Phonetically Motivated and Phonetically Unmotivated Assimilation in Quran Tajweed Rules

Zakaria Ahmad Abuhamdia


The recitation style of Quran known as "tajweed" follows certain age-old practice embodied in phonetic specifications. Over the past millennium, explications of the principles (or rules) of tajweed have been recycled again and again in literally hundreds of publications of varied length and detail. However, and probably out of obvious veneration for Quran, the phonetic rules of the tajweed enterprise have never been subjected to academically-based phonetic scrutiny, let alone critique. This has been the state despite the fact that tajweed تجويد , as a term does not occur in Quran itself or in the texts of the Prophet 's tradition ألحديث    . The term tarteel ترتيل (careful reading) and few other terms of similar meaning are used. The purpose of this essay is to problematize the need for such scrutiny. This article focuses only on one set of tajweed rules subsumed under idghaam ادغام (consonantal regressive assimilation). The study has culled relevant data and propositions of received wisdom from the sources and has also identified sub-types of assimilation which are not in consonance with current (twenty-first) phonetic scholarship.

Keywords: Quran, Tajweed rules, phonetics, (un)motivated assimilation rules

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