The Qur’anic Ijazah is a testimony–a testimony from a teacher regarding his/her student in that the recitation was intact the revealed words of Allah as it should be recited. Therefore, this is not a light testimony, but a testimony carrying a very heavy weight upon the shoulders of the one who makes it.
The following is a translation of some advice given by Sh. Ayman Swayd حفظه الله regarding those who are lenient with regard to giving the Qur’anic Ijazah, even those who give Ijazahs they have no right to give. The source of all this is sheer arrogance and desiring the praise of the people and fame.
We ask Allah سبحانه وتعالى to save all of us from such an affliction and to make us seekers and reciters of His Book for His sake alone, Ameen.
The Weight of the Ijazah
Whoever presents himself for learning the noble Qur’an, who sits with his teacher and says, “O Ustaadh, I want to learn the Qur’an and I want you to give me Ijazah in it,” and then you say upon the Qur’an’s completion, “I give you permission to recite and teach,” this expression is heavier than the mountains themselves. [This is] because it is terrifying for you are saying, “I bear witness that your recitation is correct and in agreement with my recitation upon my own teacher, and his upon his teacher…” and so on. For this reason, one who fears Allah does not say, “I give you Ijazah” unless he is 100 percent sure that this student’s recitation has become completely consistent with what’s been narrated.
As for a letter, or two or three that he hasn’t perfected, then it is not correct for his teacher to give him Ijazah. The most his teacher can say to him is, “I give you Ijazah to recite but not teach,” because the one who presents himself to teach must have perfected all his letters. How can he give Ijazah for something which he himself has not perfected? He has something which he has not perfected, he doesn’t know it, he hasn’t corrected it, how can I have permission from my teacher to give Ijazah for it to others? [As the saying goes] “You can’t give what you don’t have.
This is why we always differentiate and we covered Ibn al-Jazari’s saying (in his poem):
ومن لم يصحح القرآن آثم
And whoever does not correct the recitation of the Qur’an is a sinner.
We explained that complete perfection and accuracy is only in the context of or oral recitation and demonstration (teaching and passing on the oral chain for Ijazah). As for generally beautifying the recitation, improving it, classes for these, you will find me (Sh. Ayman) when I’m listening to those who call in to the program, they may make 10 mistakes but I correct only one. This is in the context of improving recitation. We don’t focus too much on little mistakes, but we encourage perfection.
As for the context of the orally transmitted recitation and demonstration, [the circumstances are] very dangerous and much more serious. Because it is a testimony from the teacher, and Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
And they have made the angels, who are servants of the Most Merciful, females. Did they witness their creation? Their testimony will be recorded, and they will be questioned.
[Surat al-Zukhruf, verse 19]
Tomorrow, when they stand before Allah عز وجل and He asks them, “Did you give Ijazah to so and so?” and if I had given Ijazah to him, am I able to say “No”? There is no room to lie in front of the Rabb: “Yes, O Lord, I gave him Ijazah.”
“Was his recitation consistent with yours upon your Shaykh?” If it was not consistent, can I say it was?? There is no room to lie in front of the Lord, the Great. As for if it was consistent I can say “Yes, O lord, it was consistent.” But if it wasn’t I can only say “No, O Lord, it was not consistent.”
And if I say that and it is said to me “Then why did you give him Ijazah?!” or “Then how did you give him Ijazah?” Do you have an answer? By Allah, I have no answer.
No intelligent person should put himself in this position, before the All-Knowing, the Almighty.
This Qur’an is the speech of Allah. It is not the speech of man, it is not the speech of an intellectual or doctor…
It is the speech of the Creator of the universe, He revealed it upon our Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, and he صلى الله عليه وسلم was commanded to teach it as he was taught it:
So when We have recited it [through Gabriel], then follow its recitation.
[Surat al-Qiyamah, verse 18]
Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.
[Surat al-‘Ankaboot, verse 45]
And the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم taught as he was taught, and similarly, every generation of the Shyookh, the Qurraa’, those known as the Imams of Qurraa’, those who discharged their lives for the transmission of the Noble Qur’an, from generation to generation, with trustworthiness and extreme precision. And with this trust and extreme precision, the Qur’an reached us, pure and sound, as it was revealed. This is the precision we safeguard in the context of the oral recitation and demonstration (teaching and passing on the oral chain for Ijazah).
As for the context of general recitation, then the teacher may encourage, he may try to correct a letter, explain the way to say it. The student may not correct a particular letter even after a number of lessons, but the important thing is that they persist.
Qualities for Success
Imam al-Shatibi said:
وما خاب ذو جد إذا هو حسب له
The one who exerts himself will not fail when he relies upon Allah.
Reliance upon Allah and great effort in learning: these two qualities when they come together will guarantee their companion achieves the correct pronunciation for the book of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
O Students of Knowledge!
Increase your efforts, increase your determination, learn what you have not yet learned, and do not be satisfied with what you achieve, as the poet says:
ما للترقى انتهاء
Progress has no end!
Increase in what you are learning, and every time you learn something, learn something else, so that you become like those prominent Imams.
