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Analysis of the Recitation of Sheikh Mustafa Ismail Surah Baqarah 238-252; Tariq; Inshirah

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Analysis of recitations of the Quran is one of the most fun ways to learn the art of Quran recitation. One of the masters of Quran recitation is without a doubt the legendary Egyptian reciter, Sheikh Mustafa Ismail. Sheikh Mustafa Ismail learned the Quranic sciences and entered Al-Azhar University to continue his studies. He was particularly skilled in conveying the meanings of Quranic verses through the modes and melodies and the intonation he used in his recitation. In this series of articles, we will analyze the recitations of various well-known Quran reciters. In the first part of this series, we will fully analyze the recitation of Sheikh Mustafa Ismail, Surah Baqarah 238-252, and Surahs Tariq and Inshirah. This recitation was performed in Syria in 1957.

Full Recitation

Analysis of the Recitation: Verses 238-239

حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ ‎﴿٢٣٨﴾‏ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ فَرِجَالًا أَوْ رُكْبَانًا ۖ فَإِذَا أَمِنتُمْ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَمَا عَلَّمَكُم مَّا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ ‎﴿٢٣٩﴾

Be watchful of your prayers, and [especially] the middle prayer, and stand in obedience to Allah; (238) and should you fear [a danger], then [pray] on foot or mounted, and when you are safe remember Allah, as He taught you what you did not know. (239)

Breaths 1-6

Breaths 1-6

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail begins reciting the surah in maqam Bayati. As we explained in the article, “The Art of Quran Recitation,” maqam Bayati is the “Mother of Maqamat,” meaning it is a very extensive maqam that is very much used in Quran recitation. Usually, reciters begin their recitation in this maqam and end their recitation in this maqam. Sheikh Mustafa Ismail is a reciter who makes much use of maqam Bayati in his recitations and uses many of the branches of this maqam throughout his recitation. In these two verses, he recites maqam Bayati in the qarar register. We explained the three registers of Quran recitation in the article “The Art of Quran Recitation.” They were qarar, the low register, jawab, the middle register, and jawab al-jawab, the high register.

Breaths 7-8

Breaths 7-8

In the seventh and eighth breaths of his recitation, which is the second time verses 239 and 240 of Surah Baqarah are recited, Sheikh Mustafa Ismail uses a maqam known as “Bayati Shuri,” one of the branches of maqam Bayati. Maqam Bayati Shuri is a combination of Bayati at the bottom and Hijaz on top. Therefore, it very much resembles maqam Hijaz but ends in maqam Bayati. The scale is shown in the image below.  

If you remember our article about the art of Quran recitation, we said that Hijaz is used to remind the listener of a specific thing that is being talked about. These verses are about the rulings of prayer during war and after war. Maqam Bayati Shuri catches one’s attention due to the Hijaz it contains.

Verses 240-242

وَالَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوْنَ مِنكُمْ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزْوَاجًا وَصِيَّةً لِّأَزْوَاجِهِم مَّتَاعًا إِلَى الْحَوْلِ غَيْرَ إِخْرَاجٍ ۚ فَإِنْ خَرَجْنَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي مَا فَعَلْنَ فِي أَنفُسِهِنَّ مِن مَّعْرُوفٍ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ ‎﴿٢٤٠﴾‏ وَلِلْمُطَلَّقَاتِ مَتَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۖ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ ‎﴿٢٤١﴾‏ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ ‎﴿٢٤٢﴾

Those of you who die leaving wives shall bequeath for their wives providing for a year, without turning them out; but if they leave, there is no sin upon you in respect of what they may do with themselves in accordance with honourable norms. And Allah is all-mighty, all-wise. (240) For the divorced women there shall be a provision, in accordance with honourable norms—an obligation on the Godwary. (241) Thus does Allah clarify His signs to you so that you may exercise your reason. (242)

Breaths 9-17

Breaths 9-17

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail starts with maqam Bayati, albeit in the higher notes where we can hear some notes of Nahawand. Every maqam is made up of two ajnas, the plural of jins, which literally means gender. A jins is usually the first four notes of a maqam. We have many ajnas to the same number of maqamat that we have. Maqam Bayati is made up of the two ajnas of Bayati and Nahawand. The image below shows the scale of maqam Bayati.

