Reciters, Narrators and a Hint of Melody – Part 2

Today’s recitation (Day 3): Sūrah al-Rūm Verses 17 to 27 & Sūrah al-Burūj (full).

Today’s tilāwah brought about a pleasant change in the base qirāʾah from Ḥafṣ ʿan Āṣim to Warsh ʿan Nāfiʿ, the second most commonly read Qur’anic reading in the world. The term “base qirāʾah” is used here in the context of a recitation where a qārī adopts a base reading and transitions from this base to other readings. Shehzada Husain bhaisaheb Burhanuddin Saheb (DM) began his tilāwah of Sūrah al-Rūm in the reading of Warsh. This reading is characterized with the naql al-ḥarakah, a phenomenon related to dialectic and accentual disposition where the ḥarakah between a lām sākinah (the letter lām with a jazm on it) and an alif mutaḥarrikah (the letter alif with a short vowel on it) succeeding it is skipped, thereby advancing the ḥarakah of alif to the lām and causing the alif to become silent. An example of this ḥukm is as follows: The phrase والأرض , under normal circumstances, would be read as wal-arḍ. However, if the ḥukm of naql al-ḥarakah is applied, then wal-arḍ would become wa-larḍ. Listen to an example of naql al-ḥarakah here.

Another feature of Warsh is the omission of the hamzah mufradah (أ and ؤ) and its replacement with either the madd letter wāw or the madd letter alif. An example for this is as follows: مؤمنون (muʾminūn) is changed to مومنون (mūminūn); يأكلون (yaʾkulūn) is changed to ياكلون (yākulūn). Click here to listen. Similarly, Warsh exclusively elongates the madd al-badal more than two ḥarakāt optionally i.e. Warsh allows for the madd al-badal to be elongated to 2, 4 or 6 ḥarakāt.

Keeping these points in mind, today’s recitation of Sūrah al-Rūm contained the aforementioned and some more features of Warsh which are mentioned below.

  1. Madd Badal in the recurring phrase ومن ءاياته was elongated till 4 ḥarakāt
  2. Naql al-Ḥarakah where applicable. 
  3. The word عالمين (ʿālimīn) was changed to (ʿālamīn).
  4. Madd Munfaṣil where the ميم الجمع (the mīm of plurality) was followed by the hamzah mufradah (أ). 
  5. Certain changes in the tarqīq of the letter rāʾ

Once more, the maqām of nahāwand reverberated throughout the masjid engulfing the souls in its intricate beauties. This maqām originates from a city of the same name located in Iran. Considered to be among the most melodious of maqāmsnahāwand comes in multiple forms. Let us have a look at some examples in the voice of famous reciters such as Shaikh Minshawi, among others. 

Follow this link to listen to a short clip of Shaikh Ahmed Nuʿaynah reciting in the initial stages of nahāwand: Reciting from Sūrah Āl ʿImrān

This is a link of Shaikh Minshawi reciting the mid-notes of nahāwand from Sūrah al-Ḥashr. 

This is a link to a near-comprehensive rendering of nahāwand by one of its finest proponents, Shaikh Mustafa Ismail (Sūrah al-Baqarah).

There was a brief transition into Sūsī during the recitation of Sūrah al-Burūj. It was an exciting moment where Shehzada Saheb (DM) offered a glimpse into a derivation of maqām ṣabā, a maqām of pure Arab origin and one which evokes the deepest emotions of sorrow and lamentation. Despite most recitations of Shehzada Saheb displaying subtle effects of ṣabā, today’s recitation, and especially the aforementioned portion stood out in that respect. 

The tilāwah ended on the maqām bayāt

Note: Detailed discussions on Warsh and his qārī Nāfiʿ will be posted subsequently. 

Reciters, Narrators and a Hint of Melody – Part 1

The first majlis of Ashara Mubaraka 1440 commenced with Shehzada Husain bhaisaheb Burhanuddin Saheb (DM) delivering a recitation containing two different readings that will be discussed briefly in this article. The recitation was adorned with a beautiful assortment of maqāmāt which too will be dealt in a brief, albeit sufficient manner.

The first of the two parts of the tilāwah (تلاوة) began from the 61st verse of Sūrah al-Furqān. The riwāyah i.e. narration was of Khalaf ʿan Ḥamzah. This was quickly ascertained in the seventh word itself where Shehzada Saheb (DM) did not perform the idghām bil ghunnah (الادغام بالغنة) in the phrase: بروجا وجعل, and was further confirmed when Shehzada Saheb recited suruj (سرجا) instead of sirāj (سراجا), the latter being the narration of Ḥafṣ.

Here, the reader will recall that the previous article entitled “The Readings” contains a list of key differences which helps a listener distinguish between the various readings. The first difference mentioned in the previous paragraph pertains to the difference in accents and dialects while the second difference pertains to the changing of nouns from singular to plural.

Interestingly, the narration of Khalaf is characterized with frequent saktahs and the skipping of harakāt at instances of idghām on the letters wāw and yāʾ (الواو والياء). Khalaf also uses the imālah extensively but since there was no instance of imālah in today’s qirāʾah, its discussion can be postponed to a future article.

