The Sifaat of the letters (ﺻِﻔَﺎت اﻟﺤﺮوف)

Sifaat refers to the characteristic(s) of the letter

Definition
:the way in which a letter is articulated that differentiates it from others. The purpose of these characteristics is to distinguish the letters that share the same articulation points (makhaarij).

But why do we need sifaat when we already know the origin of the letter (makhraj)?

Makhaarij only provides information as to where the sound of the
letter comes from, whereas sifaat provides extra information with
regards to the characteristics of the letter in order to produce the
correct sound.

This section will further explain this :

Sifaat is of two types:

  1. Sifaat WITH opposite (complement)
  2. Sifaat WITHOUT opposites (non-complement)

 

SIFAAT WITH OPPOSITES

  Opposite
Hems

(whispered)

Jahr

(voiced)

 

Shiddah

(explosive)

INBETWEEN Tawassut 

Rakhaawa

(softness) 

Itbaaq

(closed)

Infitaah

(opened)

 

Ithlaaq

(flowing, ease of exit)

Ismaat

(sharply pronounced)

Istalaa / Tafkheem

(elevated)

Istifaal /Tarqeeq

(depressed, low)

Hems (whispered)

Definition: weak or slight continuation of breath (whispering, expulsion of air) upon pronunciation of the letter when it carries a SUKOON

  • The quality of hems is found in the following 10 letters which are called mahmuusah 
    ﻣﻬﻣُﻮﺳَﺔ


Examples of Hems

  • The whispering is also present when the letter has a harakaat (other than sukoon), but it is not as strong (it is more of a natural hems whereas when it carries a sukoon you have to emphasize the hems more)
E.g فُ‌فِ‌فَ   () E.g ثُ‌ثِ‌ثَ  ()
   
  • However, the letters
    and
    ONLY have hems when they carry a sukoon (as they carry another characteristic, shiddah)
E.g تُ‌تِ‌تَ () E.g كُ‌كِ‌كَ  ()
   
  • ALWAYS has strong hems, whatever the harakaat
E.g سُ‌سِ‌سَ ( )
 

 

Click 'here' to
view practice exercises for the rules of Hems


Jahr (Opposite of Hems)

Definition: the stoppage of breath upon pronunciation of a letter when it carries a SUKOON

  • This is achieved by stopping the air flow at the makhraj of the letter
  • The quality of jahr are found in the remaining letters which are called majhuurah
    (ﻣَﺠْﻬُﻮرَة)


Examples of Jahr

 

Shiddah (Explosive/Strength)

This category has an in-between as well as an opposite

Definition: strong stoppage of the sound upon pronunciation of the letter when it carries a SAKOON

  • This is achieved by relying strongly on the makhraj or by constricting it
  • The quality of shiddah is found in the following letters which are called shadiidah
    (ﺷَﺪِﻳْﺪَة)


  • the quality of shiddah is to pronounce forcefully, that when
    pronounced, the sound of the letter will be HARD, and the
    sound of the letter will end off in the makhraj

Rakhaawa (Opposite of Shiddah)

Definition: the continuation of sound upon pronunciation of the letter when it carries a SAKOON, in a soft and gentle manner

  • these letters are neither shiddah nor tawassut

  • rakhaawa is the continuation of SOUND whereas hems is the continuation of BREATH

Tawassut (in-between Rakhaawa and Shiddah)

Definition: this is moderation between the previous two. The sound of the letter is not cut off nor allowed to continue.

  • The quality of tawassut is found in the following 5 letters which are called mutawassitah
    (ﻣُﺘَﻮَﺳِّﻄَﺔ)

E.g (97:1) E.g (1:7)

Itbaaq (closed)

Definition: contact between the back of the tongue and the upper palate of the mouth.

  • This characteristic is necessary no matter what harakaat (not just when it carries a sakoon)
  • The quality of itbaaq is to pronounce in a closed and covered manner. That is, during pronunciation, the tongue is elevated to such an extent that it covers the palate and the mouth remains nearly closed
  • The quality of itbaaq is found in the following letters which are called mutbaqah
    (ﻣُﻄْﺒَﻘّﺔ)

E.g صُ‌صِ‌صَ ( ) E.g طُ‌طِ‌طَ  ()
   

Infitaah (Opposite to Itbaaq)

Definition: separation of the tongue from the upper palate, thus pronouncing in an opened manner.

