Tawatur or Reason?



One of the Sahaba once commented that if the deen were based on عقل then it would have made sense to wipe underneath the socks for مسح. But we wipe on top.

This iconic statement contains in it the basis of our deen. We as Muslims surrender in complete submission to Allah. This includes the surrender of our mind and عقل (which can be translated as intellect or reason).

Whilst yes, there are many things that make sense in the deen, but it’s when things don’t make sense that we surrender to Allah’s ultimate wisdom and knowledge, far beyond our own.

The science of recitation of the Qur’an is no exception to this. There are many concepts of Tajweed that have been explained by the scholars of this science and that make logical sense, but there are also times when certain things may not be explained and are ‘just done a particular way’.

It is at times like these when we must remember that Tajweed is primarily a practical oral science. It has been derived from the way the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was taught to recite the Qur’an by Jibril who brought it from Allah سبحانه وتعالى Himself. This science was derived from the practical recitation of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. Rules and terms developed as a result of naming these practical applications and concepts. Mainly as a means of documenting and codifying this science.

But the primary reliance has always been on the practical application of Tajweed which is the actual recitation of the Qur’an. One cannot truly grasp the reality of a concept that is based in one of the human senses, by trying to explain it via another sense. Here Tajweed is an oral science, so for example, no matter how much one may try and describe the pronunciation of a particular letter in writing, its reality can never truly be grasped except via actually “hearing” its sound.

In the same way a smell can never truly be realised no matter how much someone describes it in words until it is actually smelled.

A taste can never truly be realised until it is actually tasted.

And so on.

So Allah سبحانه وتعالى out of His ultimate wisdom and mercy to us, promised He would preserve this last revelation (Suratul Hijr: 9), which was a “recited” book. He therefore secured the preservation of its recital in a “recited form”. This was achieved via mass chains of people who learned its recital and passed this on to many more masses. Mouth to ear to mouth to ear…

This concept is known as Tawatur, and with it the Qur’an is established. No letter of the Qur’an can be pronounced unless it has been established via Tawatur.

In this way each letter has so carefully been preserved, orally amongst the Reciters of the Qur’an since the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم till this day. It did not matter how much the Arabic of the common people may have deviated from it’s original form, but the original Arabic pronunciation of every letter of the Qur’an has been preserved till this day in its original “oral” form. Pronounced and recited by the Reciters of this Science. Backed up by Tawatur.

Yet there have been some who would rather leave that which is doubtless and enter that which is doubtful. They would rather leave that which is muhkam and enter that which is mutashabih. They would rather leave what has been passed down in the Tawatur oral chains of the Reciters and go back to old books. Claiming while doing so, that the science of Tajweed is preserved and can be understood from these books written by scholars of the past. That the oral pronunciation of letters can be grasped from these books alone and that the mass oral chains can be overridden by what is ‘apparently found’ in these books. They prefer what their عقل apparently agrees with instead of what is found in the نقل i.e. the mass oral transmission AKA Tawatur.

Then we respond to them what Musa (AH) responded to his people when they demanded regular food in place of the blessed food Allah سبحانه وتعالى was providing them أتستبدلون الذي هو أدنى بالذي هو خير? “Would you exchange what is better for what is less?” (AlBaqarah: 61)

It comes as no surprise therefore, that people who prefer to go back to the books without oral backing from Tawatur have changed many letters. Some of them pronounce the letter ط differently, some pronounce ق differently, some claim ج has changed and some also have issues with ض.

Follow the Qur’an and Sunnah and you will never go astray. The way of the salaf has always been to go by the Tawatur oral chains of the Qur’an recitation. Stick to this and there is no doubt.

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah

[Surat al-Baqarah, verse 2]

We pray Allah guides us all upon the straight path, Ameen.

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