Ulum al Qur'an

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Tashkil

Tashkil is the name for the signs indicating the vowels in Arabic scripts. They were apparently unknown in pre-lslamic times. These signs help to determine the correct pronunciation of the word and to avoid mistakes.

Example:

Byt

Baitun

When more and more Muslims of non-Arab origin and also many ignorant Arabs' [Yaqut reports in his book irshad that al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf himself once read ahabba in 9: 24 wrongly as ahabbu, see GdQ. 111, 124, note 6.] studied the Qur'an, faulty pronunciation and wrong readings began to increase. It is related that at the time of Du'all (d. 69H/638) someone in Basra read the following aya from the Qur'an in a faulty way, which changed the meaning completely: :

That God and His apostle dissolve obligations with the pagans' (9: 3).

'That God dissolves obligations with the pagans and the apostle.'

The mistake occurred through wrongly reading rasulihi in place of rasuluhu, which could not be distinguished from the written text, because there were no signs or accents indicating the correct pronunciation. Unless someone had memorised the correct version he could out of ignorance easily commit such a mistake. [See also fihrist, 1, pp. 87-8.] The signs or accents to prevent such problems were introduced not long before the i'jam and then got the shape they have to this day: [Hughes,T.P.: A Dictionary of Islam London,1895 p.687.]

Name Old Style New Style
Fatha
Kasra
Damma

For an example of the old style see plate 5.

It has been suggested that the origin of fatha is alif, the origin of kasra is ya (without dots as in early books), and the origin of damma is waw. Hamza was previously written as 2 dots. [Abbott, N.: The Rise of the North-Arabic Script and its Koranic Development, Chicago, 1939, p. 39]