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.
When the scholars began to document the Arabic Language, including the place where each letter was pronounced from, they did this by pronouncing each letter repeatedly, testing it, and making note of the exact point of the throat, mouth or lips etc which was being used to articulate it. Like this they documented all the articulation points of the letters (مخارج الحروف).
The first to do this was al-Khaleel bin Ahmad al-Faraaheedi.
2. What is a Makhraj?
Linguistic Definition: The name of a place where something comes out from, whatever that thing is.
Applied Definition in Tajweed: The place from which a letter comes out from, and becomes known and distinguished. It is said it is the place which originates the letter by restricting the sound within it exactly or approximately, so wherever the sound is actually restricted this is exact (محقّق), and wherever it is possible to interrupt the sound there, then this is approximate (مقدّر).
3. What is a Letter (حرف)?
Linguistic Definition: The edge of anything, and it is said “this is the harf of such” i.e. its edge.
Applied Definition in Tajweed: The sound which relies on a makhraj which is exact (محقّق) or approximate (مقدّر). The exact makhraj (محقّق) is whose reliance is upon an exact point of the parts of the throat (الحلق), tongue (اللسان) and lips (الشفتان), and these are the letters of the throat, tongue and lips. The approximate makhraj (مقدّر) is whose reliance is not upon any of those, and they are the three letters from the cavity (الجوف) of the mouth and throat, because they don’t rely on the parts of the mouth, such that they are interrupted in an exact parts, rather they are existent with the air of the mouth, and this is why they can be increased or decreased.
Know that every letter is equal to its makhraj, it does not surpass it nor is it less than it. Except for the three letters of madd they are apart from their makhraj, and for this reason they can be increased in the form of the Natural Madd (المد الطبيعي).
4. What is a Sifah?
Linguistic Definition: Whatever exists with other than it, such as knowledge, ignorance, happiness, sadness, worry, and other such characteristics which exist in man, and like blackness, whiteness, blueness and being yellow, and other such characteristics which exist in man, whether they are concrete or abstract.
Applied Definition in Tajweed: The state which the letter is described to be in, when it appears in its makhraj, taking care of which is necessary to beautify the pronunciation of the letter, such as الهمس (al-Hams), الجهر (al-Jahr), الاستعلاء (al-Isti’laa), الاستفال (al-Istifaal) etc. With these characteristics, letters which come from the same makhraj are differentiated from each other.
5. The Significance of Makharij and Sifaat
Imam Makki bin Abi Talib mentions in his book الرعاية that Imam al-Mazini said:
…And if the makharij (articulation points) had been one, and their sifat (characteristics) the same, speech would have been the same as the sounds made by animals, which have one makhraj, and one sifah, not understood. So this is a wisdom behind Allah causing the existence of these letters in the voices of the children of Adam…because of the difference of sifat of these letters in the words of the children of Adam, and the difference in their makharij… speech is understood, and the meaning intended by the speaker to the one he is speaking to is clear, and the objective is known.
[الرعاية Pg 143/144]
Shaykh Ali al-Hudhayfi comments on this in his Risalah أقوال الجلية في الضاد الظائية والضاد الطائية saying:
Verily the letter ض is from the letters which came in the speech of Allah سبحانه, it has its meaning/significance in the speech of Arabs, so if it was changed or resembled other than it of the letters, the meaning would change to other than it.
An example of this are the following two verses of the Qur’an:
[Some] faces, that Day, will be radiant,
Looking at their Lord. [Al-Qiyamah: 22, 23]
The words ناضرة and ناظرة if both the letters ض and ظ here were pronounced sounding like each other the meaning of the above verses would change, as with ض the word means radiant and with ظ the word means looking.
