How Dots & Vowels Were Added To The Quran.
BY: Anthony Bayyouk / Arab America Contributing Writer
Did you know the Quran was first written without dots or vowels on each word? Each Arabic letter has three sounds and each one is written differently. As an Arabic reader you know what sound it makes by where the dot is placed on the letter. Whether it’s on the top, middle or bottom. Just like in Spanish, if an accent (~) is put over a letter it can change the whole word.
Much time was spent adding the dots and vowels to the word in the Quran. There were also debates amongst scholars and religious leaders as to what they should wear. Each sentence had to be carefully studied to figure out what was trying to be said by the prophet and anyone else that contributed to the Quran. Some things were simpler than others such as names of people and cites. Other words such as nouns and adjectives were harder.
Scholars relied on institution, memory, and context to figure out what was trying to be said. I include memories because it was only a few years after the Prophet’s death when they tried to start adding dots and vouls, this is because Islam was spreading and other arabci dioletcs were not able to read the Quran.
Before dots were added people who taught or recited the Quran, used the movement of their mouth to incite what vowel was being used. For spreading the lips a dot was added above the letter, a dot below the letter for lowering the lower lip, and a dot right on the letter for rounding the lips. While this method was adequate, colors were also added to the Quran to define the symbols. In Iraq red color was used, in Madinah red was used for dots and yellow for symbols.
Above is an example of a Quran with red dots above and underneath letters. This Quran was said to be written in the 9th century and is still in decent quality today. The writing of the Quran was written in al-Kufah in Iraq. This photo is an example of how other regions in the middle east would add their own symbols to the Quran so it could be understood amongst their people.
Islam is alwas tought in arabic, even if it is not your native langage, a muslim will grow up to read and recite the Quran in the language it was original written in, arabic. This is because a translation of a word from Arabic to English, or French can mean something different. The scholars of Islam alwas want the same thing to be tought across the world without any gaps for misinterpretation.
The need to add dots and vowels to the Quran started when Islam spread around the middle east. The first follwers of Islam were able to understand the Quran whitout dots or Vowles because thats how there part of the middles east spoke and wrote. Other parts of the middle east spoke and wrote diffenty and it was nearly impossible for them to understand anything in the Quran. When verses in the Quran are translated to another dialect the meaning can change. This is why all muslims first learn the Quran in Arabic, because the first scholars and religious leaders believed the Quran can only be fully understood in its original language.
In 2015, The world’s oldest Quran was found in a library in the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Radiocarbon tests predict the writing is 1,376 years old, which dates it back to between 568 B.C and 645 A.d. That means it was written during the Prophet Mohammed’s lifetime.
Finding the oldest Quran in the world is a great discovery for all Muslims around the world. The person that wrote this Quran most likely knew and spent time with the Prophet Mohammed.
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