The Holy Quran was divinely revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in segments over 23 years through the angel Jibreel. As Muslims, it’s imperative we learn the proper etiquette and methods for reciting the Quran correctly to reap its blessings and wisdom.
An important aspect of proper Quran recitation is knowing where and when to stop when reading it. Have you noticed the different symbols present above certain words in the Quran? These symbols indicate rules and guidelines for stops, restarting, etc. that should be adhered to avoid errors and maintain the intended meaning. Let’s explore the etiquette around stopping when reciting the Quran and understand the different types of “waqf” or stopping.
Why Stopping Rules Matter
Stopping at the right places is crucial to prevent mispronunciations or inadvertent meaning changes. Our early Muslim predecessors took great care to teach these rules and preserve the sanctity of Quran recitation. The companions of the Prophet (PBUH) and subsequent generations placed tremendous emphasis on perfecting the etiquette of Quran recitation, as verified through authentic narrations.
The Prophet (PBUH) strongly urged and encouraged Muslims to learn and teach the Quran correctly. He said:
“The best among you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” (Bukhari)
Supplementary Tools for Applying Stopping Rules
Two supplementary tools aid in properly implementing stopping rules when reciting:
- Arabic Language Skills: Having a basic grasp of Arabic grammar helps avoid major recitation errors.
- Tafseer Knowledge: Being familiar with Quran exegesis provides context for appropriate stopping.
For non-native Arabic speakers, the Quran punctuation symbols guide appropriate stopping to maintain integrity of meaning. Symbols differ slightly between Qurans printed in Arab countries versus Pakistan.
Key Quran Stop Symbols
As well as the rules of Meem Sakinah, Laam Sakinah Rules, Rules of Laam Shamsiya and Qamariya and other basic Tajweed rules, there are some symbols and rules of stopping when reading Quran that are put by scholars, as mentioned earlier, to help the reciter to stop on a correct meaning. Any point of starting or stopping is considered either permissible, prohibited, or unsuitable according to whether or not it leads to complete and correct meaning. We tried to collect the most common Quran symbols rules, even in the Urdu Mushafs, as follows:
- مـ – Compulsory stop to prevent meaning change
- ط – Normal stop at sentence or thought end
- ج – Permissible stop
- صلي – Better to continue, but can stop
- قلي – Better to stop, but can continue
- لا – Don’t stop, proceed to next word
- قف – Preferable to stop
- ∴ – Stop only on one of the marked words
Differing grammar interpretations lead scholars to differ on stop recommendations for some verses.
Quran Breathless Pause Signs
One of the related topics to the rules of stopping when reading Quran is (Sakt). Sakt or Saktah means a pause held for two counts without breathing during recitation, and it is symbolized by the letter س, in many Mushafs. There are four pauses in the way of Hafs recitation that you can find in Tajweed books.
How to Stop While Reading Quran
When stopping anywhere in recitation:
- Omit short vowels and tanween of the word’s last letter. Exception – tanween Fathah sounds as Alif.
- For stopping on ة or ةـ, omit vowels/tanween and pronounce as Haa with sukoon.
Start Rules of Reading Quran
- After covering the main topics related to the rules of stopping when reading Quran, it is suitable to also tackle how to start. It refers to the resumption of the recitation after cutting it off or stopping it.
- It’s allowed to begin with what comes after a complete or sufficient stop under any circumstances. Also, it’s allowed to start with that which comes after a good stop, only if it is the end of an Ayah. You can stop on a correct meaning in the middle of an Ayah, then start your recitation the way mentioned before.
Not Permitted Start:
- However, you are not allowed to cut off your recitation in the middle of an Ayah, then start from the middle. Only in this case, you are allowed to cut off at the end of the Ayah. Then later, if you want to start, you will start from the beginning of an Ayah or Surah.
- Moreover, you are not allowed to start in a way that changes the intended meaning or changes it. This kind of start could be of utmost repulsiveness if it leads to meaning in disagreement with our creed. If one does this intentionally, he/she will be sinned.
Note: Most of the above-mentioned information about the rules of stopping when reading Quran is gathered from two books; Tajweed Rules of the Quran by Kareema Carol, Part 3, and An Introduction to Tajweed by Umm Muhammad.
Learning and applying proper Quran recitation etiquette requires patience and consistent practice. As long as you strive to improve, you will succeed by the grace of Allah SWT. Mastering rules like stopping pave the way for accurately understanding and implementing the Holy Quran.
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