Makharijul Huruf “The Points of Articulation” of Arabic Letters, Groups and How to Learn And Identify Them!

Makharijul Huruf “The Points of Articulation” of Arabic Letters, Groups and How to Learn And Identify Them!

Are you striving to perfect your Quranic recitation through the science of Tajweed? Understanding Makharijul Huruf, the points of articulation of Arabic letters, is key. In this guide, we explore its significance, the different Makharij groups, and offer practical tips for learning and mastering Makharij al-Huruf. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced learner, mastering Makharijul Huruf is essential for accurate and beautiful Quranic recitation. Let’s delve into the secrets of Makharijul Huruf together.

In a nutshell: “Makharijul Huruf” refers to the precise points of articulation within the mouth for each Arabic letter, crucial for accurate Quranic recitation. Categorized into five main groups including the tongue, lips, nasal cavity, oral cavity, and throat, mastering these articulation points ensures clear pronunciation and fulfills the command to recite the Quran with precision. Techniques such as diagrams, videos, and Quranic recitations aid learners in understanding and perfecting these articulation points for profound Quranic recitation.

What is Makharijul Huruf?

Makharijul Huruf (Arabic: مخارج الحروف‎), which translates to “Points of Articulation of the Arabic Letters”, is a crucial aspect of the science of Tajweed. It is a significant study that helps to refine the tongue, prevent errors in pronunciation, and ensure that the Quran is recited in a clear and articulate manner. 

Learning the Makharijul Huruf is a response to the command of Allah to recite the Quran with measured recitation, as mentioned in the verse: 

“and recite the Qur’an with measured recitation.” (Al-Muzzammil 73:4)

Makharijul Huruf are Categorized into five main groups—tongue, lips, nasal cavity, oral cavity, and throat—each group corresponds to distinct anatomical regions involved in the production of Arabic letters. 

Makhraj Meaning in Language and Terminology

Scholars have defined the makhraj in both linguistic and technical terms:

Linguistically: The makhraj refers to the place of exit. For instance, the door is called a makhraj, and the road that leads you out of a city is also called a makhraj.

Technically: The makhraj is the specific location in the mouth from which a letter is produced. When the sound of pronouncing a letter stops at that particular point, it distinguishes that makhraj from others. For example, the letter ba (ب) is produced from between the lips, and this location is called the makhraj of the letter ba.

Significance of Makharijul Huruf

Mastering the makharijul huruf is essential for several reasons:

  1. Accurate Pronunciation: It ensures that each Arabic letter is pronounced correctly, preventing mispronunciations that could alter the meaning of words.
  2. Clear Recitation: It contributes to a clear and articulate recitation of the Quran, enhancing the beauty and fluency of the recitation.
  3. Fulfillment of Divine Command: It fulfills the divine command to recite the Quran with proper articulation, demonstrating reverence for the sacred text.
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What are the Makhraj groups?

The Makharij groups categorize the points of articulation for Arabic letters into five main categories: tongue, lips, nasal cavity, oral cavity, and throat:

1. The Tongue (Al-Lisan)

The tongue is the most versatile speech organ, responsible for producing a wide range of Arabic letters. It has ten specific articulation points within the mouth.

2. The Lips (Ash-Shafaataan)

The lips play a crucial role in producing certain letters, particularly those involving labial sounds. There are two main articulation points for the lips.

3. The Nasal Cavity (Al-Khayshoom)

The nasal cavity is responsible for producing the nasal sound, known as “ghunna,” which is a unique characteristic of certain Arabic letters.

3. The Nasal Cavity (Al-Khayshoom)

4. The Oral Cavity (Al-Jawf)

All the empty space that occurs from the chest, up the throat and out through the mouth, it is crucial for producing elongated vowels, including Alif (ا), Yaa (ي), and Waaw (و).

5. The Throat (Al-Halaq)

The throat is located at the back of the mouth and connects to the esophagus. It has three specific articulation points for producing certain guttural sounds.

Detailed Explanation of Each Articulation Point of Arabic Letters

In Arabic pronunciation the tongue, with its ten positions, governs most sounds, from the tip for “ن” (noon) to various placements for letters like “س” (seen) and “ظ” (dhaa). Non-tip articulations involve the palate, lips, nasal cavity, and throat. Lips form sounds like “ف” (faa), while the nasal cavity affects “م” (meem). The palate influences “ه” (haa) and “غ” (ghayn), and the throat impacts letters such as “ء” (hamzah) and “خ” (khaa). Mastering these points ensures accurate Arabic pronunciation.

1. The Tongue Letters and Group

The tongue is the primary articulator for most Arabic letters. It has ten specific points of articulation:

  • The tip of the tongue near the upper teeth, producing the letter “ن” (noon).
  • The tip of the tongue with some back pressure, near the upper teeth, producing the letter “ر” (raa).
  • The tip of the tongue with contact from the roots of the upper incisors, producing the letters “ت” (taa), “د” (daal), and “ط” (taa).
  • The tip of the tongue with slight elevation above the lower incisors, creating a small gap between the tongue and the teeth, producing the letters “س” (seen), “ز” (zaa), and “ص” (saad).
  • The tip of the tongue with contact from the edges of the upper incisors, producing the letters “ث” (thaa), “ذ” (dhaal), and “ظ” (dhaa).

Additionally, there are five non-tip articulations:

  • The farthest point of the tongue, close to the throat and far from the lips, with contact from the upper palate, producing the letter “ق” (qaaf).
  • The point of the tongue after the throat, slightly closer to the tip of the tongue, with contact from the upper palate, producing the letter “ك” (kaaf).
  • The middle of the tongue with contact from the upper palate, producing the letters “ش” (sheen), “ج” (jeem), and non-medial “ي” (ya).
  • The edges of the tongue with contact from the upper molars, producing the letter “ض” (daad).
  • The lower front edges of the tongue to the tip, with contact from the upper incisors, producing the letter “ل” (laam).