This is the asli or original maqam Bayati. Just as maqam Bayati Shuri resembles Hijaz, maqam Bayati’s higher notes resemble Nahawand due to the jins of Nahawand that it has.

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail continues the next parts of his recitation, meaning breaths 10-17 all in maqam Bayati Shuri, one of the most common branches and family members of maqam Bayati. As we said earlier, Bayati Shuri is a maqam that catches one’s attention. The verses are about the rulings of divorce. As a result, it is important to pay close attention to them. That is why maqam Bayati Shuri is a wise choice to make for reciting these verses.

Verses 243-244

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ خَرَجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَهُمْ أُلُوفٌ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ فَقَالَ لَهُمُ اللَّهُ مُوتُوا ثُمَّ أَحْيَاهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ ‎﴿٢٤٣﴾‏ وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ ‎﴿٢٤٤﴾

Have you not regarded those who left their homes in thousands, apprehensive of death, whereupon Allah said to them, ‘Die,’ then He revived them? Indeed Allah is gracious to mankind, but most people do not give thanks. (243)

Breaths 18-20

Breaths 18-20

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites these breaths in maqam Muhayyar. Maqam Muhayyar is a variation of maqam Bayati where the maqam begins from the top note and slowly descends to the bottom note. Many reciters use this maqam to move from the qarar register to the jawab one. Another reason Sheikh Mustafa Ismail changed the maqam is that the subject of the verses has completely changed. It’s no longer about the rulings of divorce, but rather about those who left their homes fearing death. The story goes that a group of thousands of people who were suffering a plague in their homeland escaped their country to be safe from the plague. Thinking that they were safe, they became arrogant and thought they would never die. However, Allah caused them to die as well. Then He brought them back to life to show His mercy so that they would recount to their people what had happened.

When Sheikh Mustafa recites the word mutu, one can clearly notice from his intonation as if he is ordering someone to do something. In this verse, Allah is telling those people, “Die!” Therefore, there has to be a noticeable stress and emphasis on this word.

Breaths 21-23

Breaths 21-23

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail once again recites verse 243 of Surah Baqarah in maqam Bayati but this time in the jawab register. In the previous verses, he recited in the qarar register. As you can notice, the pitch of his voice is much higher. It seems Sheikh Mustafa does not want to change maqam Bayati just yet! So far, he has recited this maqam and its branches for nine minutes!

Verse 245

مَّن ذَا الَّذِي يُقْرِضُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا فَيُضَاعِفَهُ لَهُ أَضْعَافًا كَثِيرَةً ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَقْبِضُ وَيَبْسُطُ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ ‎﴿٢٤٥﴾‏

Who is it that will lend Allah a good loan that He may multiply it for him severalfold? Allah tightens and expands [the means of life], and to Him you shall be brought back. (245)

Breath 24-25

Breaths 24-25

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites this verse in the jawab of maqam Bayati like the previous verses. The way he stops on the word kathirah is striking. It is as if he wants to show how great Allah’s generosity is that He will return a loan one gives to someone severalfold. This is one of the techniques that Sheikh Mustafa Ismail uses extensively in his recitations. He concludes the maqam in the second part of the verse because the subject is completely dealt with.

