Week 3: Recitation as Transcendence


Week 3

During the third week of lecture we discussed the recitation of the Qur’an.  Even as a non-Arabic speaker, I still felt connected and moved by both the sounds and also the artistry of the reciter.  However, the more I listened, the more I felt like I wasn’t connecting deep enough.  This might be due to my inability to understand the language and having to detach myself in order to read a translation.  I started listening to different renditions of Al-Fatiha, which is the opening of the Qur’an and a commonly known passage.  Reading about recitation, themes arise such as Ijaz (the inimitability of the Qur’an as proof of its divine origin), the transcendence of the reciter and listener, as well as its beauty and affect on the human soul.

Though slightly drastic, I slowed down a recitation of the Qur’an by Saad Al-Ghamdi, a famous Saudi Arabian reciter.  I slowed it down in order to get this transcendence quality.  As referenced in Al-Ghazali’s External Rules of Qur’an Recitation, the slow and distinct manner of reciting both assists non-Arabs in pondering as well as a more respectful and stronger than a speedy “babbling.”  I felt that this dramatic slowing of the reciting aids in understanding this miraculous interaction of human and the divine when the Qur’an was transmitted to Muhammad that was referenced by Nelson in The Sound of the Divine. The reason for the addition of the heartbeat was in reference to a particular phrase said in lecture that resonated with me: “[The Quran is] listened to with the ear and experienced in the heart.”  Recitation enables us access to the spiritual realm while we leave behind the material and physical world.