Phonological Features in the Qur’anic Seven Modes of Reading (Qira’āt)

Nadhim Abdulamalek Aldubai


The paper investigates the phonological features of the seven modes of reading the Qur’an. The source of the modes of reading is attributed primarily to the Prophet Muhammad. However, the feeling of who is more accurate in his reading than the others among Muslim Qur’an reciters has led to the abrogation of all personal codices which are replaced by the official Uthmanic canonical codex. The marathon journey of the modes of reading has started during the 1st/7th century in Medina, Makkah, Kufah, Basra, and Damascus. Variant modes of reading are either phonetically-oriented, or semantically-oriented. The phonetically-oriented mode of reading involves vocalic and diacritic differences. However, the semantically-oriented mode of reading focuses on within-the-text exegetical expressions. The major differences among the Qur’an reciters can be classified into: (i) differences in consonants, and (ii) differences in vowels. Differences in consonants involve assimilation, almutamāthilain (two adjacent sounds), tashīl alhamza (pronouncing the glottal stop between glottal stop and the glottal fricative), alibdal (substitution), alqalb almakāni (metathesis), alnaql (the process of pronouncing the glottal stop [Ɂ] as an open vowel [a]), alta’āt (the voiceless alveolar plosive) [t]), alra’āt (the voiced alveolar trill [r] and the voiced alveolar tap [ɾ]), and allāmāt (the voiced alveolar laterals). However, differences in vowels include alimālah (the deflection of particular vowels from the fathah towards the kasrah or alif towards the yaa' sound), al-ishmām (the rounding of lips without any sound at the same time of producing the unrounded vowel), al-ikhtilās (the close vowel is reduced to mid-close vowel), alrawm (the process of lip gesture alluding to the vowel in the pause position with an extra short vowel [ɪ̆], [ă], or [ŭ]), vowel lengthening, vowel elision, and vowel change.

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English Linguistics Research
ISSN 1927-6028 (Print)   ISSN 1927-6036 (Online)

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