The Makhraj of ض
Seebawayh (d. 180 Hijri) a student of al-Khaleel bin Ahmed al-Faraaheedi, mentions in his book الكتاب:
ومن بين أول حافة اللسان ما يليها من الضراس مخرج الضاد
And from between the أول حافة (side of the tongue starting from the back) and what is alongside it of the molars, is the makhraj of ض. [Vol 4, Pg 433]
Ibn Jinni (d. 392 Hijri) Seebawayh’s student, says in his book سر صناعة الإعراب:
ومن أول حافة اللسان وما يليها من الأضراس مخرج الضاد، إلا أنك إن شئت تكلفتها من الجانب الأيمن وإن شئت تكلفتها من الجانب الأيسر
And from between the أول حافة (side of the tongue starting from the back) and what is alongside it of the molars, is the makhraj of ض, except that if you want you can articulate it from the right side, and if you want you can articulate it from the left side. [Vol 1, Pg 70]
Makki bin Abi Talib (d. 437 Hijri) said in his book الرعاية:
الضاد تخرج من المخرج الرابع من مخارج الفم من أول حافة اللسان وما يليه من الأضراس
ض is articulated from the fourth makhraj of the makharij of the mouth, from the أول حافة (side of the tongue starting from the back) and what is alongside it of the molars. [Pg 184]
Ibn Tahhan (d. after 560 Hijri) in his book مخارج الحروف وصفاتها mentions exactly how much of the sides of the tongue all the way from the back till the front are used:
ومن حافته؛ من أولها إلى منتهى طرفه وما يليه من الأضراس أي من الجانبين مخرج الضاد
And from its (tongue’) side; from the beginning of it (the side) till the end of its (tongue’s) tip and what is alongside it of the molars meaning from both sides is the makhraj of ض. [Pg 117]
Sheikh and Researcher Farghali Sayyid Arabawi, explains the makhraj of ض in his research paper on ض (pg 6):
The ض which the Qur’an was revealed with, its makhraj is from the two sides of the tongue (from the back), or from one of them, whereas from both is more complete; while taking care that ض is مستطيلة (has the characteristic of Istitaalah), مجهورة (has the characteristic of Jahr), رخوة (has the characteristic of Rikhawah), مطبقة (has the characteristic of Itbaaq), and if you separated it from any of these characteristics, it will no longer remain the Qur’anic ض , and it is from the specifics خصائص of the Language of the Qur’an, which the Arabic Language is distinguished, and other letters too, as Ibn Jazari confirmed when he said in at-Tamheed:
“And like this there are 6 letters which the Arabs were singled out for using them a lot, and they are seldom in the languages of non-Arabs, and are not found in many of the languages of them, and they are: ع ص ض ق ظ ث.”
And this sound is emitted from the side of the tongue right or left or from both of them together, but this does not prevent the the furthest part of the side (from the back) all the way to the end of the side from being used, but the origin of its sound starts emerging when the reciter presses and relies upon the molars, all of them from the wisdom teeth to the molars, to the pre-molars, and care must be taken that the sides collide with the molars from their inner side, and that the side from the nearer part (to the front of the mouth) till its end, takes part in producing the sound of ض because of the Istitaalah (stretching/lengthening) of the tongue till it collides with the makhraj of ل.
Some tribes of the Arabian peninsula used to put pressure on the left side, and some other tribes would rely on their right side in articulating it, and some of them would articulate it by distributing the pressure evenly between both sides.
And when pronouncing ض the sides of the tongue make contact with the roof of the mouth, so the air is trapped behind them, and because of this imprisonment, it results in the pressure of the air of the sound behind the two sides, and under the effect of this pressure the tongue moves forward a little, till the very tip of the tongue touches the front gums.
The Sifaat of ض
al-Jahr الجهر: Literally means announcement, apparent. In Tajweed it refers to restriction of the exhaled air when pronouncing the letter. The vocal chords are closed.
al-Rikhaawah الرخاوة: Literally means softness. In Tajweed it refers to running of the sound of the letter as it passes in the makhraj.
al-Isti’laa’ الاستعلاء: Literally means elevation. In Tajweed it refers to evelation of the back part of the tongue, which directs the sound of the letter upwards. This is the ‘heaviness’ characteristic.
al-Itbaaq الإطباق: Literally means gluing, adhesion. In Tajweed it refers to elevation of the back of the tongue, along with the middle which restricts the sound of the letter between the roof of the mouth and tongue.
al-Istitaalah الاستطالة: Literally means lengthening. In Tajweed it is the pushing of the tongue forward after it makes contact in the makhraj, due to pressure of the air collecting behind it. Sort of like blowing up a balloon, the makhraj of ض stretches and lengthens due to this mechanism. This is why ض has the longest makhraj. The sound from this lengthening is what gives ض its characteristic of al-Rikhaawah, since the mechanism allows the sound “to run as it passes in the makhraj”.
