Clearing the Confusion behind ض | Part 5: The Bid’ah ض and its Bogus Sanad

BasmalahThis series is based on a translation of the book إعلام السادة النجباء أنه لا تشابه بين الضاد والظاء  by Dr. Ashraf Muhammad Fu’aad Tala’at and of the research paper صوت الضاد الفصيحة التي نزل بها القرآن  on this topic, by Shaykh and Researcher Farghali Sayyid Arabawi.

Hear the Correct Pronunciation of ض

In our last post (Part 4) we explained the correct way to pronounce ض which has come down in the oral chain of recitation of the Qur’an and which is supported by the classical texts.

  • To hear the correct pronunciation of ض with sukoon click here.
  • To hear the correct pronunciation of ض with harakah click here.

Baseless Claims

Now, as we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the purpose of this series is to uncover the confusion behind the correct pronunciation of this letter, especially that which has erupted in more recent times, and to show the baselessness of the following two claims:

  1. That ض has not been preserved in the oral chains of recitation of the Qur’an.
  2. That the classical texts do not support the oral chain pronunciation.

Why ض?

We explained before that since ض is a letter that is difficult on the tongue and takes effort to articulate, people who did not have ض in their language would substitute it for other letters they did have in their language closest to ض; even Arabs in fast, every-day speech would substitute the proper way to pronounce ض for easier, quicker ways which were lighter on the tongue.

However, this is not allowed for the recitation of the Qur’an as its recitation is توقيفي, which means that it must be done as Allah سبحانه وتعالى revealed it, and there is no room for personal opinion or Ijtihad in its pronunciation.  In this way, each letter of the Qur’an, including ض, must be pronounced exactly as it was revealed, and cannot be changed according to changing dialect pronunciations or times.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى Preserved the Qur’an

Naturally though, as time goes by there will be changes in pronunciations and fluctuations in any language in many ways, and this happened within the Arabic Language, also.  But because Allah سبحانه وتعالى took on the task of preserving the Qur’an Himself, He ensured that no matter what happened, this language in its origin, the language of the Qur’an, would always remain intact.

And this has remained the case, no matter what changes have come upon the common Arabic dialects used amongst the people.  The Arabic of the Qur’an has remained preserved and passed down to this today.  This preservation was mainly done in the form of mass, oral chains connecting back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, especially for the oral pronunciation.  This way, each and every letter’s correct pronunciation was preserved.

The early scholars also documented the Arabic Language, its letters, along with their articulation points and characteristics, its vocabulary, expressions, poetry, grammatical structure, etc.; this ensured that the language of the Qur’an would not only be preserved in pronunciation (orally), but its meaning would also be preserved otherwise.  They did this based on the way Arabic was pronounced at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an.

There are three stages of documentation as explained by Shaykh Farghali حفظه الله:

The Era of Documentation (عصر الاحتجاج)

The Era of Documentation in the matters of Tajweed and Qiraa’aat is divided into three categories:

  1. Original Sources:  these are the original works of the scholars of the 4th, 5th and 6th Hijri centuries such as Abu ‘Amr al-Dani, Tahir bin Ghalboon, al-Shatibi, al-Ja’bari and others.  Most of these sources are مسندة, meaning that in each of these works, the authors mentioned their Sanad (chain of narration) for what they wrote.
  2. Subordinate Sources:  these are explanations or commentaries of the original sources, such as the works of Ibn al-Jazari and his students, where they gathered the previous sources from the first category and explained them.
  3. Secondary Sources:  these summarise the explanations of the second category, the subordinate sources.

These sources are all part of the Era of Documentation and what has been mentioned of the Asaneed (chains of narration) determines which recitation and which Tajweed rule is being referred to.

As for what is after this era, and these are the examples of most of the scholars in our time, and those just prior to them, and their speech does not suffice as evidence, but rather, what they say needs to be proven (through valid Asaneed and/or textual evidences based on valid Asaneed) and cannot be used as proof exclusively.

full_moonIjtihad in Tajweed

All acts of ‘Ibabah are توقيفي, which means that they must be proven by the Qur’an and Sunnah and there is no room for Ijtihad or personal opinion in them.

The recitation of the Qur’an is also an act of ‘Ibadah and so it is توقيفي.

Tajweed is توقيفي; there should be no Ijtihad in it, but as Shaykh Farghali حفظه الله mentions in his Tahqeeq of the book al-Tahdeed by Abu ‘Amr al-Dani, that around the 11th Century Hijri, some people began to do Ijtihad in this field.

