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In-Depth Analysis of Sifaat in Tajweed

Sifaat in Tajweed

Table of Contents

Tajweed is the set of rules for the correct pronunciation of the letters with all their qualities and applying the various traditional methods of recitation. In Tajweed, the term “Sifaat” refers specifically to the attributes of the Arabic letters. Proper application of these attributes is crucial for the correct pronunciation of the Quranic text.

Sifaat Laazimah: Inherent Qualities

These are the intrinsic characteristics that are always present in certain letters, regardless of their position in a word.

Detailed Sifaat Laazimah

  • Hams (Whispered Sound): This characteristic is present in letters that are pronounced with a flow of breath that is clearly audible. It is as if the sound is accompanied by a whisper. For example, the letter “ه” (haa) is always accompanied by a noticeable breath.
  • Jahr (Audible Sound): Letters with this characteristic are pronounced without any accompanying breath. The sound is made entirely by the vocal cords and is clear and strong. The letter “ب” (baa) is an example where the sound is fully vocalized without any breath.
  • Shiddah (Emphasized Sound): This quality is found in letters that are pronounced with a complete closure of the oral or nasal passage, creating a sound that is momentarily held back before being released. The letter “د” (daal) demonstrates this when the tongue completely touches the upper palate, stopping the flow of sound.
  • Rakhawah (Relaxed Sound): These letters are pronounced without any tension, and the sound is smooth and easy. The letter “ف” (faa) is articulated with a relaxed mouth and lips, allowing the sound to flow freely.
  • Istitaalah (Lengthened Sound): This quality is found in letters that naturally have a prolonged sound. The “مد” (madd) letters like “و” (waw) and “ي” (yaa) when they are non-voweled and preceded by a fatha or kasra respectively, are examples of this.
  • Infitah (Open Sound): These letters are articulated with an open-mouth configuration, allowing the sound to exit the mouth without any constriction. The letter “ك” (kaaf) is an example where the back part of the tongue drops, creating an open space for the sound to emerge.
  • Qalqalah (Echo Sound): This characteristic gives the letter a reverberating, echoing sound. It occurs when a letter with a sukoon or a shaddah is pronounced with a controlled force that causes a vibration. The letters “ق” (qaaf), “ط” (taa), “ب” (baa), “ج” (jeem), and “د” (daal) are known as the letters of qalqalah.

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Sifaat Aaridah: Conditional Qualities

These are the characteristics that are not always present and depend on the letter’s situation or the surrounding letters.

Expanded Sifaat Aaridah

  • Tafkheem (Full Mouthed or Heavy Pronunciation): This quality imparts a rich, deep tone to the pronunciation of a letter. It is most commonly associated with the “ر” (raa) when it is accompanied by a fatha or damma or when it comes after a non-voweled “و” (waw). The letters “ص” (saad), “ض” (daad), “ط” (taa), and “ظ” (dhaa) are always heavy regardless of the harakat (vowel marks) on them.
  • Tarqeeq (Empty Mouthed or Light Pronunciation): This is the lightness of a letter, where it is pronounced with an empty mouth, and the sound is not as deep or rounded as in Tafkheem. The “ر” (raa) is pronounced with Tarqeeq when it has a kasra or comes after a non-voweled “ي” (yaa).
  • Ikhfa (Partial Hiding of Sound): This occurs when the pronunciation of “ن” (noon saakin) or tanween is followed by one of the 15 letters of Ikhfa. The sound is masked, and a distinctive nasal resonance is produced. For instance, when “ن” (noon saakin) is followed by “ت” (taa), the sound is not fully pronounced as a “ن” but is somewhat concealed, creating a nasal sound.
  • Idgham (Merging of Sounds): This is the merging of two similar or close articulation points. It occurs when a non-voweled “ن” (noon) or tanween is followed by one of the six letters of Idgham, such as “م” (meem) or “ن” (noon). For example, in the word “من نعمة” (min ni’mah), the two “ن” (noon) sounds merge into one elongated “ن” sound.
  • Iqlab (Conversion of Sound): This is the changing of one letter into another. Specifically, it is the conversion of the non-voweled “ن” (noon) or tanween into a “م” (meem) when it is followed by “ب” (baa), as in the word “من بعد” (min ba’d), where the “ن” sound is converted to a “م” sound.

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Importance of Sifaat in Tajweed

The correct application of Sifaat is vital for several reasons:

  • Clarity of Recitation: It ensures that each letter is pronounced distinctly, avoiding confusion in the sounds of the letters.
  • Preservation of Meaning: Accurate pronunciation can significantly change the meaning of words, thus preserving the intended message of the Quran.
  • Aesthetic Enhancement: The application of Sifaat beautifies the recitation, making it pleasing to the ear and heart.
  • Spiritual Connection: Proper Tajweed enhances the reciter’s connection with the text, facilitating a deeper spiritual experience.

