Attention Teachers of Qur’an | Part 5: A Real-Life Case: Open or Closed Lips?


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Conclusion

In previous installments of this series, we explained the pitfalls of deriving our knowledge of the Qur’an from books and logic alone, as well as explained the manner in which we can accurately transmit the knowledge to our students.  Today, we would like to present a practical and real-life case of a sanad becoming polluted by outside information or misunderstanding, as presented by Sh. Ayman Swayd حفظه الله, and translated below.

In this segment of a series of lectures that Sh. Ayman was delivering on the explanation of Ibn al-Jazari’s Muqaddimah, he explains how the confusion related to keeping the lips open or closed for the إخفاء شفوي rule (a م with sukoon, followed by the letter ب) really began.  Please note, this post is quite long, but it is an extremely important read and case in point.

Forty years ago (and more), glory be to Allah, a suspicion or uncertainty struck the mind of one of the Imams of the Qurra’ in Egypt, and it was the following:  “How can we say  تَرْمِيهِم بِِــ [from Surat al-Feel, verse 4], and the sound of م is apparent and clear, and then we call it إخفاء (hiding)?”

This was a very strong suspicion.

[This suspicion or doubt means], we, when we pronounce the إخفاء of the letter ن say: الإِنسَان (hiding the sound of ن by not touching its مخرج), where is the tongue?  At the مخرج of سين; the tongue does not touch the مخرج of نون.  [The word] أَنفُسهم, the tongue is not used for the مخرج of نون.  The sound of نون is omitted and the only thing which remains is its غنة (nazalisation), and we call this إخفاء!  So how do we come here, and we use the lips (the مخرج of م) and we call it إخفاء also?

This suspicion (or misunderstanding) struck inside his mind, a strong suspicion.  So he said, “It is compulsory, as we have done in the case of نون, that we do the same thing with ميم.  So when, in the case of نون we don’t use the tongue when doing إخفاء, then in the case of ميم, we do not use our lips when doing the إخفاء of ميم.”

He began to develop this idea until it took control of him and he began to spread it among the people, and he was a person of authority and rank.  Some of the scholars rejected this in the beginning, but because of the insistence of this shaykh upon this misunderstanding and the strength of his authority, it began to spread.  This shaykh, may Allah have mercy upon him, occupied himself with teaching, and being a person of authority (in the field), the number of his students increased.  In addition to that, he was responsible for the recordings (of the Qur’an recitation) on Egyptian radio stations.

Egyptian radio stations were the first radio stations to broadcast the recitation of the Qur’an, and still reign superior over the whole world.  All of us, when we were young, we used to listen to the recitation of the Qur’an as broadcasted from these radio stations in Cairo.

These recordings, which these radio stations were responsible for, require a knowledgeable authority.  Meaning, the director of the radio station cannot be this authority, because he’s simply an employee and cannot be relied upon for knowledge (regarding the rules of recitation).  There has to be an authority in this field based on his knowledge, and who would be this person?  It was this shaykh, Allah’s mercy be upon him, and he was an Imam, of course.

But, glory be to Allah, this is how this misconception came about.

So when the shuyookh (of recitation), with these beautiful voices, came to have their recitations recorded, and as ‘Abdul Basit, may Allah have mercy upon him, said they were told (by this shaykh), “You will recite only as I want.”  Then ‘Abdul Basit ‘Abdus-Samad said, may Allah have mercy upon him, to one of his friends, “We don’t think this is correct, but we do it because so and so is a person of knowledge.”  This was the statement of ‘Abdul Basit, that this is simply how they wanted it.  So he (the shaykh) taught them and trained them to do this (rule).  This is what he did with al-Husary, Mahmood al-Banna, Mustafa Isma’il, etc., those who had their recitations recorded for the Egyptian radio stations.  All of them, because of the strength of his authority, were compelled to do it (the إخفاء شفوي) in this manner.

At that time, some Shuyookh rejected this and of them was Taha al-Fishni, from Alexandria who used to say, may Allah have mercy upon him, “What kind of Ikhfaa’ is that?!  This is the Ikhfaa’ of al-Naksah!”  The shaykh (Taha al-Fishni) was referring to the 1967 war which was called the war of al-Naksah, the same time this misconception about the إخفاء شفوي started to spread.

But, glory to be Allah, because of these recordings, and the famous shyookh reciting this way, it spread even more.  This shaykh, may Allah have mercy upon him, occupied his time with teaching the Qur’an, and his students increased in number.  Many of them traveled to from the lands of the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, etc., and this matter spread far and wide, according to the saying, “Recite as you have been taught.”

I  (Sh. Ayman) remained satisfied with this idea for 20 years.  With which idea?  The obligation of leaving a space between the lips.  It wasn’t 20 days and not 20 months; it was 20 years.   But I still had some doubts, because what was the limit (how far can this go)?  Because in the world, this wasn’t found except through this shaykh, may Allah have mercy upon him, and it reached us in Syria through our teacher, Sh. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz ‘Uyoon al-Sood, may Allah have mercy upon him. There is a long story about that, but this is not the opportunity to discuss it here.

I started to consider the matter, after the death of our shaykh, Sh. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, may Allah have mercy upon him, delved into the issue, contacted the Qurra’ in a number of countries, and delved into the texts of the Imams.   Then it was unequivocally established for me that this matter was invented and that it was confined to one man.  No matter how many reciters recited this way, their recitation was traced back to only this one individual.

