Many egyptian Qari’s use Maqam (melodic modes used in traditional Arabic music) in their Quran recital. They would use a musical instrument such as a Oud (chordal musical instrument) to correct or enhance their melodic vocal tones. Is it permissible to use musical instruments, or knowledge from musical melodies and tones to improve ones Quran recitation so they may sound more beautiful? Also if one can use musical instruments to perfect or enhance their voice, what instruments would be permissible in Islam?
Answer: وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته
Who must one recite like?
It has been appropriately stated: recite in the ‘ledger’ (style) of the (traditional) Arab. This phrase signifies the need to emulate the Arab form of intonation whilst observing the traditional rules of Qirat. The ‘Arab’ style refers to following that Qari who has his roots of Quranic recitation linked to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam). It is not intended that one followers just any Arab or individual! (Definition: Qari is a specialist in reciting the Quran as close to perfection without salvaging the rules of Tajweed. A true Qari refrains from fancy intonations or emulations to mesmerize an audience, avoids animated facial gestures, does not request funds to recite the Quran, etc.)
What is the Quran in relation to Maqam and melody?
The Quran is a Pure Book with roots of purity. To interpolate ‘melody’ into the Quran would be a violation of the Hadith that calls for its prohibition. Usage of instruments function offensively towards the Quran, in that, by ascribing to ‘musical’ methods the user of instruments alludes (knowingly or unknowingly) that the Quran needs a musical touch to enhance its beauty; or that in order to derive maximum benefit and joy from the Quran, the reciter must succumb to the satanic imbibed talents of musical instruments. To those that ascribe to such methods, it disparaging towards the Quran!
Melody (partial definition)
We must note, melody and good voice remain separate matters. Melody refers to creating notes that call for a reciter to be inconsistent to the rules of tajweed. People using ‘melody’ do so to create an enhanced effect upon the audience. Prohibited melody could also be inclusive of following the rules of Tajweed whilst incorporating non-Muslim singing patterns and intonations to ones recital. Such a person may also place inappropriate notes (intonations, stress syllables, etc) within the recital, thus creating a ‘musical’ of the Quran. This is against proper Quranic recital methods, it is worthy of sin due to its mockery – being it intentional or otherwise. The key to the Quran is not the voice or melody as much as it is proper sincere recitation whilst following Quranic laws of pronunciation.
Having any feature that resembles music or musical instruments creates a resemblance to the workings of shaytan. Shaytan wants to turn Quranic recitation into an amusement and not a source of reflection. Quranic recitation must be inclusive of a pace and tone that has a positive influence on the recietor and audience. Sincere recitals would also share a sense of responsibility towards the Greatness of Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala). After all, our Quaran remains the word of Allah. When one is sincere, the beauty of ones recital accentuates itself without much effort. The idea is not merely to perform out beautiful recital as much as it is correct recitation coupled with sincerity.
Benefits of Maqaam, if used as intended
Pertaining to Maqaam, there is a portion of Maqaam that deals purely with helping people improve their pronunciation. Students ascribing to this method are required to be in company of a professional Qari hours on end to perfect elements of tajweed – which is inclusive of voice projection, pace, etc. Maqam also helps the student improve or gain a style of recital that is best suited towards that student. (However, this original function of Maqaam has changed in the modern era for the worst.)
The classical view
All great religious scholars whose lives have been linked to the Quran refute the usage of musical instruments or methods that resemble it. Such thinking is also shared by the traditional Egyptian Quraa as well. The inclusiveness of instruments is a modern day concept that has no religious bases. It has functioned to remove the purity of a clear hearted recitation. It has turned the Quran into an entertainment business. It has commercialized the Quran as a trade to be exported in exchange of great sums of money.
It’s not all about voice
Lot of youth focus on their voice. They get despondent when they cannot match up to those they hear on the airwaves. Voice is form Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala). He can make the simplest voice seem pleasant if sincerity is attached to it. (I have met Quraa that have shared to me that they have utilized technological equipment to enhance their voices! So do not be fooled with a voice)
Musical instruments and melodious (as defined above) recitals function contrary to the method of the prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), the sahaba and those that wish emulate them.
To be the best, listen to the best
We recommend our audience to listen to sheik Khalil Khusri, Sheik Manshawi (the student of Sheik Khusri) to improve their tajweed and recital. Perfection takes time. (Spelling of names would differ — a true students would always find these gems of great people!)
May Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) give us the ability to not only do justice with beautiful Quranic recitation, but also give us the true understanding of the Quran, as well as the ability to follow the Quran as it commands us, Ameen.
Allah Certainly Knows Best.
Kindly also see: https://islaminaction.wordpress.com/2008/12/28/tajwwed/#more-1025