Expanded Table of Sifaat in Tajweed with Examples

Sifaat Type Quality Description Phonetic Example Quranic Example Pronunciation Note
Laazimah Hams Whispered, breathy sound. س (seen) سَمِعَ (Sami’a) Breath flows with sound.
Laazimah Jahr Clear, strong sound without breath. ج (jeem) جَزَاء (Jazaa) Vocal cords vibrate strongly.
Laazimah Shiddah Sound with a complete closure. ط (taa) طَه (Taha) Sound is trapped, then released.
Laazimah Rakhawah Gentle, relaxed sound. ف (faa) فَلَاح (Falaah) Mouth is relaxed, breath flows.
Laazimah Istitaalah Naturally prolonged sound. ا (alif) اِقْرَأْ (Iqra) Sound is elongated.
Laazimah Infitah Open mouthed sound. ك (kaaf) كَبِير (Kabeer) Mouth opens fully for sound.
Laazimah Qalqalah Bouncing, echoing sound. ق (qaaf) فَوْقَ (Fawqa) Sound bounces at the end.
Aaridah Tafkheem Heavy, full-mouthed sound. ص (sad) صِرَاط (Siraat) Sound is rounded and deep.
Aaridah Tarqeeq Light, empty-mouthed sound. ر (raa) with kasra رِزْق (Rizq) Sound is thin and light.
Aaridah Ikhfa Partial hiding, nasal sound. ن followed by ت منْ تَبِعَ (Mintaba’a) Sound is nasalized.
Aaridah Idgham Merging of similar sounds. ن followed by م مِنْ مَالِ (Mimmaali) Two sounds merge into one.
Aaridah Iqlab Conversion of “ن” to “م”. ن followed by ب منْ بَعْد (Mimba’d) “ن” changes to “م”.
Sifaat in Tajweed

Sifaat in Tajweed Chart

Sifaat Laazimah (Inherent Qualities)

Letter Sifah Description
س, ص, ث, ف, ح, خ, ش Hams Whispered sound with breath flow
ب, ج, د, ط, ل, م, ن, ر, Jahr Audible sound without breath flow
ط, د, ب, ت, ج, ق, ك Shiddah Sound with a complete closure and then a release
ع, ح, غ, خ Rakhawah Relaxed sound with easy breath flow
ص, ض, ط, ل, ن, ر, ز, س Istitaalah Lengthened sound due to prolonged makhraj
ف, ق, ك Infitah Open sound with the mouth open
ق, ط, ب, ج, د Qalqalah Echo sound when the letter has sukoon or shaddah
Sifaat Laazimah (Inherent Qualities)

Sifaat Aaridah (Conditional Qualities)

Letter Sifah Description Condition
ر Tafkheem Heavy pronunciation When with fatha or followed by a fatha
ر Tarqeeq Light pronunciation When with kasra or followed by a kasra
ت, ث, ج, د, ذ, ز, س, ش, ص, ض, ط, ظ, ف, ق, ك Ikhfa Partial hiding of sound When noon saakin or tanween is followed by one of these letters
ر, ل, م, ن, و, ي Idgham Merging of sounds When noon saakin or tanween is followed by one of these letters
ب Iqlab Conversion of sound When noon saakin or tanween is followed by ba
Sifaat Aaridah (Conditional Qualities)

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What is the difference between Makharij and Sifaat?

In the science of Tajweed, which governs the art of reciting the Quran, “Makharij” and “Sifaat” are two fundamental concepts that relate to the pronunciation of Arabic letters. They are distinct from each other in their focus and application:

Makharij (Articulation Points)

  • Definition: “Makharij” is the plural of “Makhraj,” which refers to the exact point from where a letter is articulated or pronounced. It is the location in the mouth or throat where the sound of a letter originates.
  • Purpose: The purpose of understanding Makharij is to know precisely where to position one’s tongue, and lips, or to know how to shape the mouth when producing the sound of a particular letter. This ensures that the sound is distinct and accurate as per the phonetics of the Arabic language.
  • Categories: There are generally five main areas where the sounds of the Arabic letters come from: the oral cavity, the throat, the tongue, the lips, and the nasal passage. These are further divided into specific Makharij for each letter.
  • Application: Learning Makharij is about learning the physical mechanics of pronunciation. For example, the letter “ج” (jeem) is articulated from the middle of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth.

Sifaat (Characteristics)

  • Definition: “Sifaat” refers to the qualitative attributes or characteristics of the sounds of the letters. These are the properties that define how a letter behaves when it is pronounced, whether it is always present in the letter (Sifaat Laazimah) or if it appears under certain conditions (Sifaat Aaridah).
  • Purpose: The purpose of Sifaat is to refine the pronunciation by understanding how each letter should sound in different contexts. This includes knowing if a letter should be echoed, whispered, pronounced with a full mouth, etc.
  • Categories: Sifaat are divided into two main categories: those that are inherent to a letter (Sifaat Laazimah) and those that are present due to the context of the letter’s appearance in a word (Sifaat Aaridah).
  • Application: Sifaat involve the qualitative aspects of pronunciation. For instance, the letter “ص” (sad) has the characteristic of Tafkheem (heaviness), meaning it is pronounced with a full mouth.

In summary, Makharij focuses on the physical location of the sound’s origin within the vocal apparatus, while Sifaat deals with the qualitative nature of how that sound is expressed. Both are essential for proper Quranic recitation, ensuring that each letter is pronounced with its full rights and dues of characteristics.


The Sifaat in Tajweed are not merely rules but are the essence of the art of Quranic recitation. They bring life to the letters and words, allowing the reciter to convey the message of the Quran as it was revealed. Mastery of these qualities is a lifelong pursuit that deepens one’s connection with the divine text.

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