One of the issues that was picked on was the pronunciation of the letter ض in the Qur’an.  Some people began to compare the ض that had been passed down in the oral chain to different pronunciations of it in the common dialects of Arabic, which had undergone much change by this time (10 centuries later) from the original Arabic at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an.  So as we can see, the premise of their argument was flawed, which led to wrong conclusions, resulting in a “new” pronunciation of ض they wanted to insert into the authentic, orally transmitted chains of the Qur’an.

We touched upon this issue when we first introduced it in this post.  The video below shows one of the incorrect pronunciations of ض  (pay attention to the places where this reciter is being corrected):


In this video, the boy is corrected 6 times for the same mistake:  his pronunciation of ض. (here, here, here, here, here, here)

Their argument was flawed in a number of ways:

  1. They ignored the most important pillar of a valid recitation which is the Sanad, so this, in and of itself, makes their pronunciation baseless and wrong.  They assumed their research took precedence over the most important pillar of a valid recitation, in effect going against Ijmaa’ (collective agreement of the scholars) thereby.
  2. They made a faulty comparison/analogy/Qiyas by comparing the Arabic of the Qur’an to its dialects which had undergone centuries of change from the original Arabic.
  3. They assumed that the Arabic dialects, which were subject to all sorts of change, were more reliable than what had come down in the Sanad under strictly controlled conditions.
  4. وما قدروا الله حق قدره Allah promised to preserve the Qur’an, so it is inconceivable to think that the pronunciation of any letter would be lost, and would need researchers to come along and reincarnate it!  This is not preservation!  They, however, assumed this wrong belief against Allah سبحانه وتعالى.  Some have even gone so far as to claim that they themselves are the reflection of this preservation due to their research and revival of what they claim has been lost.  We seek refuge in Allah from such misguidance.
  5. They assumed they had the authority to go against the نقل (transmission, i.e., the oral chain) using their عقل (intellect/logic/reasoning).
  6. They did Ijtihad in توقيفي matters.
  7. They didn’t study the classical texts in light of and understanding of the Tawatur, oral chain.
  8. They went against the Ijmaa’ of the ض as documented and transmitted by the Tawatur Sanad.
  9. They reinterpreted old texts using logic.
  10. They inserted into the Sanad what they did not get from it, so they were guilty of Idraaj (interpolation).


At the dawn of the 11th century Hijri, there were many differences in the Arabic dialects by this time, compared to the original Arabic at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an.

For the letter ض, which is what concerns us here, there were many different ways the common masses were pronouncing it in their Arabic dialects, as quoted in the book النشر by Ibn al-Jazari just a few centuries before:

And ض is singled out with Istitaalah (الاستطالة).  And there is no letter which is as difficult upon the tongue like it.  So indeed the tongues (pronunciations) of people differ with regards to it.  And few are those who have mastered it; so from amongst them is he who articulates it as a ظ.  And from amongst them is he who mixes it with ذ and from amongst them is he he makes it a heavy ل, and from amongst them is he who partially mixes its sound with ز.  And all of that is not allowed.
[النشر في القراءات العشر, 1/219]

Here, Ibn al-Jazari mentions four different, incorrect pronunciations for ض amongst the common masses speaking their Arabic dialects:

  1. Those who articulate it as a ظ.
  2. Those who mix it with a ذ.
  3. Those who pronounce it as a heavy ل.
  4. Those who partially mix its sound with ز (do “Ishmaam” of it with ز).

And at the end, he رحمه الله, says “And all of that is not allowed”, as they differed from the correct way of ض which had been passed down in the oral chains of recitation for the Qur’an.

Ibn al-Jazari also mentions in his book al-Tamheed the following incorrect pronunciations:

So from amongst them (people) is he who makes it as a ظ absolutely, because it (ض) shares all the attributes of ظ, and has Istitaalah which is extra, so if it weren’t for Istitaalah and the two different articulation points, it would have been ظ; and they are most of the people of Sham and some of the people of the East (i.e. those who pronounce ض like this).  And this is not allowed in the speech of Allah…
[al-Tamheed, pg. 140]

And from amongst them (people) is he who cannot connect it to its articulation point, rather he articulates it without it, mixed with ط, unable to do anything else, and they are the majority of the Egyptians and some of the people of the West.
[al-Tamheed, pg. 141]

And from amongst them (people) is he who articulates it as a heavy ل, and they are the Zayaali’ (Sudan/Yemen) and those like them.
[al-Tamheed, pg 141]

Here he mentions three incorrect pronunciations:

  1. Those who articulate it as a ظ.
  2. Those who articulate it without its articulation point, mixing it with ط.
  3. Those who articulate it as a heavy ل.

