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When reading the Quran in Arabic, I find that there are occasions on which I am unsure of the pronunciation. I am not talking about Qira'at, but rather:

  1. While my copy of the Quran is largely careful about placing diacritics (fathah, kasrah, dammah, sukun, tanwin, shaddah, etc.) on top of letters, there are cases when letters do not have any such indication of the associated "vowel" (often a "nun" at the end of a word or an "alif" at the beginning of a word). Does that mean the letter is silent and should not be pronounced at all, or that there is an invisible sukun, or something else?
  2. There are cases where there is a tiny "jim" or "mim" at the top-left end of a word. Is this letter meant to be ignored or is there a significance to it?
  3. Sentences (or perhaps I should say verses) often end with a diacritic but it is not to be pronounced since it is the end of the sentence. Or there is a tanwin at the end of a word in the middle of a verse, but the "nun" ending of the tanwin has to be ignored in order to connect the word with the next word due to a shaddah at the beginning of the next word. What is the purpose of having a diacritic that is ignored?
  4. The first word of some sentences has an "alif" that is to be ignored due to a waslah on top, but the next letter of that word has a shaddah. This puzzles me because there is nothing pronounced before the letter that has the shaddah on it, so how can the shaddah be pronounced?
  5. What does it mean when there is a dagger alif on top of a "ya" or "waw"? Is it just an alif or do the "ya" or "waw" play a role?
  6. On occasion, I have found some non-alphanumerical symbols such a symbol that looks like a house/mosque and a symbol that looks like one's leg when kneeling during prayer. These might be poor descriptions of the symbols. I was wondering what they meant. I have not found an explanation anywhere.

My questions, which are likely a product of my inexperience in the Arabic language, are:

  • Are there clear rules about how such words in the Quran should be pronounced based purely on reading it, or is another source necessary, such as hearing a recitation? If there are clear rules, I would greatly appreciate being given some examples as an explanation.
  • In the case that there is ambiguity, would it be acceptable for someone to produce a written version with clearer indicators of pronunciation or is it the case that only one spelling of the Uthmanic codex can be in production in Arabic, say for consistency?
  • These are too many questions in one post. You should consider asking each one in a specific question. While the general answer should be obvious there are certainly clear rules on how to pronounce any word in the qur'an however there are many different cases which may lead to small, but regulated differences. – Medi1Saif Jun 30 at 11:15
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Are there clear rules about how such words in the Quran should be pronounced based purely on reading it?

Yes, such rules do exist. Many editions of the Mushaf usually include a section at the end which contains a summary of those rules with examples for each one. You can find that section in this Mushaf, for example. Here are some screenshots from it:

Screenshots

or is another source necessary, such as hearing a recitation?

That's also correct. When in doubt, you should always listen to the verse/words pronounced by the trusted reciters, especially if your Arabic isn't that good (learning Quran should be by hearing anyway). Quran.com is a great resource for that matter:

  • You can select a surah, go to any verse in that surah and start listening to it.

  • You can choose between 12 well known reciters to hear how they pronounce it.

  • You can also click on a single word to hear its pronunciation (it's better to listen to the whole verse though because hearing a single word doesn't take into account whether you'll be stopping at that word or continuing).

I won't be commenting on your first (numbered) six points because they're mostly covered in the "rules" that I referred to above but I'd like to comment on one:

Sentences (or perhaps I should say verses) often end with a diacritic but it is not to be pronounced since it is the end of the sentence ... What is the purpose of having a diacritic that is ignored?

Note that this is not strictly related to the ends of the versus. If you stop on a word in the middle of a verse(1), you stop "on sukun" (i.e., ignore the diacritic). Similarly, at the end of the verse, you might continue to the next verse without stopping, in which case, you need to follow the diacritic (that's why it's there).

Finally, you should be aware that the way the Quran is written in Mushaf doesn't match the way we write the words in Modern Standard Arabic 100%; there are some differences and that's the way we received it since the age of Profit Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Sahaba.(2)

If you're comfortable listening to and understanding Arabic, these two videos (1, 2) explain the differences between the written Quran and how we write today. If you're interested about how the written Quran got to us and how the marks changed over time, you may watch these other two videos (1, 2).


(1) Stopping and continuing also have some rules which are summarized at the end of the same Mushaf linked above.

(2) I'm here talking about how the letters are drawn, not the diacritic or other marks since those were added later (along with the separate rules) to make it easier to read.

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