Islamic Rulings On Recitation Of Qur’an In Melodic Modes

Recitation of Qur’aan in a pleasant voice is compulsory and usually all the legitimate efforts done in this succession are commendable.

According to this saying of the Prophet Muhammad:  صلى الله عليه وسلم

He who does not recite the Qur’aan in a pleasant tone is not of us[1],

Glorious Qur’aan is a Divine Scripture with roots of purity. To interpolate ‘melody’ into the Qur’aan would be the violation of the Hadith that calls for its prohibition. Penetration of melodic modes and usage of musical instruments in the recitation function offensively towards the Qur’aan. In this case by ascribing to ‘musical methods ‘the user of instruments alludes knowingly or unknowingly that the Qur’aan needs a musical touch to enhance its beauty; or that in order to derive maximum benefit and joy from the Qur’aan, the reciter must succumb to the satanic imbibed talents of musical instruments. To those that ascribe to such methods, it disparaging towards the Qur’aan!

We must note, melody and pleasant voice remain separate matters. Melody refers to creating notes that call for a reciter to be inconsistent to the rules of Tajweed. People using ‘melody’ do so to create an exaggerated effect upon the audience. Therefore, Qur’aan is a Word of Allah s.w.t and a revolutionary message for human race, all those modulations having no spirit or essence of Islamic commandments and are composed of degenerated musical rhythms must be strongly refrained.

Islam is an all-embracing way of life. It extends over the entire spectrum of life, showing us how to conduct all human activities in a sound and wholesome manner. When we read the Qur’aan and Prophetic traditions, we find clear instructions and great prescriptions regarding all aspects of life; political, social, economic, psychological, physiological, material, ethical, national and international. Islam does not recognize any kind of separation between religion and life. It openly rejects the western saying:                                                                                                        ‘’ Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s   , and unto God what is God’s’’, for everything should be dedicated to God alone and a Muslim is required to submit himself completely to the Will of Allah s.w.t in all affairs as Allah s.w.t says,

                          قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ 

‘’ Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وستم): “Verily my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin”.[2]

Islam, as the revealed religion from Allah, is comprehensive, a complete constitution and code of life.


Islam recommends the recitation of Qur’aan in a pleasant voice and a melodious tone. Once Prophet Muhammadصلى ا لله عليه وسلم heard Abu- Hudhaifa reciting the Qur’aan in a beautiful voice. He remarked,’  “All praise is for Allah s.w.t who made among my Ummah such a beautiful reciter”.[3]

Hudhaifa ibn ul Yemen narrates that Prophet Muhammad   صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“Recite the Qur’aan according to the clear and eloquent language of the Arabs. Recite it frequently without any retention. Do not recite it according to the singing tunes of the people of the book (Jews and Christians), not the tunes of the Ahlay Fisk (the transgressors). Some people will come later me who will recite the Qur’aan in the tunes of songs or like the recitals of Monks, or like someone doing Nawha (lamenting). Quran will not surpass theirs throats. Their own hearts will have fallen into fitnah and those who admire their recital will also have fallen into fitnah.’’ [4]

Further he said,

“The most beautiful reciter among you is he whose recital makes you feel that this person is fearing Allah s.w.t.’’[5]

“Beautify the Qur’aan with your voice, because a pleasant voice increases the beauty of the Qur’aan’’.[6]

Abu Hurairah r.a reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah s.w.t saying,’’ Allah s.w.t does not listen so attentively to anything as He listens to the recitation of the Qur’aan by a person who recites well with a pleasant and audible voice” [7] .