Ibn al-Jazari mentions one additional pronunciation different from the previous four mentioned in النشر, and this is the pronunciation of ض mixed with ط, which is done by not using its own articulation point, i.e. using the tip of the tongue with the gums instead.

Therefore, these were different ways the common masses were pronouncing ض in their Arabic dialects which had come a long way from the original Arabic pronunciation at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an.  So what about the way of ض from the time of the revelation of the Qur’an?  This was preserved and passed down in continuous, oral chains of the recitation of the Qu’ran, traced back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.

Ibn al-Jazari learned this correct way from the Sanad and passed it down orally, as other people with Sanad did, and he mentioned the incorrect pronunciations of ض in the common Arabic dialects that differed from the way of the Sanad, noting that there were few amongst the common masses who could say it properly like the way that had been passed down in the Sanad.

The point here is that although the common masses were not pronouncing ض correctly, their incorrect ways were not part of the Sanad, so there was no problem in using those pronunciations in every day speech as it was not the speech of Allah.  But when it came to the speech of Allah it was incumbent upon all to try their best to perfect their recitation according to the way documented in the mass, oral chains.

However, coming back to the beginning of the 11th century Hijri, a new pronunciation of ض appeared in the recitation of the Qur’an.  The problem with this pronunciation was that it wasn’t just another dialect pronunciation which everyone understood was not from the Sanad, and hence, not from the official recitation of the Qur’an.  Rather, now some individuals were coming out and claiming that this is the way that the Qur’an should be specifically recited.

This new ض is known by some as “الضاد الظائية” because of its uncanny resemblance in sound to the letter ظ.  It is also known as “the ض of al-Mar’ashiyyeen” after an individual who supported it and spread it.

Tracing the History of الضاد الظائية

[This section of the history of this new pronunciation of ض, the few who supported it as well as all those who contested it, is taken from the book إعلام السادة النجباء أنه لا تشابه بين الضاد والظاء]


At the close of the 10th century Hijri and the beginning of the 11th century, some people in this era began to apply the sciences of logic (العلوم العقلية) in the heritage of the classical scholars.  Then they found that the apparent meaning of whatever the Imams of the Arabic Language had written in their books, indicated that ظ was the closest letter to ض, and that ض resembled ظ, so they came out against the Qurraa’ of their time with the claim that the pronunciation of ض is like ظ or mixed with it, claiming this was the correct pronunciation, and that it was incumbent upon all the Qurraa’ to follow this way in their pronunciation of ض in the recitation of the Qur’an, and they wrote a number of booklets about this.

The First to make the Claim

The first to claim this was Shaykh ‘Ali (Noor al-Deen) bin Muhammad bin Ghanim al-Maqdisi, and then, after him, came someone who revived his claim after it had been wiped out, and this was Shaykh Muhammad al-Mar’ashi known as ساجقلي زادة.  For this reason, Shaykh al-Dabbaa’ رحمه الله mentions that the Ibn Ghanim mentioned above, wrote a paper about the way to pronounce ض, called بغية المرتاد لتصحيح حرف الضاد, which he finished writing in 985AH.

When he (Ibn Ghanim) began propagating it (this new pronunciation of ض), Shaykh ‘Allaamah Shahaadhah al-Yamani (شحاذة اليمني) confronted him and debated him in the presence of the Qurraa’ of his time, so he excused himself saying that he wasn’t claiming to mix the two letters, but only that ض should be pronounced softly so that its attribute of إطباق is weakened and its strength is lessened; then he repented and returned to the correct way.  He was a Shaykh teaching Qur’an in مدرسة صرغتمش in Egypt, and he passed away in 1006AH.

