What is Tajweed?
Along with the Quran's profound and noble meanings, there is also its sublime language which, if recited correctly, will soften the hearts of its listeners.
The reading of the Holy Quran in a leisurely and relaxed way, in order to achieve the meaning of the verses, is to understand and apply the legislation contained therein during the daily life of the Muslim; reading the Holy Quran without taking into account the various rules of tajweed may change the meaning of words as well as a complete verse.
The word tajweed comes from the root of the verb Jawada; which literally means to beautify and improve your reading (doing it well). In the context of the recitation of the Holy Quran, Tajweed is a science of studying the correct articulation of letters. So it is applied when articulating every letter from its articulation point and giving the letter its rights and dues of characteristics. Rights of the letters are its required characteristics that never leave it. The dues of the letters are its presented characteristics that are present in it some of the time, and not present at other times.i.e. the Qalb, Gunah, Maad.
Manners of Reciting (Tajweed) the Holy Quran
Reciting Quran should be in the presence of one's heart, with full understanding and believing that those are the words of Allah, the Exalted - not the words of man. The Muslim should interact with every ayah with its appropriate meaning and understand each message of the Holy Quran with full recognition that it is directed to him especially. In addition to these internal manners of reciting Quran, there is a lot of external manners. Here are some of the most important manners to follow:
Perform wudhu and be sure of the cleanliness of the body, clothes and place. (It is allowed to read Quran from memory without wudhu; while women with the period are not allowed to touch the Holy book).
Sit with the highest respect to the Holy Quran while facing the Qibla.
Start reciting with At-ta'awwuz and Al-Baassmala.
Do not sit on a place higher than the Holy Quran.
It is not allowed to talk while reading Quran, but if there is an important matter you should stop reading and close the book. Then, you could continue your recitation after saying At-ta'awwuz.
One has to give each letter its due so as to clearly and fully pronounce every word, and each letter.
Whenever one finishes reciting, to attest to the veracity of Allah, the Exalted and that the Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) has delivered his message, and to testify to this, saying: "O Allah, the exalted, You have spoken the truth, Your messengers have delivered their tidings, and bear witness to this. O Allah, make us of those who bear witness to the truth and who act with justice": after which one supplicates Allah with prayers.
Parts of Tajweed
Tajweed consists of two parts which related to the essence of their meaning:
The Scientific Tajweed: It is the knowledge of Tajweed rules and characteristics in the certified books. This part is a collective duty which means if a few Muslims learn and memorize it, it was made to fall from the others; but if no one does then all the Muslims are in sin. That is because it is one of the legal science and for that, there is a MUST to be in each of the Islamic countries of different languages tutors taught it. Allah Almighty said," And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once. For there should separate from every division of them a group [remaining] to obtain understanding in the religion and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious." [Quran, At-Tawba-122]
The Practical Tajweed: It is the implementation of phonetic rules of Quranic recitation and reading Quran with tajweed as it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him). It is required upon every legally competent Muslim of a responsible age to perform religious duties in Islam and to recite Quran with tajweed properly. Allah Almighty said, "….And recite the Quran with measured recitation." [Quran, Al-Muzzammil-4]
Levels of Reciting (Tajweed) the Holy Quran
There are three levels of recitation that exist in tajweed. They are classified according to the human ear which can only recognize them as a slow recitation, a fast recitation and a moderate recitation (neither slow nor fast).
A-Tahqîq: (slowness without elongation), which is the slowest recitation without elongation that encourages to reflect upon the words and meanings and that allows hearing the tajweed rules very clearly. This level exemplified by the simplicity and care in articulating the letters of Quran words.
Al-Hadr: (fast reading without merging of the adjacent letters), which is a quick recitation that utilized for revision; thus it is very close to everyday speech rhythm. When reading with Hadr, there is a danger of minimizing the timing of the letters and merging one into another. However, there is no problem with reciting the Quran with Hadr, provided that there is no idghaam (merging of the adjacent letters) or reduction in the required time of the letter articulation.
At-Tadweer: (letters moderation in recitation), which is reading in between Al-hadr and Al-Tahqiq, neither too fast nor too slow.
Common Tajweed Mistakes
It is vital that the Muslims learn the Arabic letters and vowels to recite the Quran using them, not a transliteration. Transliterations do not take into consideration the several letters that sound similar to the untrained ear but are very different in pronunciation. The Quran is the word of Allah, revealed to man as a guide, and we have to be extremely careful when reading it, as best we can, with proper pronunciation. Reading a transliteration can lead to a change in the meaning of the Holy Quran by mispronouncing its Arabic letters.
The most critical mistakes Muslims do when reciting the Holy Quran are:
The first mistake, made by Arab and non-Arab Muslims alike, is in making inappropriate starts and stops. There are two issues of this mistake. The first issue is that the appropriate way to stop on a word is by putting a sukoon, or absence of a vowel on the last letter of the word. It is not permitted to stop using the harakah, or vowel on the last letter of the word. The second issue of stopping is that of stopping at a place that does not contradict the meaning intended by Almighty Allah, the Exalted. The same mistake can occur when starting up after stopping and taking a breath. We cannot just start on the next word at random, that is; the meaning needs to be considered, and the start should be on a word that represents the absolute and perfect meaning, even if the reader needs to go back two or three words.
There are two most common tajweed mistakes made by non-Arabs: the timings of the vowels (madd letters in Arabic) and in the articulation points of the letters.
The first type concerning the timing of the vowels (i.e. lengthening a vowel longer than one vowel count), and natural lengthening (making them shorter than they should be). Each vowel over a letter receives one count.So a kasrah receives the same timing as a fath, as does a dhammah, whenever these letters are not followed by the madd letters alif; or a ya' with no vowel preceded by a kasrah, or wow with no vowel preceded by a dhammah). Whereas Madd letters have two vowel counts if they are not followed by a hamzah or a sukoon. All vowels, as stated above, have equal timing in length. This is not true for letters without vowels or saakin letters.The timings of saakin letters vary depending on their characteristics.The difference is in not a great length of time, though.
The second type, which is in the articulation of the letters themselves, is a critical issue that needs to be addressed by all non-Arabs in any other part of the world. The problem here is not that the letters are different from Arabic than the other languages; but in fact, there are letters in Arabic the same to other languages but do not share the same articulation points with their counterparts.