The Act of Tadlees when Giving/Receiving the Ijazah



The subject of Tadlees is a topic discussed usually in circles of Hadeeth, being a significant chapter in Hadeeth Studies.  But rarely, if at all, is it found with regard to the Qur’an.  It is a serious travesty that continues to happen and it’s best that students and teachers of the Qur’an are aware of it.

To begin, what exactly is Tadlees?  Tadlees literally means:

…concealment, especially in reference to a fault that a merchant does not reveal in order to sell his goods.  It is the verbal noun of دلس, which originally means the mixing of the light and dark colors.

Tadlees is usually attempted by one who knows what he chooses not to reveal and remains silent.

[The Textbook of Hadith Studies, Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pg. 103]

Technically, within the field of Hadeeth studies, it is referred to a narrator who narrates something from someone without having met them, but makes it seem as if he has.  In all cases, either Tadlees is strongly condemned or spoken of disapprovingly.

If this is the case with regard to Hadeeth, how much more so with regard to the Qur’an?

It is possible that Tadlees occurs with regard to the Qur’an, when someone mentions something in the Ijazah which is misleading.  It can occur in the following ways (these are just a few):

  1. The person claims to have recited to a person, when they have not.
  2. The person claims to have recited to the student of a certain person, and does not mention this student in the chain.
  3. The person claims to have recited the Qiraa’aat, but only recited one Qiraa’ah or Riwaayah.
  4. The person claims to have recited the Qur’an, but does not make clear if the entire Qur’an was recited or only a portion of it.
  5. The person claims to be the student of so-and-so, but actually they only have Ijazah through so-and-so, but not directly.
  6. The person gives the Ijazah thinking that they are allowed to pass on the Sanad, when in reality, this was a specific kind of Ijazah that was not meant to be passed on to the student and was for him/herself only.

While it’s hard to believe that a person would do such things with regard to the Qur’an, it is a sad fact that it happens even today.  Unfortunately, there is no system in place where the Qur’anic Ijazahs can be screened and checked for accuracy, and rightfully so since this field of giving Ijazahs for the Qur’an is a heavily guarded and protected arena whereby the trustworthiness of an individual is extremely critical.

So what can the holder of Ijazah do to ensure that no fraud of any sort occurs when issuing the Ijazah to a student?

  1. Be accurate and clear.  When issuing an Ijazah, the teacher has to be extremely accurate about who they recited to, what exactly was recited, the manner in which was recited (reading, memorization, all Qiraa’aat simultaneously or individually), etc.
  2. Inform his/her shaykh/ah.  It is recommended that the teacher inform their shaykh when issuing the Ijazah to anyone, so that their Shaykh is aware of who is being given their Sanad.  This is to ensure that the Sanad is not used unlawfully or passed on without right.
  3. Test the student and be thorough.  The teacher must properly test the student to ensure that they understand the rules of recitation well, that they have correctly applied these rules, and that they can teach this information in a comprehensible and accurate fashion.  Blank-check Ijazahs, where the student is given permission to teach whatever he/she wants because the teacher is so impressed with them will not work here.  The student must be properly tested to ensure that the right information is passed down without mistakes or misunderstandings.
  4. Be strict and uncompromising with regard to the rules of recitation.  The safest route for the teacher is to be as strict as possible and not let a single mistake pass without correcting it.  This will cause the student some discomfort, but it is an excellent way to test their sincerity and dedication.  Are they after the Ijazah or do they seek the Book of Allah?  This will become apparent through the course of teaching, in sha Allah.  If the student is in a hurry, only wants the Ijazah, then you will get an idea of the kind of teacher this student would move on to be.  In this situation, the student would benefit from some advice and reminders.

Sh. Hasan Mustafaa al-Warraaqi حفظه الله, mentions in his Q/A regarding the Qur’anic Ijazah:

Q6: Clarify the wording of the Ijazah that is given by the shaykh to the student.

A6:  Most of the time, the shaykh is to write at the beginning of the page, his name, the name of the one giving the Ijazah and the Riwaayah or Qiraa’ah that the student recited to him.  Then he mentions an introduction and after that, that so and so, his student, recited from beginning to end, from his memory, the Riwaayah or Qiraa’ah of so and so (and some do not write that it was from memory).  After this, the shaykh will mention some advice or conditions for the student to follow, followed by his Sanad (chain of transmission) to the student.  Some with give the student only one Sanad, while others will mention all of the chains that the shaykh has from all of his teachers he recited the same Riwaayah or Qiraa’ah to.  At the end, the shaykh signs the Ijazah and puts his seal on the document.  Others have the witnesses also sign the document.  Some also just write the Ijazah on one sheet of paper, mentioning only a short introduction, the name of the shaykh, his student, and the Sanad in brief.

