What Are the Ten Canonical Recitations of the Qur’an and How Can I Learn Them?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salam aleykum,

Can someone could give me a brief summary on the ten qirat (canonical recitations) and the different maqamat (musical tones)? What is the first canonical recitation I should learn first?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

There are ten mass-transmitted (mutawatir) canonical recitations of the Qur’an, in the sense that they all technically meet the conditions of such transmission. However, seven of them are generally greater in strength than the other three, namely, Ya`qub, Khalaf and Abu Ja`far. [`Itr, `Ulum al-Qur’an al-Karim]

All of these recitations, nevertheless, are essentially various dialects or ways of reciting the same agreed upon text, as taught by the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) to the Companions (sahaba), and them to the Followers (tabi`in) and so on.

If you would like to memorise them, you need to find a qualified reciter (qari) of the Qur’an who has a recognised license to teach them. Start by mastering the recitation of your cultural background, or that of your community, and then progress under your teacher’s guidance.

As for the musical tones (maqamat), they are something separate to the canonical recitations.

Please also see: Differences Between the Canonical Recitations of Qur’an and: What is the Basis for the Ten Modes of Recitation of the Qur’an? and: Beautifying One’s Voice

And Allah Most High alone knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Abdulmutlib12