Critical Reading #2 - ch. 6 notes.docx

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David Perley

CHAPTER 6 NOTES Recitation and Aesthetic Reception P1 - the Quran is not only a much recited sacred text, it is also Gods reciting, his verbatim speech, eternal, uncreated word - it mediates the presence of God,j ust as it does his will and blessing - it was given as an audiable text, not a written parchment(Q 6:7) - the Quran has always been primarily recited, oral scripture and secondarily inscribed written scripture, and thus its spiritual and aesthetic reception as the most beautiful of all texts has been linked with its orality - tradition ascribes to the Prophet the dictum: You can return to God nothing better than that which came from him, namely the recitation (al-Quran). Accordingly, every generation has scrupulously memorized, recited, and transmitted the Quran as scripture, Psalter, prayer book and liturgical text all in one. PART ONE: RECITATION OF THE QURAN P2 Recitation as a Formal Discipline P2a - The intrinsically oral/aural character of the Quran is evident in its own use of a verbal- noun form, quran, reciting, recitation, lection (from the verb quaraa, to read aloud, recite) to refer to itself as Gods culminating revelation - Qiraa term used for Quranic recitation it is used to refer to (1) the reciting aloud of the Quran (2) a particular reading of any Quranic word or phrase The Recitative Traditions - the importance of the recited Quran does not obviate the importance of the written Quran, but it reminds us that the written text is always secondary a support to the orally transmitted text, not a determinant of it - the written mushaf could never have sufficed without the accompanying mnemonic recitative tradition - the scholars who have prepared the accepted standard text of the Quran, the Cairo official version of 1923-4, they did not depend upon collation of the earliest Quran manuscripts and gragments for the base text. instead they relied on their extensive knowledge of the most venerable traditions of variants (qiraat)and of accompanying literature - this procedure went against many canons of Western text-critical scholarship, it yielded a text widely recognized, even in non-Muslim scholarship, as the most authoritative version available Qiraat and qiraa - Muslims based this acceptance of divergent oral readings on the enigmatic statement ascribed to Muhammad(SAW), that the Quran was sent down according to seven ahruf - the variant riwayat that the expert must master are numerous, even though they represent relatively minor actually textual variations and do not threaten the general meaning of the sacred text The Art of Tajwid - within the gernal science of recitation, the study of the qiraat is, as indicated, inextricable from the science or art of tajwid, the recitative cantillation of the Quran - chanting the Quran is potentially an actualization (realization, making real) of the revelatory act itself, and thus how the Quran is vocally rendered not only matters, but matters ultimately - among Muslims, Quran cantillation has its own forms that set it forever apart from all other recitation and all musical forms - tajwid (literally, making beautiful the sacred text, and hence its artful cantillation) - Some feel that only the melodic mujawwad styles render the beauty of the sacred text; others think these slide dangerously close to secular music and hence prefer the less embellished murattal form - all require accurate memorization, knowledgeable technique, careful comprehension and sensitive interpretation of the whole text - Quran recitation is finally a devotional, spiritual act before it is a technical, artistic performance - muslim tradition refuses to describe any Quran recitation as music or as analogous to secular singing. rather, the Quran is inimitable and this miraculous quality inheres not simply in its literal written wording, but also its vocal rendering - by observable criteria and established tradition, it is in its oral recitation the Quran is most clearly experienced as divine - the ontological distinction between Quranic recitation and all other recitation reflect the strong Muslim sense of the holiness of this text of texts The Recitative Sciences in Muslim Piety and Practice - from the foregoing, we can see that, alongside exegesis (tafsir), knowledge of both tajwid and the qiraat has sustained the Quran as living scripture - to understand the Quran place in Muslim societies, we must attend to both to these traditional disciplines and to the living tradition of Quran recitation as it is found in contemporary centres such as Cairo - The work of Muslim textual scholars has never been isolated in the academy in the way modern biblical studies sometimes has been in the West This public recitation, whether in devotional or artistic performance (and the two are never easily separated), is in turn only the most formal part of the larger, functional role of the recited Quran in Muslim life more generally - a pamphlet describes Muslims as having their sacred text in their hearts while others read them from sacred volumes - the formal disciplines of readings and cantillation could not have sustained as vibrantly as they have been over the centuries had not Quran memorization (hifz) and recitation (qiraa or tilawa) always been central to the daily seasonal round of life in Islamic societies Recitation in Worship (Salat) - the Quran must be memorized and recited in the original to fulfil even the minimum requirements of worship - the functional distinction for purposes of valid worship between the Quran, and all other religious texts, even the hadith, is striking- the theological doctrine of inimitability notwithstanding, it is practical, ritual function of the Arabic Quran as recited word in worship that distinguishes it from all other texts: recitation of the Quran is what one student of Muslim piety has called the very heart of the prayer-rite - Quran recitation in general is preferred form of religious devotion at any time in many ways an extension of the salat unto other parts of the day for its practioners The Sacrality of Recitation - the acceptance of the Qur'an as God's word in the form of an Arabic recitation' has deterred Muslims from translating it from the original Arabic - the sons of the Prophet ought to have this word in their memory so that they can repeat it often, These words are endowed with a special virtue . . . in translating we might alter the meaning, and that would be a sacrilege - Here the inherent sacrality of the original Arabic sounds - and their meaning as well, even if that meaning is not understood literally, word-for-word - is eloquently affirmed. The sense of the holiness, or burolru (blessing'), of the sounded holy text seems to penetrate into every corner of the Islamic world - To dismiss the quotidian ubiquity of the Qur'an as superstition, merely background noise', or only a taken-for-granted habit, is to miss the perceived power and genuine spiritual function of such recitation quite apart from the understanding of every word of the Arabic text In Education - Quran recitation is the backbone of Muslim education - There is a
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