Obtaining an Ijazah in the recitation of the Qu’ran is a valued tradition for students of knowledge. It involves becoming part a chain of narration, of the recitation of the Qur’an, where a teacher testifies that his/her student recited the Qur’an as it was taught to him/her by the teacher, as was taught by their teacher, and so on, traced all the way back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and ultimately his teacher, the Angel Jibreel عليه السلام.
It is an honor for the student of the Qur’an to obtain such a valued testimony, but what is it? How does a student become worthy of receiving one? What are the conditions for obtaining one? These questions and more will be addressed in this series of posts on the Ijazah process.
Why is there such a need to clarify all of these questions? Because one of the things that can be seen clearly today is lack of care both teachers and students take in handling the Ijazah. Either teachers are quick to give out the Ijazah without properly training and testing the student, or the student learns the Qur’an only with the goal of Ijazah in mind. Sometimes, in an effort to gain a following, a teacher will reel in students by offering them Ijazah when they are not ready to receive one. In all cases, neglect and haste trumps all, and this is something we should work hard to avoid, especially when it comes to the Qur’an. Both the teacher and the student should understand the weight of the Amaanah (trust) they hold with regard to the Ijazah.
Having said that, what follows are some questions and answers regarding the Qur’anic Ijazah and its process (translated from here), as mentioned in the concise treatise on this topic by Sh. Hasan Mustafaa al-Warraaqi حفظه الله.
Q1. Is the Qur’anic Ijazah a modern tradition or an old one? And did the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم give Ijazah to his companions in the Qur’an?
A1. Dr. Muhammad al-Fawzaan mentions, in his book إجازات القراء, page 19-22, “Verily, the Ijazah is a testimony from the Mujeez (the one who has the Ijazah, teacher of Qur’an) to the Mujaaz (the one being given the Ijazah, or reciter). And this testimony is a recommendation or certification (تزكية) for the student for the proper application (of the rules) and perfection of his recitation. The certification or recommendation (تزكية) of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم for some of his companions for the beauty and correctness of their recitation was a verbal one, from the best of creation صلى اللهي عليه وسلم, to the best of generations, رضي الله عنهم and this is stronger and more binding than the written Ijazah. I am not aware of any conclusive or absolute textual evidence on the term ‘Qur’anic Ijazah’, however, what is apparent to me, and Allah knows best, is that this concept appeared concurrently with the beginning of the classification of the Qiraa’aat of the Qur’an in the 3rd century after the Hijrah.”
Q2. Is the Ijazah given in the Qur’an only? And was the original concept of it derived from the Qur’an or Hadeeth?
A2. Dr. Muhammad al-Fawzaan mentions, in his book إجازات القراء, page 12-13, “Verily the Qur’anic Ijazah is one type of the many types of Ijaazaat associated with different branches of knowledge. There is the Ijazah of the scholars of Hadeeth (and this is the origin of it), the Ijazah of the scholars of Fiqh, the Ijazah of Judges, Scribes, Poets, and even Doctors. There are even Ijazahs given in honor for some scholars, where they bestow it upon each other, and Ijazahs given between the scholars and kings and leaders. So the Ijazaat don’t just include the different branches of the religion, but also humanities and the physical sciences. It is, by its nature, the aspiration of every Muslim to obtain; actually, it is something that the student should insist on seeking.”
Dr. ‘Abdullah ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Shatri said, “Verily, the Ijazaat of the Qurra’, as we have heard that the originators of the concept of Ijazaat are the scholars of Hadeeth, I say that originators of this concept are the people of the Qur’an because this is found in both the Qur’an and in the Sunnah. As for the Qur’an, Allah mentions:
Move not your tongue with it, [O Muhammad], to hasten with recitation of the Qur’an.Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [to make possible] its recitation.So when We have recited it [through Gabriel], then follow its recitation.[al-Qiyaamah, 16-18]
- Most of the time, the Shuyookh who teach at the institute themselves do NOT have these Ijaazaat.
- Most of the time, the students only want a certificate showing they studied a certain topic for the purpose of securing a job.
- The student has not recited the entire Qur’an to the shaykh during his time studying at the school.
- Most of the students are absent during the school year, only showing up at exam times so that they pass at the end by cheating or by other means, as is the case with more than 70% of students.
- The level [of recitation] of the students who graduate from these institutes is very poor so that they cannot even recite the recitation of Hafs properly, let alone the Qiraa’aat!