Levels of Tafkheem: Pt 2

As with all personalities, letters can sometimes be strong and buff, and sometimes silken soft. Let’s find out what agitates these letters, and what keeps them as sweet as buttercups…

In the previous post, we studied letters that are always mufakham (always said with tafkheem). This post hones in on the letters which are sometimes mufakham, and sometimes muraqqaq (not said with tafkheem).

These letters are four in total, the are

ا      ل      ر     غنة

ghunnah     raa’     laam     alif

As the rules may get lengthy, I will only look at the letters laam, alif and ghunnah in this post.

The Tafkheem and Tarqeeq of Laam

The only time the letter ‘laam’ is mufakham is in lafthul jalaalah, i.e. the name of Allah – referring to the word itself: “Allah”. This occurs when the lafthul jalaalah is preceded by a fat-ha or dammah, or when you are starting recitation with it; such as in the examples:



Wa litukaburu-llaha

Notice: the fat-ha from the “a” sound starting the word Allah in the first example, is what makes the laam mufakhamah. This also happens but from the fat-hfrom the word radiya in the second example. As for the third example, the dammah comes from the word litukabbiroo… the waaw madeeyah is dropped (see why here), so the dammah before it becomes the acting diacritic, hence making the laam in lafthul jalaalah mufakhamah.

However, when lafthul jalaalah is preceded by a kasrah, it is said with tarqeeq, examples of this are:


Wa man yu’min billahi

Man yattaqillaha


In all other cases, the laam is said with tarqeeq, whether it has sukoon, fat-ha, dammah, or kasrah. Note from the third example above, “Allahumma” is just another form for the lafthul jalaalah, and so this rule still applies.

The Tafkheem and Tarqeeq of Alif

The letter Alif that is being spoken about here, is specifically the Alif madeeyah. It’s rule is simple. Alif is mufakham when it follows a mufakham letter; and it is muraqaq when it follows a muraqaq letter. This means, when it follows any one of the 7 istilaa’ letters, alif is mufakham, when it follows the laam mufakhamah in lafhul jalaalah, the alif is said with tafkheem. Similarly, when it follows a laam or raa’ mufhakhamah (keep in mind that raa’ may be said with tafkheem sometimes – next post insha Allah), the alif is also said with tafkeem. Examples of this are,









In all other cases, the alif madeeyah is said with tarqeeq.

The Tafkheem and Tarqeeq of the Ghunnah

The ghunnah, although not a letter itself, is a very important characteristic that completes the noon and meem sound – especially evident when they are saakin. As part of the rules of noon saakinah, when the letters not listed in ith-haar, idghaam or iqlaab follow a noon saakinah, ikhfaa’ is made (ikhfaa’ post here). As the reciter makes ikhfaa’ a ghunnah is sounded. This ghunnah can be mufakham or muraqaq.

It is mufakham when these five letters follow a noon saakinah:

ص    ض    ط    ظ    ق

qaaf      thaa’      taa’      daad      saad

What this means, is that the deep tongue is raised slightly higher (towards the roof of the mouth) while the ghunnah passes through the nasal passage, producing a heavier sounding ghunnah.

Baghtatan Qaaloo


Min teen


At all other times, the ghunnah is said with tarqeeq. This beautiful sound should be soft, adding a light tone to the recitation.

Insha Allah next post I’ll focus on the rules of tafkheem and tarqeeq for the letter Raa’. I promise once you get that one down pat, it should be easy cruising for tafkheem and tarqeeq.

Resources Link:

– Sifaatul Huroof – Jadwal (Table of the Characteristics of the Letters)

– Sifaatul Huroof – Jadwal – by Sifah

– Sifaatul Aaridah – Tafkheem

Note, these documents are found on the resources page.


Levels of Tafkheem: Pt 1

Sometimes we can forget the numbers and fatten up…. not the waistline, I mean the seven letters of istilaa’… and the only way to do that is by using some tafkheem thickshakes… they’re deliciously guilt free!

