All languages in the world have different dialects and varied pronunciations based on the regions to which the speakers belong. Similar to every other language being spoken worldwide, the Arabic language that Allah SWT picked to spread His message everywhere has different dialectical variations that happen due to the changes among intonations, tones, and geographical conditions of the speakers.
All these changes in the reading and recitation of the Quran are called Qirat. To learn what is Qirat in Islam, its different types, how it differs from other styles, and how to become a Qari in detail, keep reading this post.
The word qirah (pl. qirat) has come from the Arabic language and means the recitation of something. Qirat meaning in Arabic is Tilawah or the action of reading something aloud from memory. Tilawah meaning is reading the portions from the Quran either in mosques or homes to seek His mercy for mankind. Now, what is qirat in Islam? In Islam, they are the different lexical, linguistic, phonetic, and syntactical types allowed to recite Quran. Different types of qirat are there with varying rules regarding the prolongation and pronunciation of words. They also differ in vowels, consonants, and less frequently completed words.
Qirat meaning in Quran refers to the different manners of reciting the verses. In the Holy Quran, the word qirat has been mentioned a number of times to encourage recitation among Muslims. In the following verses, Allah SWT has used qirat for reciting the Quran.
“And [it is] a Quran which We have separated [by intervals] that you might recite it to the people over a prolonged period. And We have sent it down progressively.” (Al-Isra:106)
“Who would then recite it to the deniers [in fluent Arabic], still they would not have believed in it!” (Ash-Shu’ara:199)
What is qirat in Islam? Similar to Quran, the word qirat has been mentioned in numerous hadiths too. Qirat is a small portion of the dinar and has been used many times to mention an amount of reward without its literal meaning being intended. In the following hadiths, qirat reward meaning is clearly shown as it is mentioned to specify the reward and punishment for certain acts.
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) said: ‘Whoever attends a funeral until the prayer is offered will have one qirat and whoever attends until (the body) is buried will have two qirats.’” It was said: ‘What are the two qirats, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘Like two great mountains.’ [Sunan An-Nasa’i]
Salim bin’ Abdullah narrated that his father said: “I heard Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) saying, ‘The period of your stay as compared to the previous nations is like the period equal to the time between the `Asr prayer and sunset. The people of the Torah were given the Torah, and they acted (upon it) till midday.
Then, they were exhausted and were given one qirat (of gold) each. And then the people of the Gospel were given the Gospel, and they acted (upon it) till the `Asr prayer then they were exhausted and were given one qirat each. And then we were given the Quran, and we acted (upon it) till sunset, and we were given two qirats each. You have given them two qirats and given us one qirat, though we have worked more than they.’ Allah said, ‘Have I usurped some of your right?’ They said, ‘No.’ Allah SWT said: “That is my blessing I bestow upon whomsoever I wish.” [Sahih Bukhari]
On another occasion, Salim bin’ Abdullah narrated that his father said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Whoever keeps a dog, except a dog for herding livestock or a dog for hunting, one qirat will be deducted from his reward each day.’ Abdullah said: “Abu Hurairah said: ‘Or a dog for farming.’” [Sunan An-Nasa’i]
There were no diacritics in the first copies of the Quran, either for vowels or distinguishing various rasm values. Whenever they were used, it was to only infrequently and inadequately form a clear text. It is said that those early manuscripts had the official copy of the Quran made by Uthman (RA). When He (RA) created copies of the Quran, he followed the style harf while omitting something in order to let other styles be accommodated.
So, the styles accommodated by the Mushaf of Uthman remained in use, and those that could not be accommodated were not in use. As a result, people started to criticize each other for reciting the Quran in a different way. So, Uthman made them equal and united by giving them only one style of the Quran. Progressive improvements were made to the orthography of the Quran like in the 1st century, dots were added for differentiating similarly-shaped consonants, followed by marks and nunation in different-colored ink from the text. Later, the different colors were also replaced with marks used in written Arabic today.
Notable scholars Yahya ibn Ya’mar al-Adwaani and Nasr ibn ‘Aasim, under the appointment of Al-Hajjaj, added points to the Quran for differentiating consonants during the era of Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. While the Caliph and/or Al-Hajjaj appear to have a connection with the evolution of the Quranic text, the early introduction of diacritics into the text was not into this process. Also, it is not clear what improvements in diacritics use were made at their request. However, there is manuscript evidence for the introduction of vowel markers into the Quran during this era.
Now that you have learned what is qirat in Islam, next, is that how many qiraat are there in Quran? There are seven types of qirat in the Quran. These types are the methods in which popular authority chain holders read the verses. Each type got its name from the renowned Rawis, who narrated it with an established chain. All types of qirat have been recited with an authentic chain of relators relating back to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), proving that the Quran is the revelation from Allah SWT and has been preserved across centuries.
