Learning Tajweed, Part Five

 Learning Tajweed, Part Five

My tenacity brought a big blessing. I inserted myself firmly into that madrassa, never missing a day, and always fully prepared for the lesson. I was surprised to discover that most of the ladies had no problem learning the special rules of tajweed, but all of us had problems discarding the accents of our native languages.

The other women were Arabs, but from various Arab countries.  A Pakistani or two, an Indonesian, and I, rounded out the group. As you know, the various dialects of Arabic are different from one another not only in word usage, but in pronunciation of letters. The two letters most distorted by dialect are Qaf and Geem. The dialect furthest from classical Arabic is the Egyptian dialect, and half of the ladies were Egyptians.

So, I did not feel as odd as I expected I’d feel. My pronunciation issues were not more severe than theirs.

I practiced every day at home, when my husband was at work and the girls were at school. I derived an inner contentment from reciting the Qur’an, as opposed to reading it, or reading the translation of it. I started paying attention to the various recitors; some were easy to understand, and some had melodious voices.

Ahmed Al-AJami became very popular at that time, but I knew people who did not like his style because they thought it was too close to singing. I must confess, I liked his style for that very reason!

During  the year, I discovered that my one and only neighborhood friend, an Egyptian woman, also studied at the same madrassa and was enrolled in the highest class available, with the best teacher. This was the class I wanted to enter, but the waiting list was long, with the requirement that you finished all the other classes first.

My friend spoke to the teacher about me, and I was allowed to sit in. Then I was allowed to read for the teacher, and she invited me to join the class!  I’m not sure she was  comfortable with me, but she  recognized my diligence, desire, and accomplishment to date, thanks to Allah.

I spent the entire next year in that class, learning more than I’d ever expected to learn. To this day, I thank Allah for the blessing of putting me in that class. I am not worthy of it, especially since I’ve neglected the Qur’an since repatriating. The good news is that my solid foundation still stands.


About Marahm

At first glance, I may appear to be a middle-aged American woman with kids, grandkids, retired from a job in a hospital, gratefully relieved from the responsibilities that come with all of that. Behind the image, which is true enough, I am fairly unhinged from much of American mainstream living, having spent twelve years in Saudi Arabia, years that sprung me from societal and familial impositions, and narrow bands of truth. I have learned to embrace my identity as a seeker, an artist, and a writer. I study Arabic and Italian language, because I love them, and I love their people. I still dream of spending more time in the Middle East and Italy, though the dreaming now seems more real than the possibilities. I am a photographer. I write, and sometimes publish, flash memoir, and now a blog or two.
This entry was posted in Arabic Language, Islam, Memoir, Saudi Arabia, Tajweed and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Learning Tajweed, Part Five

  1. Solace says:

    Masha’Allah, what a wonderful turn of events. Sometimes having sabr really can change things around!

  2. Umm Ibrahim says:

    Good to read a happy ending (well I presume!).

  3. coolred38 says:

    Sheikh Ajimi was the reciter the first time I really sat and listened to the Quran on tape. I was mesmerized…and Ive never bothered listening to anyone else. I think his voice is beauiful and brings me to tears when I hear the Quran coming from him…and this was way back before I had even any understanding at all about what he was reciting.

    My favorite thing to to was listen to him during Ramadan while I was preparing dinner in the kitchen. I keep his cd’s in my car too…the Quran calls to us…and even more so when the voice is sweet and clear.

  4. Marahm says:

    Yes, the ending is happy, alhumdulillah, and having sabr was a good choice– this time!

    Sheikh Ajami’s voice is indeed mesmerizing. Even though I’ve listened to his recordings repeatedly, I do not get tired of hearing them.

  5. Shahrzad says:

    nice. It’s more difficult for Iranians to pronouce Arabic properly. Farsi/Persian shares many words with Arabic, but we pronounce it differently. For example we dont have different ways for “غ” and “ق”..

