What is your opinion on my recitation

IslamThe Koran in the sound of recitation

"In the heart of a person who listens to someone who sings the Koran - who sings it well - tenderness and repentance emerge, no matter how vicious and hard-hearted this person is. This repentance remains - and the person falls into a state of bliss. "

(Mostamli Bohari, Persian scholar of the 11th century)

"From a fundamental point of view, the Koran is not a work in the strict sense of the word," says Ahmad Milad Karimi. "Originally, the Koran is not a script either. The Messenger of God, the Prophet Mohammed, does not receive the Koran as script, but the word of God is brought to his hearing. And what he is allowed to hear, he himself brings to the hearing means the Koran is originally something recitative, it is something that can be heard, and is thought to be unbelievably orally. "

And he adds: "This is, as the Koran wants to say, a declaration of love from God to people. And how can a declaration of love best be expressed, if not through music and poetry."

The Afghan-German religious philosopher Ahmad Milad Karimi, professor at the University of Münster, does not only deal theoretically with the Koran. Even as a child he was fascinated by the sound of recitation. Back then, over 30 years ago, he regularly attended the Koran school in the mosque.

"I went there full of longing because I only knew the Koran as my parents recited it, especially in Ramadan, the month of fasting, when the Koran is most enjoyed," he says. "But to sit in this little mosque in Kabul while the war is going on around me, but because the reciter, the teacher, is teaching me something that is incredibly melodic. I have never heard anything so sonorous, so deep in this form before And that the encounter with religion happens in this musical, almost melodic, sonorous, rhythmic way, Muslims learn that, just like I once did, in these mosques, in these Koran schools. "

"My heart felt soft and I cried"

Already during Muhammad's lifetime the reading of the Koran had an immediate effect on the audience. Umar ibn al Chattab, a powerful nobleman from Mecca, was considered a bitter opponent of the young religion.

"Umar once looked in vain for his drinking companions. As he passed the Kaaba, he saw Mohammed praying there. Curiously, he crept behind the black stone of the Kaaba without the Prophet noticing him." When I heard the Koran, My heart became soft and I cried and Islam invaded me "- Umar described later. After Mohammed had finished his prayer, he went home. Umar followed him to convert to Islam before him."

"A group of Abyssinian Christians had come to Mecca to find out about the new prophet. When they heard the Koran, the Negus and his bishops burst into tears, until the Negus 'beard and the bishops' scrolls were wet." Tell us more about this good speech! "- asked the Negus. When he had heard another sura he said:" I believe you and your prophet. "

Even those who, like the Abyssinian ambassadors, were not familiar with Arabic, were impressed by the musicality and compositional quality of the Koran. Just as important as the content of the lines is the linguistic harmony of the text, the melodic design, the presentation with a beautiful voice. Aesthetic enjoyment is an essential element of Islam.

Follow the beautiful!

Milad Karimi explains: "Without this beauty you would not understand the Koran. This beauty is an imperative of the text itself. In the Koran it says" Follow the beautiful! "

Rami Ahmed Assid says: "In many hadiths, statements of the Prophet Mohamed, one should not read the Koran as prose, but really sing it with the Koran. It is very, very desirable, even pretended to sing the Koran like this The word that is used in Arabic is "ri'taranna". Ri'taranna comes from rinna and rinna is to sing. "

The young Moroccan Rami Ahmed Assid has lived in Germany for around 15 years and teaches languages ​​at a comprehensive school in the Ruhr area. As a child he was also fascinated by the sound of the Koran. At the age of 15 he had already mastered half of the entire text by heart - and began a three-year training course as a reciter at a Koran academy parallel to school.

"We had the honor and pleasure to have a large school nearby with 350 students. As a student, I found the evening classes very cheap and went there. There really was a very professional teacher that we had there, who had what it takes, knew the subject very well. In the first year you dealt with memorization, in the second more understanding and in the third year only then came the music of the Koran. Those were the modules and the end of each In the school year you had to take one exam in order to advance to the next. "

Al Tajwid is the name of the set of rules in which the correct recitation of the Koran is specified. Length of syllables, voice color, breathing, pronunciation, nasalization - the reciter is shown the possibilities of interpretation down to the smallest detail. The rules of Al Tajwid were written down early on - but like the Koran itself, it is primarily an orally transmitted work. The art of recitation is passed on from teacher to student. The variants are correspondingly diverse.

