Sifaat of the letters
Sifaat refers to the characteristic(s) of the letter
: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
This section will further explain this :
Sifaat is of two types:
|Ithlaaq(flowing, ease of exit)
|Istalaa / Tafkheem(elevated)
||Istifaal /Tarqeeq(depressed, low)
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
- 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)
- However, the letters
ONLY have hems when they carry a sukoon (as they carry another characteristic, shiddah)
- ALWAYS has strong hems, whatever the harakaat
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view practice exercises for the rules 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
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
- 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
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
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
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
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
- for some of these letters, the tongue may be raised, but actual
contact will not occur (refer to
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
- 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
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
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
- 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||()|
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view practice exercises for the rules of Ista'ala / 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
|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)|
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
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view practice exercises for the rules of Safeer
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
- 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)
- 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 :
- Sughrah (minor)
- Kubrah (major)
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
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
to view practice exercises for the rules of Qalqalah
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
|‘Ay’ sound||‘Ow’ sound|
- The pronunciation has to be for the duration of 2 counts
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view practice exercises for the rules of Leen
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
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
- 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
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
- 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
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view practice exercises for the rules of Tafash-shee
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
applies only if it carries a sukoon
- Care must be taken not to exceed the required elongation
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view practice exercises for the rules of Istitaala
Read PDF File
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