  • The quality of infitaah is to pronounce in an opened manner. That is, during pronunciation, the tongue does not cover the palate and the mouth remains open
  • The quality of infitaah are found in the remaining letters and are called munfatihah
    (ﻣُﻨْﻔَﺘِﺤَﺔ)

E.g بُ‌بِ‌بَ ( ) E.g نُ‌نِ‌نَ  ()
   
  • for some of these letters, the tongue may be raised, but actual
    contact will not occur (refer to
    ista’ala)

Ithlaaq

Definition: the speed of which the letters are pronounced because of the ease of the makhraj.

  • The quality of ithlaaq is to pronounce in a smooth and easy manner
  • The quality of ithlaaq is found in the following letters which are called mudhlaqah
    (ﻣُﺬْﻟَﻘَﺔ)

  • The area of pronunciation of these letters, that is, the edge of the tongue or the edge of the mouth namely the lips, can be considered as factors contributing to the smooth and easy manner of pronunciation

Ismaat (opposite to ithlaaq)

Definition: to pronounce in a heavy manner.

  • During pronunciation, a certain amount of effort is required.
  • The quality of ismaat is found in the remaining letters which are called
    musmatah (ﻣُﺼﻤَﺘَﺔ)

Ista’ala / tafkheem (elevated)

Definition: the elevation of the back of the tongue to the back roof of the mouth upon pronunciation of the letter, no matter what harakaat.

  • During pronunciation, the back of the tongue is raised towards the upper palate. This will produce a thick, round sound
  • These are known as full mouth / thick letters and are thus
    pronounced with a full mouth
  • The quality of ist’ala is found in the following seven letters which are called musta’liyah
    (ﻣُﺴْﺘَﻌْﻠِﻴَﺔ)

  • For ista’ala the tongue is just RAISED, whereas for itbaaq it actually makes CONTACT
  • The elevation is less when these letters carry a



E.g قُ قِ  قَ ( ) E.g غُ غِ غَ  ()
   

Examples of
Ista’la /Tafkheem

Click 'here' to
view practice exercises for the rules of Ista'ala / Tafkheem

Tarqeeq (opposite to Tafkheem)

Definition: the lowering or depressing of the back of the tongue away from the roof of the mouth upon pronunciation of the letter.

  • During pronunciation, the tongue is not raised, but kept downward in its normal position. This downward position will cause a flat sound
  • These are also known as empty-mouth / thin letters and are thus
    pronounced with an empty mouth
  • The quality of istifaal is found in the remaining letters which are called mustafilah
    (ﻣُﺴْﺘَﻔِﻠَﺔ)


Click here
to view a printable chart depicting the qualities of
SIFAAT WITH OPPOSITES

 

SIFAAT WITHOUT OPPOSITES

1 Safeer (whistling sound) (ﺻَﻔِﻴﺮ)
2 Qalqalah (echoing / bouncing sound) (ﻗَﻠﻘَﻠﺔ)
3 Leen (soft sound) (ﻟِﻴْﻦ)
4 Inhiraaf (inclined sound) (إِﻧْﺤِﺮاف)
5 Takreer (repeated sound) (ﺗَﻜْﺮِﻳﺮ)
6 Tafsh-shee (spreading sound) (ﺗَﻔَﺸِّﻲ)
7 Istitaalah (elongated sound) (إِﺳْﺘِﻄﺎﻟﺔ)

Safeer (whistling sound)

Definition: It is a sound similar to that of a bird, bee which can be described as either a buzzing or whistling sound

  • The letter always has this sound no matter what harakaat, though the
    safeer becomes stronger when it carries a SAKOON
  • The quality of safeer is found in the following 3 letters which are called
    safeerah (ﺻَﻔِﻴﺮة)

Examples
of Safeer

 

Click 'here' to
view practice exercises for the rules of Safeer

Qalqalah (bouncing / echoing sound)

Definition: to pronounce with an echoing or bouncing sound when the letter carries a SUKOON only.

