Arabic Recitation Hints


The following points may be helpful if you are interested in learning the pronunciations right the first time, without getting overwhelmed.


Arabic has a number of unusual sounds. The special letters t,s, and h are indicated here but may be safely ignored by beginners.


The letters dh and z are pronounced by the Turks as identical to z. English speakers can sound them closer to the original by pronouncing the soft th of "the". (Not to be confused with the hard th of "thing", easily pronounced in Arabic and English, but which the Turks make an s! It is easy to get confused among the three languages; we can only try our best. Don't forget there is a true z in Arabic ‑‑ i.e. Razzâq‘Azîz, (Divine Names) ‑­and sometimes a true ‘s’ where you might not expect it ‑‑ i.e. ghâsiqin (Surah Falaq).


Try to make an ‘ayn  (`) by swallowing in the back of the throat. If you cant do it, don't drop it. You can get away with sounding it like ahamza (´), which is a simple but absolutely necessary stop in the flow of a word.


Turks also cannot easily pronounce kh and gh. The first turns into an ordinary h and the second is nearly dropped. Americans should try to sound these ‑‑ easier if you are from Jewish or German background!


Long marks (â) extend the actual time spent pronouncing a vowel. Differences in meaning are involved, so it is important to have a feel for this.


In the flow of a sentence, some syllables are given more emphasis than others, and in formal rhythmical recitations these are sometimes not the syllables‑you would expect. The stressed syllables in a phrase are indicated by capitalization (i.e. subHÂNaLLÂHi wal‑HAMdu liLLÂHi). Inshallah, this will help you recite in a fashion more recognizable to those who know the material well.


Occasionally you may encounter final letters of a word enclosed in parentheses (i.e. LÂ iLÂHa ILLÂ ANT(a)). They come at potential phrase breaks, and their pronunciation is optional, depending on how your breath is holding out.