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I am unsure of how to pronounce the hamza in certain situations. As an English speaker, it is easy for me to pronounce this..

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Assalamu alaykum,
I am unsure of how to pronounce the hamza in certain situations. As an English speaker, it is easy for me to pronounce this letter at the beginning of a word but I am unsure of its sound when it is saakinah. The main problem is that the tajweed books never seem to classify its sifaat or characteristics. Mu'min is an example of a word in question. I can pronounce the hamza in this word two different ways. The way I assume to be correct is to not let any air escape after pronouncing the hamzah and to go directly to the meem. The other possibility is to let air escape in between the hamza and the meem as it does in the letters taa' and kaaf. When one stops on a word with hamza as the last letter such as in the word wuDoo', how long is the hamza held? I find it hard not to let a puff of air release after pronouncing it as if I where pronouncing a final taa'. Another question about a different issue regards the pronunciation of 'ayn and 7aa'. I was wondering if the tongue changes position at all during the pronunciation of these letters even though the articulation is in the middle of the throat. When I pronounce these two letters, my tongue appears to tense slightly and sometimes retract a bit from all the exertion in my throat.
I greatly appreciate any tips on the pronunciation of these letters.
Wa salaam

Answer

Wa alaikum assalaam wa rahmatullallahi wa barakatuh.

The hamzah has the characteristic of , which is the imprisonment of air, and it has the characteristic of  which is the imprisonment of sound.  The letter hamzah therefore is a strong letter with no release of air and no lengthening if sound.  It is a short guttural sound.  The tajweed books usually give you a list of letters that have one of the sets of two opposite characteristics, and the student of tajweed can therefore know the letters named have that specific characteristic and the rest of the letters have the opposite characteristic.  The books usually do not name every characteristic for each letter, but the student of tajweed can easily deduce them from the lists.  Please see: http://www.abouttajweed.com/intro_to_characteristics.htm , http://www.abouttajweed.com/al-hams_wa_al-jahr.htm , http://www.abouttajweed.com/ash-shiddah_at-tawassit_arrakhaawah.htm .

You are correct, in the word , the hamzah is pronounced with no release of air and the time held is very short, since no sound runs with it.  What is needed is that the articulation point is closed off as it is pronounced, the resultant sound is sharp and short as if someone hit you and cut off your air while you speak in the lower throat area. This is the same whether the unvoweled hamzah is in the middle of the word or the end of the word.  It does take practice to control, but is not too difficult. Insha’ Allah you will perfect it quickly.

When pronouncing the letters  and , there is a slight tensing of the tongue. It is a consequential tensing and not a goal in itself when pronouncing these two letters. 

We are not sure if you have access to audio recordings of some of the well known accomplished masters of recitation.  If you have speakers, you can listen to some recitation which may assist you in your noble quest for correct pronunciation.  We suggest you listen to either Sheikh Al-Husary: http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/engblue/audio.php?page=souraview&qid=463&rid=1  or Sheikh Abdullah Basfar: http://english.islamway.com/bindex.php?section=echapters&recitor_id=49 .

There is also a nice free online reciter program that allows the student of the Qur’an to set the number of times they wish to listen to an aayah, up to seven time, and choose from a list of reciters: www.reciter.org . Click on the word “reciter” in English to get the menu in English, then click on the upper right hand corner where it states “reading and repetition,” then you can choose the reciter (under options), the name of the surah and aayah range, and the number of times of repetition desired.

May Allah increase you in useful knowledge and grant you perfection in the recitation and application of the Glorious Qur’an.

Wa assalaam alaikum

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