The art of the break

Milad Karimi: "This is how you can recognize a real, well-trained reciter who knows precisely these nuances of this teaching, which describes itself as Tahwid. So that is the task of all Muslims to make an effort to read the Koran, as beautifully as they do only can recite the Koran. "

The right setting of breaks is part of a beautiful lecture - as Rami Ahmed Assid demonstrates.

"Good rhetoricians and speakers, when they speak, give the listener a small, really well thought-out pause - not too long, not too short. This little pause is a time for the reciter to breathe in and out again and for himself The listener's mind pauses to reflect on what is being sung. "

Breathing exercises are essential in training to recite the Koran.

Rami Ahmed Assid: "For example, we had the exercise of going under water and trying to stay there as long as possible. One minute, 40 seconds. Breathe deeply and slowly use your breath under the water until you run out of breath . Then you come up and then that's your own record, which you can beat and expand. There are very different exercises. Also foods and herbs that help a little with the breath. Certain herbs that you ingest like ginger for Example that also open the airways and create ways for the air.

The seven pitches

The singer has great freedom with regard to the melodic design of the performance. It is based on the maqame system - these are the names of the scales in the Arabic tradition. In contrast to western classical music, which only knows major and minor, there are many different scales available in oriental music.

Rami Ahmed Assid says: "Maqam is nothing but a pitch. There is a sad one, there is a happy one, there is a serious one, there is a calming tone, there is a neutral tone. You can hear the same verse in a different tone and think it was a very different verse. But it's not. It's just the melody that was different. "

Seven of these maqams are allowed when reciting the Quranic verses.

Rami Ahmed Assid explains: "For example, there is Bayati, there is Rast - where these maqams got their names from, that is historical. For example, Nahawand is a city in Iran and I think that there was the well-known melody, that's why I thought man, okay, the people from the area sang that. Hijaz is Mecca and the area is called Hijaz. And there is also a pitch that is just like that, Hijaz. It's even sadder than Sabah and very serious. I name they again: Bayati, Sabah, Hijaz, Rast, Nahawand, Hijam and Sikah - those are then the seven pitches. "

"First come through the door and not through the window"

The singer Oum Kalthoum, who died in 1975, was one of the great voices in popular Egyptian music. Like many other stars of the Arab music world, she learned the basics of her singing skills by reciting the Koran.

The Moroccan Academy, where Rami Ahmed Assid was trained, is also frequently attended by musicians who want to perfect their art. However, they are only accepted if they are open to the religious aspects of the Qur'anic recitation.

"The saying of our teacher was: Please come through the door and not through the window. What is meant is, come first with a pure intention that you want to learn the Koran and start with the first year. And then the second year with it You know what it's about. So this is not just about music and singing and beautiful and what kind of voice you have and things like that, but really, that you learn to do that, to do it yourself, to do that internalize, live and then pass on. "

"Slay the wicked wherever you find them; grab them and besieged them and ambush them in every ambush ..."

In a soft, almost angelic voice, the famous Koran singer Mishary Al Afasy from Kuwait reads a bloodthirsty text that calls on Muslims to use violence against those of different faiths.

Milad Karimi says: "The Koran has to be interpreted, the Koran has to be interpreted, you need a lot of knowledge to deal with the Koran. But the Koran also has an immediate side that is always there. That is the aesthetics, that is the way How the Koran becomes sensual You have to imagine: The supersensible God, in whom Muslims believe, can be heard in the world of sensuality in a sensual form. It is the moving thing that the Koran represents the voice of God in a way This humble attitude towards the Koran opens a third space of understanding, a systemic humility that keeps telling me: Your understanding of the Koran does not correspond to the knowledge of God, but my knowledge is always subordinate. "

Nice melody, disturbing content

Even if most Koran commentators agree on classifying the lines historically, the discrepancy between the simple beauty of the melody and the content is disturbing.

In the fasting month of Ramadan, the entire Koran is usually recited. Usually the reciter recites a part of it every day, so that at the end of the month all suras are played.