It is better for the shaykh to write in a notebook with him of some kind, the name of the student who finished reciting to him, the date of his completion, his address and, if possible, his phone number.  He should also make this student known to his children that he recited to him, for this is more reliable so that no fraud or anything like it occurs.  And if it is possible for the student to record his concluding recitation for the Ijazah, then this is also more reliable, so that there will be both a written, as well as a verbal, Ijazah.

What about the student of the Qur’an?  What can the student do to ensure that the person they are learning the Qur’an from is genuinely certified with an Ijazah clear from any Tadlees?

  1. Be sincere.  If the student is sincere, Allah will naturally lead them to the right teachers and resources.  The student should strive to rectify their intention, reserve their loyalty only to the Book of Allah, and they will always be guided to the truth.  After that, the student should supplicate to Allah to guide them to the best teachers.  From our experience, we’ve seen that when this supplication is fulfilled, and a student finds the right teacher, they will not be able to find a replacement for them.
  2. Ask about the teacher’s Sanad.  It is not offensive to ask a teacher about their Sanad for the Qur’an.  In fact, it is one of the most fundamental rights of the student to know this information in order to ensure that the information they are learning is correct or not.  Only a proper, Tadlees-free, Sanad can guarantee that the knowledge taken is sound.
  3. Ask about the nature of the teacher’s Ijazah, what type is it?  This is another critical piece of information because it’s possible the teacher was given an Ijazah, but it’s not the traditional sort of Ijazah whose Sanad can be passed on and the teacher has been given permission to narrate from their shaykh.  There are Ijazahs given for “barakah” only which do not have the same permissions attached to it.  Ijazahs for “barakah” are for the teacher only and its chain cannot be passed on to the student.
  4. If possible, the student should never recite to a teacher without first asking them 3 fundamental questions:
  1. Who did you recite to?
  2. How did you recite to him (from the Mus-haf or Memory)?
  3. Did you recite the Qur’an completely from beginning to end?

Answers to these questions would give confirmation regarding his religion and his perfection in the recitation.  How?  Knowing who this person recited to gives an idea about the reliability of their knowledge.  If the shaykh the teacher recited to is well known, then this adds to the credibility of the teacher.   It may even give the student an idea of the methodology of this teacher, whether or not they are lenient or strict with regard to issuing Ijazahs, and from here the student will get an idea of what to expect when learning from this teacher.

As for knowing how the teacher recited to their Shaykh, this also gives the student an idea about the strictness or leniency of the teacher.  Usually teachers who stipulate memorization for Ijazah are more strict, more reliable, and more serious about how the knowledge is conveyed accurately.  It takes more time, but the proficiency level of the student is much higher than a student who recited from the Mus-haf only.

And as for knowing what portion of the Qur’an was recited or if it was recited entirely, this is important because if only a portion of the Qur’an was recited, there is the possibility that the student has a mistake or mistakes in other parts of the Qur’an their shaykh did not hear.  As for the one who recited the entire Qur’an, then there is at least a guarantee that no major mistake was left uncorrected, in sha Allah.

If anyone has the audacity to lie or be misleading in their Ijazahs, then you can pretty much guarantee they will not have a problem lying to the student in what they teach or teach that which is false, unreliable, or baseless.

All three pieces of information give the student an idea of the reliability, dedication, and trustworthiness of the teacher.  In this day and age, when the Amanah (trust) is so heavily abused, Ijazahs are purchased and sold for extraneous amounts of money, reputations are more important than the Qur’an itself, it’s extremely critical for both the teacher and student to realize the seriousness of this Amanah, and they must constantly remind themselves that…

لا أحد أعلى من كتاب الله
No one can be above the Book of Allah.

In the end, if the student tries their best, and ends up with a teacher who is not trustworthy, they need to only put their trust in Allah, for Allah will protect His book, even from its own people.  The falsehood will be made apparent to the people eventually, because this teacher is not the first, nor the last person to make false claims regarding the Qur’an.

And Allah knows best.

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