The theme of Week 3’s readings was the practice and significance of Qur’an recitation. Qu’ran recitation has special rhythms and pitches, which is designated by the rules of tajwid, and separated into two distinct sounds: murattal and mujawwad. Murattal is used in pedagogical settings and private contexts, while the latter is used for performances and competitions. Recitation preserves the divinity of Gods message, specifically how it was delivered. As Kristina Nelson writes in “The Sound of the Divine in Daily Life,” the Qur’an “is considered to be the actual sound of the Divine, the model of perfect beauty” (257). And as it is an oral tradition, the text is supplementary to the recitation, rather than vice versa, as Westerners often believe.

Proper and full recitation involves many factors. On one hand, it calls for technical aspects, like weeping and prostration. As “External Rules of Qur’an-Recitation” reads, weeping is important because the Qur’an was revealed in grief and the Prophet commands so. “External Rules,” especially, codifies recitation, including the number of times one should read the Qur’an each week. On the other hand, recitation involves an unexplainable but definitely universal and emotional quality. We see this in Koran by Heart, a film documenting the esteemed recitation competition in Cairo. The contestants were judged on a point system based on their technical skills, yet the competitor who received the highest distinction was the boy from Tajikistan. His training was less formal than the other winners’, he sung with his eyes closed, and at one point he even confessed that he did not know tajwid. His recitation was more valued than the others’ because of a certain quality that moved the audience and the judges.

Both film and text emphasized the communal aspect of recitation. The rules and competition are important parts of recitation, but at the very core, recitation is transmitting the word of God and that it is a continuous part of Islamic life

.Post #1 Illustration

My drawing reflects this very idea. The mouth is a universal one, symbolically depicting the act of recitation. Instead of a tongue, the mouth is filled with different houses, like the one inspired by Chinese architecture, to symbolize the worldliness of recitation. The smoke rising from some of the buildings reads “Allah” to show that this act is coming from homes and work environments and mosques. The whole of the drawing emphasizes the oral tradition – that it is pervasive in Islamic communities and that it forms the “music” one grows up around (as Nelson says). Most of all, it emphasizes that each recitation comes from within (the mouth representing the reciter’s own connection and knowledge) and from without (the tableau of buildings representing the community, the tradition, the Qur’an).