Then Shaykh al-Dabbaa’ says:

And in the year 1150AH, the great ‘Allaamah Shaykh Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Yusuf, known as Yusuf أفندي زادة, Shaykh of the Qurraa’ in the land of the Khilafah at that time, received a copy of جهد المقل by Shaykh Muhammad al-Mar’ashi mentioned previously.  When he read what was in it about the change of ض, he wrote a research paper refuting it and mentioned in the introduction what he had written:

“The research paper of Muhammad al-Mar’ashi known as ساجقلي زادة has reached me about the change of the correct ض and changing the way that the masters and professionals of the Qurraa’ and Tajweed (أهل الأداء) are upon in pronouncing it; so I read it and I found it inclosed  statements which did not establish the claim of its author, of what was transmitted from him by some of his students and كالمه, and that is (the claim) that ض resembles ظ, with the meaning that they are the same in pronunciation and hearing, wherefore they cannot be distinguished by listening; and this, along with it being falsehood, is a saying from him which his research paper does not prove.”

[ رسالة الشيخ الضباع ص 3]

Also from the events of this claim and the debates between its people and the Imams of the Qurraa’ at that time, is what al-Hafidh Isma’il القونوي is quoted to have said (he was one of the scholars who took upon their shoulders the importance of refuting those who called to this ض like ظ):

Surely those who oppose us claim that what is part of the Qur’an and a letter of it, is الضاد الظائية and not the famous ض, and we, the groups of the masters of Tawatur, rule that what is a letter of the Qur’an and a part of it is the famous ض which is from Tawatur, and not the innovated ض, for indeed it is not even one of the letters of Arabic, never mind the letters of the Qur’an!
[الضاد وأحكامها]

The Fitnah

القونوي also spoke about the fitnah that resulted from this innovated pronunciation of ض.  He mentioned that whoever chose الضاد الظائية wouldn’t pray behind the Qurraa’ of the ض of Tawatur, and if they did, then they would repeat the Salah.  So they even left the Jumu’ah prayers and the congregrational prayers.

They exaggerated in insulting and slandering what had been established by Ijmaa’ (consensus) and Tawatur.

A student of ‘Allaamah Shaykh Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Yusuf (Yusuf أفندي زادة) mentions that they spread fitnah in the Muslim lands, causing disunity and lies to spread amongst the Ahl al-Qur’an; this fitnah spread especially in the eastern countries, and the people there were afflicted by it.

القونوي  says:

This claim was first innovated in the time of ‘Ali al-Maqdisi; then it died out until the time of ساجقلي زادة, who then brought it out again by reading books of Tajweed without learning from the mouth of a professional [i.e. without understanding the books in light of what has come in the Tawatur chains].
[الضاد وأحكامها]

Also, in هداية الطلاب Shaykh Mahmood Haajj mentions:

‘Ali al-Maqdisi innovated an innovation which he was led astray by and wanted to lead others astray by, but they didn’t listen to what he said and only a few were misled of those who followed their desires.   Then ساجقلي زادة appeared, and he was more famous in the sciences of logic (العلوم العقليات); he was impressed by himself and wrote a paper about the three aforementioned letters [ساجقلي زادة changed other letters of the Qur’an, also, along with ض, and they were ط and ر], even though he was a راجل in the sciences of Tajweed [i.e. he was deficient in science of Tajweed], so he followed the footsteps of the first innovator and was misguided, and misguided many of his students.
[هداية الطلاب]

The Scholars of that Time who Wrote Against it

This claim then aroused the Imams of the Qurraa’ of that time, and a group of them wrote a number of booklets, trying their utmost to quell this claim and annihilate it.  From amongst these booklets are the following:

  1. رد الإلحاد في النطق بالضاد by ‘Allaamah ‘Ali al-Mansoori (he was the Shaykh of the Qurraa’ in Istanbul)
  2. الاقتصاد بالنطق بالضاد by Shaykh ‘Abdul Ghinaa النابلسي
  3. Two papers (رسالتان) by Shaykh Mahmood Haajj:  هداية الطلاب في النطق بالضاد على سبيل الصواب، رسالة الضاد
  4. A رسالة by Shaykh Muhammad al-Azmeeri
  5. رسالة الضاد وأحكامها by al-Hafidh Isma’il Muhammad القونوي
  6. A رسالة by Shaykh Yusuf أفندي زادة
  7. A رسالة by one of the students of Shaykh Yusuf أفندي زادة

Small Revivals of the False Claim

Then Shaykh al-Dabbaa’ (RA) says:

In the year 1280AH, one of the people at al-Azhar, Shaykh Sulayman أفندي البروسوي came across a copy of both البغية (by Ibn Ghanim the first person) and جهد المقل (al-Mar’ashi, the person who re-ignited it a second time).  He became deluded by them both and summarised them into a paper about ض, which he began propagating until it became a huge fitnah at al-Azhar.