  • A characteristic of this sifa is the quick movement of the tongue or lips upon articulation
  • The quality of qalqalah is found in the five following letters when they carry a sukoon and are called muqalqalah
    (ﻣُﻘَﻠﻘَﻠﺔ)

  • This letter can either be in the middle or end of a word (as a result of a stop)
  • Since an additional sound is being made, care must be taken that the saakin
    letter should not sound doubled (mushaddad) or vowelled (mutaharrik)
E.g (111:1)
  • The qalqalah is necessary for these letters because they have the attributes of
    jahr (stoppage of the flow of breath) and
    shiddah (stoppage of the flow of sound), so without qalqalah, there would be no sound!

There are 2 types :

  1. Sughrah (minor)
  2. Kubrah (major)

Sughrah (minor)

The qalqalah letter will appear either in the middle or end of a word, but the reader will continue the recitation and will not stop on it

E.g (108:3)

Kubrah (major)

If the qalaqalah letter appears at the end of a word and the reader stops on it (for whatever reason), the qalqalah sound is at its clearest / strongest

 

E.g (109:3)

Examples of Qalqalah

Click 'here'
to view practice exercises for the rules of Qalqalah

 

Leen (dipthong / easiness)

Definition: A manner of articulation that seeks an easy pronunciation.

  • The quality of leen is found in the following 2 letters when they carry a sakoon and the letter before it carries a fathah. They are called layyinah
    (ﻟﻴِّﻨَﺔ)
‘Ay’ sound ‘Ow’ sound
  • The pronunciation has to be for the duration of 2 counts

Examples of Leen

Click 'here' to
view practice exercises for the rules of Leen

Inhiraaf (inclined sound)

Definition: the leaning of the tongue away from its makhraj until it nears another makhraj.

  • This quality is found in 2 letters and are called munharifah (ﻣُﻨْﺤَﺮِﻓَﺔ)

,

  • Therefore, the is pronounced with an inclination towards the makhraj of the
    and vice versa 
  • This is more of a caution than a rule

Examples of Inhiraaf

Takreer (to repeat)

Definition: the quality of takreer is to pronounce in a repeated manner

  • The quality of takreer is found in one letter
    and it is called mukarrarah
    (ﻣُﻜَﺮّرَة)
  • Therefore, while the
    is being pronounced from its makhraj, naturally the tongue makes a slight vibration producing a repeated sound (i.e. rolling of the tongue). Care must be taken to avoid exaggeration of the vibration, otherwise instead of a single
    there may be 2
    or instead of a double (mushaddad
    ),there may be many
  • This is more of a caution than a rule – takreer should be
    avoided

Examples of Takreer

Tafash-shee (spreading sound)

Definition: to pronounce a letter with the filling of the mouth with air allowing the sound to spread greatly over the mouth.

  • The quality o tafash-shee is found in the letter
    and it is called mutafash-shiyah
    (ﻣُﺘَﻔَﺸِّﻴَﺔ)
  • This is actually a natural characteristic of the
    , and the filling of the mouth with air applies whatever the harakaat.
    However, it is stronger when it carries a sukoon

Examples of Tafash-shee

 

Click 'here' to
view practice exercises for the rules of Tafash-shee

Istitaalah (elongated sound or to seek something)

Definition: the quality of istitaalah is to pronounce a letter in a slow and elongated manner.
When pronounced, the sound of the letter will remain from the beginning
of the makhraj till the end (the extension of the sound covers the
entire sound of the tongue)

  • This quality is found in the letter
  • Elongating
    the
    applies only if it carries a sukoon
    or shaddah
  • Care must be taken not to exceed the required elongation

Examples of Istitaala

Click 'here' to
view practice exercises for the rules of Istitaala

 

Click here to view a printable chart depicting the qualities of
SIFAAT WITHOUT OPPOSITES

 

Click on the ‘Summary
Chart
‘ link on the right hand sidebar to view an abbreviated chart
of Sifaat

 

 

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