Rules of recitation
The proper recitation of the Quran is the subject of a separate discipline named tajwid which determines in detail how the Quran should be recited, how each individual syllable is to be pronounced, the need to pay attention to the places where there should be a pause, to elisions, where the pronunciation should be long or short, where letters should be sounded together and where they should be kept separate, etc. It may be said that this discipline studies the laws and methods of the proper recitation of the Quran and covers three main areas: the proper pronunciation of consonants and vowels (the articulation of the Quranic phonemes), the rules of pause in recitation and of resumption of recitation, and the musical and melodious features of recitation.
In order to avoid incorrect articulation reciters who are not native speakers of Arabic language try to follow a training in countries such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia. The recitations of a few of Egyptian reciters were highly influential in the art of recitation. Southeast Asia is well known for world-class recitation, evidenced in the popularity of the woman reciters such as Maria Ulfah of Jakarta.
There are two types of recitation: murattal is at a slower pace, used for study and practice. Mujawwad refers to a slow recitation that deploys heightened technical artistry and melodic modulation, as in public performances by trained experts. It is directed to and dependent upon an audience for the mujawwad reciter seeks to involve the listeners.
Vocalization markers indicating specific vowel sounds were introduced into the Arabic language by the end of the 9th century. The first Quranic manuscripts lacked these marks, therefore several recitations remain acceptable. The variation in readings of the text permitted by the nature of the defective vocalization led to an increase in the number of readings during the 10th century. The 10th-century Muslim scholar from Baghdad, Ibn Mujāhid, is famous for establishing seven acceptable textual readings of the Quran. He studied various readings and their trustworthiness and chose seven 8th-century readers from the cities of Mecca, Medina, Kufa, Basra and Damascus. Ibn Mujahid did not explain why he chose seven readers, rather than six or ten, but this may be related to a prophetic tradition (Muhammad's saying) reporting that the Quran had been revealed in seven "ahruf" (meaning seven letters or modes). Today, the most popular readings are those transmitted by Ḥafṣ (d.796) and Warsh (d. 812) which are according to two of Ibn Mujahid's reciters, ʻAsim (Kufa, d. 745) and Nafi (Medina, d. 785), respectively. The influential standard Quran of Cairo (1924) uses an elaborate system of modified vowel-signs and a set of additional symbols for minute details and is based on ʻAsim's recitation, the 8th-century recitation of Kufa. This edition has become the standard for modern printings of the Quran.
The variant readings of the Quran are one type of textual variant. According to Melchert, the majority of disagreements have to do with vowels to supply, most of them in turn not conceivably reflecting dialectal differences and about one in eight disagreements has to do with whether to place dots above or below the line.
Nasser categorizes variant readings into various subtypes, including internal vowels, long vowels, gemination (shaddah), assimilation and alternation.
Occasionally, an early Quran shows compatibility with a particular reading. A Syrian manuscript from the 8th century is shown to have been written according to the reading of Ibn Amir of Damascus. Another study suggests that this manuscript bears the vocalization of himsi region.