The importance of Tajweed
The Noble Qur’an is the literal words of Allah that He revealed as an infallible source of legislation for mankind to live an organised life by. It contains regulations and recommendations about all aspects of life and references to the Hereafter. Being so important, the Qur’an must be read, written, and recited correctly and clearly, so as not to create any sort of ambiguity or misunderstanding whatsoever. Allah Almighty addressed His Messenger, Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), in the Qur’an, Saying (what means): “…And recite the Qur’an with measured recitation.” [Qur’an 73:4]
Listening to the Qur’an being recited correctly is enough to soften even the hardest of hearts. Muslims and non-Muslims alike find it a deeply moving experience, even if they do not understand what is being said. Every Muslim has to recite Qur’an in prayers, but many of us do not realise that reciting the Qur’an correctly while observing the rules of recitation is not an advanced science for expert reciters alone, rather it is an obligation upon each and every one of us whenever we recite the Qur’an.

What is Tajweed?

The Arabic word Tajweed linguistically means “proficiency” or “doing something well”. It comes from the same root letters as the word Jayyid, which means “good”. When applied to the Qur’an, it means giving every letter of the Qur’an its rights and dues of characteristics when we recite the Qur’an, and observing the rules that apply to those letters in different situations. We give the letters their rights by observing the essential characteristics of each letter. We give them their dues by observing the characteristics of each letter that are present in them some of the time and not present at other times.
The Qur’an was revealed with Tajweed rules applied to it. In other words, when the angel Jibreel (Gabriel), may Allah exalt his mention, recited the words of Allah to the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, he recited them in a certain way and he showed the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, the ways in which it was permissible to recite the Qur’an. So it is obligatory upon us to observe those rules so that we recite it in the way it was revealed.
At the time of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, there was no need for people to study Tajweed because they talked with what is now known as Tajweed, so it was natural for them. When the Arabs started mixing with the non-Arabs and as Islam spread, mistakes in the Qur’anic recitation began to appear, so the scholars had to record the rules. Now, because the everyday Arabic that Arabs speak has changed so much from the Classical Arabic with which the Qur’an was revealed, even the Arabs have to study Tajweed.
The purpose of Tajweed
The Qur’an is the word of Allah, and its every syllable is from Allah. Its recitation must be taken very seriously. The purpose of the science of Tajweed, in essence, is to make the reciter proficient in reciting the Qur’an, observing the correct pronunciation of every letter with the rulings and characteristics which apply to it, without any exaggeration or deficiency. Through this, the reciter can recite the Qur’an according to the way of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, who received it from Jibreel who received it from Almighty Allah in the Classical Arabic language.
Each Arabic letter has a Makhraj (an exit or articulation point from which it originates) and Sifaat (attributes or characteristics). Knowing the Makhraj and Sifaat of each letter is an important part of Tajweed. Sometimes two letters have very similar exits, which makes mixing them up easy. So, if a person does not know the attributes of each letter, he may change the meaning of the words in Qur’an recitation. Observing the rules of Tajweed in reciting prevents the reciter from making mistakes in reciting the Qur’an.

The ruling of reading with Tajweed

Imaam Muhammad Ibn al-Jazari, may Allah have mercy upon him, who was a great Qur’an and Hadith scholar of the 9th Hijri century, stated in his famous poem that details the rules of Tajweed:
“And applying Tajweed is an issue of absolute necessity, Whoever doesn’t apply Tajweed to the Qur’an, then a sinner is he.”
Hence, applying the rules of Tajweed is an obligation to keep away from the major mistakes in reciting the Qur’an.
The scholars have divided the types of mistakes one might fall into when reciting the Qur’an into two:
1. Clear mistakes: which usually change obvious things and change the meaning.
2. Hidden mistakes: for which one may need to study Tajweed rules.
The majority of scholars agree that applying the Tajweed rules of the Qur’an such that the clear mistakes are avoided is an individual obligation (Fardh ‘Ayn) upon every Muslim who has memorised part or all of the Qur’an, while applying the rules of Tajweed to avoid the hidden mistakes is a collective obligation (Fardh Kifaayah) upon Muslims. That is, there must be some students of knowledge who have knowledge of that. This is because the Qur’an was revealed with the Tajweed rules applied to it, and the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, recited it back to Jibreel in that way and the companions of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam,  read it in that way, so it is an established Sunnah (Prophetic tradition or practice).
The list below shows the type of mistakes under each category:

Clear mistakes:
Mistakes related to correct pronunciation of letters so that letters are not mixed up in a way that changes their meaning. Scholars and ordinary Muslims alike should avoid these.