  6. Marahm says:

    Yes, I’ve learned to recognize Farsi as opposed to other languages. It is different, indeed. I don’t remember if we had any Iranian women in the classes.

    The best students of Arabic were the ladies whose native language was closest to Arabic.The Pakistani women were excellent learners of Arabic and tajweed.

  7. Aafke says:

    I’m glad to read your story had such a good ending!
    makes me feel good too just by reading it.

  8. ~W~ says:

    Some of the best women reciters come from Indonesia. It is a shame that for most of the Islamic world only men are allowed to recite Quran for the public. This comes from the idea that a woman’s voice is “awra”. I have no idea how this originated.

    My best reciter is Mishary Rashed Alafasy http://www.alafasy.com/newsite/index2.php?page=audio&tapeId=42. I have never read the Quran in total before listening to him reciting Surah Alnaba. It really caught my attention and I read the entire Quran while listening to his recitation. I have later focused on reading the meaning of the Quran, although reciting and listening to recitation is something I still regularly do (if not as often as I’d like).

    It has always bothered me that many people put so much emphasis on Jajweed , rather than on reflecting on the Quran and studying its meanin and message. What are your thoughts about this?

    Finally, I am happy that your persistence and hard work paid off. God bless 🙂

  9. Marahm says:

    Thank you for the link, ~W~. I listened to Alafasy, sura Alnaba, with particular attention to the meaning of the ayas as he recited. I hadn’t thought much about the fact that many people concentrate on tajweed to the neglect of the meaning.

    I think if one knows even elementary Arabic, and listens to a recitation such as this one, in which the reciter’s voice conveys the tone of the meaning, one cannot help but reflect upon it.

    Perhaps I am too generous, especially given my experience at the madrassa (and other places!), but it is possible that a person is impermeable to certain principles, but embraces others easily.

    If one knows no Arabic, then of course there is no way one can connect the meaning with the recitiation except in a general manner.

    I recommend Alafasy to people who are learning Arabic. His recitiation is slow enough to follow, yet melodious and appropriately emotional (IMHO).

    Yes, how can we hear the good women reciters, except in madrassas? Once I found a recording of a woman reciter, but I was disappointed to hear her sound just like a man.

  10. Umm Ibrahim says:

    Assalaamu alaikum

    Coolred38 Sheikh Ajimi was the reciter the first time I really sat and listened to the Quran on tape. I was mesmerized…and Ive never bothered listening to anyone else. I think his voice is beauiful and brings me to tears when I hear the Quran coming from him…and this was way back before I had even any understanding at all about what he was reciting.

    This is exactly my experience but the reciter was Sudais. I had NEVER heard Quran recited in Tajweed and someone left some casettes for me which I started to listen to after they left my home.. I just sat in wonder listening. To be able to pray behind him in the Masjid Al-Haram years later was a wonderful experience! Alhamdu Lillah.

    Tajweed is important because it is concentrating on reciting the Quran in precisely one of the ways in which it was revealed to Muhammad salla Llahu ‘laihi wassallam by the angel Jibril, alaihi salaam.

  11. coolred38 says:

    I also found this applies to men who call out the adhan for prayer…some of them are so harsh they cause a worshipper to recoil or flinch at the sound…no lie…and yet others make you stop whatever your doing….listen to the adhan…and then go prepare for prayer…exactly what its meant to do.

  12. Marahm says:

    I, too, prayed behind Sudais in al-Haram, in 1996, I think, in Ramadan. His dua’a brought me to tears. That evening remains a spiritual milestone in my life. I have always wanted to write about it but cannot. I can only attest to it.

    There are many wonderful reciters, masha Allah.

    I didn’t know Tajweed was one of the ways the Qur’an was revealed.

  13. Marahm says:

    Absolutely, Coolred! The most beautiful azan I ever heard was in Damascus. Several muazzins called at the same time, and I think they harmonized deliberately! Sounded like a chorus of angels.

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