"Punctuation" in the Quran.

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by mansio, Dec 3, 2006.

  1. mansio Senior Member

    I saw someone on a Muslim forum give a new meaning to a verse of the Quran (3:7, between "...illâ llâhu" and "war-râsikhûna...") by connecting two parts separated in translations by a full-stop/period.

    So I had to make some research about the "punctuation" letters that intersperse the surahs.

    I noticed that in the above mentioned instance there is a "mîm" in my copy of the Quran, which apparently corresponds to a full-stop.

    In another copy there is not a "mîm" but a "qilî" which is said to correspond to an optional stop with a preference for a full-stop or at least a comma.

    Could someone give an overview of those "punctuation" letters in the Quran? Thanks a lot.
  2. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi Mansio

    I’m giving you this from the top of my head, based on my knowledge of the Art of Quranic Recitation (called in Arabic “al-Tajwiid”), so treat it with caution. Knowing where and how to pause in the Quran is an extremely fine art, so much so that al-Tartiil (correct manner of reciting the Quran) has been said to be “tajwiid al-huruuf wa ma’rifat-al-wuquuf” (pronouncing the letters properly and distinctly, and showing knowledge of the places of pausing).

    Now, it should be noted that the Quran came with no dots and no diacritical marks let alone signs indicating where and how to pause, except maybe indications for the end of verses. Nevertheless, different interpretations obtain depending on where one decides to apply the pause. In Egypt, in particular, Qaaris (Expert Quranic Readers) reading in public often use this feature to convey different but interesting meanings to the listening audience. Often a particular pause suggests the Qaari’s preference for a particular interpretation.

    A great deal has been written on the subject of “al-waqf” or “al-wuquuf”, and there is no primer on al-tajwiid unless it deals with this aspect. I know of complete books dealing with “al-waqf wa alibtidaa’” in the entire Quran i.e. books that lay out essentially four kinds of pauses: (1) complete, (2) good, (3) sufficient, and (4) bad / ugly. Scholars have set down rules to determine each of these pauses. However, as a general, scholars state that there exist no compulsory pause in the Quran unless it leads to a totally and clearly unacceptable meaning or interpretation. An example of this is: (innallaaha laa yastaH-yii an-yaDriba mathalan maa ba’uuDah) (Indeed, God is not ashamed of setting forth a parable concerning a mosquito). Now, if you were to pause on: (innallaaha laa yastaH-yii) (Indeed, God is not ashamed), then it would be regarded as an impermissible pause because of the meaning it conveys.

    Finally, to make it easy for the ordinary reader of the Quran to recite the Quran observing the correct rules of pausing, scholars have come up with certain notations / abbreviations of which there is normally a key at the back of the Quranic copy.

    These are some of these notations that come to mind:

    م = وقف لازم (compulsory / necessary pause)
    قلى = الوقف أولى (pausing is preferable)
    صلى = الوصل أولى (continuing / joining is preferable)
    لا = لا تقِفْ (Don’t pause)
    ط = الوقف المطلق (unqualified pause)
    ج = الوقف الجائز (permissible pause)

    As for the verse that you quoted, Mansio, I’ll send my comments in a separate post, if necessary.
  3. mansio Senior Member

    Thanks a lot Abu Bishr for the tajwîd "punctuation marks". I have noticed them for a long time, but I haven't really cared about them as I relied on the punctuation of translations.

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