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Tajweed Rules: Stopping & Pausing Signs in the Quran

In previous blog posts, we explained the importance of tajweed rules and why learning tajweed is essential in mastering Quran recitation. We went over the most common mistakes that are done when reciting the Quran, and the first one is making inappropriate starts and stops, which can go as far as changing the meaning of the Words of Allah SWT. In this article, we go over the main stopping signs that can be found in most commonly used maṣāḥif (plural of muṣḥaf, which designates a copy of the Quran) today, giving a short explanation and an example for each sign.

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List of stopping and pausing signs, their meanings and an example from the Quran


مـ – The Mandatory Stop

One must stop at this sign, which is a small "mīm" letter in the Arabic alphabet. Failing to stop at this sign would change the meaning of the verse or sentence.

إِنَّمَا يَسْتَجِيبُ الَّذِينَ يَسْمَعُونَ ۘ وَالْمَوْتَىٰ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُونَ

"Only those who hear will respond. But the dead - Allah will resurrect them; then to Him they will be returned."
Sūrah Al-Anʿām, 6:36


قلى – The Preferred Pause

It is better to stop but it is allowed to continue.

أَلَا إِنَّ لِلَّـهِ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَمَا يَتَّبِعُ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ شُرَكَاءَ ۚ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ

"Unquestionably, to Allah belongs whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth. And those who invoke other than Allah do not [actually] follow [His] "partners." They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying."
Sūrah Yūnus, 10:66


ج – The Permissible Stop

At this small "jīm" letter, one may stop or continue. Both are allowed.

الر ۚ تِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ

"Alif, Lam, Ra. These are the verses of the clear Book."
Sūrah Yūsuf, 12:1


س – The Silence Symbol

When encountering this small "sīn" letter symbol, take a brief pause without breaking your breath, then continue.

وَقِيلَ مَنْ ۜ رَاقٍ

"And it is said, 'Who will cure [him]?'"
Sūrah Al-Furqān


∴   – The Embracing Stop

This sign always comes up as a pair, with two sets of three pyramid-shape dots. One may only stop at one of these two signs.

ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

"This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah."
Sūrah Al-Baqarah, 2:2


صلى – The Preferred Continuation

It is better to continue but it is allowed to pause.

وَرَبَطْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ إِذْ قَامُوا فَقَالُوا رَبُّنَا رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَن نَّدْعُوَ مِن دُونِهِ إِلَـٰهًا ۖ لَّقَدْ قُلْنَا إِذًا شَطَطًا

And We made firm their hearts when they stood up and said, "Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never will we invoke besides Him any deity. We would have certainly spoken, then, an excessive transgression. 
Sūrah Al-Kahf, 18:14


لا – The Mandatory Continuation

At this sign, it is necessary to continue. One may not stop or pause.

وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ كُلَّمَا رُزِقُوا مِنْهَا مِن ثَمَرَةٍ رِّزْقًا ۙ قَالُوا هَـٰذَا الَّذِي رُزِقْنَا مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَأُتُوا بِهِ مُتَشَابِهًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ ۖ وَهُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

"And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow. Whenever they are provided with a provision of fruit therefrom, they will say, "This is what we were provided with before." And it is given to them in likeness. And they will have therein purified spouses, and they will abide therein eternally."
Sūrah Al-Baqarah, 2:25


Study these signs, learn everything you need to know about the science of tajweed and practice, practice, practice (!) with one of our Tajweed teachers insha'Allah!


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