The relation between recitation styles and the different Qur’an scriptures

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Keywords: Recitation, Way of oral education, View of performing the recitation, Styles, Seven letters, Mutawatir, Arabic script, Scribes of the Revelation, Revelation, Accent, Narration, Commission, Compiling the ages of the Qur’an, The scripture of Othman, Style of Kufa, Dots Vocalization marks, Easiness, The reasons for the revelations, Inimitability of the Qur’an


Mustafa A. Akdemir[1]


The mutawatir hadiths that explain that the Qur’an was revealed on the basis of “seven letters” are regarded as the origin of the discipline of recitation. The styles whose methodology and principles were determined were named after a famous person over the course of time. Examples are the recitation style of Asim, the tradition of Hafs, and the method of Zeran.

Together with this expansion and need, other problems appeared in the Othman period. The conversions of new tribes and Arabic communities to Islam led to an increase in different accents and language differences that in turn played a role in causing problems in Qur’anic education. Othman immediately asked Hafsa for the scripture she had gotten from Omar and assembled a committee. There is an agreement on six copies among the different narrations ranging from four to seven.

Dots, vocalization, and other marks were also not used in the scriptures that Othman ordered transcribed. This was the result of a conscious decision. In this way each confirmed recitation style could be formed by this template. Therefore, his effort should be considered as not only compiling the pages of the Qur’an but also as an attempt to produce a scripture for collecting and detecting different recitation styles.

The work of Caliph Othman is invaluable. He considered the different recitation styles in the context of "the seven letters" as real and, to protect the Qur’an from change or loss, since all represented a genuine text of the Qur’an, he retained the differences in the copies of the scriptures.

Therefore, Othman’s scripture was prepared with a very limited number of spelling differences, which are reflected in the different scriptures as a necessity that has been transcribed with a specific way of reading and spelling Quraysh, whereby it was possible to acquire all permitted recitation styles and to read it.

In addition to the fact that recitation styles make reading easier, exegetes observe that they also serve to enrich the message of the text. In other words, the styles provide flexibility to the texts so that they bear the intended meaning and messages. In this regard the recitation styles represent one aspect of the inimitability of the Qur’an.


[1]      Mustafa A. Akdemir is Asssitant Professor and Director of the Qur’an Institute at the IUR;