Rami Ahmed Assid: "I did that for ten years. From 2006 to 2016 I was in a mosque, I prayed. And now and then outside of Ramadan there were celebrations where you open the Koran. You recite the Koran as an opening and then the program of the respective celebration begins. Or if there are lectures or sermons in the mosque, then the Koran is also recited at the beginning. These are the big occasions. "

Koran reciters are not only invited to purely religious occasions. "There are also competitions, both at the regional level, there are World Championship of Reciters," says Milad Karimi. "Then come the best reciters in the world - every country sends its best. Then there is really a competition in front of a jury, which really evaluates everything: pronunciation, demeanor, grace, voice and also the ability to make it sound like that. There are definitely, how should you put it, pop stars among the reciters. "

The dramaturgy of a Koran recitation in front of an audience is reminiscent of the choreography of a pop concert; before the star of the evening appears, there are "supporting acts" by lesser-known singers.

So maybe a young talent will get his chance.

The Islamic scholar and philosopher Milad Karimi (Peter Grewer)

Karimi said: "In the mosque while he is reciting everyone is talking. It's nothing special. And slowly you get quieter because the better come - until the best comes. And people really go out of their way - the euphoria is very great, you scream , and praises as he recites for holding his breath so long that he recites almost a whole sura, a whole page, in one breath. "

Reciter Rami Ahmed Assid says: "You go to the reciter, kiss his head and interrupt him. That is uncomfortable for the reciter - so are these rules and this beautiful behavior that one has to show the Koran is part of."

Music experts in the audience do not shy away from presenting their wishes to the reciter during his performance.

"When the audience realizes, okay, it took the reciter a long time for the maqam, he's already reciting five minutes after the maqam, we want a change now. Then they give them a hint: Please switch to this and that. As a spectator you notice the interaction - aha, we understand each other. I give him a signal that my ear is in the mood for the respective tone, then he satisfies my desire. "

"Anyone who practices singing as a profession, their testimony should be worthless in court. Because singing and music are among those dubious pleasures that lead to vanity and fornication. Whoever deals with it has lost his honor."

(Al Shafi’i - Imam of the 9th century)

Is the recitation of the Koran to be regarded as music? This question is controversial among Muslim scholars. As early as the 9th century there were theologians who viewed singing and music as dishonorable. Even today’s currents in Islam - such as the Wahabites - generally reject music as "haram", as forbidden.

Milad Karimi: "Within the more than 1400-year history of Islam there are different movements and also theological movements. There are narrow-minded ones who distance themselves from music and simply do not see it as allowed. Fortunately, there are enough other voices in Islam too And one of the most beautiful and important voices is from the famous 12th century theologian al Ghazali, who says: "Music has the power to intensify faith. That means, if there is faith in the heart, then the music can drive it up. "

And: "Anyone who says of himself that he does not like sounds, melodies and music is a liar and a hypocrite - or not quite in his right mind. And no one would ever forbid the voice of the nightingale or that of other songbirds. "

Milad Karimi: "Music as music is neither good nor bad, it is about who is currently receiving the music. Just as the Koran is not considered to be poetry, it is considered poetry - because the way the Koran is is indeed poetic, but not poetry. So the Koran is also musical, but not music. And this kind of genre that the Koran is something sui generis, something very special, is already firmly anchored in the theological self-confidence of Muslims. "

God as the subject of recitation

The theological statements of the Koran are not always easy to understand, and sometimes they are contradictory. Generations of scholars have studied the interpretation of the texts. But through recitation the word of God acts directly and unfiltered on the believer.

Milad Karimi: "If the Koran is the word of God, then he who speaks through me is actually through me and is also he who hears through me. That means God remains the subject of the recitation and that is for him also spoken. It is the Koran that makes itself sound through me. This is an incredibly profound spiritual experience that occurs in the life of Muslims when the Koran is recited. "

"Music is something that is constitutive of life. If you think of the chirping of birds and so on. That is something that we all interpret as a sign from God. The whole reality is the great Koran and the Koran that was revealed for the Muslims, that is the little Koran, which is an image of the whole. And so the sounds that come out of the little Koran point to the big Koran, which we should look at. That means what the Koran wants is not bigotry , so "stick with it" - but the Koran should open the hearts and the eyes and the ears to the great reality. "