Examples of Clear Mistakes:
• Changing one letter into another or a short vowel (Harakah) into another (e.g. changing Fat-hah into Dhammah or the letter Qaaf into Kaaf, etc)
• Not observing the elongations (Madd) at all. Reciting them quickly as if there is no Madd so that they turn into the length of a vowel.
• Making a Madd letter which out of a normal Harakah.
• Stopping or starting at an incorrect place so that the meaning is spoilt, like stopping at ‘Laa ilaaha’ (i.e., there is nothing worthy of worship), without completing ‘illallaah’ (except Allah).

Hidden Mistakes:
Mistakes which have to do with perfecting pronunciation and are not obvious. These are known only by those who have studied Tajweed rules or are experts in this field. Ordinary Muslims may not know such mistakes or perceive them to be so.

Examples of Hidden Mistakes:

• Not being totally exact with the elongation of letters: (Making the Madd shorter or longer by a 1/2 or even 1/4 degree, etc.)
• Not observing the attributes of each letter perfectly: (Slightly rolling the Raa’, or exaggerating the ‘N’ sound in Noon, etc.)
• Not observing the rules with which to pronounce letters when they are next to each other (like not merging certain letters that should be merged (Idghaam) and not clearly pronouncing those which should be clearly pronounced (Ith-haar), etc.)
• Making light letters sound heavy and heavy letters sound light (except if by doing this one changes a letter into another; in which case it would be an obvious mistake.)
Among the proofs that the scholars bring to show the obligation of Tajweed and its being an established Sunnah is that Almighty Allah Says in the Qur’an (what mean): “…And recite the Qur’an with measured recitation.” [Qur’an 73:4]
There are various Prophetic narrations also showing us the importance of Tajweed. Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, was asked about the recitation of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and she described it as a recitation: “Clearly-distinguished, letter by letter”.

