is measured by either closing an open finger or opening a closed finger. The inserted letter has a Sukoon on it and in the illustration below we have shown the Sukoon but it is sometimes omited (in writing). Note that Alif has no vowel on it!

Sukoon

This is a small circle which is placed on top of the letter to indicate "absence" of sound i.e. that letter doesn't make a sound at all! The letter before it and after it will make a sound but not the letter upon which a Sukoon is placed e.g جْ

 جِىْ   جَا   جُوْ Arabic letter with Long Vowel
Kasrah on the Letter and Yaa added Fatha on the Letter and Alif added Damma on the Letter and Waw added Long Vowel Explaination
 Bottom  Top  Top Long Vowel placement
 ea  aa  oo Long Vowel Sound
 The "ea" in seat  The "aa" in baa  The "oo" in scoop Similar English Sound

 

Letter with Kasrah
Letter with Fatha Letter with Damma
Isolated (Original) Form

اِىْ

اَا

اُوْ

ا

بِىْ

بَا

بُوْ

ب

تِىْ

تَا

تُوْ

ت

ثِىْ

ثَا

ثُوْ

ث

 ِجِىْ

 جَا

جُوْ  ج
 حِىْ  حَا  ُحوْ  ح
 خِىْ  خَا  ُخوْ  خ

دِى

 دَا  دُوْ
 د
 ذِىْ  ذَا  ذُوْ  ذ
 رِىْ  رَا  رُوْ  ر
 زِىْ  زَا  زُوْ  ز
 سِىْ  سَا  سُوْ  س
 شِىْ  شَا  شُوْ  ش
 صِىْ  صَا  صُوْ  ص
 ضِىْ  ضَا  ضُوْ  ض
طِىْ  طَا  طُوْ  ط
 ظِىْ  ظَا ظُوْ   ظ
 عِىْ  عَا عُوْ  ع
 غِىْ  غَا  غُوْ  غ
 فِىْ  فَا  فُوْ  ف
 ِقىْ  َقا  قُوْ  ق
 كِىْ  كَا  ُكوْ  ك
 ِلىْ  لَا لُوْ  ل
 مِى  مَا مُوْ  م
 نِىْ  نَا  نُوْ  ن

هِىْ

 هَا  هُوْ  ه
 وِىْ  وَا  وُوْ  و
 يِىْ  يَا يُوْ  ي

 

Au & Ae Sound

These two sound patterns are very common in the Qur'aan so we would like for you to practise these two sounds. Please note that these are also long sounds

  جَئْ   جَوْ Arabic letter with Vowel & Letter placement
Fatha and Yaa added

Fatha and Waw added

Long Vowel Used
 Top  Top Long Vowel placement
 Ae  Au Sound
 Instructor to demonstrate sound  Instructor to demonstrate sound Similar English Sound

 

Letter with Fatha & Yaa Added
Letter with Fatha & Waw Added
Isolated (Original) Form

اَئْ

اَؤْ

ا

بَئْ

بَؤْ

ب

تَئْ

تَؤْ

ت

ثَئْ

ثَؤْ

ث

 َجئْ جَؤْ  ج
 حَئْ  حَؤْ  ح
 خَئْ  خَؤْ  خ
 دَئْ  َدَؤْ 
 د
 ذَئْ  ذَؤْ  ذ
 رَئْ  رَؤْ  ر
 زَئْ  زَؤْ  ز
 سَئْ  سَؤْ  س
 شَئْ  شَؤْ  ش
 صَئْ  صَؤْ  ص
 ضَئْ  ضَؤْ  ض
 طَئْ

طَؤْ

 ط
 ظَئْ  ظَؤْ  ظ
 عَئْ عَؤْ  ع
 غَئْ
 غَؤْ  غ
 فَئْ  فَؤْ  ف
 قَئْ قَؤْ  ق
 كَئْ

كَؤْ

 ك
 لَئْ لَؤْ  ل
 مَئْ مَؤْ  م
 نَئْ  نَؤْ  ن
 هَئْ  هَؤْ  ه
 وَئْ  وَؤْ  و
 يَئْ يَؤْ  ي

Hamza with a vowel with Sukoon on it

The discussions above highlight that in order to make the sound of a vowel longer the following letters are employed:

ا

وْ

ىْ

When a Hamza is placed on top of these letters with a Sukoon, the sound will no longer be long i.e. the addition of the following three after any of the letters will no longer require elongation.

