How Do the Rules of Tafkhim and Tarqiq Apply to Harakat (Short Vowel Marks)?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


How do the rules of Tafkhim and Tarqiq apply to harakat short vowel marks? I’m confused as to why, for instance, I hear the “ba” in “barakah” being pronounced heavy (akin to the word ball, which rhymes with law), even though I hear others say that harakat are always pronounced light. I’d appreciate clarification on this matter.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him. Amin.


Regarding the vowels, it depends on which letter the vowels appear. In Arabic, there are letters classified as tafkhim (usually translated as emphatics). Ibn Al-Jazari states in al-Muqaddima al-Jazariyya:

وَحَرْفَ الاسْتِعْلَاءِ فَخِّمْ وَاخْصُصَا   الِاطْبَاقَ أَقْوَى نَحْوُ: قَالَ وَالْعَصَا

Translation: And the letters of Isti‘la, apply tafkhim (in them) and specify (those with) itbaq as (the tafkhim in them is) stronger like in the examples qala and al-‘asa.

Based on the above, all the letters of isti‘la (خص ضغط قظ) should be read emphatically (with tafkhim). Please note that the ba (ب) is not amongst those letters. The seven emphatic letters (خص ضغط قظ) are mentioned in line 22 of al-Muqaddima al-Jazariyya.


Accordingly, all the non-emphatic letters should be pronounced flat/empty. Regarding the ba, in particular, Ibn Al-Jazari also states:

(And apply tarqiq in) the ba (ب) of barq (برق), batil (باطل), bihim (بهم), and bi dhi (بذي) (…)

The ba should be read with tarqiq when it appears next to the letters of tafkhim. It is also clear that precaution is also needed when two tafkhim letters appear next to the ba, e.g., al-basar (البصر) and al-baqar (البقر). [ibid.]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick (with the guidance and assistance of Qari Saleem Gaibie)
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.