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Qur’an: the way to salvation
The Book of Allah is the rain that brings forth true life on Earth.
Allah revealed the Book (Noble Qur’an) in order for us to read it, and mull over it with care and vigilance; to enrich our souls from its remembrance; to carry it and construe it in the best of manners; to affirm it and strive to establish its commands and prohibitions; pick the fruits of its precious knowledge that is our way to Allah and to glean the wisdom from its gardens and flowers.
For it is His Book, and nothing else, that can guide His seekers to Him. It is the path that leads the traveller to Allah. It is His brilliant Light that illuminates the darkness of uncertainty and disbelief. It is His mercy of guidance and source of happiness for all creation. It is the bridge that connects His devotee to Him when all else fails. It is the great door to Him that remains open, when all else is closed. It is the straight path that is not tainted by the opinions of mortals. It is the remembrance full of wisdom that is not swayed by desires. It is the noble revelation containing wisdom that sages can never fathom. Its wonders never end, nor are its clouds barren, its signs are never exhausted, its agreements never contradict.
The more a soul delves into its depths, the more it increases in insight and guidance. It is the cure for mankind from diseases of the heart. It is life to the hearts and pleasure and brilliance to the souls. It is the harbinger that calls night and day: “O seekers of good, hurry to me”
It is the caller of faith at the head of the straight path, calling (what means): “O our people, respond to the caller of Allah and have faith in Him so He may forgive your sins for you and may save you from a painful chastisement.” [Referring to verse 31 of chapter 46]
 The Qur’an is Allah’s greatest blessing on us. It is the fulfillment of His promise to Aadam and his descendants, as Allah Almighty Says (what means): ‘’…There shall come to you guidance from Me, and whatsoever follows My Guidance no fear shall be on them, nor shall they sorrow’’ [Qur’an 2:38]
It is the only weapon for struggling against the forces of evil and temptation in this world. It is the only means to overpower our fear and anxiety. It is the only Light as we grope in the darkness, with which to find our way to success and salvation. It is the only healing for our inner sickness, as well as the social ills that may surround us. It is the constant reminder of our true nature and destiny, of our station and our duties.
But alas! Desires have put out the lamps of the hearts, and opinions of the mortal humans have shut those doors of Divine guidance and lost the keys. The hearts are laden with the rust of their own earning, so much so that they do not find the realities of the Qur’an opening to them. The burdens of ignorance have so settled upon it that its knowledge does not blossom into righteous actions.
Woe unto you, how have you made the nourishment of your heart those vain opinions that contradict the Qur’an and Sunnah (Prophet’s
Tradition) that neither replenish it nor quench its thirst? So now your heart does not accept nourishment of the Word of the Lord of the worlds, and the speech of His eminent Messenger!
For how will you ever find your way through the darkness of conjectures and opinions of mortals to the clear distinction of right and wrong when    you have closed your eyes to the light of the Book of Allah and the way of the Messenger?
Woe unto you, how have you
adulterated the right opinions with the sick ones, and the accepted ones with the rejected ones, and have managed to incapacitate your souls from receiving the guidance and knowledge from the Book that is immune to falsehood from all directions.
Nay, but it is, by Allah, a trial that has blinded the hearts from the sources of righteousness and has embezzled the minds from their goals.
The Book of Allah is the coolness of eyes for which the competitors
compete, the finality to which the contenders contend.
How can you still be in the dark under a rising sun?    
How can you lose your way under a bright constellation?
Glory be to Allah, The Exalted!
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How to teach our kids Tawheed
When we want to teach our children Tawheed (i.e. Islamic monotheism) should we have to read classical texts and books in this regard?
No, this is not needed in the early stages of their lives because this
 requires long hours of attentiveness and hard work, which is difficult for children.
Later in life, one can do so when their level of comprehension allows them to grasp what is being read and said to them. Initially, one can convey what he wants in the form of
relating stories of the companions of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, who gave precedence to their faith and to worshipping Allah over living in their homelands and amongst their families and tribes, and highlight that this was because the companions  realised that the reason why Allah created us was for the sole purpose of worshipping Him.
One may resort to other means of teaching them, such as:

Utilising Qur’anic study circles:
In such a case the parent may stop at certain verses which address a specific aspect of Tawheed and explain it. An example for this is the verses addressing the story of Prophet ‘Eesaa  and that he was not crucified as the Christians claim, but the parent must choose simple phrases that are within the level of the child’s understanding and comprehension.
Relating stories of the Prophet and his companions  and other heroes in Islam:
Children like hearing stories, and thus the parents should take advantage of this interest in them. One should not simply relate the story without highlighting certain matters and emphasising on the lessons one can extract from these stories.

Commenting on some events:
One can remind the children with the massacre that took place to the Muslims in Bosnia and the atrocities that are currently taking place to the Muslims in Palestine and other places and make it clear for them that their suffering is because of their faith and because they are Muslims. This will make the child sympathise with his fellow Muslims.
Exploiting certain situations:
When the child is ill, the parent can instill in him the principle that Allah Alone is the One Who can cure and that medicine is but a means and that it is Allah Who made it a cause to cure. Clarify that Allah is The Only One who can benefit or cause harm, and He is the only One to seek refuge in to lift any harm. Parents should exploit all other situations to instill different principles of Tawheed.

Setting a good example:
A parent could be a means to instill certain values and basics of Tawheed through his or her conduct and
actions. For example, a parent may praise a person in front of his children only because he is a righteous one. Likewise, a parent may dispraise another person because he is a
This clarifies to the children one of the principles of faith, and that is love and hatred are both done for the sake of Allah and not because so and so person deprived us form a job or money that we wanted. Parents should be careful in front of their children lest the children adopt a bad habit, because it is the parents who have the most effective influence on the children.