Abu Musa AL-Ash’ari (radiyallahu anhu) reported; The Messenger of Allah said to him:

You have been given a Mizmar (sweet melodious voice) out of the Mazamir of Prophet Dawud a.s’’[8]

Al- Basra’ bin Azib r.a reported;’’ I heard the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم reciting surah Wat-teen Wazaitun during the Isha prayer. I have never heard anyone reciting in a more beautiful voice than his’’.9

Ibn Masu’d reported: The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said to me:

’’ recite the Qur’aan to me.’’ I said: O Messenger of Allah! Shall I recite it to you when it was revealed to you? He صلى ا لله عليه وسلم said,

‘’I like to hear it from others.’’ Then I began to recite Surah An-Nisah’’. When I reached the Ayah: ‘How will it be when we shall bring a witness from every people and bring you as a witness against them?’ he said,’ enough! enough! ’When I looked at him, I found his eyes were over flowing with tears.’’[9]

Above narrations proof that beautifying Qur’aan with pleasant voice is a requirement of Shariyah and is a great source of Allah’s love and affection. Islam has designed authentic regulations and parameters for the recitation of Qur’aan and any other kind of modulation that transgresses Allah’s commands is an absolute deviation and simply generates Allah’s wrath and disobedience of Prophets Traditions. As Allah s.w.t says,

لَا يَسْمَعُونَ ﴿٢١يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَا تَوَلَّوْا عَنْهُ وَأَنتُمْ تَسْمَعُونَ ﴿٢٠﴾ وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَهُمْ 

‘’ O’ you who have faith! Obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not turn away from him while you hear him. And be not like those who say: ‘We heard’, but they do not hear indeed.’’[10]


Glorious Qur’aan is a highly Revered and sacred Book of Allah s.w.t. it’s the fourth and final Heavenly Manuscript that was revealed upon the Last Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم over the period of 23 years. It holds distinction in itself from all books of rest of the world in being written by the Almighty Lord Himself, who says,

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ ﴿٩

“Indeed, it is We, Who sent down the Qur’aan and indeed, We will be its guardian.’’[11]

Since Allah s.w.t is Himself the Architect of its instructions, commandments and rulings therefore its recitation requires adapting a great deal of etiquette from us and concrete conditions to be followed. These rulings are:


Terteel is the Arabic terminology commonly translated in reference to the Qur’aan as,

“Recitation in proper order or in an organized manner commanded by Allah s.w.t and demonstrated by the Prophet Muhammad صلى ا لله عليه وسلم, Allah s.w.t says,

 أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا ﴿٤

“And recite the Qur’aan in slow measured rhythmic tones’’[12]

According to ibn – Kathir, the interpretation of the above Ayah is,

“Recite the Qur’aan slowly, making the letters clearly, for this is an assistance in understanding and pondering over the meaning of the Quran’’.

The fourth caliph Ali ibn Talib (radhiallahu unhu) said that Terteel is:

“Delivering words according to their mukharaj (outlets for sound and intonations), saying the words clearly and slowly, reciting with understanding and uttering the contents correctly is of prime importance. One should neither recite the Qur’aan with such speed that it might become incomprehensible and bore the listener nor the recitation be so slow that it takes a long time and puts the listener off. According to him’ following the middle path is a virtue.’’

Therefore, recitation should be done according to the rules of pronunciation, intonation and caesuras established by the Messenger of Allah and followed by his companions.


One of the inward manner that one should abide by when reading the Glorious Qur’aan is pondering over the meaning of the Quranic words and verses. When reading the Glorious Qur’aan one is recommended to think of the meaning and significance of what he reads. Allah s.w.t has revealed the Glorious Qur’aan in order to be reflected upon and understood. In this connection the Glorious Qur’aan says,

كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ ﴿٢٩

“(This is) a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, (O Muhammad), that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understandings would be reminded’’.[13]

Furthermore He says,

يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ ۚ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا﴿٨٢أَفَلَا

“Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’aan? If it had been from any other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.’’[14]

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا﴿٢٤                        

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’aan, or are there locks upon their hearts[15]

In his Jami Al-ilm, ibn Abd Al-Barr reported on the authority of Ali (radhiallahu unhu) who said,

“There is no good in worship without consciousness, in knowledge without understanding, or in reading without contemplation”

Zayed ibn Thabit r.a said, ‘ in my opinion , it’s better to read the Glorious Qur’aan in a month than to read it in fifteen days; to read it in fifteen days is better than to read it in seven days as long as I ponder over the meaning of the verses and invoke Allah s.w.t:’’

Apparently, reading the Qur’aan slowly paves the way for contemplation, which is the avowed objective of reading this scripture. Prophet Muhammad صلى ا لله عليه وسلم said,

“ The Qur’aan comprises endless marvels, whoever speaks depending on it, will be truthful; whoever passes judgment on the basis of it , will be just ; whoever acts according to it; will be rewarded by Allah s.w.t ; and whoever calls to it , will be guided to the straight path’’.