2. The Lips Letters and Group

The lips have two specific points of articulation:

  • The inner surface of the lower lip with the edges of the upper incisors, producing the letter “ف” (faa).
  • The space between the lips with closure, producing the letters “ب” (baa), “م” (meem), and non-medial “و” (waaw).

3. The Nasal Cavity Letters and Group

The nasal cavity between the top of the nose and the throat serves as the point of articulation for the letters “م” (meem) and “ن” (noon). The emission of “Ghunna” is inherent to these letters and varies in intensity based on the context of the letter.

4.  The Oral Cavity Letters and Group

Al Jawf, literally meaning “the oral cavity” in Arabic, refers to the entire space from the chest cavity up through the throat and mouth. This chamber acts as the origin for long vowels, also known as the “madd letters” (alif, waw, ya). Unlike most consonants and short vowels that have a defined end point in the mouth or throat, long vowels are produced by elongating the sound for two counts before stopping. There are three main madd letters:

  • (Ya) “ى”:  This long “ee” sound is created with open vocal cords and the middle of the tongue raised close to the position it would be in for a regular “ya” pronunciation.
  • (Waw) “و”: To produce the long “oo” sound, the vocal cords are open again, but this time the lips are rounded in a shape that mimics saying a regular “wow” sound.
  • (Alif) “ا”: This versatile letter can represent different long vowel sounds depending on the preceding vowel sound. When following a “fathah” (a), the back of the tongue is lowered for a more open “ah” sound. Conversely, it is raised to produce a higher “aa” sound when following a “dammah” (u).

5. Throat Letters and Group

The space between the throat and the tongue, starting from the chest and ending at the mouth, has three points of articulation:

  • The farthest point in the throat, where the letters “ء” (hamzah) and “هاء” (haa) are produced.
  • The middle of the throat, closer to the tongue, where the letters “ع” (ayn) and “ح” (haa) are produced.
  • The lowest part of the throat, close to the tongue and near the uvula, where the letters “غ” (ghayn) and “خ” (khaa) are produced.

How to Identify Makharij al-Huruf?

One effective method for identifying the Makharij al-Huruf is to pronounce a letter with a sukoon (silent ending) or a shadda (doubling mark) while adding an alif (hamza) at the beginning and pronouncing it with any vowel (fatha, kasra, or damma). The point where the sound of the letter is interrupted indicates its Makharij al-Huruf.

For instance, if you pronounce the word “أبْ” (pronounced as “ab”), you will notice that the sound of the letter “ba” (ب) is interrupted at the lips. This indicates that the Makharij al-Huruf of the letter “ba” is the lips.

This technique can be applied to all Arabic letters, providing a practical and effective way to master the Makharij al-Huruf and enhance your Quran recitation.

How to Learn Makharij al-Huruf?

Mastering Makharij al-Huruf requires practice and guidance. By combining the following techniques with dedication and practice, you can develop a strong understanding of Makharij al Huruf and improve your Arabic pronunciation significantly. Here are some ways you can learn Makharij al Huruf:

1. Diagrams and Charts

Find diagrams or charts that illustrate the different points of articulation in the vocal tract. These can help you visualize where each sound is produced. You can find these in many Arabic pronunciation textbooks or online resources.

2. Videos

Watch videos that demonstrate the proper positioning of the tongue, lips, and throat for each Arabic letter. Look for videos by qualified instructors who can explain the mechanics clearly.

3. Listen to Quran Recitations

Pay close attention to how Imams recite the Quran, focusing on the distinct pronunciation of each letter. This can help you train your ear to recognize the correct sounds.

4. Record Yourself

Record yourself reciting Arabic words or phrases and then listen back to identify any pronunciation errors. This can help you pinpoint areas that need improvement.

5. Mimicry

Try mimicking the pronunciation of a qualified teacher or native speaker. Pay attention to the subtle movements of their mouth and tongue.

6. Textbooks

There are many Arabic pronunciation textbooks available that cover Makharij al Huruf in detail. These textbooks often include exercises to help you practice.

7. Online Courses

There are a number of online courses available that teach Makharij al Huruf. These courses can be a convenient way to learn at your own pace.

8. Arabic Tutors

Consider working with a qualified Arabic tutor who can provide personalized feedback on your pronunciation.

9. Practice with a mirror

Look in a mirror as you practice pronouncing different Arabic sounds. This will help you to see how your mouth and tongue are moving.

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Conclusion:

Makharijul Huruf, or the Points of Articulation of the Arabic Letters, is a fundamental aspect of Tajweed, essential for clear and accurate Quranic recitation. This study refines pronunciation by identifying specific locations in the mouth from which each letter is produced. With roots in both linguistic and technical definitions, Makharijul Huruf ensures adherence to Allah’s command for measured Quranic recitation. 

By mastering these articulation points, learners prevent mispronunciations, contribute to clear recitation, and fulfill the divine directive to recite the Quran with precision and reverence. Categorized into five main groups, Makharijul Huruf includes the tongue, lips, nasal cavity, oral cavity, and throat. 

Each group encompasses distinct articulation points responsible for producing various Arabic sounds. From the flexibility of the tongue to the resonance of the nasal cavity and the depth of the throat, understanding and mastering these points are crucial for accurate Arabic pronunciation. Employing techniques such as diagrams, videos, Quranic recitations, and self-assessment, learners can enhance their understanding of Makharijul Huruf, ensuring a profound and articulate recitation of the Quran.

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