Verse 246

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِن بَعْدِ مُوسَىٰ إِذْ قَالُوا لِنَبِيٍّ لَّهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُّقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ هَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ أَلَّا تُقَاتِلُوا ۖ قَالُوا وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَقَدْ أُخْرِجْنَا مِن دِيَارِنَا وَأَبْنَائِنَا ۖ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوْا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ ‎﴿٢٤٦﴾

Have you not regarded the elite of the Israelites after Moses, when they said to their prophet, ‘Appoint for us a king that we may fight in the way of Allah.’ He said, ‘May it not be that you will not fight if fighting were prescribed for you?’ They said, ‘Why should we not fight in the way of Allah, when we have been expelled from our homes and [separated from] our children?’ So when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned back except a few of them, and Allah knows well the wrongdoers. (246)

Breaths 26-31

Breaths 26-31

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites this entire verse in maqam Bayati while he moves around different notes of it. His intonation is completely in line with the meaning of the verse. For example, he uses a rising intonation in the part of the verse where their prophet asks them, “May it not be that you will not fight if fighting were prescribed for you?” This is because it is a question.

Verse 247

وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا ۚ قَالُوا أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِّنَ الْمَالِ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ ‎﴿٢٤٧﴾

Their prophet said to them, ‘Allah has appointed Saul as king for you.’ They said, ‘How can he have kingship over us, when we have a greater right to kingship than him, as he has not been given ample wealth?’ He said, ‘Indeed Allah has chosen him over you, and enhanced him vastly in knowledge and physique, and Allah gives His kingdom to whomever He wishes, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing.’ (247)

Breath 32

This passage is recited in both a new maqam and new qira’ah (reading of the Quran), that is, maqam Saba and the riwayah of Warsh ‘an Nafi’. Saba is a very sad maqam that is somewhat similar to maqam Bayati. The only difference between these two maqams is in the fourth note. That is, Saba’s fourth note is a half tone lower than Bayati. Here is how the scale of maqam Saba looks like:

The reason Sheikh Mustafa Ismail switches to maqam Saba from Bayati is that here, the Prophet of Bani Israel is announcing a very important matter. In fact, he is saying who will be the king of the Israelites. He is informing the listeners of Allah’s decision. Therefore, Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites in a new maqam for the first time to catch the listeners’ attention.

Breath 33

Sheikh Mustafa switches once more to maqam Muhayyar, a branch of maqam Bayati. The reason he does this is that here the elites of Bani Israel are speaking and thus it would not be appropriate to use the same maqam that was used to quote their prophet in the previous breath.

Breath 34

In this breath, Sheikh Mustafa Ismail begins with maqam Bayati and when he reaches the word maal he descends to maqam Rast. Therefore, he combines Bayati and Rast. The reason he reads the phrase min al-maal, which means wealth, in maqam Rast is that he wants to emphasize that the elites of Israel very much placed importance on wealth. That is why he uses another maqam to highlight this word and show how much they cared about wealth.

Breath 35

Just listen to the difference in intonation of Mustafa Ismail when he recites the parts where the elites of Bani Israel are quoted and the parts where their prophet is quoted. In this breath, the intonation is very graceful yet serious. It also holds a great deal of authority. However, when the verses quote the elites of Bani Israel such as the previous breath, the tone is boastful, arrogant, disrespectful, and even mocking. This is one of the skills that a reciter must display if he wants to be a successfully influential reciter of the Quran.

Breath 36

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail concludes verse 247 of Surah Baqarah in maqam Bayati while focusing on the fourth note and also touching on the fifth to seventh note and finishing maqam Bayati on the tonic (the first note). This verse is recited very beautifully. What is the message of this verse? Again, the prophet of Bani Israel is quoted. He says, “And Allah gives His kingdom to whomever He wishes, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing.” This is an extremely important point that this great prophet is making. He says, “Weatlh is not important to be a king. What is important is what Allah has willed. Allah gives His kingdom to whoever He wishes because He knows who deserves to be a king, prophet, or ruler.” Sheikh Mustafa recites this part of the verse quite differently and much more skillfully and beautifully than the other parts of this verse to emphasize the importance of this passage. This teaches us that we should recite verses that carry an important message in a special way so as to make them stand out.