There are seven types of Qirat of the Quran, which come from the Mutawatir class. All these qirat were chosen by the leading Quranic scholar in the same field named Abu Bakr ibn Mujahid.
1. Qirat Naafi’ Al-Madani (Madinah)
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (RA) and Imam Malik (RA) read the Quran following this method mostly. Qaloon and Warsh are the two Qaris who preserved this reading method.
2. Qirat Ibn Katheer Al-Makki (Makkah)
Qunbul, Al-Buzzi, and Imam Shafi followed this method for Quran recitation. The Qaris who preserved this recitation are Al-Buzzi and Qunbul.
3. Qirat Abu Amr al-Basri (Basra)
Ad-Doori and As-Soosi are the two Qaris who preserved this reading method of the Quran.
4. Qirat Ibn Aamir ash-Shami (Syria)
Hisham and Ibn Dhakwan are the two Qaris who recited and preserved this recitation method of the Quran.
5. Qirat Asim Al-Kufi (Kufa)
Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (RA) often followed this method to recite the Quran. Hafs and Shuba are the two Qaris who preserved this method.
6. Qirat Hamzah al-Kufi (Kufa)
Khallad and Khalaf are the famous Qaris who preserved this reading manner.
7. Qirat Al-Kisaa’i (Kufa)
The two popular Qaris who preserved this recitation method are Al-Layth and Ad-Doori.
Basically, there are ten types of Islamic qirat in total. However, only seven of them are considered due to the fact that seven major scholars stayed in a particular place with their students at the start of the Muslim conquest. On the other hand, the remaining three traveled to different places in the world until Ibn el Jazerry went all across the globe and found the other recitation methods. Still, the other three types are excluded from the list most of the time since they are not considered authentic.
Warsh ‘an Naafi, or Warsh recitation, is the qirat of the Quran in Islam. This recitation method is conducted as per the rules of Tajweed. It is attributed to Imam Warsh, who himself got it from his teacher Nafi’ al-Madani. Warsh recitation is one of the two important traditions of Quranic recitation. This is one of the most common types of Quranic recitation in Africa outside of Egypt and is also quite famous in Yemen and Darfur, even if the rest of Sudan follows the method of Hafs. Hafs is another popular method of the Quran recitation, which is commonly followed in Egypt.
While reading the Quran, we often refer to any of these types. What we actually mean by that is this is the riwaya of Warsh or riwaya of Hafs. It is the riwaya of a certain qirah, which are named after the leader of the Quran reciters. The qirat derives its authority from a famous recitation leader who traces their transmission back through the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH). A Warsh Quran usually has the riwaya of Imam Warsh from Nafi’ al-Madini from Abu Jafar Yazid ibn Al-Qa’qa from Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas from Ubayy ibn Ka’b from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from Jibril (AS) from Allah SWT.
In Hafs, one may find the riwaya of Hafs ibn Sulayman ibn Al Mughira Al Asadi Al Kufi of the qirah of Asim ibn Abi’n-Nujud Al-Kufi from Abu Abdur Rehman Abdullah ibn Habib as Sulami from Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib, and Zaid ibn Thabit, and Ubayy ibn Ka’b from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). As it can be seen, all these go back to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH).
There are some Hafs and Warsh Quran differences. Examples of differences between readings include where one stops like in Surah Al-Baqarah: Dhalika’l-Kitabu la rayb or Dhalika’l-Kitabu la rayba fih. There are some differences in vowels as well, like suddan” or “saddan. At some points, there is a difference in the letters due to varied diacritical marks like turja’una or yurja’una. Also, sometimes a word will contain a shadda and sometimes not.
For more information about how to learn Qirat and recite Quran using them, check our detailed blog!
The Holy Quran was revealed to Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) by angel Jibril (AS) in seven ahruf. Ahruf (sing. harf) are translated in different terms like modes, styles, ways, and editions. Now what is Qirat in Islam? Ahruf are the 7 styles of Quran recitation, which are distinct from the ten qirat. Qirat are based on only one harf in which the Quran was revealed. Also, some of the diversity of the ahruf lived on in the qirat.
However, the identification of the ahruf with the qirat has not been accepted by Muslim scholars. According to the medieval Quranic scholar Ibn al-Jazari, the rejection of the idea is the point of agreement among subject experts. On the other hand, Christopher Melchert mentioned that it is contrary to reason, as well as unsupported by Islamic traditions.
Other experts who opposed this thought are Al-Qurtubi and Al-Suyuti, where the latter has cited many other scholarly authorities against the view. According to Ibn al-Jazari, one group of scholars held that Uthman preserved each harf. Another group held that Uthman preserved only a single harf to unify the Muslim ummah under it. Lastly, he held what he said was the majority view, which is that orthography of the copies by Uthman accommodated many ahruf. There is some difference in views on the extent to which the ahruf showed the different dialects of the Arab people or differences in their real words.
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