This post is geared towards teachers of the Qur’an specifically, as there has been some confusion regarding what exactly should be taught to students. There are many classes and institutes today teaching theory of Tajweed and the Qiraa’aat and often times what is taught in these classes differs from or is in addition to what is actually recited to a Shaykh. So what is the teacher supposed to teach? Are they to pass on what they learned from theory and Tajweed in these classes or are they to pass on the actual recitation as they recited it to their teachers?
Before we delve into this topic, let’s first make clear the types of knowledge, and there are two:
- علم عقلي: this is knowledge that can be learned without the need of a teacher.
- علم نقلي: this is knowledge that can only be learned from a teacher.
The nature of the Qur’anic recitation is such that it falls into the second type mentioned above: it is knowledge that can only be learned from a qualified and reputable teacher. This teacher must have taken this knowledge from their teacher in the same fashion, and their teacher from theirs, until it reaches the teacher of our Ummah, Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم. In fact, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم made this fact clear by saying:
اقرؤوا كما علمتم
Recite as you have been taught.
Therefore, knowledge of Tajweed, Qiraa’aat, etc. is علم نقلي which means that you can’t use your عقل (mind) to gain this knowledge. You cannot exclusively justify any rule of Tajweed or the Qiraa’aat based on logic and theory alone. It is knowledge which is completely transmitted (نقل) through a chain of trustworthy individuals. This is actually why many poems of Tajweed begin with يقول (he says)، قال (he said), or قل (say) because the author is transmitting the knowledge that he learned from his teacher in this way, the only way that this knowledge can be learned.
Having said that, let’s now examine the definition of a Muqri’ (the teacher of the Qur’an):
من علم بالقراءات ورواها مشافهة عمن شوفه بها، وشرطه: أن يكون مسلما، بالغا، عاقلا، ثقة، مأمونا، ضابطا، متنزها عن أسباب الفسق ومسقطات المروءة، ولا يجوز له أن يقرئ إلا بما سمعه ممن توفرت فيه هذه الشروط، أو قرأه عليه. ومُصْغٍ له، أو سمعه بقراءة غيره عليه. ويجب عليه أن يخلص النية لله تعالى، ولا يقصد بذلك غرضا من أغراض الدنيا
(The Muqri’ is he) who teaches the Qiraa’aat, and narrates them orally from one who teaches them orally, and his conditions are: that he be Muslim, has reached puberty, is sane, trustworthy, honest, accurate, pure from immoral actions and that which lacks integrity, and it is not allowed for him to teach except what he has heard from him who fulfils all these conditions, or what he recited to him. Or he listens to him, or he heard him, while another was reciting to him. And it is incumbent upon him that his intention is sincere to Allah Most High, and he does not intend by that (his teaching etc) any worldly goal…
[Irshaad al-Mureed ilaa Maqsood al-Qaseed, pgs. 5-6]
The key point in this definition is that this individual must have an authentic chain of narration for what he is transmitting to his student. This is the essence of the Ijazah.
Ijazah is for what you learned via recitation through an authentic sanad.
Theory and Rules of Tajweed and the Qiraa’aat can only be transmitted if it is included in and agrees with what you actually recited to your teacher.
Does that mean that the teacher cannot teach anything in addition to what they recited at all? Not necessarily, and this is when transparency in the transmission is absolutely critical. If a teacher mentions or teaches what they have not recited, they must make this clear to the student that this additional information is not what they recited to their teacher, but their own general knowledge. It is important to emphasize that a student, in this situation, if they are reciting for Ijazah, cannot recite according to this additional knowledge. They are only to recite what the teacher recited to their own teacher, etc.
An example of this type of transparency is demonstrated by Shaykh Dr. Ahmad Eesa Ma’sarawi, head of Egyptian Maqaari’ (advanced Qur’an Reciters & Teachers) and head of the Mus-haf Committee at Azhar, who wrote the book الكامل المفصل on the 14 Qiraa’aat. He mentions, on page 36:
وما ذكر من فويق القصر وهو ثلاث حركات؛ فهو من باب الدراية لا الرواية؛ لأننا لم نقرأ به على مشايخنا…
…as for what has been mentioned of just above Qasr (madd length) and that is 3 counts, then it is from theory not from narration, because we did not recite with this to our teachers.
This shows that although there may be multiple ways for something to be recited (and in this case, multiple lengths of Madd), you can only transmit what you actually recited, not what is found in books. This difference is vital to preserve the sanad and avoid pollution and إدراج (adding additional information to the narration what is not originally part of it) where it doesn’t belong. This would be considered, no doubt, a lie in the chain/narration (i.e. الكذب في الرواية), even if it were textually correct! This is no doubt an act of Tadlees.
Having said that, it is clear that someone who learned the correct recitation through recitation alone and obtained Ijazah in this is far superior and their Sanad is saved from any pollution than someone who learned the recitation and inclined towards books and logic and carries many contradictory opinions. This is why a student should seek out a person who is trustworthy, reliable with a solid Sanad and who does not incline towards research and logic to learn Qur’an, and Allah knows best.