Friday, October 23, 2009

Note to myself - wait..

Today I got another lesson in humility. The university where I am doing my law conversion degree has a basement hall for Muslims to go and pray. Today I was rushing there after my last lecture to catch the Maghreb (post-sunset) prayer. They had already begun and through the microphone I could here the young man, who usually leads the prayers, reading some verses from the Qur'an out loud. However the pronunciation was off, way off. As I performed my purification I remembered shaking my head. I was sure he seemed really knowledgable when I had met him previously, how could he be making such mistakes? I joined them and listened as we began the next verses. This time he repeated the same segment, but pronouncing it the way I had always heard it.

As soon as we finished, he turned around and explained to us what happened. The Qur'an was taught to the Prophet Muhammad in seven different ways. Two of these ways were lost forever at the time of the Prophet, but the last five were preserved. He had been reciting an alternative pronunciation of some commonly used verses and of course this was perfectly legitimate, if unusual to me. Inwardly I was humbled as to the arrogance I assumed internally at being a native speaker of Arabic. It turned out I knew nothing and it was meant that this evening I was to be humbled by an Asian man whose pronunciation and recitation of the Qur'an is better than anything I can muster.

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