Definition of Tajweed

What is Tajweed?

Linguistically Tajweed means beautification.

The word Tajweed is a verbal noun from ‘jawwada’ (جوَّد) letters: Jeem, Wao and Daal. Jawwada/Yujawwidu:جَوَّدَ/ يُجَوِّدُ  :  meaning حَسَّنَ/يُحَسِّنُ (Hassana/Yuhassinu)

It also means:

1- to make something better.

2- to master Something.

The technical definition means giving every letter of the Qur’an its rights and dues, which means reading the each alphabet in a word with proper pronounciation from the articulation points, and its respective characteristics. In other words, it is the giving of the letter’s rights and dues with respect to its articulation point and characteristics.

It is further explained that there are two basic elements of the technical definition:

1- Points of Articulation of the Letters. They are called مخارج الحروف.

2-  Characteristics of the Letters. These are called صفات الحروف.

We will explain both elements of the definition in details in next posts In-Shaa-Allah.

Imaam ibn Al-Jazari’s definition:

Imam ibn Al-Jazari  رحمه اللهhas given a very comprehensive definition of Tajweed; encompassing all the basic requisites for the protection of the tongue from mistakes and by highlighting the most common mistakes one may do while reciting the Qur’an. In his definition, he has also highlighted the wrong concept of “recitation” of the Qur’an which is common in the contemporary reciters and is really an alarming issue. He first begins with expounding the right conceptualization of Tajweed and then gives a list of wrong concepts and practices of articulating the letters of the Arabic language. The definition goes as under:

“ولا أعلم سببا لبلوغ نهاية الإتقان والتجويد، ووصول غاية التصحيح و التسديد مثل رياضة الألسن، والتكرار على اللفظ المتلقى من فم المحسن…

I do not know of a better option or means for attaining the height of mastery and betterment than oral drill and practice and repetition of the transmitted word in imitation of its master.

فليس التجويد بتمضيغ اللسان، ولا بتقعير الفم، ولا بتعويج الفك، ولا بترعيد الصوت، ولا بتمطيط الشد، ولا بتقطيع المد، ولا بتطنين الغنات، ولا بحصرمة الراءات، قراءة تنفر عنها الطباع، وتمجها القلوب و الأسماع، بل القراءة السهلة العذبة الحلوة اللطيفة: التي لا مضغ فيها ولا لوك، ولا تعسف ولا تكلف، ولا تصنع ولا تنطع، ولا تخرج عن طباع العرب وكلام الفصحاء، بوجه من وجوه القراءات والأداء.”

So, Tajweed is not about reading the letters in a way as though one is chewing something, or by unnecessarily pressurizing the throat so that each letter sounds like ‘Ain, or by reading the letters with Imaalah, where there is no Imaalah, or by reciting with a tremulous voice  as  if the reciter is pretentious of  being moved or influenced by the Qur’an ,or by the elongation of the shaddah, or by  moving the letter ( following the melody or rhythm) from one level of sound to another within the same letter such that it leads to the creation of more than one letter: as it creates more alifs from a single alif ,or more yaas from a single yaa and more waws from a single waw ,or by  making ghunnah with vibration or unnecessary pretension ( it is the same as تقطيع المد ), or by withholding or imprisoning the Raa’  so as to give it a complete imprisonment of sound; a recitation which is naturally disliked, and unpleasant to the hearts and ears, well, in fact, Tajweed to is to recite in a way which is easy-going, pleasant, appealing and delightful: that does not involve any chewing or fakeness or pretension and does not oppose the nature of Arabic language and the speech of the linguists,  in conformity with the ways of recitation and performance.

In short, the core point of Ibn al-Jazari’s definition of Tajweed is that it must be without any pretension or stress or fakeness, rather it should be natural and pleasant to hear.