Clearing the Confusion behind ض | Part 1: Introduction


This 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 Sheikh and Researcher Farghali Sayyid Arabawi.

Introduction to this Series

In recent times a host of confusion has surrounded the pronunciation of the letter ض.  But why is it this letter in particular that is picked on?  Even back in the 2nd century Hijri, Seebawayh the famous grammarian of the Arabic Language mentioned another pronunciation of ض that was not proper and not to be used in the recitation of the Qur’an or proper Arabic.  The reason is because ض is of the letters which are mainly part of the Arabic Language and seldom used in others, and this is what has led the Arabic Language to be nicknamed as لغة الضاد (the Language of ض).  Since most other languages did not have this letter, it was difficult for people to pronounce, and so most of them would try to pronounce it with the next nearest letter they used in their own language.  Even Arabs would find this letter difficult on the tongue and so they would substitute or mix it with other easier letters that sounded similar, especially in fast every day speech. scripts_scrolls_003

But the real importance behind the correct pronunciation of this letter comes from the recitation of the Qur’an as revealed by Allah سبحانه وتعالى.  The pronunciation of the Qur’an is tawqeefy 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.  Alhamdulillah Allah سبحانه وتعالى took it upon Himself to preserve the Qur’an, and so even its recitation and pronunciation have all been preserved and passed down to us orally, via mass chains of narration linking straight back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to Jibril, to Allah Himself سبحانه وتعالى.

The purpose of this series then, 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 both claims: that it has not been preserved in the oral chain of recitation of the Qur’an, and that the classical texts do not support the oral chain pronunciation.

The correct pronunciation of ض has been preserved in the oral chain of recitation of the Qur’an and this pronunciation is in fact the one supported by the classical texts.

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