Recitation — Week 2

Title of Portfolio:

“Recitation”

Description of Portfolio:

I chose to use a recording as my media for this portfolio for Week 2. This is a dua, or prayer of supplication, recited this past Ramadan (2022) during the last ten nights. Listeners can hear Hafiz Furqan invoke this dua during Witr prayer, a sunnah prayer that takes place after Isha but before Fajr Prayer, that is typically the last prayer at the culmination of devotion to God.

Explanation of Portfolio:

A central theme in Week 2 is the ways that different communities interact with the Qu’ran as a sacred sound, specifically with the art of recitation. While this audio recording is a dua and not necessarily direct textual scripture from the Qu’ran, many of the phrases derived within this extended dua come from the Qu’ran itself. Directly listening to this recording, just as Michael Sells writes in Approaching the Qu’ran, one can experience “the complex Qu’ranic sound patterns and the relation of sound to meaning–what we might call the ‘sound vision’ of the Qu’ran-are brought out and cultivated in Qu’ranic recitation” (Sells 16). It is this hymnic pattern, often created on the spot by the reciter, that allows for the close and intimate experience many listeners feel. The repetition of certain phrases or pleas to God, emphasize their value amongst the reciter.

As a result of this unique recitation, many listeners begin to cry. While individuals like myself may not necessary understand the Arabic being recited, others during the prayer may be able to. The presence of weeping of others can cause those who do not understand to begin weeping as well. This concept directly connects to Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s sixth rule of Quranic Recitation in “External Rules of Qur’an Recitation,” where al-Ghazali writes “weeping while reading the Qu’ran is praiseworhty (mustahab)” and that “the method of bringing grief to the mind of the Qu’ran-reader is through reflecting on threats, warnings, and covenants and promises which are contained in the Qu’ran (al-Ghazali 43-44).

One of the things this audio recording fails to pick up, is the sound of many individuals, female and male alike, crying when hearing specific phrases or points within the dua. Towards the end of this dua, after a culmination of a night’s worth of prayer and repentance to God in one of these last nights of Ramadan, many people can break down into tears out of remembrance of God. This is one of the many ways that I, and many others, have experienced and interacted with the Qu’ran as a sacred sound—an idea central in Week 2.

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