In continuation from the previous posts about the characteristics of the letters, tafkheem is a sifah ‘aaridah (redundant characteristic).


Tafkheem ( تفخيم ) means ‘fatness’ or ‘thickness’ added on to a letter as a redundant characteristic (noting that it still must be exercised). Within tafkheem are categories and levels. This post hones in on the first category, letters that are always said mufakham (with tafkheem). These letters are the seven letters of isti’laa’ (elevation).

خُصَّ ضَغْطٍ قِظْ

These seven letters are always mufakham and are present across four “levels of tafkheem”, referred to as “maraatib al-tafkheem“.

1. The strongest level of tafkheem occurs when one of the 7 letters has a fat-ha on it, and is followed by an alif


2. The second level of tafkheem occurs when one of the 7 letters has a fat-ha on it, but is not followed by an alif



3. The third level of tafkheem occurs when one of the 7 letters has a dammah on it




4. The weakest level of tafkheem occurs when one of the 7 letters has a kasrah under it




When one of the 7 letters of tafkheem has sukoon on it, the diacritic on the letter preceding it is looked at to determine the sub-level.

2. a) if the saakin letter has a fat-ha before it, it becomes the “third level of tafkheem“, written here as 2. a) as it slots between the second and third level noted above.


3. a) if the saakin letter follows a dammah, it becomes the “fourth level of tafkheem“, written here as 3. a) as it slots between the third and fourth level noted above.


4. a) if the saakin letter has a kasrah before it, it becomes the “fifth level of tafkheem“, written here as 4. a) as it slots in with the fourth level noted above.


So the levels of tafkheem can be summarised in a few ways. The first structure is as shown above. The other two are below.


There are 4 levels of tafkheem, with three sub-levels. These are:

1. Istilaa’ letter has fat-ha on it and an alif maddeeyah after it

2. Istilaa’ letter has a fat-ha on it

2. a) Istilaa’ letter is saakin and has a fat-ha before it

3. Istilaa’ letter has a dammah on it

3. a) Istilaa’ letter is saakin and has a dammah before it

4. Istilaa’ letter has a kasrah under it

4. a) Istilaa’ letter is saakin and has a kasrah before it

This structure is just a re-organised version of the one shown above.


The other structure states there are 5 levels of tafkheem. These are:

1. Istilaa’ letter has fat-ha on it and an alif maddeeyah after it

2. Istilaa’ letter has a fat-ha on it

3. Istilaa’ letter has a dammah on it

4. Istilaa’ letter has a sukoon on it

a) Istilaa’ letter is saakin and has a fat-ha before it

b) Istilaa’ letter is saakin and has a dammah before it

c) Istilaa’ letter is saakin and has a kasrah before it

5. Istilaa’ letter has a kasrah under it

I personally find the first (and second) structure to make more sense as a saakin tafkheem letter with fat-ha before it would naturally be “stronger in tafkheem” than a tafkeem letter with dammah on it. Simply, the notion of understanding that the sub-levels are a part of their own respective level is also clearer.

There is another school of thought which states there are only three levels of tafkheem, where the strongest has a fat-ha, middle has a dammah, and weakest has a kasrah. It combines the sub-levels of the saakin letter under their own respective level.

This concludes the first category of tafkheem. The next category may be looked at over a couple of posts. It’s nothing to fret about, though 🙂

Resources Link:

Sifaatul Aaridah: Letters of Tafkheem

Sifaatul Huroof Pt 2

This post wraps up sifaatul huroof by noting the definition of sifaatul ‘aaridah, as well as pointing out some important notes.

Sifaatul ‘Aaridah as briefly discussed in the previous post, is translated to ‘redundant characteristics’. A sifah ‘aaridah is that characteristic which “adds to” or “completes” a letter, such that if it were to be removed from it, it would not affect the actual letter; it is an additional right [which must be exercised] of the letter. Examples of sifaatul ‘aaridah include rules such as tafkheem, idghaam, ikhfaa, and imaalah. Most of these rules of tajweed have been studied closely on the site as independant tajweed rules.


