Quran recitation

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Miniature with a portrait of a young Indian scholar reading the Koran, around 1550, Kabul

The term Koran recitation describes various forms of reading the Koran , which are of particular importance in Islamic religious practice due to the orality-based design of the Holy Scriptures, which is already shown in the basic meaning of the word Koran . The terms in Arabic are general for every form of reading the Koranتلاوة / Tilāwa andقراءة / Qirāʾa in use; The latter, however, is primarily used to denote the readings of the Koran .

The doctrine of the ritual, careful recitation of the Qur'an as an important sub-discipline of Qur'anic studies is known as Tadschwīd ( Arabic تجويد, DMG taǧwīd  'beautification'). It is concerned about the normalization of the debate, which in the recitation to be observed presentation speed, the correct setting of pauses and with the external environment that the worship presentation of the Koran (تَرْتِيل / Tartīl ) have to apply.

Importance of the Koran recitation in Islam

The text of the Koran is very clearly designed for oral, public lecture rather than for silent reading. This is externally recognizable from the literal meaning of the word 'Koran' itself: al-qurʾān means “the reading, recitation”, the “lecture”. Strictly speaking, the word Koran recitation is a pleonasm . The meaning of the word qurʾān within the Koran itself is, however, unsteady and characterized by semantic change; At the latest in Mediterranean verses, however, the word qureintān means the presented revelation. Correspondingly, sura 72 begins with the words:

"See, we have heard a wonderful qurʾān who leads on the right path, and we now believe in him."

- Sura 72: 1 f.

The dogma of the “ inimitability of the Koran ” is also essential for the meaning assigned to the recitation of the Koran ( Arabic إعجاز القرآن, DMG iʿǧāz al-qurʾān ), which gives the holy scripture itself a miraculous character and underpins the prophetic claim of Muhammad . The Sīra and Hadith literature further emphasizes the importance of reading the Koran and its aesthetic quality through numerous episodes from the life of the Prophet and his companions. The Prophet's companion Ibn Masʿūd recited the sura ar-Rahmān in order to defy his adversaries. Although he was attacked and seriously injured as a result, he said that "God's enemies have never been easier to bear" than at that moment.

The later caliph ʿUmar , as a bitter enemy of the Muslims, is said to have been convinced of the truthfulness of the Islamic message primarily through the beauty of Sura Tā-Hā . In another hadith, the recitation of the Koran becomes an essential part of the Islamic faith in addition to the fulfillment of the Koranic duties:

“The parable of the believer who recites the Koran and acts according to it is that of a citrus plant that tastes and smells good. And the parable for a believer who does not recite the Koran but acts according to it is that of a date that tastes good but does not smell. And the parable of the hypocrite who recites the Qur'an is that of basil , which smells good but is bitter. And the parable for the hypocrite who does not recite the Koran is that of a colocinth that tastes bitter and has no fragrance. "

- Saheeh al-Buchari , Volume 6, Book 61, Hadith 579

During the process of editing the revelation text, the meaning of the written Quran (مصحف / muṣḥaf ) towards the spoken, recited Koran, which is evident in the veneration of the material document itself as a kind of fetish and the increasingly prominent position of calligraphic art . Since the 20th century, however, the orality of the Koran has been increasingly emphasized again, by conservative scholars such as Labīb Saʿīd as well as by reform-oriented Koran scholars such as Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid .

Standardization of the Koran recitation within the framework of the Tadschwīd

The careful recitation of the Holy Scriptures is considered a Koranic command; so it says in sura 73: 4 :وَرَتِّلِ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ تَرۡتِيلًا / 'And recite the Koran clearly (tartīlan) !' When asked by his contemporaries how exactly the verse should be understood, ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib , the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, is said to have replied:

الترتيل تجويد الحروف ومعرفة الوقوف / at-tartīl taǧwīd al-ḥurūf wa-maʿrifat al-wuqūf  / 'Tartīl is the embellished intonation (taǧwīd) of the sounds and the knowledge of the pauses.'

The art of reciting the Koran

Koran reading in the Jama Masjid in Shrirangapattana, India, 2007

The 'art of recitation of the Koran' ( Arabic علم التجويد, DMG ʿilm at-taǧwīd ) is a sub-discipline of the science of the Koran readings ( Arabic علم القراءات, DMG ʿilm al-qirāʾāt ) was developed by the ninth century at the latest. The quality of a recitation is measured, in addition to the articulation and the speaking speed, primarily by the phonetically and semantically correct placement of pauses according to syntactic or content units. Modern copies of the Koran, which are printed specifically for the purpose of artistic recitation, therefore often contain colored markings at text passages where pauses can or must be taken.