Verse 248

وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ آيَةَ مُلْكِهِ أَن يَأْتِيَكُمُ التَّابُوتُ فِيهِ سَكِينَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَبَقِيَّةٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ آلُ مُوسَىٰ وَآلُ هَارُونَ تَحْمِلُهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ ‎﴿٢٤٨

﴾Their prophet said to them, ‘Indeed the sign of his kingship shall be that the Ark will come to you, bearing tranquillity from your Lord and the relics left behind by the House of Moses and the House of Aaron, borne by the angels. There is indeed a sign in that for you, should you be faithful.’ (248)

‏Breath 37-39

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail changes the qira’ah and riwayah back to Hafs ‘an ‘Asim. He is still reciting in maqam Bayati. Once again, notice how he recites gracefully as to quote the prophet of Bani Israel. Sheikh Mustafa’s intonation is perfectly in line with how a person would usually speak. It is very important that in your recitation, your rising and falling intonation is in the right place given the words and phrases of the verse and their meanings. This requires a great deal of practice and also you should become acquianted with the translation of the Quran.

Verse 249

فَلَمَّا فَصَلَ طَالُوتُ بِالْجُنُودِ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مُبْتَلِيكُم بِنَهَرٍ فَمَن شَرِبَ مِنْهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَمَن لَّمْ يَطْعَمْهُ فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي إِلَّا مَنِ اغْتَرَفَ غُرْفَةً بِيَدِهِ ۚ فَشَرِبُوا مِنْهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۚ فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَهُ هُوَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ قَالُوا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا الْيَوْمَ بِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِ ۚ قَالَ الَّذِينَ يَظُنُّونَ أَنَّهُم مُّلَاقُو اللَّهِ كَم مِّن فِئَةٍ قَلِيلَةٍ غَلَبَتْ فِئَةً كَثِيرَةً بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ ‎﴿٢٤٩﴾

As Saul set out with the troops, he said, ‘Allah will test you with a stream: anyone who drinks from it will not belong to me, but those who do not drink from it will belong to me, barring someone who draws a scoop with his hand.’ But they drank from it, [all] except a few of them. So when he crossed it along with the faithful who were with him, they said, ‘We have no strength today against Goliath and his troops.’ Those who were certain that they would encounter Allah said, ‘How many a small party has overcome a larger party by Allah’s will! And Allah is with the patient.’ (249)

Breath 40

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites this part of verse 249 in a new maqam called Bastanikar. Bastanikar is one of the branches of maqam Sikah. It begins with Saba and at the very end descends into Sikah. The Sikah can clearly be heard in the word minnee. This maqam requires a great deal of expertise as it is a combined maqam. Masters of recitation like Sheikh Mustafa Ismail use such maqams effortlessly in their recitations. Here is the scale of this maqam:

Breaths 41-42

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites these parts of verse 279 in maqam Saba. The reason he is using this maqam for this verse is probably because Talut (Saul) and his people are in a very dire situation. They are all being tested to see how obedient they are to their king and army commander. Only a few of them pass the test. When they are to face their enemies, they see that they are much fewer in number. In addition, the enemies have a formidable champion named Jalut (Goliath). Under such harsh conditions, they pray to Allah and ask Him to help them defeat Jalut and his army. Maqam Saba is a very appropriate maqam for these passages especially because Talut and his army are praying sincerely to Allah to grant them victory with a great deal of sorrow and fear. These are the emotions that maqam Saba evoke.

Breath 43

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites this part of verse 279 in a cross between maqam Muhayyar and Husayni, albeit incomplete. Both maqams are branches of maqam Bayati. The second jins of this maqam is usually Rast on the fourth note. In this passage, the second jins of Rast can be clearly heard with no reference to the Bayati of the lower jins of these two maqams. This melody is a preliminary to a new maqam that we will hear shortly.