The Glorious Qur’aan is full of signs, wisdom, rules, proofs, instructions and miracles, therefore deep thinking and contemplation is the only way to perceive these contents. If a reciter needs to repeat the Quranic Verses to reflect on them, he is recommended to do so. This was the custom of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, companions and Salaf. In this context, Abu Dharr r.a reported,” one night, the Messenger of Allah s.w.t led us in the vigil prayer, in which he repeated the following Quranic verse during the whole prayer,

إِن تُعَذِّبْهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ عِبَادُكَ ۖ وَإِن تَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿١١٨

 “If you punish them they are your slaves, and if you forgive them, verily, You only You are the All Mighty, the All-Wise”[16]

Ibrahim ibn Al-Qamah said:

وَقُل رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا ﴿١١٤

 “I prayed beside Abdullah (ibn Masood) when he recited from the beginning of Surah Ta-ha until he repeated the following verse thrice: “Say, O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge.’’


When reciting the Glorious Qur’aan, one should feel awe and weep. Allah s.w.t says,

لَوْ أَنزَلْنَا هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَىٰ جَبَلٍ لَّرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ ﴿٢١

“If We had sent down this Qur’aan upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah s.w.t. And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.”[17]

At other place He says,

أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا يَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ ﴿١٦

“Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah, and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are rebellious transgressors’’. [18]

Ibn – Kathir commented on the above verse and said,

“Allah, Most High, forbade the believers to imitate the people of the Book, the Jews and Christians, who altered the Book of Allah, sought wealth by means of it, disregarded its laws, and replaced it with false sayings. Therefore their hearts grew hard to the extent that they never accepted any admonition.”  In this context, the Glorious Qur’aan reproaches the people of the Book, saying:

“So for their breaking of the covenant We cursed them and made their heats hard. They distort the words from their proper usages, and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded and you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook their misdeeds. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.”[19]

Saad Ibn -Waqas reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

“Recite the Glorious Qura’an and weep when reading it, yet, if you could not weep, you should exert yourself to weep, and if your eyes could not burst into tears, your hearts should weep instead”.[20]

This means when reading the Glorious Qur’aan, a person should reflect on its contents of threats, warnings,

Covenants etc and then contemplate on his shortcomings in this regard.


 In this regard one should consider every Quranic glad tiding, warning, admonition and story to be meant for him. The Glorious Quran says,

لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ ۗ مَا كَانَ حَدِيثًا يُفْتَرَىٰ وَلَـٰكِن تَصْدِيقَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَتَفْصِيلَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿١١١

“There was certainly in the stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was the Qur’aan a narration invented, but a confirmation what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe”.[21]


Influence means that the person’s heart should be influenced when reciting the Glorious Qur’aan. One’s heart should be overwhelmed with fear, hope or sadness in response to the subject- matter of the verses he reads. For example if one reads this Quranic Verse;

وَإِنِّي لَغَفَّارٌ لِّمَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا ثُمَّ اهْتَدَىٰ ﴿٨٢

“But indeed, I am the perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance”.[22]

Now, he should consider the 4 prerequisites of gaining Allah’s forgiveness, which are mentioned in the verse.

Likewise while reading the Surah Al-Asr,

وَالْعَصْرِ ﴿١﴾ إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ ﴿٢﴾ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ ﴿٣

“By time. Indeed, mankind is in loss. Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.”[23]

One should reflect upon these four conditions of exemption of loss.

