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Published on July 16th, 2015 | by Abu Umayza | Views: 1453


Beautifying the Reading of the Qur’an

Prepared for Nahl Publications

The definition of intone while reading the Quran is called ‘tahsin al-qiraah’, namely beautifying one’s recitation of the Qur’an that does not resemble singing or imitating a song. Some of the traditions recommending ‘tahsin al-qiraah’ are as follows:

1. Al-Barra’ ibn Aazib narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ advised:

زینوا القرآن بأصواتكم

“Adorn the (reading of the) Qur’an with your voices.” [1]

2. Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas narrated that indeed the Prophet ﷺ said:

لیس منا من لم یتغن بالقرآن

“He is not from us who does yataghana bil Qur’an*.” [2]

* There are several explanations provided by scholars about the meaning of ‘yataghanna bil Qur’an’ – Among them are embellishing (and beautifying) one’s voice when reading the Qur’an. The aforementioned hadeeth are used to argue for this recommendation. Imam an-Nawawi said:

أجمع العلماء رضي ﷲ عنھم من السلف والخلف من الصحابة والتابعین ومن بعدھم من علماء الأمصار أئمة المسلمین على  استحباب تحسین الصوت بالقرآن

“Scholars from the Salaf and the Khalaf, among the Companions and their Successors and those after them from various parts of the ummah accept and agree that one’s voice be beautified with Qur’an.” [3]

In regards to the second hadeeth, an-Nawawi said:

قال جمھور العلماء معنى لم یتغن لم یحسن صوتھ, … قال العلماء رحمھم ﷲ فیستحب تحسین الصوت بالقراءة ترتیبھا ما لم  یخرج عن حد القراءة بالتمطیط فإن أفرط حتى زاد حرفا أو أخفاه فھو حرام

“The majority of scholars say, the meaning of ‘who does yataghana bil Qur’an’ applies to anyone who does not embellish his voice (when reading the Qur’an)… The scholars also recommended beautifying the voice when reciting in proper order (of sequence), as long as he does not exceed the correct (tajweed) boundaries. If it becomes excessive until letters are exaggerated or omitted, then it is forbidden.” [4]

Consequences of correctly embellishing the Qur’an recital results not only in beautifying one’s speech, but also lengthens the reading with proper tarteel without haste or vagueness. Reading with a beautiful voice can additionally increase humility and focus, as what Imam Ash-Shafi’i termed ‘at-Tahazun’ (to induce sadness [in the heart]), which was stated by Ibn Hajar in his Fath Bari (9/70).

Dr. Ibraheem ibn Sa’d ad-Dawsiri – chairman of the institute study the Qur’an Sciences at King Saud University explains two types of rhythms associated with reading the Qur’an:

1. Following the rhythm of the original human nature, without being artificially trained. This is the way the public generally reads, and this is permissible and also sometimes recommended.

2. Making up a mock reading of the Qur’an, whether it’s made up of (imitating) rhythmic music, or of a particular song. This type cannot be enacted except through practice and exercise. Therefore certain words/notes can easily fall foul of the rules of recitation (tajweed) and legal limits.

Dr. Ibraheem further impressed this point by quoting Ibn Katheer:

والغرض أن المطلوب شرعا إنما ھو التحسین بالصوت الباعث على تدبر القرآن وتفھمھ والخشوع والخضوع والانقیاد
للطاعة, فأما الأصوات بالنغمات المحدثة المركبة على الأوزان والأوضاع الملھیة والقانون الموسیقائي فالقرآن ینزه عن ھذا
ویعظم أن یسلك في أدائھ ھذا المذھب ویجل

 “The Shari’ah requires us to beautify reading of the Qur’an, and understand its reverence and submit to it in obedience; reflecting (upon its message) with humility. Therefore reading the Qur’an in a song-like manner was not known before, neither with a rhythmic tempo or musical intone. The Qur’an is to be exalted and glorified than to be read in this kind of (insolent) way.” [5]

Ibn Al-Qayyim said:

وكل من لھ علم بأحوال السلف یعلم قطعا أنھم براء من القراءة بألحان الموسیقى المتكلفة التي ھي إیقاعات وحركات موزونة  معدودة محدودة, وأنھم أتقى  من أن یقرؤوا بھا ویسوغوھا

“Everyone who knows the position of the pious preceding scholars will know they are free (and innocent) from (promoting) reading the Qur’an by way of inflated musical rhythm; (artificially) adjusted with mode, tone and tempo of a song. They were fearful of Allah to have considered reading the Qur’an in this kind of style, or permit it for others.” [6]

We can see very clearly, this type of reciting undermines the rules of tajweed and goes against established norms in what is and is not acceptable. Yet there is a rising trend in some Muslim communities around the world for example, to turn Qur’an recital competitions and state events where Qur’an is recited, into a form of singing with musical intone.

Therefore, it is natural when there are people who read the Qur’an with such strange styles that it triggers negative reaction and scorn from Muslims. The Qur’an is not a Book to be toyed with or used to create sensation by indulging in newly invented ways of recital. Such actions from liberal groups are designed to provoke Muslims; and furthermore risks the Anger of Allah by way of istihza (playing) with the Qur’an.

In some untoward communities, the Qur’an has become conflated with old folk songs and read with influence of the local tongue. This of course raises additional challenges for the Muslims to educate, teach and separate the Qur’an from any unorthodox practices that ignores the proper rules of reciting the Qur’an. The Sundanese people of Indonesia for example, read the letter ‘fa’ with ‘pa’, and the Javanese people generally have difficulty reading ‘ain (so it becomes ‘ngain’). Therefore to accustom people towards proper tajweed and stressing upon its importance has become critical within many of such communities.

May Allah guide us towards what is Pleasing to Him and save us from evil influences.


1. Abi Da’wud, 1468 and others; Al-Uqayli graded it as saheeh, as did Ibn Hibban in his Saheeh (749). AlAlbani said in his ‘Silsilat as-Saheehah’ (771) that it was saheeh upon the conditions of Muslim, (see also
‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3581). And in another version it includes the addition فإن  الصوَتَ  الحسَنَ  یزی ددُ القرآنَ  حُسنًا َّ (for if the voice is beautified, so will it increase the beauty of the Qur’an).

2. Abi Da’wud, 1469 and others; a number of Companions narrated similar hadeeth, including Abu Hurayrah, Abu Lubabah, Abdullah ibn Abi Mulaykah, Rabi’ ibn Sulayman,

Abdullah ibn Abbas and Abdullah ibn Zubayr. See also Saheeh al-Bukhari, 7527. Ibn Hibban said it was saheeh (120). Al-Albani graded the narration of ibn Abi Mulaykah as saheeh in his checking of ‘AtTargheeb’, 1451.

3. At-Tibyan fil Hamalatil Qur’an, p. 109

4. At-Tibyan fil Hamalatil Qur’an, p. 110

5. Fada’il Qur’an, p. 114

6. Zaadul Ma’ad, 1/470

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Abu Umayza

The more the people are guided to follow the goodness, the greater the opportunity for him to get the reward.

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