Breath 44

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites the last part of verse 279 in maqam Kurd. Maqam Kurd is a what is said to be a very spiritual, mystical, subtle, and delicate maqam. It evokes emotions of love, longing, spirituality, joy, and sometimes sadness owing to being distanced from a lover (Allah to be specific). Sheikh Mustafa Ismail rarely uses this maqam in his recitations. This is the only place in this recitation where he has used maqam Kurd. Here is the scale of maqam Kurd for reference:

This maqam does not have quarter tones like most Arabic maqams. Therefore, it is similar to Western music to the ear. In fact, Phrygian mode almost identically conforms to maqam Kurd.

Verse 250

Breath 45

Now is the time for the battle. Sheikh Mustafa Ismail modulates to maqam Nahawand. On the word qalu, Sheikh Mustafa Ismail reads a Rast or an Ajam where he stops on the second note. It gives a special flavor to the ending of this breath. In addition, this melody creates suspense and anticipation for the listener to see how the reciter wants to recite the next part of the verse. As for maqam Nahawand and why he uses this maqam, it is said that maqam Nahawand is neither too sad nor too happy a maqam. Nahwand is said to be a storytelling maqam in that it evokes feelings of sadness, grandeur, majesty, and most importantly excitement. Sheikh Mustafa Ismail is extremely adept at using this maqam in his recitations.

In terms of melody, maqam Nahawand bears a close similarity to the minor scale in Western music. Nahawand is the name of a city in Iran, Hamedan province. Here is the scale of maqam Nahawand:

The first jins is Nahawand, and the second jins is usually Hijaz while ascending and Kurd while descending. Of course, Sheikh Mustafa usually uses a variation where the second jins is Bayati, a branch of Nahawand known as ‘Ushaq Masri:

Breath 46

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail continues reciting in maqam Nahawand for this part of the verse. He uses the higher degrees of this maqam as in the first five notes. At the end of the breath where he wants to resolve the melody, he hints at a branch of Nahwand known as Nahawand Murassa’. Nahawand Murassa’ has a Hijaz tetrachord (set of four notes) on the fourth note of Nahawand making it a sadder maqam. This is very much in line with the meaning of the verse because the army of Talut are supplicating Allah and earnestly asking Him to grant them patience.

Verse 251

فَهَزَمُوهُم بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَقَتَلَ دَاوُودُ جَالُوتَ وَآتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَعَلَّمَهُ مِمَّا يَشَاءُ ۗ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّفَسَدَتِ الْأَرْضُ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ ‎﴿٢٥١﴾

Thus they routed them with Allah’s will, and David killed Goliath, and Allah gave him kingdom and wisdom and taught him whatever He liked. Were it not for Allah’s repelling the people by means of one another, the earth would surely have been corrupted; but Allah is gracious to the world’s people. (251)

Breath 47

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail modulates to maqam Ajam when reciting this passage. In this part of the verse, Allah says that they defeat their enemies by His leave. Sheikh Mustafa Ismail uses a different maqam, that is, Ajam, to change the atmosphere of his recitation. Maqam Ajam is more happy a maqam than a sad one. It can be used when reciting verses about paradise, its rewards, blessings of the pious, and other good things. Maqam Ajam is similar to the major scale in Western music. This is the scale of maqam Ajam:

Maqam Ajam is made up of two trichords (sets of three notes) of jins Ajam on the first and fifth notes. This maqam is usually a descending maqam, meaning it starts from the octave and slowly descends to the tonic as can be heard from Sheikh Mustafa Ismail’s above recitation.

Breath 48

This passage is where the battle between David and Goliath begins, and ends. Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites this verse with aggressiveness in the jawab of maqam Nahawand to depict the battle scene. He lays emphasis on the word mulk and hikmah, which mean kingdom and wisdom respectively. He also recites Dawud and Jalut symmetrically to show that these two faced and fought each other.

Breath 49

Sheikh Mustafa once again modulates to maqam Ajam. The battle is over. Now, Allah gives kingdom and wisdom to David and teaches him whatever He wants. Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites this part of the verse with a smooth and graceful method where he starts from the highest note, slowly descends to the lowest note, and once again rises to the highest note. He places stress on the words mulk and hikmah to show their importance.