Open for yourselves the doors of teaching when you are qualified for teaching. When your teachers, or even one of them, testifies that you are Mujaaz (one who has received Ijazah), when they say “I give you Ijazah,” this must be a proper Ijazah, a correct Ijazah, not the speech we hear from some these days, and we seek refuge in Allah from this.
We will not leave this topic in vain, if Allah wills, with the help of our zealous brothers from the Ahl al-Qur’an (people of Qur’an), at their front is the Head of the Egyptian Maqari’ Sh. Dr. Eesa Ma’sarawi, may Allah preserve him, and Sh. Dr. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Ali Basfar, Secretary-General of the Holy Qur’an Memorization Internation Organization (HQMI), we are thinking about putting a system in place to govern the chaos that has taken place in recent times in the domain of Qur’anic Ijazahs, and so that the true worth and value of the Qur’anic Ijazahs remains as it should be, and so that intruders will have no place.
Whoever enters the domain of Qur’anic Ijazahs puts themselves at a great risk, because the domain of the Great Qur’an is a protected domain, not by myself (Sh. Ayman) or even others, but protected by Allah سبحانه وتعالى Himself. Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.
[Surat al-Hijr, verse 9]
I find it strange those people who go here and try to obtain ‘Ijazahs’ that are just mere speech, they may not:
- complete the recitation of the entire Qur’an
- have achieved perfection
- or if they’ve done a khatmah they’ve just recited to their teacher without the teacher explaining anything to them.
What will such a person do with such an Ijazah? Will you teach? You didn’t learn in order to teach, for “you cannot give what you don’t have.” And if you had the ability to teach, then why did you go about getting Ijazahs in this manner from those who give it easily, may Allah guide them?
These days there are some people who make Ijazah too easy and do not observe Allah in what they do. This is dangerous for them and dangerous for those who take Ijazahs from them, Ijazahs which are Zoor (false)! Allah سبحانه وتعالى said:
That [has been commanded], and whoever honors the sacred ordinances of Allah – it is best for him in the sight of his Lord. And permitted to you are the grazing livestock, except what is recited to you. So avoid the uncleanliness of idols and avoid false statement (Qawl az-Zoor)
[Surat al-Hajj, verse 30]
The truthful, proper Ijazah is one in which the student recites:
- the whole Qur’an from beginning to end, word by word, letter by letter
- with Itqaan (perfection) from the beginning of the khatmah till its end.
- and during the khatmah his teacher questions and tests him “How do you stop on this word?”, “How do you start with this?”, “What is the proof from Ibn al-Jazari’s poem for this?”
- When he comes to the al-Huroof al-Muqatta’aat (the separated letters which begin some of the Surahs of the Qur’an), the teacher questions him about them
- and when he passes the verse in Surat Yoosuf: ما لك لا تأمنـا على يوسف the teacher questions him about its Rawm and Ishmam
- and when he comes to ءآلذكرين or ءآلله حرم or ءآلـئن وقد عصيت he questions him about them, about the way to pronounce them and the allowed ways
- and when he reaches فرقٍ in Surat al-Shu’araa’ he asks him about it, why it (the letter راء) is made heavy, why is it made light, and why two ways are allowed in it
…and like this the teacher must feel that the student has mastered the information and will be efficient at transmitting the information on.
And if not then what is the point of Ijazah? How can the teacher say “I give you Ijazah to recite and teach”? The student cannot teach when he himself is not Mutqin (i.e. hasn’t achieved perfection). He doesn’t know the terms and definitions. If he is asked about the definition and meaning of Ikhfaa’ he can’t answer. If he is asked what همس is he can’t answer, or he may say فحثه شخص سكت (the letters of همس), when you’re asking for its definition not its letters! And like this the student does not have theoretical knowledge of Tajweed, so how can he give Ijazah like this?
The Duel with Allah
I (Sh. Ayman) advise those who are lenient when giving Ijazahs that they should fear Allah. They are dueling with Allah عز وجل! And Allah will never leave them! And He will never leave students of evil who take Ijazahs from them, Ijazahs which are Zoor (false)! And refuge is sought with Allah.
The true Ijazah is one in which the student observes Allah عز وجل, and learns in it the Qur’an, word by word, ruling by ruling, and then after that his teacher says to him with full conviction “I give you Ijazah to recite and teach,” and he is satisfied, until this student is entered into the traditional chain, at the top of which is the Lord of the worlds (as we will see on the screen shortly). We should all fear Allah whilst learning, and we should all fear Allah while teaching.
The Novelty of “the Shortest Chain”
Another issue is young beginners going about seeking the shortest chain for Ijazah. You are young, 17, 18 or 20 yourself, and the person you seek is an old man in his 90’s! He doesn’t have the ability in his old age to teach you all the intricacies and rules: Rawm is this, Ishmam is this, you read this word like this, etc., etc. He doesn’t have the ability. He has already executed the Fardh (obligation) and Sunnah. Yes, he may be the one with the highest chain or of those with the highest chains, but not for the likes of you, a beginner. It is upon you to go to one who has the ability to teach and explain to you the rulings etc., this is the one who will benefit you. When you have achieved the knowledge and have become a scholar of the Qur’an, its intricacies and rules, general and precise matters, and you receive Ijazah, then you can may seek out the person with a high chain. For now, you will recite to him the Qur’an as it has been transmitted, and as for the rulings, you have already learned them all.