It is also essential the classification of Arabic phonemes of articulation and manner of articulation . Above all , great importance is attached to the correct pronunciation of emphatic sounds. The letters of the alphabet are classified into dual systems of open and closed sounds, and according to whether they are spoken with the tongue raised or lowered. Modern manuals often include illustrations of the anatomy of the mouth and throat to indicate where exactly the letters should be articulated. An example of further regulatory requirements for correct pronunciation is the blurring of Nūn before Bāʾ to Mīm , which is often replaced by a superscript in modern typesettingم is shown.

In addition to such technical speaking instructions, the instructions for reciting the Quran usually also contain a section on the آداب التلاوة / ādāb at-tilāwa , the correct behavior before and during the lecture. The right intention and the ritual purity during the reading and the alignment of the body according to the qibla are particularly important here . It is possible to recite the Koran in its entirety within one evening, but - also due to a prophetic tradition that says that whoever reads the Koran in less than three days has not understood it - is often classified for liturgical purposes made according to Juzʾ and Hizb sections.

Training of Koran reciters

The training of Koran reciters usually begins in childhood. A professional who is learned and teaching in many readings is called muqriʾ . Someone who can only speak one or a few readings is called a Qari . Haafiz is popularly the honorary title for people who have memorized the entire Koran , but in Islamic sciences it denotes a person who is extremely familiar with many traditions and traditions of the Sunnah . The recitation of the Qur'an is occasionally used as income for people who, due to a disability, find it difficult to earn a living elsewhere. For example, Taha Hussein , who was blind in early childhood, was sent by his father to the local Koran school to be trained as a reciter.

The musical dimension of the Koran recitation

The musicality of the Qur'an has been pointed out many times. Amnon Shiloah proximity between Quran recitation and music made clear in that it the melodic qualities of the presentation of some Koran verses in musical notation held; for example sura 20: 1–3:

\ relative g '{\ set Score.tempoHideNote = ## t \ tempo 4 = 65 \ override Staff.TimeSignature #' stencil = ## f f8 (e8) e8 (^> d8) r \ bar "|"  d16 (e16) f4 \ bar "" g8 \ times 2/3 {g16 (f16) e16} g8 g16 (f16) f16 (e16) f8 e16 e16 e8 d4 \ bar "|"  \ break f8 f16 (e16) f16 (e16) g8 f8 \ times 2/3 {f8 e16} \ bar "" e16 (d32 e32 d16) f8 f8 r4 \ bar "|"  } \ addlyrics {Tā - hā.  |  Mā anzal- nā ʿa- lai- ka'l- qur- ʾā- na li- tash- \ bar "" qā.  \ bar "|"  Il- lā tadh- kī- ra- tan li- man __ \ bar "" yach- shā.  }

The relationship between music and the recitation of the Koran is, however, charged with tension. This is mainly due to the ambivalent attitude of traditional Islamic scholarship to music as such (compare → Islamic music ). While the Koran in the early Islamic period was apparently still to traditional melodies (ألحان / alḥān ) was sung, Islamic scholarship soon took the view that the recitation of the Koran had to be clearly differentiated from the singing of the camel herders.

The request to distinguish the sacredness of the reading of the scriptures from the profanity of a concert, as has also been expressed in a comparable way with regard to the cantillation , the musical performance of the Tanach in Jewish worship, also plays an essential role. Recitation differs from music less in its design than in the significance and importance of the text presented.

For the situation in Egypt , which can be considered representative of other Arab states, Kristina Nelson states that although a certain neutrality in the attitude towards music has prevailed, an association between music and reading the Koran is avoided if possible. In contrast, Anne Rasmussen observed in Indonesia , the state with the largest Muslim population in the world, that a smooth transition between recitation, song and music is not the exception but the rule.