Breath 50

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail switches to maqam Nahawand and tries to depict the fact that it is Allah’s will that He repels (and kills) one person (who causes corruption) through another so that there would be no corruption on earth, and Allah’s grace encompasses the entire world. When a righteous person such as David kills a wicked person such as Goliath, Allah is keeping the earth from being corrupted. Therefore, Allah is explaining the philosophy behind holy wars. If everyone only says they want peace and never go to war and stand up for their rights, the wrongdoers will come to power and spread corruption all over the world.

Verse 252

تِلْكَ آيَاتُ اللَّهِ نَتْلُوهَا عَلَيْكَ بِالْحَقِّ ۚ وَإِنَّكَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ ‎﴿٢٥٢﴾‏

These are the signs of Allah, which We recite for you in truth, and you are indeed one of the apostles. (252)

Breath 50-51

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail changes the maqam to Ajam once again. This is one of his specialties. Every time Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites in Nahawand, he almost always makes references to maqam Ajam as well. He changes the qira’ah and riwayah to Warsh ‘an Nafi’ in breath 51.

Breath 52

Sheikh Mustafa recites verse 252 for the third time but this time in the jawab al-jawab of maqam Nahawand. This is actually a branch of maqam Nahawand called ‘Ushaq Masri. It has a Bayati tetrachord on the upper part of the scale. The Bayati can be heard on the word innaka. The jawab al-jawab of a maqam is usually used when a reciters wants to emphasize something. This verse is Allah speaking to the Prophet (s). Sheikh Mustafa Ismail lays emphasis on the part of the verse that says, “Indeed you are one of the apostles,” to show the veracity of Prophet Muhammad’s (s) prophethood and apostleship.

Surah Tariq Verses 1-4

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِوَالسَّمَاءِ وَالطَّارِقِ ‎﴿١﴾‏ وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ ‎﴿٣﴾‏ إِن كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَّمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ ‎﴿٤﴾

In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful

By the heaven, and by the nightly visitor (1) (and what will show you what is the nightly visitor? (2) It is the brilliant star): (3) there is a guard over every soul. (4)

Breath 53-55

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail begins reciting a new surah, which is Surah Tariq. He also changes the maqam because the surah has changed. The maqam he uses is maqam Rast that is known as “the Father of Maqams.” This is because maqam Rast is extensively used in Quran recitation. This maqam is very powerful and attracts listeners. In terms of it being happy or sad, maqam Rast is mostly a happy and uplifting maqam. Due to its charisma and magnetism, maqam Rast is used when a very important message is being conveyed. Here is the scale of maqam Rast:

As you can see, the upper jins is Rast ascending and Nahawand descending.

Breath 56

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites Surah Tariq one more time from the beginning. This time he says Allahu akbar before saying the Bismillah. The reason he repeats the surah from the beginning is that he changes the qira’ah to Khalaf ‘an Hamzah. When you repeat a verse or a number of verses, you must have a good reason to do so. You could either change the maqam, qira’ah, or the pitch of your voice. Sheikh Mustafa is still reciting in maqam Rast.

Breath 57

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites verses 2-4 of Surah Tariq in another branch of maqam Rast known as Nairuz. It is the combination of Rast at the lower jins and Bayati at the upper jins. Here is a scale of this maqam:

Surah Tariq Verses 5-14

فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ ‎﴿٥﴾‏ خُلِقَ مِن مَّاءٍ دَافِقٍ ‎﴿٦﴾‏ يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ ‎﴿٧﴾‏ إِنَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَجْعِهِ لَقَادِرٌ ‎﴿٨﴾‏ يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ ‎﴿٩﴾‏ فَمَا لَهُ مِن قُوَّةٍ وَلَا نَاصِرٍ ‎﴿١٠﴾‏ وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الرَّجْعِ ‎﴿١١﴾‏ وَالْأَرْضِ ذَاتِ الصَّدْعِ ‎﴿١٢﴾‏ إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلٌ فَصْلٌ ‎﴿١٣﴾‏ وَمَا هُوَ بِالْهَزْلِ ‎﴿١٤﴾

So let man consider from what he was created. (5) He was created from an effusing fluid (6) which issues from between the loins and the breast-bones. (7) Indeed He is able to bring him back [after death], (8) on the day when the secrets are examined (9) and he shall have neither power nor helper. (10) By the resurgent heaven, (11) and by the furrowed earth: (12) it is indeed a conclusive discourse, (13) and not a jest. (14)

Breaths 58-67

Verses 5-14 of Surah Tariq are all recited in maqam Rast.