To conclude sifaatul huroof, there are a few things to note.


Firstly, hamzah is of two types: hamzatul wasl, and hamzatul qat. Follow the links on each to read about them in detail.


Secondly, although the letters yaa and waaw come in two forms (vowels/maddeeyah and consonant) the letter alif is always a vowel (madd letter). Since a word can only begin with a consonant sound, if the written form of the alif begins a word, really it is a form of hamzah (see hamzah posts).


Finally, enjoy the documents uploaded to the resources page containing a table of the letters and their sifaat, as well as the makhaarij of the letters [these may take a couple of days to go live].

Sifaatul Huroof

As we encounter new people in our lives, we pick up on their characteristics, their qualities and way of being. We learn to appreciate or criticise these. In the same way, the letters of tajweed all have rights which we must abide by. They have characteristics, or qualities, most of which we must embrace, and few which we must avoid…

Sifaatul huroof [1]: directly translates to “characteristics of the letters”. It is important to study these to ensure they are present during recitation, such that letters emerging from the same makhraj (point of articulation) are differentiated. Perfection in pronunciation cannot be obtained unless both the sifah (characteristic/quality) and makhraj are correct.

Sifaatul huroof are divided into two categories:

1. Sifaatul laazimah (al-thaatiyyah) [2]

translated to ‘permanent characteristics’ is that characteristic which is part of the makeup of the letter, it cannot be removed from it; it is a right [which must be exercised] of the letter.

2. Sifaatul ‘aaridah (al-zaa’idah) [3]

translated to ‘redundant characteristics’ is that characteristic which “adds to” or “completes” a letter, such that if it were to be removed from it, it would not affect the actual letter; it is an additional right [which must be exercised] of the letter.

In this post, we’ll hone in on sifaatul laazimah. Within this category, there are 17 characteristics spread across two branches. The first branch is sifaatul mutadaaddah[4] which means opposing characteristics (that is, for any given characteristic, there is an opposite characteristic). The second branch is sifaat ghayr mutadaaddah[5] which means characters without opposites.

Sifaatul Mutadaaddah

Five characteristics, with five opposites total ten of the 17 sifaat. Each letter has at least five characteristics, one from either pair of opposites.Below is the list of five pairs in the format of sifah, then opposing sifah.

1. Al-Hams ( الهمس ) – whispering: flow of breath upon pronunciation due to being fairly independent of the makhraj; applied to the letters

 ت   ث   ح   خ   س   ش   ص   ف   ك   هـ

gathered in the sentence

فَحَثَّهُ شَخْصٌ سَكَتْ

2. Al-Jahr ( الجهر ) – audibility: of the letters which traps air flow due to heavy reliance on the makhraj; applied to all the remaining letters not included in hams.

3. a) Al-Shiddah ( الشدة ) – strength/force: is when the flow of sound is trapped in the makhraj; this is due to a heavy reliance on the makhraj and is applied to 8 letters

أ   ب   ت   ج   د   ط   ق   ك

gathered in the sentence

أجِدْ قَطٍ بَكَتْ

3. b) Al-tawasut/Al-bayneeyah ( البينية ) – is a middle characteristic, lingering betwen shiddah and rakhaawah (the opposite sifah); this is when the sound emerges but does not flow; applied to the letters

ر   ع   ل   م   ن

gathered in the sentence

لِنْ عُمَرْ

4. Al-Rakhaawah ( الرخاوة ) – weakness: such that there is a flow of sound upon pronunciation; applied to the remaining 16 letters not included in shiddah or al-bayneeyah.

5. Al-Isti’laa’ ( الاستعلاء ) – elevation: of aqsal-lisaan (deep area of the tongue) towards the roof of the mouth when pronouncing one of the seven isti’laa’ letters

خ   ص   ض   ط   ظ   غ   ق

gathered in the sentence

خُصَّ ضَغْطٍ قِظْ

these letters are sometimes referred to as “the grumpy letters”, because the lips move in when pronouncing them, and because they’re heavy – hence quite a mouthful to say!