Moreover, when reading the Quranic Verse:

وَلَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلَاحِهَا وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا ۚ إِنَّ رَحْمَتَ اللَّـهِ قَرِيبٌ مِّنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿٥٦

“And cause not corruption upon the earth after its reformation. And invoke Him in fear and aspiration. Indeed, the mercy of Allah is near to the doer’s of good”.[24]

One should know that good doing includes all the above mentioned conditions of success and gaining Allah’s forgiveness.

Wuhaib ibn- al-ward said,

we have contemplated the prophetic hadiths and admonitions and discovered that nothing is more impressive nor makes the hearts more tender , than reciting , understanding and pondering on the Glorious Qur’aan’’


Degrees of reading the Glorious Qur’aan are three:

  • Reading the Glorious Qur’aan while imagining that Allah s.w.t looks at and hears him.
  • Reading the Qur’aan while imagining that Allah, Most High, sees and converses with him.
  • Reading the Qur’aan while imagining that Allah s.w.t recites it Himself.

Ibn- Kathir says,

“Allah commands them to contemplate about the Qur’aan and forbids them from ignoring it, or ignoring its wise meanings and eloquent words. Allah states that there are no inconsistencies, contradictions, conflicting statements or discrepancies in the Qur’aan, because it is a revelation from the Most Wise, worthy of all appraises. Therefore Qur’aan is the truth, coming from the truth, Allah. This is why Allah said in this Ayah,

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا﴿٢٤﴾      

“Then, do they not reflect upon the Quran, or are there hearts locked up[25]

Hadhrath Ali r.a narrates: I heard Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم saying:

“In the last days of this world, there will appear some young foolish people who will use the best speech of all people (Quran) and they will abandon Islam as an arrow going through the game. Their belief will not go beyond their throats”.[26]

Ataa r.a reported that Abu’ Abdur-Rahman said,

“We learnt the Qur’aan from people (companions) who told us that they would never go beyond memorizing ten verses until they comprehended their meanings and applied them. We learnt the meanings of these verses of the Qur’aan and their practical implications. However, a time will come when some people will recite the Qur’aan but it will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they won’t comprehend, understand, and implement what they read)”.[27]


It’s recommended to recite Quran in Arabic accent with which Allah has revealed it, with sound Arabic pronunciation, as Allah says,

وَإِنَّهُ لَتَنزِيلُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿١٩٢﴾ نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الْأَمِينُ ﴿١٩٣﴾ عَلَىٰ قَلْبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُنذِرِينَ ﴿١٩٤﴾بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُّبِينٍ ﴿١٩٥

“And indeed, the Qur’aan is the revelation of the Lord of the worlds. The trust worthy spirit has brought it down. Upon your heart, (O Muhammad). That you may be of the warner. In a clear Arabic language.”[28]

At other place Allah s.w.t says,

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ ﴿٢

“Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’aan in order that you may understand”.[29]

Some non-Arab people pronounce letters such as’ tha’ as if it is seen, and ‘dhal’ as if it is’ za’ and so on. But it is not permissible for anyone to deliberately change any letter of it when he is able to pronounce it correctly. This is a kind of mistake which is a sin.

If a person finds it difficult to pronounce the letters correctly – such as people in whose language some of the Arabic letters such as

Tha, dhal, kha[30] do not exist- they have to try to learn the correct pronunciation, but if they are unable to master it then they are excused, but their example should not be followed, and and they should be called upon to strive their hardest to learn and correct their pronunciation. And none of them should lead the prayer, unless he is leading others like him who can’t pronounce well either.

Ibn-Al-Jazari r.a said:

“ Whoever is able to read the words of Allah with correct Arabic pronunciation but he deliberately pronounces it incorrectly like a non-Arab, out of arrogance, stubbornness and complacency or he is too proud to go to a scholar who could help him to correct his pronunciation, is falling short and sinning and being dishonest. The Messenger of Allah said: ‘’ religion is sincerity: to Allah, to His Books, to His Messengers, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk. But if a person’s tongue will not obey him or he can’t find someone to teach him the correct pronunciation, then Allah does not burden any soul beyond its scope”.

It should be noted that Allah has made the Qur’aan easy to memorize and to recite as He says:

وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ ﴿١٧

“And We have certainly made the Qur’aan easy for remembrance, so is there anyone who will remember?[31]


Maqaamat is defined as,

“The management describes the various patterns of melody or tunes that reciters use in their recitation. The theory of management teaches us how to produce beautiful sounds without discord.”

It is also defined,

“In Arabic music, a maqam is a set of notes with traditions that defined relationships between them, habitual patterns and their melodic development”. This kind of Maqaamat is strongly prohibited in the recitation of Qur’aan and reciting in such modulation is an evident deviation and against commandments of Allah s.w.t and methodology of the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h.”

Allah.s.w.t has prepared an immense reward for those who recite the Holy Quran in pleasant voice as the Prophet صلى الله ىليه وسلم said,

“The one who is skilled in reciting the Qur’aan will be with the noble, obedient, scribes, and the one who recites Qur’aan and falters therein and finds it difficult, will have a double reward”. But reciting Qur’aan in melodic modes and rhythms using musical instruments is forbidden. With regard to the modes compiled by musicologists, there are six modes as follows:

  1. Maqaam al-Bayyaat: (bayati)This is a maqaam that evokes humility and monasticism. It is the maqaam that focuses the heart and makes it ponder the Verses of Allah and their meanings.

       2 . Maqaam AR-Rast ( Rast):

Rast is a Persian word meaning steadfastness. Specialists in Maqaamat prefer this maqaam when reciting verses that tell narratives or, prescribe rulings.

  1. Maqaam an- Nahaawand ( Nahawand):

This maqaam evokes emotions of compassion and gentleness, and instills humility reflection. Nahawand is an Iranian city after which this maqaam was named.

  1. Maqaam as- seeka ( sikha) :

This maqaam is distinguished by its slow and easy pace.

  1. Maqaam as-Saba ( saba):

This maqaam is very spiritual and powerful and evokes emotion of compassion.

  1. Maqaam al-Hijaaz ( Hijaz):

 This is a maqaam of Arabian origin, named after the Hijaaz region of Arabia. It is one of the most spiritual Maqams and one of the most effective in helping one to focus in recitation of Qur’aan. These are the words of specialists in this field and these are their literal definitions. They are all non-Arab Maqaamat, except for the last one. It may also be noted that the Maqaamat are based on the tunes used by people in their singing and music. Hence, this is the science that preceded the Qur’aan and its recitation. Readers may recite according to one of the Maqaamat without knowing anything about it, and a reciter may vary his recitation, using a variety of Maqaamat, according to the verses and their meanings. With regard to the ruling on reciting according to these Maqaamat, Sheikh Ibn-Baz stated that it’s not allowed to recite according to these Musical Maqaamat.

Dr.Ibraheem ibn Saeed vice President of the Saudi Academic Committee for Quranic Sciences and President of the Department of Quran and its sciences at Imam Muhammad Ibn-Saud University said:

Recitation with a tune or melody can only be one of two things:

  • Tunes that a person naturally comes up with, without much conscious effort. This is what most people do when reciting Qur’aan. So everyone who recites Qur’aan would not go beyond that simple way of coming up with a tune. This is permissible and it is a type of melodious that is good and praiseworthy , as the Messenger of Allah said;

“He is not one of us who does not beautify his voice for the Qur’aan”[32] . In this case the ruling is that it is permissible and mustahab.

  • Developed tunes and Musical rhythms that can only be acquired by learning and training, for which there are certain measures and vocal control without which they can’t be controlled properly. This is not permissible because reciting the Qur’aan has its own measures and vocal control that are subject to the rules of Tajweed that have been transmitted from the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and can’t be in accord with the measures as directed by the rules of those tunes that are used in singing, because if we tried to do that, it would undermine the rules of Tajweed. This is something that is not allowed.