So Shaykh Ahmad Muhammad Muqaybil stood up and sought Shaykh Muhammad عليش, the Mufti of السادة المالكية at the time, to give a ruling about this matter, so he gave a religious ruling that he should be beaten and imprisoned.  He th took the matter to ‘Allaamah Shaykh Khalifah الصفتي, who was a Shaykh of the Maqari’ (teachers of Qur’an) and one of the deputies of the Shaykh of al-Azhar Mosque (الجامع الأزهر).  So he called him (Shaykh Sulayman) and those who followed him and told them to repent, so they all repented and returned to the right.

In the year 1293AH, another person called Muhammad ‘Ali al-Usyooti الأسيوطي came out with the same thing, and ‘Allaamah Mutawalli (the famous scholar of Qiraa’aat) took his case to the Shaykh of the Maqari’ at that time, who was the Great Ustaadh Shaykh Muhammad al-Mahdi al-‘Abbasi, so he called him and asked him to repent but he refused and so he was sentenced to exile.

In the year 1317AH, Shaykh Muhammad بيومى المناوي called to the same thing, so the Qurra’ took his matter the Great Ustaadh Shaykh حسونة النواوي who called him and held a council attended by Shaykh Ahmad ar-Rifaa’i one of the former shuyookh of al-Maqari’ (of Egypt), and he (Shaykh Muhammad بيومى المناوي) was debated, so he repented and returned to what the Jama’ah were upon.

In the year 1355AH, Shaykh ‘Abdul Hameed ‘Ali called to the same thing, the Imam of al-Nuri Mosque الجامع النوري, so Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali Khalaf al-Husayni one of the former shuyookh of al-Maqari’ (of Egypt) gave a verdict to punish him, so he was called to the قسم المساجد (Dept. of the Mosques) and asked to repent, so he repented and returned to the right.

The Bid’ah ض has a Bogus Sanad

As we have seen, this other pronunciation of ض was an innovation that was started by Sh. ‘Ali Ibn Ghanim al-Maqdisi and then revived by Sh. al-Mar’ashi (ساجقلي زادة), the latter being the one who the phrase “ض of al-Mar’ashiyyeen” is referring to.  It was not from the Sanad, and this is why the Qurra’ of each era of its revival came out against it, as it was against what they had learned via the Tawatur chains of the Qur’an.

Shaykh Muhammad al-Azmeeri said:

So the sanad of ‘the two ظs’ (nickname referring to الضاد الظائية) ends at ساجقلي زادة and stops at him, (i.e. it doesn’t go higher than him) as many of the people of ‘the two ظ’s’ admitted wherefore they said:
“Indeed ساجقلي زادة read books of Tajweed and started this claim”.

He also said:

Their ض is not continuous (متسلسل).. meaning it is not linked in its Isnaad (sanad) – and it is against Tawatur, and Tawatur is unequivocal evidence.

He also narrated an incident where another scholar had asked the teacher of al-Mar’ashi (ساجقلي زادة) about the issue:

And like this, I heard from the scholars who we trust, and from amongst them is Ahmad أفندي, famously known as باشا يكاني, when he said, perplexedly, “Indeed the letters of the Qur’an have to be from Tawatur, and the ض of al-Mar’ashiyyeen is against Tawatur.”  So I said “How is that?”  He said “I was perplexed about the matter, so I asked Hasan أفندي al-Mar’ashi (who is the teacher of al-Mar’ashi, ساجقلي زادة) about this ض and I said ‘Did you get this ض resembling ظ in sound from your shuyookh?’  He said ‘No, but ساجقلي زادة changed me because he said, “What they wrote called for it to be like ظ in sound, so teach the people this.”  So I taught and propagated it.'”

And about ‘Ali al-Maqdisi and those who followed him, al-Hafidh القونوي said:

The end of their Sanad is Ali al-Maqdisi (i.e. it doesn’t go higher than him because he did not learn it from the sanad).

As we can see, the new ض was an innovation and which clearly goes against Tawatur, and hence it goes against the pillars of an accepted recitation.  The three pillars are:

  1. Must be in accordance with the Arabic Language
  2. Must be in conformity with the Uthmanic script
  3. Must have a correct Sanad – and this is the Greatest Pillar الركن الأعظم

…but this story is not over yet.  Stay tuned for Part 6, coming soon, in sha Allah.


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