As for those who don’t know anything, and travel from place to place looking for so and so (who has the highest chain), these are just movements based on whims. They do not intend Allah by this, for if they intended Allah they would go to those who would teach them and benefit them, and build them in knowledge. Not go to the shortest chain holder and then show off and say “I have the shortest chain,” and then what? Go ahead and teach, but he doesn’t have the ability.
And if he teaches he will produce other weak students like himself, rather even weaker than himself, because the weak can only produce weak. So let the beginners of Tajweed fear Allah and seek those who can teach and help them, who are still young and able to teach and explain to them, and these students should perfect the Qur’an at their hands, and when they finish this stage, and get Ijazah, then they may go and seek the highest chain holder.
Imam Ahmad bin Hambal had a friend, to whom he said, “Why don’t you attend the classes of al-Shafi’ee?” His friend said to him, “I learn hadeeth from so and so because of his short chain.” To this, Imam Ahmad رحمه الله responded:
إن فاتك الحديثُ بعلوّ، أتاك بنُزُول، وإن فاتك الشافعيّ فلن يُعوَّض
If you miss a Hadeeth because of seeking an elevated chain, it will [still] come to you from a lower chain. And if you miss al-Shafi’ee, then you will not find a replacement for him.
Look at the people of understanding and intellect. This is the testimony of Imam Ahmad regarding Imam al-Shafi’ee. Seeking short chains comes after Itqaan (achieving perfection).
A Short Sanad (chain)
We will show you a sanad which is one of the shortest, and that is of our teacher Sh. Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Uyoon al-Sood (14:50) for the Riwayah (narration) of Hafs from ‘Asim from the Tareeq (path) of al-Shatibiyyah. This means what Hafs (#4 in the chain) recited to Imam ‘Asim (#3 in the chain), as has been recorded in the al-Shatibiyyah poem written by Imam al-Shatibi (#12 in the chain). Ibn al-Jazari stated regarding the Qur’an being recited in Tajweed:
لأنه به الإله أنزلا وهكذا منه إلينا وصلا
Because with it the Lord revealed it (the Qur’an), and like this from Him, it reached us (i.e. it reaches us from him recited with Tajweed)
The sanad of Ijazah goes back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, who learned from Jibreel عليه السلام who learned from Allah سبحانه وتعالى Himself. This is an object of pride for this Muslim Ummah, [for] there is no other nation which has the book of their Lord connected all the way back to their Prophet. This is a golden succession which goes all the way back, generation from generation, connected to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. Not only for the narration of Hafs from ‘Asim, but for all the 10 Qiraa’aat. This is the Tawatur of the Qur’an.
And if it were not for the precision of those Imams and scholars whose names you saw, if it were not for their precision and accuracy in teaching and passing on [this knowledge], the Qur’an would have been completely lost. But Allah سبحانه وتعالى made use of them, guided them to deducing the rulings from the Prophetic recitation and the Arabic pronunciation at the time of the Prophethood, by which they were able to transmit the Qur’an to us, generation to generation, until has reached us after 15 centuries and not even one single letter has changed! Rather, not even one harakah (short vowel)! The fat-hah that we pronounce as a fat-hah, is the fat-hah that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم pronounced 15 centuries ago. And the letter we make heavy today, the Prophet صلى الله عليه سلم made it heavy 15 centuries ago. The Madd that we lengthen today, the Prophet صلى الله عليه سلم lengthened it 15 centuries ago. So what a huge blessing and what a huge honor [this is]!
Don’t blame the Qurra’ when they are precise (strict) in their teaching, because their goal is preserving and guarding the manner of the oral recitation (teaching and learning) by which the Qur’an reached us, and transmitting it on with the same accuracy and precision to the generations yet to come. And if not, then this would give rise to weakness in recitation and being far from the correct pronunciation.
But this will never happen. Why do I (Sh. Ayman) say this? Because of trusting Allah’s words—Didn’t Allah say:
Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian
[Surat al-Hijr, verse 9]
Have full conviction that whoever is too lenient or easy in learning and teaching the Qur’an, the One Who will distance them is Allah. Not Ayman Swayd, and nor the Head of the Egyptian Maqari’, nor the Shaykh of the Qurra’ of Shaam, nor the Shaykh of the Qurra’ of Turkey, no one. The One Who will distance them is Allah. I always say in specific gatherings: The domain of the Qur’an is a protected domain, like a mine field. Will someone come along and start walking freely in a mine field?! Or will he study his lesson 1000 times before taking a step? Like this is the Qur’anic domain, a protected domain. So whoever enters this field should enter it with complete etiquette, and complete fear, and complete perfection, because he has entered a field which the Lord of the worlds protects.