Sheikh and Researcher Farghali Sayyid Arabawi, explains how the sifaat of ض work in his research paper, when he explains the difference between ض with sukoon and ض with harakah (pg 7):
And ض with sukoon differs from ض with harakah, and the explanation of this is as follows:
Firstly: ض with sukoon
Ibn al-Jazari said: والضاد من حافته إذ وليا**لاضراس من أيسر أو يمناها
And ض is from its side when it meets the molars from the left or right [end quote]
Allah تعالى created the tongue with two sides right and left, and the right side of the tongue is divided into أقصى (furthest at the back), منتهى (end at the front) and أدنى (nearer to the front i.e. between أقصى and منتهى), and likewise the left side is divided, and the boundary of the sound of ض is related to the أقصى side till the منتهى of it, from the right or left, and his (Ibn al-Jazari’s) saying “when it meets the molars” means when it is parallel to it, so when we pronounce ض with sukoon, the two sides collide with all the upper and lower molars together, and the reason for this collision is that the air of the sound is imprisoned behind the two sides of the tongue, so under this continuous pressure of the air of the sound, the makhraj of the sound of ض lengthens, till the very tip of the tongue (رأس اللسان), touches the upper gums, and this is what the scholars of the Language and Tajweed have named Istitaalah (الاستطالة lengthening) in the makhraj, and it is upon the reciter to beware of continuing the lengthening of the tongue in Istitaalah away from the base of the incisors, such that if he increased and lengthened the tongue till it reached the tips of the upper incisors, another sound would be born, and that is the sound of ظ, and the reason for this mistake is exaggeration of Istitaalah (lengthening) of the tongue outside the specific boundary of the makhraj of the sound of ض of the tongue.
And there are some linguistic scholars who attack the running of the sound of ض with the proof that this running is not clear like the rest of the letters of Rikhwah, and in response to these people and whoever is upon their way, we say that the scholars of the Language and Tajweed transmitted to us that the Arabs during the time of the revelation of the Qur’an, used to pronounce ض with Rikhawah, by completely running the sound with it, but the reason which resulted in the weakness of the running of the sound in ض with sukoon is that the makhraj is completely closed, and the sound is trapped between the tongue and the roof of the mouth, because it is a sound which is Mutbaq (characteristic of إطباق) and the meaning of إطباق is the restriction of the sound between the tongue and the roof of the mouth, and ض is a letter which the tongue and sound runs with at the same time;
as for the running of the tongue this is what the scholars called Istitaalah in the makhraj, and as for the running of the sound, this is what the scholars called Rikhawah.
The Sheikh stresses on the importance of learning from a qualified teacher who is connected to the sanad (oral chain) going back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, and not just a mere teacher who does not have sanad, calling the latter a Mus-hafy (pg 8):
…And the best thing is learning orally (تلقي) its correct way from shyookh of Tajweed whose chains are connected to the beloved Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, and beware, extremely cautious of learning from he whose shaykh is merely the mus-haf.
And every person who has no sanad for the recitation is called a Mus-hafy, and the reason for this cautioning is that the recitation is a followed practice, taken from oral transmission from the succession of shyookh whose chains are connected to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, and it is upon everyone to know that the oral way of recitation of the Qur’an is Tawqeefy.
Then the Sheikh goes on to explain how to pronounce ض with harakah (pg 8):
Secondly: ض with harakah
As for ض with harakah, any harakah, its sound is completed by the moving away of the two articulation bodies (i.e. tongue and teeth/roof of mouth), so some Arab tribes when they wanted to pronounce ض would first release the portion of the tongue parallel to the molars on the right side, and some others when pronouncing ض would first release the portion of the tongue parallel to the left molars, and some others would release both sides together, with the pressure evenly distributed between them.
And some Arabs would make the right side of the tongue the first place they separated the tongue from the roof of the mouth from. And the same with with the left side, and some others would find it easier to separate the tongue from the roof of the mouth in one go, so the air of the sound would be evenly distributed right and left….(the Sheikh quotes Seebawayh and Ibn Jinni as we have quoted already above)
But one may ask which is better of the two, pronouncing ض from the right side or from the left, or from both together? I say to every reciter that he chooses the easiest for him, even though I incline to articulating it from both sides together in one go, and this is how I learned from shyookh of the sanads (oral chains), and this is how I teach my students how to beautify its articulation from both sides together, and articulating it from both sides has more power in it and more clarity of its sound.
As we can see the significance of makharij and sifaat is being able to pronounce Qur’anic words correctly and therefore preserving Allah’s intended meaning. This is why we pronounce the letters the way Allah taught the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم who taught the companions who taught those after them, in continuous oral chains reaching us intact till today and all Praise belongs to Allah. However, there have been some (as there always will be) who have doubted the correct pronunciation of ض, being confused by modern terms and redefinitions of linguistics, and have changed the actual pronunciation. They use various claims to prove their new pronunciation of the letter ض which they use to recite the Qur’an with, including fake chains. In our next part to this series we will delve into the Bid’ah ض and its Bogus Sanad In shaa Allaah.