By Sohaib Saeed
This post serves as an introduction to Solomon and the Queen for people who are less familiar with Qur’an recitation, or with the particular style which is exemplified by the reciter, Qari Hajjaj al-Hindawi.
The first thing to appreciate is that the Qur’an is a vocal and oral phenomenon, as much as – if not more than – it is written and read as a scripture. As I have explained elsewhere, Qur’an recitation can be seen both as a science and and art-form, in that it is governed by certain rules of pronunciation (known as tajweed), while the beauty of vocalisation is also encouraged and emphasised.
Listening to the Qur’an being recited by an expert is a highly spiritual experience, and may be deemed as an act of worship when done with that intention. The believer listens to receive guidance and to move his or her heart into greater submission to the Creator. Yet anyone may listen in on this divine discourse and appreciate the power of the Qur’an’s internal rhythms, as enhanced by the melodies of the reciter’s interpretation. The Egyptian tradition of performative recitation (mujawwad) is of particular note, and Qari Hindawi is a contemporary master of this tradition.
Now I shall mention some key features to bear in mind when watching Solomon and the Queen, and the recitation therein from Surat al-Naml (the Chapter of the Ants), verses 15-44.