A hafiz is someone who memorised all of the Quran (and maybe the hadith), and learnt its intonation, its syntax and basically how to present the words in a pleasing manner befitting of divine scripture. It’s not a very easy job, cos it takes years to memorise the Quran, let alone the other things, which makes a hafiz highly-respected in their community.

Recitation requires one to face Mecca (it’s the same when they pray). Zeynel opens his recitation with Bismillah, a standard phrase in acknowledgement of God, and is always said before every surah/prayer.

I imagine Zeynel having a light pleasing voice when he recites. His speaking voice is also equally silvery? (but slightly deeper than his singing/recital voice) How I describe it is a ‘nerd voice’, cos basically that’s what he is. It has the sound of something being pulled back, as he stutters and tries to get his words out, while also not letting that something out at the same time.

(for fairness: Ayse has a clucking voice. I don’t mean this badly! It’s just a strong, feminine voice. It also carries more than Zeynel’s, and possesses an intent or forcefulness borne out of confidence. It comes into the room and tells you I’m here I know why I’m here and I’m going to get it)

from Imam al-Ghazali, on the Etiquette of Quran Recitation (pdf link)
al-Ghazali (born 1111) was a scholar whose books and ideas made huge influence on Sunni thought.
The following is a summary produced by the Harvard School of Divinity, from the book (the pdf link above) that was translated by M. Abul Quasem

The External Rules of Quran Recitation

1. The Conditions of the Quran-Reciter: to be in a state of ritual purity; to adopt a state of politeness or quietness; to face the
qibla (the direction of the Ka‘ba in Mecca); to sit humbly as if facing one’s teacher.

2-3. Ghazali suggests different amounts to be recited each day, and that for one who reads slowly, contemplating each verse, it is reasonable to read the entire Quran each month. He then discusses divisions of the Quran into sections, based on the amount one intends to recite each day.

4. The Writing of the Quran: “It is praiseworthy to make the writing of the Quran beautiful and to make its letters clear and distinct.”

5. To Recite in a Slow and Measured Manner (
tartīlan): because this assists reflection on the meaning and is “nearer to the reverence and respect [which the Quran deserves] and stronger in its impression on the soul than babbling with haste.” Thus, reading a shorter portion slowly is often preferable to reading a longer portion at great speed.

6. Weeping: One should weep, and if one cannot, one should try to enter the state of one weeping. “The method of bringing grief [to the mind] of the Quran-reader is through reflecting on the threats, warnings, covenants and promises which are contained in the Quran.”

7. To Fulfill the Right (
haqq) of the Quranic Verses Recited: There are 14 verses in the Quran that require that the reciter or those following in prayer prostrate when the verse is recited.

8. Supplications Recited Before, During and After the Recitation: Before each recitation the reader will say (in Arabic) ‘I seek refuge with God from Satan the accursed,’ and after each recitation the reader will say (in Arabic) ‘God, the Most Great, has spoken truly.’ During the recitation the reader may make a personal prayer to God, for example asking for forgiveness when a particular verse mentions God’s forgiveness.

9. Recitation Out-Loud: In prayer, the recitation should be at least loud enough that the reciter can hear him or herself. However, outside the canonical prayers, silent recitation is also praiseworthy, because a secret good act is in general superior to one done in public. There are also virtues to loud recitation.

10. To Recite in a Beautiful Voice: The Prophet is reported to have said, ‘Adorn the Quran with your voices.’


The Internal Rules (or ‘Mental Tasks’) of Quran Recitation

1.  Understanding that the Quran is Divine Speech: Understanding the majesty of the Divine Word, and cultivating gratitude that God has expressed His Word in a way that humans can understand.

2. Glorifying the Speaker: Reflecting on the Divine Attributes and Works.

3. To Pay Attention: and hence to abandon the inner discourse of the soul. “When the Quran-reader enters into the fields of the Quran, plucks different types of fruits from its gardens, enters into its closets, views the brides, wears the brocades, is relieved of cares, and dwells in the khans, then all these absorb him wholly and keep him from things other than these; consequently his mind cannot be inattentive, nor can his thought be separated.”

4. Pondering over the Verse Recited: ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib said, “There is no good in a devotional act which is not understood [by its agent], nor in Quran-reading which is not pondered over.”

5.Understanding the Meaning of the Verses Recited: To seek explanations that befit each verse recited. There are inner meanings that are only disclosed to those whom God favors.

6. Getting Rid of Obstacles to Understanding the Quran: There are four obstacles mentioned – a. Devotion all one’s attention to the exact pronunciation of the letters; b. Being a purely dogmatic follower (
muqallid) of a school of thought, without arriving at its teachings by spiritual insight and mystical vision; c. insistence upon sin or being characterized by pride; d. believing that the meaning of the Quran is limited to what is found in works of exegesis of the outward meaning.

7. To Read the Quran as if it were Addressed to Oneself Personally

8. To Feel the Quran: in accordance with the meanings of the verses recited.

9. Gradually Rising to a State in which One Feels as if One is Hearing the Speech of God from God, and not from Oneself.

10. To Rid Oneself of Any Sense of One’s Own Ability and Power: “Whenever a man sees himself with the eye of satisfaction he becomes veiled from God by himself. When, however, he crosses the limit of looking at himself and does not see in his Quran-reading anything except God (exalted is He!), then the secret of the invisible world is revealed to him directly.”

3 thoughts on “cvi029-030S15

  1. Gorgeous panel with him praying the sunah and thank you so much for the background information, it really adds to the whole reading. Really, thank you.

    1. No probs!! I wanna educate what little I can to those who are reading, give them points and context to go do further research. Context is important!!!!

  2. I really appreciate the extra background information on the recital– but I’m also impressed at how it’s not needed in the comic itself to understand what’s happening? Even knowing basically nothing, the feeling of it all comes through, that this is a sacred moment that’s also a part of regular life, and the importance of Z’s calling is in the holy and communally central nature of this knowledge. It’s so well shown!

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