Concerning that, ibn al-Qayyim said in Zaad al-Ma’aad fi Hadiy Khayr al-ibaad 1/493:

“Everyone who has the knowledge of the life of the early generations will know definitely that they had nothing at all to do with reciting Qur’aan with musical tunes that require effort to learn and perform them and which are based on rhythmic movements and are measured, counted and have a specific limit. They were too pious to recite in accordance with those tunes and to allow that. It is known for certain that they used to recite Qur’an in sad tones and in a joyful tone, and they would make their voices beautiful for the Qur’aan, sometimes reciting in sad or joyful tones, or with a tone of longing. This is something instilled in and dictated by human nature, and the Lawgiver did not forbid it, because there is a strong natural inclination towards that. Rather the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  directed people to that and encouraged it, and stated that Allah would listen to one who recites the Qur’an in a beautiful voice, as he said: “ He is not one of us who does not beautify his voice for the Qur’an.” This Hadith may be interpreted in two ways:

  1. That it is telling them something that all of us( Muslims) do;
  2. That it is stating that those who do not do it are not following the guidance and way of the Messenger of Allah.

Ibn-Kathir said in Fada’ayl al-Qur’aan (pg.: 114)

“The point is that what is prescribed in Islamic teaching is no more than beautifying the voice in such a way that will prompt one to ponder the Qur’aan and understand it, and to be humble and submit to Allah’s commands. As for reciting in a melodious manner that is based on developed tunes, rhythms and rules of music that is usually used for entertainment purposes, the Qur’aan should be protected from that: it should be respected and should not be recited in this manner.

What some people promote of reciting the Qur’aan with musical tunes, on the grounds that this will help to convey the meaning and give a mental image to the meaning, and subjecting the recitation to the rules of music- and some of them go as far as to demand that this tuneful recitation should be accompanied by musical instruments – all of that is showing disrespect to the Book of Allah, may He be exalted and His names sanctified. Undoubtedly focusing on these musical tunes will affect the pronunciation of some words and distract the listener from pondering the meaning: indeed it may lead to changing the pronunciation altogether. The Book of Allah, may He be exalted, is the glory of the Muslims and should be kept away from such things”.


Taghanni means reciting aloud, as it was narrated in Saheeh Muslim that Abu Hurayrah said: “The Messenger of Allah SAWS ( peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘ Allah does not listen to anything ( more approvingly ) than He listens to a Prophet reciting the Qur’aan aloud in a melodious voice….’’ This indicated that we are commanded and encouraged to make our voices beautiful when reciting Qur’aan.

This Hadeeth clearly states the meaning of taghanni. The phrase” reciting aloud” explains it. Reciting aloud means raising one’s voice when reciting and making it beautiful, in a natural manner with no artifice, which one enjoys and finds pleasure in. before the Qur’aan was revealed, the Arabs used to sing hudaa’ (songs of camel drivers) when riding camels, to make the journey pass more quickly when they were sitting in their saddles, and so on.

But when the Qur’aan was revealed, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wanted to make them focus on the Qur’aan and raise their voices and make them beautiful when reciting it. He wanted that to take the place of singing, whilst paying attention to the correctness of the recitation. So in place of the pleasure of singing, they were given the pleasure of reciting Qur’aan, just as everything forbidden was replaced with something that was better for them.

  • It may be that what is meant by taghanni is that which resembles singing and music, and impressing others with the tune, without understanding and without any humility, as mentioned in the Hadeeth which describes the Signs of Hour.
  • It is unlikely that taghanni means being content with the Qur’aan alone and having no need of people, because the meaning is different and is linguistically unacceptable.

This making the voice melodious in recitation should be done in a natural manner, not by means of teaching and training according to the rules of music.

Ibn-al-Qayyim mentioned that reciting Qur’aan with a tune and in a melodious voice, if it is done naturally with no exaggeration or special teaching or training, then it is permissible. If extra effort is added to the natural tone to make it more beautiful, such as when Abu  Moosa al-Ash’ari said to the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him),” if I had known ( you were listening), I would have made it more beautiful for you,’’ then that is OK. But if the reciting in a melodious voice is done in an artificial manner, with special training and musical rhythms, this is something which the Salaf despised, and which they criticized and condemned. It is known that the Salaf used to recite the Qur’aan in a sad tone, making their voices beautiful and a joyful tones sometimes. This is something natural.