Verse 15-17

إِنَّهُمْ يَكِيدُونَ كَيْدًا ‎﴿١٥﴾‏ وَأَكِيدُ كَيْدًا ‎﴿١٦﴾‏ فَمَهِّلِ الْكَافِرِينَ أَمْهِلْهُمْ رُوَيْدًا ‎﴿١٧﴾‏

Indeed they are devising a stratagem, (15) and I [too] am devising a plan. (16) So respite the faithless; give them a gentle respite. (17)

Breath 68

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites verses 15-17 of Surah Tariq in a branch of maqam Rast known as Suznak. Maqam Suznak is a combination of jins Rast on the lower jins and Hijaz on the upper jins. The Hijaz jins can be heard in the second kaydan and also on its ikhfa’ of nun sakinah. Here is a scale of maqam Suznak:

Breaths 69-73

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail repeats verses 11-17 of Surah Tariq but this time in maqam Sikah. Maqam Sikah is a very happy and joyful maqam that one can use for verses that have to with paradise, the rewards and blessings of Allah, and other good things. Here is the scale of this maqam:

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites in the full scale when he recites verses 15-17 of Surah Tariq, meaning the 73rd and last breath of this passage. The upper Rast can be heard in the words famahhili al-kafirin amhilhum.

Surah Inshirah

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

أَلَمْ نَشْرَحْ لَكَ صَدْرَكَ ‎﴿١﴾‏ وَوَضَعْنَا عَنكَ وِزْرَكَ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ الَّذِي أَنقَضَ ظَهْرَكَ ‎﴿٣﴾‏ وَرَفَعْنَا لَكَ ذِكْرَكَ ‎﴿٤﴾‏ فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا ‎﴿٥﴾‏ إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا ‎﴿٦﴾‏ فَإِذَا فَرَغْتَ فَانصَبْ ‎﴿٧﴾‏ وَإِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَارْغَب ‎﴿٨﴾‏

In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful.

Did We not open your breast for you (1) and relieve you of your burden (2) which [almost] broke your back? (3) Did We not exalt your name? (4) Indeed ease accompanies hardship. (5–6) So when you are done, appoint, (7) and supplicate your Lord. (8)

Breath 74-75

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail begins reciting Surah Inshirah verses 1-2 in another branch of maqam Rast known as Kirdan. Kirdan and Rast are not so much different except Kirdan emphasizes the eight note and is more of a descending maqam unlike Rast, which is more ascending. The scale is the same. This maqam is very powerful because it is usually jawab al-jawab and one’s pitch is very high when reciting in this maqam. It is used to highlight the meaning of a specific verse that everyone to which everyone must pay attention. The first verse of Surah Inshirah is Allah directly addressing Prophet Muhammad (s) who is telling him, “Did We not open your breast for you?” This means, “Did Allah not expand your chest so that you could bear hardships with greater ease?”

Breath 76-77

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail continues Surah Inshirah in maqam Rast.

Breath 78-79

Sheikh Mustafa Ismail ends his recitation by reciting the last verse of Surah Inshirah using a combination of maqam Rast and maqam Bayati toward the end of the verse. He then says Sadaqallah in maqam Bayati.

This was the analysis of the recitation of Sheikh Mustafa Ismail, Surah Baqarah verses 238-252, Surah Tariq, and Surah Inshirah. We will analyze other outstanding recitations by various reciters in future articles.

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