I have recently been informed that the rules for Tajweed came much after the Prophet’s death. When I asked a local Imam about certain pronunciations of words in the Qur’an, he told me that when reciting the Qur’an there are strict rules. I forgot what he said the rule was but I’ll illustrate: When a word ends with the letter Noon and another begins with either Ra, Lam, Wow, Noon or Ya, you don’t pronounce the Noon in the first word. What is this rule called? Is this accurate in terms of pronouncing words when reciting the Qur’an (whether praying or otherwise)? If Tajweed didn’t exist during the Prophet’s time what is its purpose? Why was it created? Why should anyone pronounce words any differently then how it was pronounced during the Prophet’s time? Another example is the first part of the Shahadah: I bear witness there is no deity except God
Ash hadoo al la illaha illa Lah
Ash hadoo an la illaha illa Lah
Which of these is correct?
This may be trivial but I’m trying to understand the point of changing things and the reasoning behind them.
The rules of Tajweed are, in fact, nothing more than rules for reading the Arabic language in the best of manners, as it was read during the times of the Prophet (pbuh) and as it is generally read by the more traditional class of people in the Arab world.
The reason why these rules were laid down after the Prophet’s death is simply because there was no need of laying them down during the Prophet’s times: These rules were laid down as a guide for the non-Arabs in reading the Arabic language. This need arose and was recognized only after the large-scale conquests of the Muslims, after which a large number of non-Arabs developed an interest in reading the Qur’an. This state of affairs materialized sometime after the death of the Prophet (pbuh). During the Prophet’s times, it was only the local Arabs – who were themselves the source of all linguistic rules, including those of Tajweed – who were exposed to the Qur’an and, thus, there was no need to lay down the rules of Tajweed at that time.
The rule that you have mentioned is called ‘Idghaam‘ (lit: contraction of one letter into another).
As for the Arabic rendering of the Declaration of Witness, the first of the two stated pronunciations is more in keeping with the rules of Tajweed.
Finally, it should be kept in mind that the rules of Tajweed, as I have mentioned earlier, are rules for reading Arabic in the best of manners. A deviation from the rules of Tajweed may reduce our rendering to less than ‘best’, yet it may not always result in error.
I hope this helps.
December 4, 2002