And the thing which gave me the final confirmation was that Sh. Salah al-Deen Kabbaarah, the Shaykh of the Reciters of Qur’an in Tripoli, Lebanon, mentioned to me that he recited to this shaykh, may Allah have mercy upon him, in the 1950s, and he recited to him in the customary way, meaning ترميهم بحجارة and ومن بعد (meaning with the lips closed).  He recited the 7 Qiraa’aat to him.  He (Sh. Salah al-Deen), “Then I returned to Lebanon and after about 10 years, the opportunity presented itself and I returned to Egypt a second time to recite the 3 Qiraa’aat in addition to the 7, in order to complete the recitation of the 10 Qiraa’aat, and the shaykh had ordered me to keep an opening between the lips.”

This shows what?  This shows that this shaykh (who made this claim) had two stages in his life.  The first stage was the stage of what?  What all the Qurra’ recite (with the lips touching, no space).  And then, when he fell into this misconception that I explained earlier, and he said to me, may Allah have mercy upon him, because he was one of my teachers, “What sort of Ikhfaa’ is “أم”?” gesturing with his fingers to his forehead (meaning, it doesn’t make sense).  Meaning, “How can we say أم and the sound of م is apparent and clear and we close our lips and then call it إخفاء?”

So I (Sh. Ayman) retracted following this opinion after 20 years, after finding clarification of this matter, after it became clear to me that it was a mistake, and returning to the truth is more praiseworthy.

I want to tell you something, O brothers: the default situation when the letters come together is Idh-haar (making clear, apparent).  And every time Idh-haar is forsaken for something else, like Ikhfaa’ or Idghaam, it is forsaken for something which is easier.  And I have said to you that the rules of نون and ميم and all the rules of Tajweed are the rules of the Arabic language.

As for when a person comes to a letter of the lips accompanied by another letter of the lips, it is said that an opening of the lips occurs between them.  By Allah, I ask you, where did this space come from?  We are going to divide ترميهم بحجارة into two words: ترميهيم and بحجارة.  Please pay attention to this, although it is for the advanced crowd, and those who are at a lower level, please be patient with me.

ترميهم, this is a word, and بحجارة is another word.  [When I say] ترميهم, what is the end of it?  Meaning, the lips are being used here (by coming together and closing).  [When I say] بحجارة, what is the beginning of it?  بِ, meaning the lips are being used [again, coming together and closing].  In the case of the first word, the end of it is closed lips, and for the second word, the beginning of it is closed lips.  When we bring both words close together, by Allah, where does the opening of the lips occur??

Is opening the lips really easier?  When I say ترميهم (and keep the lips opened, not touching for the ميم), is this easier?  What kind of easiness is this?  Man’s original nature refuses this.  The illiterate one who has never studied Tajweed in his life says أنباء (by touching the lips) and he doesn’t say it without touching the lips.  Try this with your own mouths.  You will feel that the lips want to come together, and you are pulling them apart.

If you smell the perfume called عنبر (Amber), if you had anyone smell it who hasn’t studied any Tajweed in his life, he will say it is عنبر (closing his lips together).  No one says it while opening the lips, naturally.  Naturally, whenever a person reads a word with نون followed by باء, he changes the نون to a ميم, why?  Because the ميم is from the lips and so is the باء, and this is easier!

Therefore, this space between the lips, there is no justification for it, and the cause of it was faulty al-Qiyas (analogy), a misunderstanding which entered the mind of one of the shyookh.

What is easier is that when you say ترميهم بحجارة, you do not apply Idh-haar nor Idgham (and when it is neither case, then it is إخفاء), and this is what is easier, as opposed to keeping the lips open.  And people, in regard to this, are at various levels.  Some of them open their mouths a great deal, some don’t, everyone interpreting it according to his/her understanding.

The cause of all this was a misunderstanding.  And the cause of it was [also] what you I mentioned to you for a number of days, from a very dangerous matter and that is:

Using the mind with regard to the texts of the Imams far away from oral transmission.

It is not possible to understand the texts of the Imams except in conjunction with the oral recitation taken from the shuyookh, and they both come together, and there is no contradiction between them or diversion from either.

As for using my mind in order to understand the texts of the Imams, and I come out with a way of reciting to the people that no one has mentioned before, then this is a dangerous matter and clear innovation in the recitation of the Qur’an.

I have mentioned to you what I know regarding this issue, and I am connected to all of its shuyookh.  I have sat with the shaykh himself, and he is one of my teachers, the one I recited al-‘Ashr al-Kubra to, the one who had this misconception.   (As well as) of course, our teacher Sh. ‘Abdul ‘Azeez ‘Uyoon al-Sood, Sh. Salah al-Deen Kabbaarah.  Also, Mahmood Khaleel al-Husary may Allah have mercy upon him and I have had an exchange over this matter and I used to visit him at his house in Cairo.  Sh. ‘Abdul Basit, and I mentioned what he said. Also, Sh. al-Zayyat, one of my teachers.  (All of them said the same thing), “We don’t recite this way.”  Our teacher, Sh. Ibrahim ‘Ali Shahatah al-Sammanoodi, I asked him, “Did you recite this way?”  He said, “No, we don’t recite this way.”

They didn’t recite with what? With a space between the lips.  This was an innovated matter in the recitation, the cause of which was al-Qiyas (analogy).  Has it been made clear, our brothers?  This is what I wanted to mention to you and I have fulfilled my duty.

4 Responses to “Attention Teachers of Qur’an | Part 5: A Real-Life Case: Open or Closed Lips?”

  1. abu maryam