 

أْ

ؤْ

ئْ

 

Double Short Vowels

The double vowel-marks signs are an extension of the single vowel-marks. The double vowel signs add the '-n' sound to the single vowel and it is called "Tanween"

 جٍ  جاً
  جٌ  Arabic letter with double short Vowel
Kasrah-tain Fatha-tain Damma-tain Double short Vowel (Tanwin) Actual Name
 Bottom

 Top

(An Alif is added and the vowel placed on top)

 Top Double short Vowel placement
in  un  oo followed by an "n" Double short Vowel Sound
 The "in" in sin  The "un" in funn  The "un" in uno Similar English Sound

 

Letter with Kasrah-tain
Letter with Fatha-tain Letter with Damma-tain
Isolated (Original) Form

اٍ

اً

اٌ

ا

بٍ

باً

بٌ

ب

تٍ

تاً

تٌ

ت

ثٍ

ثاً

ثٌ

ث

 جٍ  جاً  ٌج  ج
 حٍ  حاً  حٌ  ح
 خٍ  خاً  خٌ  خ
 دٍ  داً
ٌ د  د
 ٍذ  ذاً  ذٌ  ذ
 رٍ  راً  رٌ  ر
 ٍز  زاً  زٌ  ز
 ٍس  ساً  سٌ  س
 شٍ  شاً  شٌ  ش
 صٍ  صاً  صٌ  ص
 ضٍ  ضاً  ضٌ  ض
 طٍ  طاً ٌ ط  ط
 ٍظ  ظاً ٌ ظ  ظ
 ٍع  عاً عٌ  ع
 ٍغ  غاً  غٌ  غ
 فٍ  فاً  فٌ  ف
 ٍق  قاً قٌ  ق
 ٍك  كاً  كٌ  ك
 ٍل  لاً  ٌل  ل
 مٍ  ماً  ٌم  م
 نٍ  ناً  نٌ  ن

هٍ

 هاً  ٌه  ه
 وٍ  واً  وٌ  و
 ٍي  ياً يٌ  ي

Using the Hamza with Alif

As explained previously think of Hamza as a chair for Alif to put the double short vowel! Notice that in case of "Kasrah-tain" the Hamza is actually moved underneath Alif but sometimes it remains on top but the "Kasrah-tain" is moved below Alif and sometimes Hamza is above Alif and "Kasrah-tain" is beneath Hamza but above Alif, all three methods of writings are valid.

أٌ

أٍ 

أً

Hamzatul-Qat'e

This regular hamza(t) at the beginning of a word is called the "disconnecting hamza(t)" هَمْزَةُ القَطْعِ. This is often an original letter and it must be pronounced always.

Hamzatul-Wasl

The other type of hamza(t) which lacks the sign ءis called the "connecting hamza(t)" هَمْزَةُ الوَصْلِ . That one is never an original letter and it is only pronounced when it is the first thing that comes out of the mouth. Arabs added this kind of hamza(t) to some words for merely phonological reasons, namely because they hated to start talking by pronouncing a "still" letter, that is, a consonant that is not followed by any vowel. The connecting hamza(t) is somewhat similar to the French "liaison."

 

Exercise

Go to the alphabet table and place each of the double short vowels (Fatha-tain/Kasrah-tain/Damma-tain) underneath it and pronounce it.

Shadda (emphasis) or Tashdeed (sign of emphasis)

This is a small w which is placed on top of the letter to indicate that the letter is to be pronounced twice e.g جّ

Exercise

Go to the alphabet table and place each of the Shadda underneath it and pronounce it twice.

Qalqalah

The following letters are pronounced with a slight (echo) vibrating sound at the end when the letter has a Sukoon or letter is assigned a Sukoon because of stopping.

Letter Sound Transliteration End Middle Beginning Isolated (Original) Form

bā’

b

ـب

ـبـ

بـ

ب

 jīm  j  ـج  ـجـ  جـ  ج
 dāl  d  ـد  ـد  د  د
 ṭā’    ـط  ـطـ  ط  ط
 qāf  q  ـق  ـقـ  قـ  ق

أَحَدٌ

ٱلصَّمَدُ

 

Long Vowel: Alif Al-Madd

This is used to elongate the sound of a single short vowel i.e. the Alif is added to Fatha so sound goes from Fatha (a) to "aa" e.g. جاَ

Exercise

Go to the alphabet table and place Alif Al-Madd underneath it and pronounce it while elongating the sound of normal Fatha.

Long Vowel: Yaa Al-Madd

This is used to elongate the sound of a single short vowel i.e. the Yaa is added to Kasrah so sound goes from Kasrah (i) to "ii" or "ee" e.g. جِى

Exercise

Go to the alphabet table and place Yaa Al-Madd underneath it and pronounce it while elongating the sound of normal Kasrah.

Long Vowel: Waaw Al-Madd

This is used to elongate the sound of a single short vowel i.e. the Waaw is added to Damma so sound goes from Damma (u) to "oo" or e.g. جُو

Exercise

Go to the alphabet table and place Waaw Al-Madd underneath it and pronounce it while elongating the sound of normal Damma.

Huroof Tafkheem (pronouncing with full mouth)

The following letters will always be pronounced with a full mouth and it doesn't matter which vowel is placed on them.

ظ

ق

ط

غ

ض

ص

خ

if the Tafkheem letter is followed by an Alif then the Alif must also be pronounced with a full mouth.

