Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 06 December 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the history of timbre in Qur’anic recitation, focusing on the intersection of the interior, conceptual, rule-based space of the mouth and the exterior, physical, highly variable architecture of mosques. In both cases, timbre plays a critical role in making Qur’anic recitation recognizable, even to untrained ears, and even if—especially in the case of mosques—that predominant, stereotyped setting is not necessarily representative of the tradition more broadly. The article examines the tension between Qur’an as fixed text and as recitation (qur’ān) and the challenges of reconciling these two notions of Qur’an into a definitive, unitary whole, that proved elusive in the early centuries of Islam, precisely on grounds of timbral, phonetic, and dialectal questions. At the same time, the elaborate design of rules for proper recitation has been so fully developed over the last millennium that it has become a kind of cultural technique, a rule-based algorithm that imposes on human performers a set of media-like operations. Indeed, recent computer science and engineering have fully embraced the algorithmicizing of vocality and timbre in recitation to the point of creating a number of software platforms designed to reproduce or assess the proper application of these rules. In all these different trajectories—mouth, mosque, and media—the alphabetics of the Qur’an play a central role in transducing a sacred text into the contingencies of the material world.

Keywords: Qur’anic recitation, tajwid, mosques, Islam, cultural technique, algorithm, alphabetics, timbre

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.