I would like to know how many punctuations are there and their respective action (i.e. stop for a while or don't stop at this point of sentence) that come in Quran.

For example, I know of one punctuation(not the exact letter) that is meant to be - the reader should not stop at this point while reading because that would make the sentence change it's meaning and could be totally opposite.

Please let me know.

  • 1
    To answer this correctly it needs more information: what qiraa'a/ reading is your special mushaf copy, and where was it printed, as north afrcian mushafs for example with qiraat warsh or qalun 'an Nafi' would only have " صه" while others may have a variety of signs!
    – Medi1Saif
    Jul 15 '16 at 8:51

These punctuation marks are called Alamatul Waqf or stopping punctuation.

(م) Meem: When seen, it means you must stop, it is a mandatory stop. Mind you, you will also see a meem After a Noon Sakin or a Tanwin which means that the rule of Iqlab is to be applied. You will see a Baa' after it, if you see no Baa' than there is no Iqlab.

(ج) Jeem: It means you are able to stop if you want.

(لا) Laam Alif: Means to not stop here

(س) ٍُSeen: Means to take a soft/short pause without taking a breath. You would also sometimes see a Seen above a Saad (ص) That means you pronounce the latter a seen instead of Saad, but if it is under the Saad than pronouncing it as a Saad (it's original pronunciation).

(قلي): Means that you can stop or move on, but stopping is more preferred than continuing on.

(صلي): Means you can stop or continue on, but continuing on is more prefered than stopping.

Three dots: enter image description here

This means you can stop at one of them but not both, so you can stop at (ريب) but not at (فيه), but you can not stop at (ريب) and (فيه) but just at one of them.

Source: http://ar.islamway.com/fatwa/18732

Tip: Usually you can look at the back of a Qur'an and you can see the list of the Alamat/Signs.

There is also Alamat in the Indian Script, they have most of the above. Here is the rest:

(ز) Zai: al-waqf al-mujawwaz, means that you can stop, but the better choice is not to stop.

(ص) Saad al-waqf al-murathkhas:

means that the statement has not yet been completed at this point but, because the sentence has become long, here is the place to breathe and stop rather than do it elsewhere.

سكته: means one should stop here breaking the sound but not the breath.


Means one must stop a little longer than saktah (pause). But, breath should not break here too.

(ق) Qaaf:

means that some phoneticians of the Qur'an identify a stop here while others do not.


This word is 'qif which means 'stop' and it is inserted where the reader may possibly think that a stop was not correct there.

Read More Here.

  • Good point adding the Indian mushaaf! I'm so used to the Madina Mushaaf, that I forget it's not the only one. Oct 18 '12 at 20:09
  • The saracenic.com link does not work. What does the star sign mean before some of the verses, like, for instance, before the light verse (and 2 of the examples you have above). I understand the mihrab means one must bow down in sujd, but I can't seem to find anything about the starts. Thank you! Feb 25 '16 at 20:48

Here is a summary of Alamat Al-Waqf (stopping punctuation).

  • At the end of each aya (usually denoted by the aya's number inside a stylized circle), it is wajib (mandatory) to stop. Al Fathihah 1:3
  • (مـ) Mandatory stop (wajib). Note that this is different from (م) which is a pronunciation symbol used to denote idgham (pronouncing the adjacent letter as meem). An'am 6:36
  • (قلى) It is better to stop (mustahab), but you may continue (ja'iz). Al-Baqara 2:106
  • (ج) Neutral. You may stop and you may continue. Choice is left to the reader. Both are ja'iz. Al-Kahf 18:13
  • (صلى) It is better to continue (mustahab), but you may stop (ja'iz). Al An'aam 6:17
  • (لا) Mandatory (wajib) to continue. ِAl-Nahl 16:32
  • () These come in two. If you stop in one (ja'iz) you must continue in the other (wajib). You do not stop at both (wajib). Al-Baqara 2:2
  • (س) You make a very short pause (without taking a breath), then continue. (ja'iz) Al-Mutafifeen 83:14

Source (Arabic)


These punctuation marks indicate where a person can/cannot or should/shouldn't stop. They're the tiny Arabic letters you see above the line you're reading.

What do they mean? They match up pretty much one-to-one with ahkaam taklifeeya.

  • Meem: A fard stop. You must stop here.
  • Qaaf + Laam: A musthabb stop. You should stop here.
  • Jeem: A mubah stop. You can stop here if you want.
  • Saad + Laam: A makrooh stop. It's better if you don't stop here.
  • Laam + Alif: A haram stop. You must not stop here.
  • Two Pairs of Three Dots: You need to stop at one of the two pairs of dots, but not both. Not sure if it's recommended, etc.

Reference (with pictures of the stops): Tajweed - Different Stops

  • Nicely explained above. However you have missed out ط
    – user6782
    Jul 5 '14 at 19:19

The given answers especially the one of @مجاهد only cover the complex punctuation, symbols or signs of waqf (pausing) which are applied in the most prevalent Moshaf's following the Egyptian standard moshaf المصحف المصري, which is the one followed in moshaf al-Madina which is printed in majma' al-malik Fahd مصحف المدينة النبوية المطبوع بمجمع الملك فهد لطباعة المصحف الشريف. I'll use the accepted answer of مجاهد as a reference for the Egyptian standard.

Waqf signs in northern africa

In northern Africa and most countries were the reading of Warsh or Qalun from Nafi'i is wide spread an other very simple punctuation is used:

For example in the tajweed Quran printed by dar al-Ma'arifah دار المعرفة (Damascus), here surah al-Ma'un 107:

enter image description here

or a moshaf written in the morrocan-andalusian calligraphy style (3rd. page surah al-Baqarah verse 5-15):

enter image description here

Note that in this calligraphy style the letter فاء has no point on it while the letter قاف looks like a فاء: For example enter image description here is فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ. There's also a simplified North African calligraphy which is easier to read as it looks like the Egyptian handwriting style.

The only symbol for waqf used in this moshaf is the Arabic letter صاد ssad ("ص" in the text) or a simplified صه, (you may see it written in a diagonal position in the 2nd picture) which is an Arabic expression and means keep quiet.

waqf signs in Turkish and Indian Moshafs

In India and Turkey they follow the signs of waqf of the Imam as-Sijaawandi السجاوندي (died 540 a.H.) in his book 'ilal al-Waqf علل الوقوف and they are:

م Meem: for a mandatory waqf (pause).

ط Ta': for waqf al-motlaq الوقف المطلق which is similar to قلي in the Egyptian standard.

ج Jeem: it is allowed waqf (the similar as in the Egyptian standard).

ز Zay: it is allowed to do waqf but better not (similar as in the Egyptian standard).

ص Sad: al-Waqf al morakhas darouratn, it means it is allowed to do waqf here in case of necessity (similar as in the Egyptian standard)

لا Laa: Where one shouldn't make waqf!

In Pakistan you may find an additional sign:

ع 'Ayn: which is sign recommending to bow if you are reciting in a prayer.

(Source and also)



the medina mashaf is soo easy to read. the indian or south african print has about two dozen different stop signs.

we only have a 4 different stops in madina mashaf :) .

(قلى) better to stop but you can continue if you want to.

(ج) you can stop or continue

(مـ) you must stop here

(لا) you must continue

there are a a couple more that only appear in a few places in the quran - the seen and the three dots but they were mentioned already by other people


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