In the previous installment of this series, we presented a real-life case example of an instance where innovation in the recitation took place and how it was dealt with. We’d like to focus now, as a conclusion of this series, on the points of benefit we can derive from this case and how it was handled.
- The issue that Sh. Ayman discussed had merely to do with the state of the lips; it only focused on whether or not a “space” or “opening” should remain between them or not. To many onlookers, this may seem like a fairly trivial, perhaps “petty” and insignificant issue. However, we learn from this that anything related to the Qur’an, no matter how small is never trivial or petty, and we seek refuge in Allah from thinking in this fashion. Some teachers will go so far as to arrogantly proclaim that such issues are childish and not worthy of their attention, but this of course is not of the manners of a sincere Muqri’. Whenever an issue is treated insignificantly, it opens the door to further changes into the recitation, bit by bit. Innovations always start out small, but then they balloon into something more dangerous and serious. If this door is opened even in the slightest way, then it is very difficult to stop. For this reason, the door to any change made in the recitation based on research or logic must remain closed forever.
- It is not problematic for a student to correct his/her teacher or to contradict their opinion if it has become clear to them that it was an innovation. Of course, there is a way and manner in which this is done, and Sh. Ayman’s behavior with regard to this issue was a good example of how it should be handled. Sometimes though, no matter how respectful a student is, a teacher will become extremely offended and resort to insulting the student and belittling their credibility because they feel that the student has somehow “attacked” them. This can only happen if the teacher has attached the knowledge to his person. For this reason, it is important to always rectify one’s intention and make it pure for Allah, and in this way, a person will not have a problem following the truth because that was what he was seeking in the first place. Being guided to the truth should foster gratitude in the individual, and to leave an error for the truth is praiseworthy.
- The main source of information when getting to the bottom of the issue was the oral recitation of the Qurra’ themselves. The main bulk of Sh. Ayman’s research involved going to the Qurra’ directly and asking them about what they recited. A smaller portion of this research involved going into books searching for textual evidences. This shows that when you want to know how something is recited, you go to the Qurra’, you listen to the recitation because that is the most reliable way for it to be preserved. If it were preserved only within books, there is the risk of something being interpreted or understood in multiple ways and as we said here, it is not possible for a sound to be accurately described with anything other than itself.
- It is not disrespectful nor a source of Fitnah to go to the Qurra’ with these questions if the intent is to obtain the truth and is handled in the appropriate manner. Rather, this was the habit of the scholars to seek knowledge, to ask questions, and to seek clarification on a wide range of matters. With regard to the Qur’anic recitation, because it is a type of knowledge which can only be learned through a qualified teacher, this is in fact the main method for seeking knowledge. It is praiseworthy, not blameworthy.
- It is not possible for a book of the past to mention every single mistake that may arise in the future, so we actually may not find evidences to refute these innovations. On the contrary, there is always some textual evidence lying somewhere for the correct way of recitation (thought difficult to find at times), which is not always the case with regard to refutations of all the possible errors that could occur. For this reason, the only reliable way to root out these innovations is by going to the trustworthy Qurra’ themselves, and seeking answers from as many as possible, and by the will of Allah, the truth will become crystal clear, as it became clear for Sh. Ayman. The true recitation is preserved and in tact within the oral chain, and the reciter of the Qur’an will find all the answers there.
- It doesn’t matter how learned a person is, their rank, their authority, or the number of their students, or even the rank and authority of these students: a mistake or innovation is just that: a mistake or innovation. As we have mentioned before: لا أحد أعلى من كتاب الله There is no one who is above the word of Allah, and no matter one’s qualification, credibility, or scholarship, there is absolutely no right for anyone to insert into the recitation that which does not belong to it, period.
- Usually, the most appropriate person to dig deeper into these situations and uncover the truth for the people is the individual most heavily involved. You might wonder why didn’t the other Shyookh say anything and make it plain for the people? They may have done so within their own teaching circles, but in the open-closed lips situation, Sh. Ayman was the only one who was connected to all the individuals involved and therefore the most qualified to make a clear statement about this issue. This emphasizes the point made above that it doesn’t matter what your rank or position is, we are commanded to enjoin good and forbid evil in the most appropriate fashion: to change things either with our hands, with our tongues, or to hate it in our hearts.
- When a person falls into this sort of error, it is our duty and obligation to not just advise the person (because the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, « الدين النصيحة » “The religion is giving sincere advice”) in the most appropriate fashion, but to also keep personal feelings at bay by focusing on the issue at hand. The problem is not the individual; the problem is the specific issue. The problem only shifts to the individual when they persist in error. For that reason, as we said above, leaving error and following the truth is praiseworthy. In this way, a person’s reputation remains in tact. However, when he/she persists in error, it does not reflect well on them, and they fall into that which is blameworthy.
- As for the situation where a student knows that such and such a rule is wrong but doesn’t know how to approach his/her teacher with this information, or the teacher insists upon teaching or reciting in a certain way which is incorrect, and this is the only teacher the student has, we will be addressing this issue and how to properly handle it in a future post this coming week, in sha Allah, so please stay tuned.
And with that, we hope we’ve clarified for students and teachers of the Qur’an the magnitude of the Amanah (trust) that they carry and the seriousness and care with which the Qur’an is handled and studied, and Allah knows best.
As an off shoot to this series, we will be presenting a new one focusing on the Shubuhaat (doubts and misconceptions) related to different aspects of Tajweed which have appeared in recent times: how they started, what they are based from and how they are refuted, in sha Allah.