Shehzada Saheb (DM) transitioned beautifully between the various maqāmāt but two transitions and renderings stood out towards the end of the first part of the recitation. This was when Shehzada Saheb ended a verse on the maqām of ḥijāz and began the next verse with nahāwand. Whereas the different notes of nahāwand evoke emotions such as passion and compassion compelling the reader to contemplate, the maqām of ḥijāz excels in immersing the listener in emotions of spirituality (روحانية) and reverence (خشوع). This can be considered an ohbat for what was to come of the kalimāt nūrānīyah of Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin (TUS) which, at their very commencement, resulted in a sea of tears from the mumineen who were eagerly waiting to hear the voice of their beloved Maula while he performed the amal of bukā and ibkāʾ on Imām Husain (AS).

The second part of Shehzada Saheb (DM)’s qirāʾah contained a recitation of the entire Sūrah al-Takwīr in the narration of al-Sūsī from the reading of Abū ʿAmr al-Baṣrī. Abū ʿAmr was a famed grammarian apart from being one of the seven main reciters of the Qur’an. The historian Ibn Khallikān narrated in his magnum opus “Wafayāt al-Aʿyān” (The Obituaries of Eminent Men) that Abu ʿAmr is part of the fourth generation of grammarians descended from Amīr al-Muʿminīn Maulānā ʿAlī b. Abū Ṭālib (AS).

The reading of al-Sūsī ʿan Abū ʿAmr is famously characterized with the idghām kabīr where two similar or same mutaḥarrik letters are combined into one. For example: The phrase على الغيب بضنين (ghaybi-biḍanīn) is changed to ghayb-biḍanīn. Listen to this clip to understand idghām kabīr in a more clear way. Shehzada Saheb (DM)’s recitation infused a new life into this Qur’anic narration and the air was filled with exclamations of “Allah, Allah” from the audience.

Note: Readers are encouraged to post valuable inputs, corrections (if any errors are to be found in this article) and queries (if any) in the comments space below. 

The Readings

There are ten authentic readings of the Qur’an. The most widely used across the Islamic world is the reading of ʿĀṣim narrated from Ḥafṣ. As such, it is known as the reading of Ḥafṣ ʿan ʿĀṣim (حفص عن عاصم), literally, the narration of Ḥafṣ from ʿĀṣim. 

ʿĀṣim is one of the ten authentic qārīs or qurrāʾ (قراء) who transmitted the Qur’an in a reading (قراءة) specific to him. The ten readings of the Qur’an are therefore attributed to ten different transmitters whose names are as follows:  Nāfiʿ, Ibn Kathīr, AbūʿAmr, Ibn ʿĀmir, ʿĀṣim, Ḥamzah, al-Kisāʾī, Abū Jaʿfar, Yaʿqūb and Khalaf.

Two readings from among these ten have become popular in the Islamic world to the exception of the other eight. They are the reading of Ḥafṣ ʿan ʿĀṣim which is most commonly read throughout the Islamic world and the reading of Warsh ʿan Nāfiʿ which is most commonly read throughout Africa outside of Egypt.

The readings can be distinguished from each other through seven key differences. 

  1. The changing of nouns from singular to dual to plural (الإفراد والتثنية والجمع). For example: The word مسكين in Verse 184 of Sūrah al-Baqarah is read as miskeen (singular) in the reading of Ḥafṣ ʿan ʿĀṣim but it changes to masaakeen (plural) in some other readings.
  2. The changing of tenses from past to present/future or to imperative verbs (تصريف الأفعال). For example: The word تطوع in Verse 158 of Sūrah al-Baqarah is read as taṭawwaʿa in the past tense in the reading of  Ḥafṣ ʿan ʿĀṣim but it changes to يطوع (yaṭṭawwaʿa) in the present/future tense in some other readings.
  3. The changing of iʿrāb (الإعراب) in certain words. For example: The word تسئل in Verse 119 of Sūrah al-Baqarah is read as tusʾalu with a ḍammah (pesh) on the letter تاء and a ḍammah on the letter لام  in the reading of Ḥafṣ ʿan ʿĀṣim. However, in some other readings, it is pronounced as tasʾal with a fatḥah (zabar) on the letter تاء  and a sukūn (jazm) on the letter  لام . 
  4. The addition or subtraction of words or letters (النقص والزيادة). For example: The phrase وسارعوا in Verse 133 of Sūrah Āl ʿImrān is read as wa-sāriʿū in the reading of Ḥafṣ ʿan ʿĀṣim but the letter واو is dropped in some other readings rendering the phrase as such: سارعوا (sāriʿū). 
  5. Differences in the sequencing of words or letters by either bringing them forward or deferring them (التقديم والتأخير). For example: The phrase وقاتلوا وقتلوا in Verse 195 of  Sūrah Āl ʿImrān is read as wa-qātalū wa-qutilū in the reading of  Ḥafṣ ʿan ʿĀṣim but the word wa-qutilū gains precedence in some other readings rendering the phrase as such: وقتلوا وقاتلوا (wa-qutilū wa-qātalū). 
  6. The replacement of letters (الإبدال). For example: The letter الباء in the word تبلوا (tablū) which is part of the phrase: هنالك تبلوا in Verse 30 of Sūrah Yūnus in the reading of  Ḥafṣ ʿan ʿĀṣim is replaced with the letter التاء rendering the word: تتلوا (tatlū) in some other readings.
  7. The differences in accents and dialects (اللهجات). These include differences such as imālahidghāmtarqīq, tafkhīm etc. These will be discussed in detail in a future post.

The reading of Khalaf ʿan Ḥamzah is notable owing to the fact that among its chain of transmission is Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (AS) who oversaw this reading before it was transmitted from Ḥamzah, its original transmitter. Kindly read this article to know more.