Every Muslim knows the importance of making regular recitation of the Quran a part of his or her life. But how many of us realize the importance of making our recitations beautiful?
Do you strive to beautify your recitation? Do you know why you should? And do you know how to go about it?
We’ll try to answer these questions in this article Insha’Allah.
The Power of Beauty
“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” – that’s not entirely true. If it were so, then human beings wouldn’t all universally consider roses to be beautiful. We wouldn’t all be mesmerized by the rising sun. Our hearts wouldn’t all ache while listening to a stunning melody.
All the disbelievers of Makkah wouldn’t fall down in sajdah listening to the Prophet (peace be upon him) recite the Quran.
Think about this. The Prophet Muhammad was considered eye-wateringly handsome by everyone who met him.
Why did Allah make His Prophet’s physical appearance so generally beautiful? It’s because it’s in human nature to be attracted by beauty. And it was important for the propagation of the message of Islam for its carrier to be attractive to people.
Not just that. Allah Himself is beautiful, and He likes beauty. (Muslim)
It’s true that sometimes our hearts can become blind to what is truly beautiful, and Satan can make what is ugly and sinful to appear beautiful in our eyes. But this pseudo-beauty doesn’t hold water when compared to what Allah made truly beautiful.
The Prophet’s voice too was beautiful, and we all know the power of a beautiful voice.
“There is no doubt,” says Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, author of the famous commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, “that the soul inclines towards listening to a melodious recitation [of the Quran] more than an unmelodious one, because melody has the power to sway the heart into softness and make the tears flow.” (690)
The Quran is Beautiful
I remember a particular incident which engraved in my mind the powerful combo of a beautiful voice reciting the Quran. It was at an Al-Kauthar event, a two-day intensive Islamic course attended by about half a thousand Muslims of my community.
It was the end of a break session, and the teacher and the volunteers were trying to get the audience to stop chattering so that the lecture could be resumed. But it was proving impossible.
And then I heard a voice – a beautiful voice reciting the Quran. it was the teacher’s voice, and it was incredibly beautiful. I looked at one of my friends and she was crying silently.
Interestingly, she was the only one at our table who knew Arabic. Later on, she told me that at the time it felt to her as if the verses were being sent down from heaven.
The teacher got his object – the audience’s full attention and pin-drop silence.
Why did the audience become so mesmerized by the teacher’s recitation? Was it merely because he had a beautiful voice?
No. It was because the Quran itself is beautiful. Allah says:
God has sent down the most beautiful of all teachings: a Scripture that is consistent and draws comparisons; that causes the skins of those in awe of their Lord to shiver. Then their skins and their hearts soften at the mention of God: such is God’s guidance. He guides with it whoever He will; no one can guide those God leaves to stray. (39:23)
Notice how Allah describes the effect of the Quran’s beauty on those who fear Allah. First it makes their skins shiver, and then it softens for their skins and their hearts.
The Quran’s beauty consists of two things – the make up of the words themselves, and the meaning that those words convey. You can only feel this effect to the full extent if you understand what the words mean.
But if the Quran itself is so beautiful, what’s the need for striving to recite it in a beautiful voice?
Beautify the Quran
The Prophet Muhammad once heard a Companion reciting the Quran beautifully, and he praised him thus:
You have been given a Mizmar (sweet melodious voice) out of the Mazamir of the family of Dawud. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself recited the Quran beautifully, and encouraged us to do so too:
Beautify the Quran with your voices. (Nasa’i 1015)
Notice that he didn’t ask us to beautify our voices, but rather to beautify the Quran. It’s like a precious stone in the middle of an ornate gold setting. The objective is, not to beautify the setting, but rather to beautify the stone.
The stone in itself is incredibly beautiful and precious. Being beautiful itself, it deserves a beautiful setting. The value of the setting in no way compares to the value of the stone; its job is only to enhance the latter’s attractions. It’s in human instinct to beautify the things we value, and value things that look beautiful.
A beautiful voice in reciting the Quran is like a catalyst in a chemical reaction. It stimulates the heart and activates the emotions, so that our hearts become more receptive of the Quran’s message.
Here are some tips on how you can learn to recite beautifully:
- Learn the rules of tajweed (Quran recitation).
- Listen to your favorite reciter’s tilawah
- Don’t focus on beautifying your voice. Focus on feeling the beauty of the Quran’s message.