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Calligraphy and Vocalization of the Qur'an

MIT
3/1/2017
68 views

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the entire universe. May His peace and blessings be upon the prophet Muhammad.

Calligraphy  and Vocalization of the Qur'an can be defined as a knowledge that looks mainly into the manner or style of writing and drawing the diacritical marks of the Holy Qur'an. Calligraphy of the Qur'an is the beauty of handwriting of the Qur'an. It is the writing and wording structure of the Qur'an while the vocalization is the diacritical and vocalization marks of the Qur'an such as putting Hamza, shadda, sila, rawm and ishmam.

When speaking of the  rasm, it stands for the basic text made of the 18 letters with its unique orthography without dots i'jam  vowel and other diacritics signs. The term script deals with a particular language such Arabic script, roman script etc. The type or style which in computer terminology is called fonts, which  deals with type of calligraphy such as Hijaji, Kufic, Naskh, Nastaʿlīq.

The Revelation scribes wrote down the Quran, according to the order of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), on pieces of cloth, leather, bones, and stones. Its verses were ordered and arranged according to Allah's inspiration. At the beginning, it was not gathered in one book. Some of the Prophet's companions scribed parts and surahs specially for themselves after they had memorized it from the Prophet.  

During the era of Uthman Ibn Affan, the third caliph (may Allah be pleased with him) the Quran was written from the main copy gathered during the era of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him). He scribed many copies of Quran, reflecting in their writing the different correct readings (Arabic accents) of it; excluding any incorrect one. It was not marked with dots or vowel points. As the companions and believers of that period learnt the Qur’an from the prophet (peace be upon him) by ear, everyone recited the Qur’an correctly in the way they had heard and been taught, therefore there was no question of the Qur’an being recited incorrectly. The copy produced by  Uthman (May Allah have mercy on him) is still extant. All copies of the Qur'an available today in the world are exactly identical to the Uthmani Version.

Later punctuation and vowel indicators were in the Qur'an as the boundaries of the Islamic state expanded and the  Arabs began to mix with the languages and cultures of other nations, certain changes emerged in Arabic lettering. The non-Arabs found it difficult to read the Qur’an without any vowel signs and diacritical marks. Therefore the practice of using diacritical marks began in response to a serious and urgent need at the time of Abdul Malik ibn Marwan in the 65th year of Hijra. In the beginning, dots were used instead of vowel symbols. A dot over the letter instead of fatha (vowel sign for “a”), a dot under the letter instead of the kasra (vowel sign for “i”), a dot in front of the letter instead of dhamma (vowel sign for “u”), and two dots instead of a sukun, (a stop) were being used. Even though the first usage of diacritics is said to have begun with Abu al-Aswad al-Dualy (d. 688), Hasan Basri (d. 728), Nasr ibn Asim (d. 707) or Yahya ibn Ya’mur, it seems more likely that Abu al-Aswad began this usage and the rest played important roles in its development. 

 The following is one of the most obvious and gravest cases of the need for the introduction of punctuation and vowel indicators. It is narrated that Ziyad, the governor of Basra, sent a message to Abu al-Aswad asking him to put some marks in the Qur’an so that the Word of God could be read correctly. Abu al-Aswad was reluctant to do such a thing. But, someone was reading the Qur’an one day and they mispronounced the word rasul u h u in the third verse of Sura Tawba as rasul i h i,   and thus made a grave mistake in meaning. This error changed the meaning in the verse from: “God disavows those who associate partners with Him and His Messenger likewise disavows them” to “God disavows those who associate partners with Him and disavows also His Messenger.” So, Abu al-Aswad said: “God forbid! God cannot disavow His Messenger!”, thus accepting the Governor’s suggestion. Consequently, he put a dot over the letter for the vowel sign for “a”, a dot under the letter for the vowel sign for “i” and a dot in front of the letter for the vowel sign for “u”. Later on, during the time of Abdul Malik (d. 705), the i’jam (the dotting of letter(s) in the Arabic alphabet) was needed in order to distinguish between those consonants that are similar in form.

However, this use of the dotting system led to confusion with the aforementioned use of vowel indicators. Instead of using dots for vowels, the vowel symbols that we use today started to be used. Then, Manuscript copies of the Qur'an were improved and beautified by the third century after the Hijra. Sura names, numerical verse indicators to separate the verses, the Arabic letter “م” (mim) to indicate a pause, the letter “” (lam’alif) for places where there was no pause, and letters like “ج” (jim) for cases where one can either pause or pass, have all been introduced to enable the correct recitation of the Qur’an.






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