There is no dispute concerning the validity of the fatwa of Imam Malik which is based on the Hadeeth of the Signs of the Hour, with its various Isnaads, and which states that it is not permitted to recite with a musical tune and following the rules of music in a manner that goes beyond the limits of recitation and correct pronunciation, and does not befit the dignity of the Qur’aan.


The Ahadeeth of Anas and Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with both them) refer to the recitation of the Khawaarij, who used to recite the Qur’aan throughout day and night, but it did not go any deeper than their throats and collar bones, because they did not have the knowledge of the Sunnah which clarifies matters, so they were deprived of proper understanding and the reward for recitation. In the Hadeeth it says that they would exit from the religion like an arrow passing through its target. The Ahadeeth contain the command to kill them and says that they are the most evil of creation, even though you would think that your prayer and recitation are as nothing when compared with their prayer and recitation. Ibn Tamiyah said: the Ahadeeth abut the Khawaarij is Saheeh in ten different Isnaads which were narrated by Muslim and AL-Bukhari. The Khawaarij used to denounce the Muslims as kaafirs merely for committing sins, but they were the followers of bidah and misinterpretations who had split away from the mainstream of the Ummah.

The kind of tune which the scholars regard as makrooh for reciting Qur’aan in is that which involves shortening long letters, giving a vowel to a silent letter, or making a vowel led letter silent, in order to make it fit the rules of music. If that also involves changing the way the Qur’aan should be recited and elongating the vowels, then this haram.     


The fatwa of Imam Ahmad has to do with distorting the letters and exaggerating elongated vowels, which results from altering the letters and elongating them too much, which takes the recitation beyond what is correct. This fatwa states that it is emphatically disliked, as al-Qaadi Abu Ya’laa said: This refers to someone who goes to extreme and whose recitation is not correct, because he adds letters, such as adding’ waw’ and ‘alif ‘to the word Muhammad, making it Moohaamad. This is haram, according to consensus. At the time of Imam Ahmad, the people used to sing poetry and elongate the letters however they wished. Ishaaq al-Mawsili criticized Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi for doing that, because he distorted he words from the way they should be in Arabic.

He clearly said, it is something innovated but its fine if it is his natural voice, as was Abu Musa AL-Ashri.

Reconciling between the evidence which says it is forbidden and the evidence which says it is allowed.

There is no contradiction between the evidence which says it is forbidden and the evidence which says it is allowed if the prohibition applies to that which goes beyond the limits of correct recitation, whether by adding or taking away, or by neglecting an obligatory rule, or by going against the well-established rules of recitation.

The prohibition also applies to that which is recited according to the rules of music , even if it is without the accompaniment of instruments, to make the voice tremble or quaver, or exaggerating in going along with a particular music key which is in the reciter’s mind what he is reciting.

The permission applies only to that which is in accordance with the rules of sound recitation while making the voice beautiful.

If what is meant by giving a tune is adding r taking away anything, or going against the well-established rules of recitation, this is order to make the listener feel happy or sad, or to soften his heart or to make the recitation attractive while also pondering the meaning and reflecting humility, then melodious voice is mustahab, so long as it does not distort the meaning or change the pronunciation, or follow the rules of music.


Reciting the Qur’aan with a tune and with beautiful, quavering voices, so long as it does not deviate from the correct way of reciting, is a good way; but if it does deviate from the correct way of reciting, then it is haram and is an evil deed.


From the comments of the imams it may be understood that making the voice beautiful while paying attention to the rues of music and also following the rules of recitation is an area that is subject to scholarly dispute.

Some of the scholars said that this is different from the way of the Salaf, because the reader may neglect to recite properly, so they said that this was not permitted, in order to prevent the means that may lead to something haram. But making the voice beautiful whilst reciting Qur’aan, without paying attention to the rules of music is what is required, and there is no dispute concerning this.


The scholars are agreed that it is mustahab to read Qur’aan with a sad tone, with a measured pace and with a beautiful voice.


