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Saturday, January 2, 2010

7 ways of Qira’at

The speciality of the Holy Quran in comparison to other divine books is that it is the word of Allah ta’ala and has descended directly from Him. As such, there are specific instructions with regard to its recitation. The Prophet of Allah ta’ala himself recited the Quran in accordance with these instructions, and taught the same method to his disciples. These disciples taught it to their followers, who in turn taught to later generation. This process has continued for centuries and hence reached us in accordance with the initial original instructions. The uniqueness lies in the fact that even after more than fourteen centuries, the Quran is recited in the same style and method in which it was recited during the period of Prophethood and the times of the disciples. It has been preserved in the same style and method. This fact has been testified by not only the Muslims, but also by the non-Muslims. History is replete with numerous testimonies. The recital of the Quran in accordance with the sunnah (tradition of the Prophet [PBUH]) is called Tajweed (phonetics or the recitation of the Holy Quran).

The Quran was sent to earth by Allah ta’ala for the guidance of humankind. And Allah ta’ala chose Arabic, a dynamic and most scientific language as it’s medium –

The Arabic language happens to be a very sensitive language. Even a slightest variation in its pronunciation changes the very meaning of a word. For example,

The two word and , are written with and respectively. The phrase says, "Oh Prophet, offer namaz and qurbani for your Creator”. But if these two words are pronounced wrongly to sound as in place of and in place of
, the entire connotation would change and it would mean, “Console your Creator and rebuke Him”.

The methodology of proper recital of the Quran was compiled in accordance with the instructions given by the Prophet (PBUH). Tajweed in fact is the art of reading the words with their correct pronunciation.

The Art of qira’at

Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (PBUH) was sent as the last Messenger of Allah ta’ala for the entire world, for all the people till the Day of Judgment. His ummah consists all people from all the races inhabiting this planet, including men and women, old and young, aged and children, maids and slaves, and educated and illiterates. Till the time Islam remained confined to Mecca, no need was felt, but after hijrat to Medina when Islam started spreading, it came across people whose languages and dialects were absolutely different. Linguists also admit the fact that dialectic changes do occur at every 20-30 miles. This difference was very much visible among the tribes of Arab region, inspite of the fact that their language was Arabic only. As such, confining them to a single style, dialect and tone would have become rather difficult. This would have created more problems.

On the request of the prophet, Allah ta’ala permitted the recital in different ways for the convenience of the
ummah. These are known as qira’at sabah or Sabah Ahruf. Some of these changes, where the meaning remains the same are following:

1.) and (meaning “big” and “bigger”, respectively.)

2.) and (meaning “num” with a “madd” is stretched)

3.) and

During the lifetime of the Prophet (PBUH) qira’at was not associated with anyone except to Prophet (PBUH) himself. But with the passing away of the Prophet, his disciples associated qira’at with their respective teachers. Hence they came to be known as hazrat Abi bin Ka’ab’s qira’at, hazrat Abdullah bin Masood’s qira’at, etc.

When the number of the followers of Islam began increasing, the circle of knowledge also started increasing. This included recital and memorization of the qira’at of the Quran, meaning and interpretation of the Quran, memorization of the hadith, and other related knowledge.

With the circle of knowledge constantly increasing, several new fields of knowledge came up. The tradition of hifz also started decreasing. People started concentrating on one aspect of knowledge and gaining expertise in that field only. The common people of those times were convinced that such experts and savants will not emerge in the future and hence they recognized these experts as their Imams. They accept the patronage of these expert Imams of qira’at. And on account of their kindness, their deep preoccupation and dedication, the subject of qira’at was associated prominently with their names. Some of the prominent among these are:

1) Imam Nafe Madani
– Imam of Medina.
2) Imam Ibn Kathir Makki
– Imam of Mecca
3) Imam Abu Omar Basri
– Imam of Basra(Iraq)
4) Imam Ibn Amir Shami
– Imam of Syria
5) Imam Asim Kufi
– Imam of Kufa(Iraq)
6) Imam Hamza Ziyat Kufi
– Imam of Kufa(Iraq)
7) Imam Abul Hassan Kasai
– Imam of Kufa(Iraq)
8) Imam Abu Jafar Gazid Al-Madani
– Imam and teacher of Medina
9) Imam Abu Gaqarb
– Imam of Basra(Iraq)
10) Imam Khalaf
– Imam of Kufa(Iraq)
The qira’ats of the above Imams are being taught and recited through out the world today. The qira’ats of these Imams have been preserved in their original form from the point of view of teaching and compilation.

In the present times, some Madaris have included the teaching of all the six prominent qira’ats in their curriculum, and are thereby endeavouring to preserve and protect this unique knowledge. Since the Quran and qira’at have come from Allah ta’ala, He has promised to protect the Quran along with meaning, style scripts, qira’at, and for this He has chosen His ummah. Madrasah Tajweedul Quran is not only contributing in preserving, but is also shouldering the responsibility of imparting this knowledge spreading it even to the remotest corners of the country.

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