Tajweed: Different Stops

In this great month of Ramadan, people will be reciting the Qur’an more, insha’Allah. While we recommend everybody to get a colour-coded Arabic-text mushaaf–because it makes it easy to recite with 100% perfect tajweed once you learn the rules–sometimes, deciphering some of the symbols can be a bit tricky.

In this first post, we’re going to insha’Allah discuss different stops in the mushaf. You may have seen these stop symbols: tiny little letters (meem, qaaf+lam, jeem, saad+lam, lam+alif) written above the text. These five correspond roughly to the five ahkaam taklifee–fard, mustahab, mubah, makrooh, and haraam.

Meem Stop: The meem stop looks like a tiny letter meem. Here’s an ayah with a meem stop (red meem above the blue word):

A meem-stop is like a fard thing; you have to stop on that word. You cannot continue. So stop!

Qaf-Lam Stop: The qaf-lam stop looks like the letters qaf and lam joined together with a little squiggly line underneath. Here’s an ayah with it:

The qaf-lam stop is like a mustahab/sunnah thing; you don’t have to stop, but it’s better if you do. So stop!

Jeem Stop: The jeem stop is a small jeem. Here’s an ayah with it:

The jeem stop is like a mubah thing; you can stop or not stop, there’s no recommendation either way. It’s up to you if you want to stop or not. (Maybe they put it in to show that you can stop there; us non-Arabs, how would we know otherwise where we can stop, without butchering the text?)

Saad-Lam Stop: The saad-lam stop looks like the qaf-lam stop (except with a saad instead of a qaf)–it has a little squiggly line underneath. Here’s an ayah:

The saad-lam stop is like a makrooh thing; you can stop, but it’s recommended you don’t stop. (It’s not really a stop, more like an anti-stop, an “ok, you can stop, but it’s better if you don’t.”) This is similar to a makrooh action, where you get no sin for doing it, but a reward for avoiding it.

Lam-Alif Stop: The lam-alif stop is really the word “laa,” meaning “No!” Here’s an example:

The laa stop is like a haraam thing (sort of). You DON’T stop there! Why? If you stop in it, it can change the meaning. In fact, the meaning can become kufr!

The most obvious example of this is in Surah Baqarah:

In this verse, there’s a lam after “yukhaadi’uwna Allaha.” Why? If you stop there, it means “they (think to) deceive Allah.” Is it possible to deceive Allah, the All-Knowing? No!

Edit: There seems to be some sort of difference of opinion about this; however, both opinions are authentic and are backed by scholars. For more details, please consult with a shaykh of Tajweed.

The final stop is, well, a triangle stop. The triangle stop looks like a triangle made up of three dots, like so:

You can see that there are two of these guys–they always work in pairs. One is over the word “rayba,” and one is over “fiyhi.” It’s a mubah stop; you can stop, or not stop; but if you stop, stop at either one of the words, NOT both!

So in this example, you can stop after “rayb.” That would give this verse the meaning: “This is the book without doubt; in it is guidance for the believers.” If you stopped after the second word, “fiyhi,” you get: “This is the book with no doubt in it; guidance for the believers.” Kinda similar, kinda different!

Before we conclude, we’d like to reiterate: we are NOT saying it’s fard, haram, etc. to stop or not stop in certain places. Rather, we are likening the possibility of “stop” or “don’t stop” to the ahkaam taklifee, which everyone is familiar with.

And that sums up the stops in the mushaf! Learn them, know them, and do what you can; in the end, reciting is ibaadah, and it’s hard, but insha’Allah you get lots of reward for doing it.


21 thoughts on “Tajweed: Different Stops

  1. Ilm Seeker

    If someone can link to (or has access to) larger pictures of the stops, that they can send, please post a comment with your email so we can get in touch and use those, instead :)

  2. Nazir

    Salaam alaykum wa rahmatullahu wa barakatuhu

    JazakAllah khayran for the post – mashaa’Allah it is great that we are seeing posts on all different topics.

    But I wanted to point out that it is incorrect to say that “laa” means it is haraam to stop.

    To quote from Ma’aariful Qur’an, volume 1 pp. 34-35:

    “لا: This letter lâ is an abbreviation of lâ taqif, It means ‘do not stop here,’ but it does not imply that making a stop here is impermissible, because there are certain places bearing this sign where making a stop brings no harm and making an initiation from the following word is also permissible. Therefore, the correct meaning of this sign is: If a stop is made here, it is better to go back and read over again. Initiation from the next word is not approved (al-Nashr [of IBN AL-JAZAREE], 1/233).”

    End quote.

    Also the example you gave from Suratul-Baqarah about the meaning of the verse changing is also not correct. The words “think to deceive” appear in brackets because they are part of the necessitated meaning (iqtidaa an-nass). Here is a recitation from Shaykh Uthman Khan where he stops at this place in the verse:

    Also, here in verse 2:159 (second verse recited in the audio) he stops at a place marked with “laa”, because it is not impermissible:

    I would strongly encourage you to not take from internet websites in these issues but to take from qualified teachers who have studied the classical sources on tajweed, eg. that of Ibn al-Jazaree.

    waAllahu ta’alaam Alam

    JazakumAllahu khayran

  3. Ilm Seeker Post author

    Wa’alikum as-salaam wa rahmatullah,

    There is difference of opinion about this. For those especially whom are students of knowledge, it is very important to understand what this means and how we should react to it. Insha’Allah I will write an entire post about this.

  4. Saqib

    Salaam bro,

    Where did you get the PNG image files used here? I have been looking for a long time to find them but cannot seem to find them anywhere. Are you aware of a complete quran set available in these?

  5. Ilm Seeker Post author

    @Saqib Wa’alikum as-salaam,

    Allahu a’lam, I don’t remember as it was two years ago. Most masaahif (copies of the Qur’an) have the stops marked in them — at least the Uthmani script (popular in Saudiyyah and abroad), it keeps stops above the text (not interspersed in the middle).

  6. Ilm Seeker Post author

    @Saharla get an Uthmani-script mushaf and take a look. There should be a page at the beginning or end describing the stops (possibly in English, probably in Arabic).

  7. Aziza

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa baraktu,

    Beautiful post, MashaAllah. Would you happen to know if it is permissible to stop at the lam stops when you are memorizing an ayah? For example, the last ayah of surah 73 is quite long and if you wanted to break it up into small segments for memorization, would it be allowed to end one of those segments at the lam stop? Hope this makes sense.

    JazakAllah Khair!

  8. Ilm Seeker Post author

    Wa’alikum as-salaamu wa rhamatllahi wa barakatuh,

    @Aziza I don’t know. You should ask your memorization/tajweed teacher (or someone else’s if you don’t have one).

  9. NiteLite

    Jazakum Allahu khair for this! You made it so easy to understand. I’ve always wondered the meaning of each of those symbols and couldn’t quite get it down. But you made it easy to understand and remember. May Allah reward you!

  10. mir

    What do the numbers in “ain”, on top of it, below and inside Ain, at the end of a Rukoo mean?

  11. abdulraheem lukman

    assalamu alykum warahmotullahi wabarakaatuhu: pls sir, where we have the alamatul waqf at the back of the qur’an, if you count those signs of waqf from one to six the next (7 which look like sukun ,and 8 which also look like zero) are for what sir?

  12. Sfhashmi

    Salam, jzk for the info, what about the saad stop with a small saad in the middle of an ayah?

  13. mudassar

    I know this is old but the squiggly line you are referring to is a yaa… Not just a line.

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