If you want to do something surprisingly fun and genuinely enjoyable, gather your children and listen to the Quran in different qira’at (قراءات – recitation styles)!
Yesterday, in the car as we drove home, we didn’t listen to our usual sirah lesson. Instead, I put on a YouTube video of Juz’ `Amma in the qira’ah of خلف عن حمزة, Khalaf `an Hamzah.
The kids (and I) loved it! The kids were beyond delighted and excited to hear the same surahs that we know by heart, but in such a different recitation. It’s hard to explain here in words, in black and white, just how amazed and happy the kids were to hear the words and ayat that they had always recited in one particular way, being recited in a different way. They were literally giddy with delight!
It’s like seeing a beloved friend in a different context, or wearing a new outfit. Something familiar with a slight tinge of the unfamiliar. The same, but slightly different.
The kids were extremely engaged as we listened. They excitedly and enthusiastically catalogued every single difference as each ayah was recited. They carefully noted every hamzah (ء) that was half-blurred (tas-hil, تسهيل), every slight pause before the hamzah (سكت), every Alif madd that was turned into a half-Alif-half-Ya combination sound (إمالة).
Everything distinct from what they’d memorized was automatically documented. It was like what one would do upon seeing an old loved one after a number of years. Every new change is immediately noted.
Most Muslims around the world learn the Quran in the most popular and widespread qira’ah: حفص عن عاصم , Hafs `an `Asim. This is what I teach my kids as well.
But every now and then, we will switch it up and listen to the surahs they know in ورش (Warsh) or خلف عن حمزة (Khalaf `an Hamza) or الدوري عن الكسائي (Ad-Duri `an Al-Kisa’i).
Yesterday as we listened to Surat An-Naba’, An-Nazi`at and `Abasa in the Khalaf recitation style. My 7-year-old said:
“This qira’ah would be perfect for Persians!”
He was was referring to certain specific deviations from the standard Hafs pronunciation of various letters and sounds of the Quran, which are easy for the kids, but hard for their Iranian relatives who have difficulty enunciating them correctly according to Hafs.
My son meant that the existence of different qira’at can provide some leeway to the Persians (or speakers of other language who aren’t native Arabic speakers) to find a way that may be easier for them to recite the Quran.
A year or two ago, when I first exposed my kids to different qira’at, this is how I had explained the issue to them. These qira’at were transmitted from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, and we can choose from among them when we recite. They are all correct. But nobody can just come along now and decide to create his own new “qira’ah” because this isn’t how it works. You can learn one qira’ah, or advance to learn all of them, but you must follow the rules of each one correctly when reciting them.
In the existence of these varied recitation styles is a rahmah (mercy) and an ease from Allah to the ummah. Not all people speak the same language or have identical pronunciations of even the same Arabic letters! So by His rahmah and wisdom, Allah has allowed different people to follow different qira’at – all reciting the same beautiful Quran.
I also wanted to show my kids, and for them to understand, that the Quran and the science of its recitation is something vast, dynamic, and truly wondrous.