How do you pronounce “Allah” (الله) correctly?
Answer: You have to focus on the second “l” (ل) in Allah (الله). Let’s analyze the so-called Grand Word and derive two rules that are easy to remember.
What I mean here by correctly is the reading of the Qur’an according to the rules of Tajwīd (تَجْوِيد).
The word Tajwīd is derived from the triliteral root j-w-d (ج–و–د). Tajwīd literally means to make better; to ameliorate. It is the way of reciting the Qur’an according to well-established rules of pronunciation and intonation. Tajwīd is a religious duty, a so-called Fard (فَرْض), whenever a Muslim recites the Qur’an. A Muslim must try to read the Qur’an according to certain rules as good as he can and knows.
There are two important rules which bring us closer to the correct pronunciation of the word Allah:
The emphatic Arabic consonants خ ص ض ط ظ غ ق – known as Mufakhkham (مُفَخَّم) – are pronounced with a heavy accentuation, so-called Tafkhīm (تَفْخِيم). To produce this sound, the tongue elevates towards the roof of the mouth in order to force a thick and heavy sound that fills the mouth. This can be achieved either by pharyngealisation (pronounced while squeezing one’s voicebox) or by velarisation. The voicebox (larynx) is the part of the breathing tract which contains the vocal cords. Velarisation means that the tongue is drawn far up and back in the mouth towards the soft palate (velum).
The remaining letters – known as Muraqqaq (مُرَقَّق) – have a light accentuation, so-called Tarqīq (تَرْقِيق). They are pronounced normally, without pharyngealisation (except ع, which is often considered a pharyngeal sound). To produce this sound, the back of the tongue lowers, so that a flat sound is produced.
There are two letters which are special:
The Rā’ (ر) is pronounced with a heavy accentuation when accompanied by the vowel a (فَتْحة) or vowel u (ضَمّة). The rā’ is light when it is accompanied by the vowel i (كَسْرة).
The Lām (ل) in general is a Tarqīq-letter. However, this is not the case in the word Allah. The Lām in the word Allah can be pronounced as a thick (Tafkhīm) or thin (Tarqīq) letter depending on the vowel before. The rules are similar to the ones mentioned above for the letter Rā’.
Let’s check the Arabic word for God, Allah (الله), in detail. Scholars refer to this word as the Grand Word – in Arabic: Lafz al-Jalāla (لَفْظ الجَلالة). The word Allah is a special word in Arabic . It has a distinct appearance and is written with two Lām (ل) along with a Shadda (شَدّة). The word Shadda literally means strengthening and is marked by a small w on top (ّ_) in the Arabic script. It indicates a doubling/gemination of a consonant. This is found over the second Lām: الله. This is because Allah literally means the God; the first Lām is part of the definite article: al (ال).
Now let’s check the pronunciation.
When the word Allah is preceded by the vowel “a” (فَتْحة) or the vowel “u” (ضَمّة), then the Lām is pronounced in a distinct heavy manner – with Tafkhīm. This heavy Lām is thus articulated with the entire body of the tongue rather than its tip alone.
Let’s take for example the term Hezbollah (ِحِزْبُ الله), literally Party of Allah, which is the name of a Shia Islamist group and political party based in Lebanon. Or a part of the verse 58:22: “man haddaAllah” (ِمَنْ حَادَّ الله) which means: those who oppose Allah.
If, however, the preceding vowel is “i” (كَسْرة), then the Lām in Allah is light, such as in the Basmala: Bismillahi… (ِبِسْمِ الله الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ). So if a Muslim says “Bismillahi”, he should not pronounce the Lām with a heavy emphasis – instead, just with the tip of the tongue.
Picture (free to use): pixabay.com (chzaib)
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