Writing/pronouncing the hamza همزة in the Qur'an

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by clevermizo, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    What's the story with adding in hamza to the Quran's text? Was it a majority of tribes that decided on it?

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    This discussion started in this thread.
  2. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    I don't know, but I suspect it was added by non-Arabs.
  3. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi Everybody

    I'm sorry to say but the discussion is now turning into some sort of speculation. Just because we don't like the hamzah doesn't mean that we have to blame the non-Arabs for its presence in Arabic or the Quran. It's common knowledge among Arab philologists that pronouncing the hamzah was the dialect of the Tamim tribe and dropping it was the dialect of the Hijaz tribe as represented by the Quraish. The Quran is read in both variants. Moreover, these dialectcal differences are reflected in the way the Quran has been and still is recited today. For example the Warsh transmission from Nafi' which is recited mostly in North Africa often drops the Hamzah, but not in all cases. HafS on the otherhand, which is what is recited predominantly in the world today very seldom if at all drops the hamzah.

    Also, the scholars were very meticulous in their treatment of the hamzah. The hamzah can either occur individually or in a pair. The first occurs either initially, medially, or finally, and the latter two either vowelled or unvowelled. As for the double hamzah, it occurs either initially or one hamzah at the end of one word and the other at the start of another, and so on. These have all been meticulously documented, either as single volumes or as part of works of general Arabic study.

    So while the tribes agreed on certain aspects concerning the pronunciation of the hamzah they differed on others. The single hamzah at the beginning, though, is almost always pronounced, so there is no escape from it. As for the hamzah that is unvowelled or doubled or the letter before it is unvowelled, there do we find a lot of disagreement. In fact, the word Qur'an, itself is pronounced variously as "Qur-'aan" (with the hamzah) and "Quraan" (without the hamzah).

    Some of these differences can be compared to the different ways "inept" or "create" is pronounced in English.

    I hope this clarifies the issue on the hamzah, at least from a classical perspective.
  4. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Well I was half-joking when I said it. I certainly didn't mean to blame anyone for anything. It's curious though that you mention the Bani Tamim vs. Quraish issue. How do we know about this, and is the source reliable? It's curious that the dropping of the hamza is shared by pretty much all spoken Arabic dialects, except that it appears in place of the 'qaf' in Syria and Egypt. That brings us to another mystery: why is "qaf" considered classical, when practically every Arabian region and tribe pronounces it as a hard 'g'?
  5. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Wadi Hanifa

    Before I continue the discussion, first tell me where you stand on the Quranic variants that are believed to have been transmitted orally from the time of the Prophet, as this line of reasoning does tend to throw doubt on the reliability of these variants. That's why when you said that the non-Arabs are most probably responsible for the introduction of the hamzah, I did not treat it as a joke not even has a half joke. If you can tell me that then I'll know what to quote to you as sources and what not.

    For example, Ibn Jinnii has a section in his famous al-Khasa-is entitled (Bab maa hamazathu al-'arab walaa aSla lahuu fii hamzi mithlihii). In this section he mentions that there are some Arabs who pronounce the alif as a glottal stop (hamzah) in places where others don't. Here the original form does not even have a hamzah but certain tribes saw it okay to replace the Alif with a hamzah. In his al-MuHtasab Ibn Jinnii discusses the reading of Ibn Abbaas (wa laa adra'tukum bihii) with a hamzah instead of (wa laa adraatukum bihii) with an alif which in turn comes from the more common reading (wa laa adraytukum bihii). He then goes on to explain how some tribes routinely replace certain alifs with hamzahs. This is besides the Banu Tamim vs. Quraish differences on existing hamzahs which I'll take up later on.
  6. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    I admit that I'm woefully ignorant on the history of the Quran and how it was handed down to us. I only know that we have basically two extant "recitations": one narrated from 'Asim, and one from Nafi', which comes in three versions. I also know that there are fewer hamza in Nafi's recitations.

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