Scholars agreed unanimously that it is something pleasant to beautify one’s voice while reciting unless the boundaries of recitation are exceeded by lengthening. However, if these boundaries are exceeded or even one letter is added or decreased, then this reciting becomes forbidden.


Know that melodious musical recitation is detested for number of reasons, amongst others. Its reciters merge letters that are not supposed to be merged, they extend vowels where there should be no extension, and they omit the hamza and the doubling of consonants just in order to preserve the melody. Also, this kind of recitation causes people to get emotionally carried away and it distracts people from pondering the Qur’aan. [1]


What is sought in the teachings of Islam is the type of beautification of the voice that leads to pondering the Qur’aan and seeking to understand it, to submission, humility and compliance with the obedience of Allah s.w.t. As for using voices with novel melodies, composed on distracting and entertaining rhymes and musical rules, then the Qur’aan is far removed from this and is too respected and esteemed to have this approach taken in its delivery. [2]


This indicates that if a person makes his voice beautiful when reciting Qur’aan so that the listener may enjoy it and feel happy when hearing it, there is nothing wrong with that and it is not regarded as showing off. Rather this encourages people to listen to the word of Allah s.w.t, so that the people will feel happy to hear it.[3]


There is no doubt that people are more inclined to listen to recitation if it is done I a melodious voice than to listen to one who does not have a melodious voice, because the melodious voice is more effective in softening the heart and bringing tears. Ibn Abi Dawood narrated via ibn Abi Musji’ah who said: ‘Umar used to give precedence to a young man with a beautiful voice because of his beautiful voice (to lead people in prayer).[4]

So it is not permissible for the believer to recite Qur’aan with melodies like those of songs or in the manner of singers. He has to recite it as it was recited by our righteous predecessors, the companions of the Messenger and those who followed them. So the Divine Scripture should be recited with the proper intonation, in a solemn and humble manner, so that it may have an effect on the heart of those who hear it on the heart of the reciter himself.

May Allah s.w.t help us to understand the etiquettes and conditions of reciting Glorious Quran according to the methodology of our

Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and his companions and protect us from every forbidden modulation and innovation. Ameen

[1] Ibn al-jawzi, Al-Qussas wa Al- Mudhakkirin , pg : 335

[2] Ibn Kathir, Fada’ayl al- Qur’aan

[3] Sharh Riyadh al-saaliheen, 4/662

[4] Fath al-Baari,9/80

[1] Sahi Abu Dawud , hadith : 1305, Al-Bukhari: 7527

[2] Surah : 6, Al-An ‘am, verse: 162

[3] Ibn – Majah

[4] Tibrani, Al- Bahqi

[5] Ibn Majah , Al-Darami

[6] Al-Darami

[7] Imam Nawawi’s Saliheen, Ch.: 182, Al-Bukhari and Muslim

[8] Al- Bukhari and Muslim

[9] Al- Bukhari and Muslim

[10] Surah Al-Anfal. Verses : 20,21

[11] Al-hajar:15, verse: 9

[12] Al-Muzzammil : 73, verse: 4

[13]  saad: 38, verse : 29

[14] Al-Nisa:4, verse : 82

[15] Muhammad : 47, verse:24

[16] Al-Maidah: 5, verse : 118

[17] Al-Hashrr: 59, verse: 21

[18] Al- Hadid: 57, verse : 16

[19] Al – Maida : 5, verse: 13

[20] Ibn Majah

[21] Yusuf : 12, verse: 111

[22] Taha:20, verse: 82

[23] Al-Asr: 103, verse: 3

[24] Al-Airaf :7, verse: 56

[25] Muhammad: 47, verse: 24

[26] Sahi Al-Bukhari: 4808

[27] Al-Tabari

[28] Al-shu’ra:26. Verse: 192-195

[29] Yousaf:12, verse: 2

[30] Al-nashr fi’l- Qira’at al- ashr

[31] Al-Qamar: 54. Verse: 17

[32] Sahi Al-Bukhari: 7527

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