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A Transcendent Recitation

March 19th, 2014 at 10:05 pm (Uncategorized)


“The ears hear more than the eyes see in the written text, and it is only in sound that the full miracle is realized. Thus, while the meaning of each word may be translated from the Arabic, the Qur’an itself is untranslatable.”” – Kristina Nelson, “The Sound of the Divine in Daily Life” 

In Week 3, we learned about the Qur’an and the art of Quranic recitation. We discussed how the Qur’an is a text that has to be experienced through sound, and that its recitation is a way to commune with the Divine through sacred sounds. The clips we listened to that week, really exemplified this “sacred sound”. The clip that stood out to me the most was the recitation of Surah Al- Qadr by Seemi Bushra Ghazi. Firstly because it was one of the first times I had heard a recording of a female reciting the Qur’an. All of the CDs of the Qur’an that my Dad owns are always recited by men, for example. This gender imbalance struck me, especially since in Western culture having a beautiful voice is a quality more commonly attributed to women. Ghazi’s tone of voice also made her recitation stand out to me. She does not adorn her voice as much as some reciters do, which often strike me as excessive. Instead her voice sounds like a soothing lullaby. For the first time I understood why weeping is seen as the acceptable response while listening to a recitation. I could feel her recitation triggering an emotional response.

For my artistic response I took Seemi Bushra Ghazi’s recitation of Al-Qadr, and then attempted to translate it into musical notes played through a synthesizer. The effect of this is a breathy out-of-this-world track to the melody of her recitation. I decided to do this to highlight the transcendence of her specific recitation, and the idea that the Qur’an recited with tajwid is the sound of God. It was difficult for me to pursue this idea at first, because of the ongoing debate about music in Islam. I realize that many Muslims think that music is haram, and would therefore take any comparison of Quranic Recitation to music as sacrilegious. Discussions in class pointed out that the main difference is that music is used for entertainment and recitation is used for a higher purpose. I posit that the project I have made is not for mass entertainment, but a form of aural translation in an effort to connect it to non-Muslims who have no connection to Arabic. By stripping the recitation of the words, reducing it to its melody, I show that knowledge of the Arabic language is not necessary to connect to the transcendent quality and beauty of the recitation.


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    January 13, 2015 at 7:53 am

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  2. john said,

    May 20, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Yep Pretty Good thing, you have a learned some more good things.

  3. zenius education said,

    June 27, 2015 at 3:58 am

    congratulation for reading Quran

  4. Amit Kumar Bansal said,

    August 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Very nice post..
    Raksha bandhan Wishes 2015

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