Qur'an reading is the reading aloud, reciting, or chanting of portions of the Qur'an. It is not considered music by Muslims and when recited the style is structurally dissimilar from music (even secular Arab music[citation needed]). The reciter is called a muqri' , tālīmurattilmujawwid, or most commonly a qari.

Recitation should be done according to rules of pronunciation, intonation, and caesuras established by Muhammad, though first recorded in the eighth century CE. The most popular reading is that of Hafss on the authority of `asim. Qur'an reading may be based on one to three tones only. Similarly, each melodic passage centers on a single tone level, but the melodic contour and melodic passages are largely shaped by the reading rules, creating passages of different lengths whose temporal expansion is defined through caesuras. Skilled readers may read professionally for mosques in cities. Recitation is obligatory to be done at dawn according to the Quran.

The Qur'an is marked with twenty-six symbols, circles, rectangles, dashes and letters, some in color. These are written above, below, or beside the letters of the alphabet. They indicate the pronunciation of consonants, whether the blending of neighboring or adjacent consonants is allowed, and where recitation pauses and caesuras are forbidden and possible (ibid, p. 155). In this last respect their function is analogous to that of Biblical cantillation marks, but unlike these they do not constitute a word-for-word notation of musical motifs.

Ways of recitation

There are 7 Mutawatir (a transmission which has independent chains of authorities so wide as to rule out the possibility of any error and on which there is consensus) ways of reading and 3 Mashhur (these are slightly less wide in their transmission, but still so wide as to make error highly unlikely) as listed below:


  • Nafi' (d. 169/785)

  • Ibn Kathir (d. 120/737)

  • Abu 'Amr ibn al-'Ala' (d. 154/762)

  • Ibn 'Amir (d. 154/762)

  • 'Asim (d. 127/744)

  • Hamza (d. 156/772)

  • al-Kisa'i (d. 189/904)


  • Abu Ja'far (d. 130/747)

  • Ya'qub (d. 205/820)

  • Khalaf (d. 229/843)

However, the most common is Hafs on the authority of 'Asim, which have been used all over the world of Islam.



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