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Arabic Basics & Tajweed

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

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.

Let t er Sound

Translit erat ion End

Middle Beginning

Isolat ed (Original) Form

alif

th

th (also )

jm

kh

kh

dl

dhl

dh (also )

sn

shn

sh (also )

ayn

ghayn

gh

qf

kf

lm

mm

nn

ww

w / / aw

y / / ay

Hamz a: T he 29th letter?


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

Where the letters are pronounced f rom?

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.
Let t er

Sound

ayn

Let t er Sound

(Full mouth)
d

sn

Sound

Let t er

alif

th

h (chest)

(deep throat)

ghayn

kh

dl

dhl

kf

qf

T hree (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 "Hamz a" 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.

Damma

Arabic let t er wit h Short Vowel

Kasrah

Fatha

Short Vowel Name

Bottom

Top

Top

Short Vowel placement

Short Vowel Sound

The "i" in sit

The "a" in ba

The "u" in put Similar English Sound

Let t er wit h Kasrah Let t er wit h Fat ha Let t er wit h Damma Isolat ed (Original) Form

Arabic Alphabet Song


T hree (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

Kasrah on the Letter and


Yaa added

Fatha on the Letter and Alif


added

Arabic let t er wit h Long


Vowel

Damma on the Letter and


Waw added

Long Vowel
Explainat ion

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

Let t er wit h Kasrah Let t er wit h Fat ha Let t er wit h Damma Isolat ed (Original) Form

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

Fatha and Yaa added

Fatha and Waw added

Arabic let t er wit h Vowel & Let t er placement


Long Vowel Used

Top

Top

Long Vowel placement

Ae

Au

Sound

Instructor to demonstrate sound

Instructor to demonstrate sound Similar English Sound

Let t er wit h Fat ha & Yaa Added

Let t er wit h Fat ha & Waw Added

Isolat ed (Original) Form

Hamz a 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:

When a Hamz a 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.

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"

Kasrah- tain

Fatha- tain

Damma- tain

Arabic let t er wit h double short


Vowel
Double short Vowel (Tanwin) Act ual
Name

Bottom

Top

Top

Double short Vowel placement

(An Alif is added and the vowel placed


on top)
in

un

oo followed by an
"n"

The "in" in
sin

The "un" in funn

The "un" in uno

Double short Vowel Sound


Similar English Sound

Let t er wit h Kasrah- t ain Let t er wit h Fat ha- t ain Let t er wit h Damma- t ain Isolat ed (Original) Form

Using the Hamz a with Alif


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

Hamz atul-Qat'e
This regular hamz a(t) at the beginning of a word is called the "disconnecting hamz a(t)" . This is often an original
letter and it must be pronounced always.

Hamz atul-Wasl
The other type of hamz a(t) which lacks the sign is called the "connecting hamz a(t)" . 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
hamz a(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 hamz a(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

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.
Let t er Sound

Translit erat ion End

Middle Beginning

Isolat ed (Original) Form

jm

dl

qf

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.

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.

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.

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

Huroof Taf kheem (pronouncing with f ull mouth)


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

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

Exercise

( )
( )


( )


( )

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

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









Yaa Sakin preceded by a Kasrah





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


( )
( )

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.


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

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.

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.