See also



  • Navid Kermani : God is beautiful. The aesthetic experience of the Koran. 2nd edition, CH Beck, Munich, 2003.
  • Labīb Saʿīd / لبيب سعيد: al-Jamʿ as-sautī al-awwal li 'l-Qurʾān al-karīm  /الجمع الصوتي الأول للقرآن الكريم. Dār al-Kātib al-ʿArabī /دار الكاتب العربي, Cairo, 1967. (Translated from Labīb Saʿīd: The Recited Koran. A history of the first recorded version . Darwin Press, Princeton, 1975.)
  • Kristina Nelson: The Art of Reciting the Quran . The American University of Cairo Press, Cairo, 2001.
  • Anne K. Rasmussen: Women, the Recited Qurʾan, and Islamic Music in Indonesia . Berkeley, University of California Press, 2010.


  • Gotthelf Bergsträßer : Reading the Koran in Cairo . In: Der Islam 20, 1932, pp. 1-42; Der Islam 21, 1933, pp. 110-40.
  • Jean Cantineau, Léo Barbès: La récitation coranique à Damas et à Alger . In: Annales de l'Institut d'études orientales 6, 1942–1947, pp. 66–107.
  • Frederick M. Denny: Ta dj wīd. In: The Encyclopaedia of Islam . Second Edition, Vol. 10, 2000.
  • Frederick M. Denny: Qur'ān Recitation. A Tradition of Oral Performance and Transmission . In: Oral Tradition 4 / 1–2, 1989, pp. 5–26. ( online )
  • Lois Ibsen al Faruqi: The Cantillation of the Qur'an . In: Asian Music 19, 1987, pp. 2-25.
  • GHA Juynboll: The Position of Qurʾan Recitation in Early Islam. In: Journal of Semitic Studies 19, 1974, pp. 240-251.
  • Daniella Talmon-Heller: Reciting the Qur'ān and Reading the Torah. Muslim and Jewish Attitudes and Practices in a Comparative Historical Perspective . In: Religion Compass 6/8, 2012, pp. 369-380.
  • Habib Hassan Touma: The Koran recitation. A form of religious music used by the Arabs . In: Baessler Archive: Contributions to Völkerkunde 48, 1975, pp. 87-133.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Richard C. Martin: Understanding the Quran in Text and Context. In: History of Religions 21, 1981-82, pp. 361-384.
  2. ^ William A. Graham: The Earliest Meaning of 'Qurʾān' . In: The world of Islam . New Series, Vol. 23/24, 1984, pp. 361-377.
  3. Hartmut Bobzin : The Koran. An introduction. CH Beck, Munich, 1999, p. 118 f.
  4. Navid Kermani: God is beautiful. The aesthetic experience of the Koran. 2nd edition, CH Beck, Munich, 2003, p. 64.
  5. Gernot Rotter (transl.): Ibn Isḥāq. The life of the prophet . Spohr, Kandern, 2004, pp. 71 ff. G. H. A. Juynboll cites numerous other examples: The Position of Quran Recitation in Early Islam. In: Journal of Semitic Studies 19, 1974, p. 245 f.
  6. Navid Kermani: God is beautiful. P. 207 f.
  7. Labīb Saʿīd: al-Jamʿ as-sautī al-awwal li 'l-Qurʾān al-karīm , p. 80 ff. (Translated from Labīb Saʿīd: The Recited Koran. A history of the first recorded version . P. 65 ff. )
  8. Nasr Hāmid Abū Zaid /نصر حامد أبو زيد: Naqd al-chitāb ad-dīnī  /نقد الخطاب الديني. Sīnā li 'n-naschr /سينا للنشر, Cairo, 1992, p. 98.
  9. Ibn al-Jazari (1350–1429) /ابن الجزري: an-Naschr fī 'l-qirā'āt al-ʿaschr  /النشر في القراءات العشر.
  10. Pierre Cachia: Ṭāhā Ḥusayn. His Place in the Egyptian Literary Renaissance. Georgias Press, Piscataway, 2005, p. 46.
  11. Amnon Shiloah: Music in the World of Islam. A Socio-Cultural Study. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1995, p. 45.
  12. Mohamed Talbi : La qirāʾa bi-l-alḥān . In: Arabica 5, 1958, pp. 183-190.
  13. For example Simon Philip de Vries : Jewish rites and symbols . 8th edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg, 2001, p. 38 f.
  14. ^ Kristina Nelson: The Art of Reciting the Qur'an . The American University of Cairo Press, Cairo, 2001, p. 190.
  15. Kristina Nelson: The Art of Reciting the Quran , p. 51.
  16. ^ Anne K. Rasmussen: Women, the Recited Qurʾan, and Islamic Music in Indonesia . Berkeley, University of California Press, 2010, p. XV.