Correcting wrong concepts or words:
During the child’s daily activities, they may utter or do something Islamically wrong or
contradicting to Tawheed and it is the role of the parents to correct them. The child may swear by other than Allah, and it becomes mandatory upon the parents to clarify that this is a form of disbelief and associating with Allah, and so forth.
A child may hear at school that Santa is a nice man who brings gifts and nice things, then the parents must explain that this Santa is a symbol for non-Muslims (namely the Christians) and that he is nothing but a myth made up by them, and that the only One Who Has the power to benefit or cause harm is Allah Alone.
Likewise, if the child sees on TV that a certain character controls the wind or the rain, the parents must make it clear that this is association with Allah and that these are qualities that are exclusive to Allah.
These were some suggestions of simple and important means and methods through which parents can clarify aspects and principles of Tawheed to their children.
Article source:

Words of Wisdom
nThe best knowledge is that which benefits, and Allah only causes knowledge to benefit a person when he acts upon it once having learnt it and He does not cause it to benefit the person that leaves it after having learnt it.
* Knowledge without action is like a tree without fruit.
* You are now in the preliminary world, in front of you are two places of abode, out of which you must live in one of. You have not been given assurance of protection, causing you to feel safe. Nor have you been granted acquittal, causing you to slacken.
* If I were to know with full certainty that all of my life was but an hour, Why should I not renounce it And dedicate it to righteousness and obedience.
* You are submerged in careless hope, the time or death you do not Know of Do not be fooled by good health, for it is from the most painful of illnesses. Every soul is by its day, In the morning all hope will be removed. So act with good deeds and work hard Before you are prevented from acting.
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* Ibn Mas’ood, radiallahu ‘anhu, said: “Learn, learn, and once you have learned, act.” [isnaad hasan]
* Abu Hurairah, radiallahu ‘anhu, said, “The example of knowledge not acted upon is that of a treasure none of which is spent in the way of Allah the Mighty and Majestic.”
* Az-Zuhree said, “The people will never be pleased with the statement of a scholar who does not act, nor of a person who acts but has no knowledge.” [hasan]
* Whoever sought knowledge, intending the knowledge alone (i.e. without action) would not benefit by it. Yet whoever sought knowledge intending to act upon it, would benefit, even by a little knowledge.
* Knowledge rests upon action, action rests upon sincerity, and sincerity to Allah brings about understanding of Allah the Mighty and Majestic.
* Whoever seeks knowledge in order to act upon it will be humbled by his knowledge but whoever seeks it for other than that, will be increased by it in arrogance.
* The time will soon come, if you live long, that knowledge will become a source of beautification, just as a person beautifies himself with a garment.”
* If Allah grants you knowledge, in return worship Him and do not make your goal merely narrating to the people.
* The scholar remains ignorant with regard to what he has learned until he acts according to it, and only then does he become a true scholar.
* The knowledge of the hypocrite is in his speech, yet the knowledge of the believer is in his actions.
* Act upon your knowledge O man, and you will profit, for knowledge does not benefit unless one is proficient in action. Knowledge is a beauty, the taqwaa of Allah being its ornation, and the pious are busy with the knowledge they possess. Learn, and then act, as much as you are able to, and do not let amusement nor arguing distract you. Teach the people and always intend to benefit them, and beware! Beware of weariness befalling you.
* Whoever speaks good things yet acts unrighteously, Allah does not accept his good speech. Whereas he who speaks good things and works righteous acts, his speech is raised by his good deeds. That is because Allah says: To Him ascend the goodly word, and the righteous action raises it. [Al-Faatir 35:10]
* Knowledge is the tool of action. So if a person spends his whole life gaining knowledge, when will he act?!
[From the book Iqtidaa-ul-’Ilmil-’Amal (The Need Knowledge Has of Action) by al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee]