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I am just learning the rules pertaining to noon saakinah and tanwin. The rules make sense to me but I am not quite sure about..

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Assalamu 'alaykum
Thank you for your wonderful website!
I am non-Arab and not yet a Muslim although I intend to take the shahada very soon. I have made good progress teaching myself principles of tajweed considering I have no teacher by using your site and a few books on the subject. I am just learning the rules pertaining to noon saakinah and tanwin. The rules make sense to me but I am not quite sure about the position of the tongue during ikhfa'. The sources I have read say to place the tongue in a position of readiness to articulate the letter following noon while holding the ghunna for two counts. They warn not to touch the upper part of the mouth with the tip of the tongue but they don't mention any other part of the tongue. Does any part of the tongue such as the very back touch the roof of the mouth? And when they say to place the tongue in a position of readiness, does this imply that the tongue is placed close to the specific letter it is about to articulate? If it is, the tip of the tongue would be in a different position during an ikhfa' with a dhal than in an ikhfa' with a sheen. It seems that the only way to achieve a ghunna as strong as a normal meem or noon is to seal off part of the mouth with the tongue. Also, when one pronounces an ikhfa' a and suddenly seals of his nostrils, should the sound be partly or totally blocked? Often when I try this experiment, the sound is muffled, proving that nasalization is occurring, but it is not completely stopped. When one pronounces ikhfa' or idgham, should any sound at all come through the mouth or should it somehow be restricted to the nose.
Finally, I have a question pertaining to the formation of the vowels in Arabic. The rules of tajweed state that the vowels are formed by vocalization accompanied by the rounding of the lips, the opening of the mouth, and the dropping of the jaw. The first two make sense to me, but I do not see how dropping the jaw alone could ever produce the sound of kasrah or madd ya'. Physically, to produce the "ee" sound at least in English, the jaw is actually raised, making the space in the mouth very small. In addition, the middle of the tongue is raised, further decreasing the space and thus creating the specific "closed" quality of the vowel. Based on the recordings of Qur'aan reciters I have listened to, the kasrah and ya sounds very similar to the English equivalent. I do not understand how this sound can be produced "only" by the vibration of the vocal cords and the "dropping of the jaw." Another question I have pertaining to vowels is whether the sound lengthened Waw or dammah is exactly like saying an alif with rounded lips or if the tongue changes position when the lips are rounded to pronounce waw. basically, I want to know if when pronouncing alif, the tongue completely relaxed and how it changes if at all, when pronouncing the other two vowel sounds.

 One last thing that I find confusing is what is technically meant by saying that the vowels are produced from an approximate area of the throat while the corresponding consonants waw and ya are from specific places in the mouth.
I truly appreciate your patience and help,
wa salaam

Answer

Wa alaikum assalaam.

You are most welcome.

We are quite amazed how much tajweed you understand and the details in your questions, and pray that you will soon take the shahadah so you can apply your knowledge of tajweed in your worship. 

In the ikhfa’ of the saakinah, the tongue should not touch any part of the mouth, including the back part.  If the tongue were to touch the posterior portion of the mouth, or close it off, the sound would be very similar to the .   The ghunnah sound, or nasalization, does not require the posterior portion of the mouth to be close off for it to be emitted.  You are quite correct about the position of the tongue changing depending on the letter following the saakinah, and this affects the sound too so that the  before a  sounds different than the  before a . 

The sound during the  is approximately 75 % part ghunnah and 25% part letter, though this percentage varies slightly depending on the letter after the  saakinah.  If it were 100% ghunnah then the sound would be completely cut off when closing off the nostrils.  During the idghaam with ghunnah, the sound should be 50% of the letter and 50% ghunnah.  

The sound of the long  is produced by lowering of the jaw, not dropping of the jaw.  The two terms may sound similar, but they are quite different.  When one says a long  there is a retraction of the jaw, and that is what the term “lowering” refers to, not a physical drop in the jaw, but a retraction movement, such as in the English "E". 

If you let your vocal cords vibrate by making a simple sound like the “aaaa” sound said when a doctor looks in your throat, and keeping that sound change the position of your mouth, opening the mouth horizontally, then rounding lips, and then lowering of the jaw, it should demonstrate the principle of the vibration of the vocal chords and the accompany mouth and jaw movements for each of three letters, the alif, the lengthened   and the lengthened .  The only thing that has changed is the mouth and jaw position for each of the sounds, the sound produced by the vocal chords vibrating remains the same. The sound is produced by the non-specific area in the throat and mouth and accompanying it is a specific jaw or mouth movement.    That is the meaning of an approximate area; you can not specifically identify the place the sounds location.  The voweled  is produced specifically from the two lips and the voweled  is produced specifically from the middle of the tongue. 

You are very welcome, and we ask Allah to guide you to the shahadah soon and grant you useful knowledge as a Muslim, including knowledge of the Qur'an and its recitation. 

Wa assalaam

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