In the context of the recitation of the Quran, tajwīd (Arabic: تجويد tajwīd, ‘elocution‘) is a set of rules for the correct pronunciation of the letters with all their qualities and applying the various traditional methods of recitation (Qira’at). In Arabic, the term tajwīd is derived from the verb جود from the triliteral root ج-و-د (j-w-d), meaning enhancement or to make something excellent. Technically, it means giving every letter its right in reciting the Qur’an
Nūn sākinah and tanwīn
Nūn sākinah refers to instances where the letter nūn is accompanied by a sukun sign, some cases of which involve tanwīn‘s nun with a sukun. There are then four ways it should be pronounced, depending on which letter immediately follows:
- iẓhār (“clarity”): the nūn sound is pronounced clearly without additional modifications when followed by “letters of the throat” (ء ه ع ح غ خ). Consider the nūn with a sukun pronounced regularly in the beginning of the last verse in “al-Fatiha“:
صِرَٰطَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ
- iqlāb (“conversion”): the nūn sound is converted to a / sound with imperfect closure if it is followed by addition, it is pronounced with ghunnah, i.e. nasalization which can be held for two more. Consider the nūn sound on the tanwīn on the letter jīm that is pronounced as a mīm instead in the chapter Al-Hajj:
وَأَنْبَتَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ زَوْجٍ بَهِيجٍ
- idghām (“merging”): the nūn sound fully assimilates to the following sound if the latter is و م ي ل ر or another ن . With ر and ل, there is no nasalization (ghunnah). The last 4 letters also receive ghunnah in the process (ي and و with ghunnah.
- Idghām only applies between two words and not in the middle of a word. Consider for example the nūn that is not pronounced in the fifth line (the Shahada) in the Call to Prayer:
أَشْهَدُ أَن لَّا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَّسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
- ikhfāʼ (“concealment”): the nūn sound is not fully pronounced (i.e. the tongue does not make full contact with the roof of the mouth as in a regular if it is followed by any letters other than those already listed, includes a ghunnah. Consider the nūn that is suppressed in the second verse of the chapter Al-Falaq:
مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ
- idgham mutamathilayn (“labial merging”) when followed by another mīm (usually indicated by a shaddah): the mīm is then merged with the following mīm and includes a ghunnah;
- ikhfāʼ shafawī (“labial concealment”): the mīm is suppressed (i.e. lips not fully closed) when followed by a ب, with a ghunnah; Consider the mīm that is suppressed in the fourth verse of the chapter Al-Fil:
iẓhār shafawī (“labial clarity”): the mīm is pronounced clearly with no amendment when followed by any letters other than those already listed.
The five qalqalah letters are the consonants ق ط د ج .ب Qalqalah is the addition of a slight “bounce” or reduced vowel sound /ə/ to the consonant whose vowel sound is otherwise canceled, such as by a sukūn, shaddah, or the end of the sentence. The “lesser bounce” occurs when the letter is in the middle of a word or at the end of the word but the reader joins it to the next word. A “medium bounce” is given when the letter is at the end of the word but is not accompanied by a shaddah, such as the end of the first verse of the Sūrat “al-Falaq”:
قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ ٱلْفَلَقِ
The biggest bounce is when the letter is at the end of the word and is accompanied by a shaddah, such as the end of the first verse of Sūrat “al-Masad”:
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