6. Al-Istifaal ( الاستفال ) – lowness: referring to the lowering of the deep area of the tongue (aqsal lisaan) to the floor of the mouth during the emergence of the letter; applied to all the remaining letters not mentioned in isti’laa’. These letters are often called “the happy letters” because the lips form a small smile when pronouncing them.

7. Al-Itbaaq ( الإطباق ) – closing: referring to pressing the majority of the tongue against that which corresponds to it from the hard palate; it is applied to four letters

ص   ض   ط   ظ

8. Al-Infitaah ( الانفتاح ) – opening: referring to the separation of the tongue (or most of the tongue) from the roof of the mouth upon pronunciation of a letter; applies to the remaining letters not mentioned in itbaaq.

9. Al-Ithlaaq ( الإذْلاق ) – ease or fluency: of the letters emerging from the tip of the tongue and lips, which are

ب   ر   ف   ل   م   ن

gathered in the sentence

فِرَّ مَنْ لُبْ

10. Al-Ismaat ( الإصمات ) – refrain or restraint: of the emergence of the letter from within the mouth and throat; this rule relates to Arabic grammar, but can be taken as stated above for simplicity; applied to the letters not mentioned in ithlaaq.

Sifaat Ghayr Mutadaaddah

Encapsulates the remaining 7 of 17 characteristics. Some of the above letters have an additional sifah ghayr mutadaaddah. The actual sifah and it’s corresponding letter(s) are listed below.

1. Al-Safeer ( الصفير ) – whistling: that sound emerging from the tip of the tongue and upper front teeth, audible even when reciting in a whisper. Applied to the letters

ز   س   ص

 with note that the letter zaay has a more buzzing sound than the whistling sound in seen and saad.

2. Al-Qalqalah ( القلقلة ) –  vibration/echoing: occurs at the makhraj of the saakin letter upon pronunciation due to the letter’s strength (shiddah) and audibility (jahr) correlating to the prevention of breath and sound flow. (This means, when qalqalah is exercised, a burst of the sound and breath occur, hence making the letter audible). Applied to the letters

ب   ج   د   ط   ق

gathered in the sentence

قُطْبُ جَد

3. Al-Leen ( اللين ) – ease: in pronouncing the letter (emergence of the letter without exertion). Applied to the letters waaw saakinah and yaa saakinah that follow a fat-ha

وْ   يْ

such as in the words




4. Al-Inhiraaf ( الانحراف ) – inclination: of the tongue, such that the makhraj for the two letters laam ( ل ) and raa ( ر ) is slightly inclined from the makhraj of noon ( ن ). Another explanation of this sifah states: it’s the inclination of the letter after it emerges from it’s makhraj towards another makhraj. This applies to the letters

ل   ر

such that laam inclines towards the tip of the tongue and the letter raa inclines back towards the makhraj of the laam.

5. Al-Takreer ( التكرير ) – repetition: or rolling the tongue upon pronouncing the letter. This quality applies to the letter


and should be avoided by pressing the tip of the tongue against the hard palate and letting it ‘roll’ back once (to produce the sound of raa).

6. Al-Tafashee ( التفشِّي ) – diffusion: of air in the mouth upon pronouncing the letter. Applies to the letter


7. Al-Istitaalah ( الاستطالة ) – elongation: referring to the length of the makhraj; or the extension of sound over the entire edge of the tongue. It is a characteristic of the letter


and is particularly noticeable when the letter has a sukoon, such as in the word


That wraps up the first category of sifaatul huroof. I’m hoping a cosy feeling has set upon you as you’ve realised that some of the sifaat ghayr mutadaaddah are actually tajweed rues we’ve covered before. Links to them are above.

Resources link:

Makhaarij Al-Huroof document

Muthakarah Fit-tajweed [page 53 – 56]

[1] صفات الحروف
[2] صفات لازمة – الذاتية
[3] صفات العارضة – الزائدة
[4] صفات المتضادّة
[5] صفات غير متضادّة