Mushaf al Madinah: fusion between the written and oral word

The Mushaf al Madinah is an ideal combination of the written word and three of the methods of recitation.

Each year, Iran receives representatives from all over the world, who participate in the International Quran Competition. The event distinguishes the best reciters of the Sacred Book, in different categories: men, women, people with visual disabilities, schoolchildren and seminary students. The objective of this contest is to recover the unity and brotherhood of the Muslim community. However, the competition also highlights the religious value of the Quran, the beauty of its prose, and the mnemonic skills of the participants to remember each of the verses that make up the Quranic text.

The word Quran means “recitation”, that means that the text needs an oral part so that it can exist. The singing of the sacred scriptures is fundamental in the practice of Islam. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad received the teachings orally from the hand of the angel Gabriel and then transmitted them to his followers. For that reason, Muhammad is considered the first Hafiz or reciter. At the present, there are different schools and recitation centers of the Quran throughout the world.

The birth of the Islamic religion, then, is marked by orality. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the followers wrote the teachings on different supports. This allowed people to interpret the texts according to their own visions. To avoid confusión and bad interpretatios, the third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan decided to take those manuscripts and put them all together in an authentic copy that was distributed to all Muslims, regardless the place where they lived.

The Mushaf al Madinah is an authentic copy of the Quran according to three narratives: Hafs, Warsh and Ad-Duriyy. The book is an ideal combination between the written word and three of the most widely used recitation methods in the world.

For Muslims, recitation is an indispensable obligation. They have to learn some azoras from the Quran, especially the first one called Al-Fatiha, which has seven verses. This chapter is the main prayer for the believers, like the Our Father prayer for Christians.

The story behind Hafs, Warsh and Ad-Duriyy

The Mushaf al Madinah contains all the teachings of the Quran and the three reading variants Hafs, Warsh and Ad-Duriyy. Who hides behind these names? Why are they important in the Islamic religion?

There are currently ten methods of recitation. Abu Bakr Ibn Mujāhid studied the Quran and established the seven canonical readings of the Quran, with reciters from the cities of Madinah, Kufah, Mecca, Basra and Damascus. Then, the erudite Ibn Al-Jazri added another three.

Abu ‘Amr Hafs Ibn Sulayman Ibn al-Mughirah Ibn Abi Dawud al-Asadi al-Kufi, better known as Hafs, encouraged this way of reading the sacred scriptures, which is currently the most popular in most of Muslim communities. In addition, Egypt uses this method to print the official version of the Quran. Hafs was born in Baghdad and moved to Mecca, where he popularized this form of recitation. His father-in-law, Aasim ibn Abi al-Najud, was one of the main transmitters of the Qira’at- or reading variant- and his teacher.

Warsh is another of the main ways of reciting the Quran. Abu Sa’id Uthman Ibn Sa‘id al-Qutbi, known as Warsh, was a student of Nafi ‘al-Madani, one of the transmitters of the seven recitations. Warsh was born in Egypt and learned the recitation techniques in Medina. This method is popular today in North Africa and in the western areas of that continent. Also, it was the way of recitation that was used in Spain during the Islamic period.

Finally, there is a third method of recitation that is included in the Mushaf al Madinah which is the Ad-Duriyy. Abu ‘Amr Hafs Ibn’ Umar Ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Baghdadi, better known as Al-Duri, was a disciple of Abu’ Amr ibn al-‘Ala ‘, one of the seven reciters and great grammarian; Ad-Duriyy also learned from Al-Kisa’i, one of the transmitters of the Quran reading techniques and grammar specialist. Al-Duri was born in Samarra and died in Baghdad.

A book, several recitations

Throughout the world there are different schools of recitation of the Quran, where believers learn the permitted pronunciations. Currently, there are ten canonical recitations, which must have three requirements: match Uthman’s compilation; respect the syntax of Arabic language; and have a conection with the Prophet Muhammad and be used by a significant number of faithful.

In the Muslim religion, Muhammad was the creator of all canonical recitations and, for this reason, they are all accepted as valid. The Mushaf al Madinah includes the three most widely used forms of reading and that is why it is an interesting publication to know the differences and similarities between the different methods. There are also non-canonical recitations that are called “explanatory” because they give a different view to the verses included in the Quran.

The recitation, then, is inherent to the Muslim religion. The verses of the Quran are sung by the faithful, according to the various forms of pronunciation that exist today. The Holy Book is a religious work and, in addition, the main literary source of Arab culture. For this reason, its reading is not simply going through the verses, but its interpretation and internalization.

The Mushaf al Madinah brings the recitations of Hafs, Warsh and Ad-Duriyy but the important thing is that it includes the Quran. And as in the International Quran Competition, the important thing is to prioritize the unity of the entire Muslim community. It doesn’t matter what recitation is used or if it can be memorized quickly and efficiently. The beauty of the Quran lies in accepting differences under a single belief.

The book is a great piece of literature for those who likes studying the Quran and searching about the different ways of pronunciation. This new version resembles the old Mushaf al-Madinah because the Saudi government now uses a new printing company. This is a deluxe hardcover book with fine paper and a color background. It is a piece of colection that must be in the bookshleves of every Muslim family.

1 thought on “Mushaf al Madinah: fusion between the written and oral word”

  1. oh, that’s the amazing article for me I read a plethora of information that I learn the first time I don’t know about Mushaf al Madinah . Thanks keep sharing this kind of informative articles.

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