Exercise

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ أَنفِقُواْ مِن طَيِّبَـٰتِ مَا ڪَسَبۡتُمۡ وَمِمَّآ أَخۡرَجۡنَا لَكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۖ وَلَا تَيَمَّمُواْ ٱلۡخَبِيثَ مِنۡهُ تُنفِقُونَ وَلَسۡتُم بِـَٔاخِذِيهِ إِلَّآ أَن تُغۡمِضُواْ فِيهِ‌ۚ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَنِىٌّ حَمِيدٌ (٢٦٧) ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ يَعِدُكُمُ ٱلۡفَقۡرَ وَيَأۡمُرُڪُم بِٱلۡفَحۡشَآءِ‌ۖ وَٱللَّهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغۡفِرَةً۬ مِّنۡهُ وَفَضۡلاً۬‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ وَٲسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ۬ (٢٦٨) يُؤۡتِى ٱلۡحِڪۡمَةَ مَن يَشَآءُ‌ۚ وَمَن يُؤۡتَ ٱلۡحِڪۡمَةَ فَقَدۡ أُوتِىَ خَيۡرً۬ا ڪَثِيرً۬ا‌ۗ وَمَا يَذَّڪَّرُ إِلَّآ أُوْلُواْ ٱلۡأَلۡبَـٰبِ (٢٦٩) وَمَآ أَنفَقۡتُم مِّن نَّفَقَةٍ أَوۡ نَذَرۡتُم مِّن نَّذۡرٍ۬ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَعۡلَمُهُ ۥ‌ۗ وَمَا لِلظَّـٰلِمِينَ مِنۡ أَنصَارٍ (٢٧٠) إِن تُبۡدُواْ ٱلصَّدَقَـٰتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِىَ‌ۖ

 

Huroof Maddah (or open letters)

Make the Madd equal to one Alif and it is measured according to the opening of 1 finger.

Waaw Saakin preceded by a Dammah

 

تُوبُوٓاْ

يَقُولُونَ

تَصُومُواْ

تَكُونُوٓاْ

Alif preceded by a Fatha, (Khathi Zabar [Alif Maqsoorah] or Fathatain)

وَوَضَعۡنَا

زِلۡزَالَهَا

أَثۡقَالَهَا

وَٱلضُّحَىٰ

سَجَىٰ

أَتۡرَابً۬ا

دِهَاقً۬ا

 

Yaa Sakin preceded by a Kasrah

ٱلَّذِينَ

تَرۡمِيهِم

جِيدِهَا

فَٱدۡخُلِى فِى عِبَـٰدِى

 

Closed Letters

When there is no Madd and no signs of elongation, do not drag the letter and simply pronounce it.

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ أَنفِقُواْ مِن طَيِّبَـٰتِ مَا ڪَسَبۡتُمۡ وَمِمَّآ أَخۡرَجۡنَا لَكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۖ وَلَا تَيَمَّمُواْ ٱلۡخَبِيثَ مِنۡهُ تُنفِقُونَ وَلَسۡتُم بِـَٔاخِذِيهِ إِلَّآ أَن تُغۡمِضُواْ فِيهِ‌ۚ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَنِىٌّ حَمِيدٌ (٢٦٧) ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ يَعِدُكُمُ ٱلۡفَقۡرَ وَيَأۡمُرُڪُم بِٱلۡفَحۡشَآءِ‌ۖ وَٱللَّهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغۡفِرَةً۬ مِّنۡهُ وَفَضۡلاً۬‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ وَٲسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ۬ (٢٦٨) يُؤۡتِى ٱلۡحِڪۡمَةَ مَن يَشَآءُ‌ۚ وَمَن يُؤۡتَ ٱلۡحِڪۡمَةَ فَقَدۡ أُوتِىَ خَيۡرً۬ا ڪَثِيرً۬ا‌ۗ وَمَا يَذَّڪَّرُ إِلَّآ أُوْلُواْ ٱلۡأَلۡبَـٰبِ

 

Rule of Laam in the name of Allah (SWT)

If there is Damma or Fatha before or on the letter Laam then the letter is pronounced with a full mouth.

ذَٲلِكَ فَضۡلُ ٱللَّهِ

 

وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمُۢ بِٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ

If there is Kasrah on the letter before or on the letter Laam then the letter is pronounced with an empty mouth.

أَنَّكُمۡ أَوۡلِيَآءُ لِلَّهِ

 

إِلَىٰ ذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِ

 

Rule of Raa

 

If there is Damma or Fatha before or on the letter Raa or if there is Hamzatul-Wasl before it then Raa is pronounced with a full mouth.

 

رَّبِّ ٱرۡحَمۡهُمَا

رَبَّيَانِى صَغِيرً۬ا 

 

If there is Kasrah on the letter before or on the letter Laam or if Yaa is the previous letter then the Raa is pronounced with an empty mouth.

خَيۡرً۬ا

 

وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرُۢ