Ghunnah Meaning in English

Ghunnah Meaning in English

Ghunnah is a term used in the Arabic language and it is a crucial aspect of Tajweed. Ghunnah meaning in English is often translated to nasalization, but its meaning goes beyond mere pronunciation. It adds a depth of beauty to the recitation of the Quran, and its proper implementation is essential for the correct recitation of the holy book. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of Ghunnah in English and its significance in Quranic recitation.

Tajweed is the set of rules governing the pronunciation of words in the Quran and ensuring the preservation of the meaning of the verses. Originally, the word “Tajweed” comes from a verb meaning “to do well” or “to make better”. Tajweed includes many rules such as the articulation of letters (Makharij), the Madd, and the rule discussed in this article; the Ghunnah. The study of Tajweed is a lifelong pursuit for many Muslims, and it is considered a highly respected and noble practice.

So let’s delve into the Tajweed rule of Ghunnah starting with its meaning:

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What is Ghunnah?

So, what is Ghunna, both linguistically and in Tajweed?

  • Ghunnah in Arabic refers to the sound that is produced when air passes through the nasal cavity during the pronunciation of certain Arabic letters. The pronunciation of Ghunnah does not involve any other parts of the articulation system. A way to test the pronunciation of Ghunnah is to try and pronounce it with your nose closed. You’ll find that it is impossible to do so.
  • Ghunnah meaning in Tajweed is the nasalized sound that accompanies the pronunciation of Noon and Meem when there is a shaddah on them. This sound lasts for 2 counts.  

Ghunnah Letters

Ghunna letters include the letters meem (م) and noon (ن) as well as Tanween. When these letters are pronounced, the air is allowed to flow through the nose, creating a distinct sound that is different from the sound produced when the same letters are pronounced without Ghunnah.


  1. (إنَّ): in this word, the letter Noon ن has Shaddah on it which means that it will be pronounced with a nasalized Ghunnah sound that lasts for 2 counts.
  2. (ثُمَّ): the same applies to the letter Meem م in this word as it is nasalized and elongated for 2 counts. The Meem here would sound like the sound you make while thinking; mmm

This leaves the case of Ghunnah with Tanween but it will be covered in the following section that deals with the ranks of Ghunnah.

Ranks of Ghunnah

Ranks of Ghunnah

Ghunnah in Quran has four ranks or levels, each with its own set of rules and guidelines. Understanding the different ranks of Ghunnah is essential for proper Tajweed and Quranic recitation:

1. The Most Complete Ghunnah

It is called so because it is the longest form of Ghunnah. It takes place with Meem Mushaddad and Noon Mushaddad and its sound lasts for 2 counts. An example of this rank of Ghunna in Quran is found in verses like:

  • (عَمَّ يَتَسَاءَلُون)
  • (كَلَّا إِنَّهَا تَذْكِرَة)  

Another case that falls under this category is Idgham with Ghunnah which occurs with Noon Saakin and Tanween. When Noon Saakin or Tanween are followed by one of the letters grouped in the word ينمو, they are merged into the following letter accompanied by the sound of Ghunnah. This case is found in the following verse from Quran:

  • (فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرَاً يَرَه)

This verse includes two examples of Idgham with Ghunnah:

  • (فمن يعمل) where the Noon letterن  is merged into the Yaa’ يand the sound of Ghunnah is added.
  •  (خيراً يره) where the Tanween goes through a similar process of merging or Idgham.   

2. The Complete Ghunnah

This Ghunnah Tajweed rule comes second in length after the most complete Ghunnah. While reciting Quran and coming across Noon Saakin or Meem Saakin followed by one of the Ikhfaa’ letters, they are hidden into the next letter in a way that is between Izhar and Idgham along with the sound of Ghunnah.

Ikhfaa is established with Meem Sakinah when it precedes the letter (ب) within two successive words such as (أَلَمْ يَعْلَم بِأَنَّ اللهَ يَرَى).

The Noon Saakin and Tanween follow a similar manner when they are followed by one of the fifteen letters grouped in this mnemonic:

صف ذا ثنا كم جاد شخص قد سما

دم طيباً زد في تقى ضع ظالما  

Examples of this Ikhfaa’ with Ghunnah in Quran are:

  • (مِن شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ)
  • (أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِي يَوْمِ ذِي مَسْغَبَة)


Bear in mind that the pronunciation of the Ghunnah sound in the case of Ikhfaa’ with Noon Saakin and Tanween should be done in accordance with the rule of what is known as تفخيم and ترقيق:

  • Five out of the fifteen Ikhfaa’ letters add a quality of تفخيم or heaviness to the Ghunnah with Noon Saakin or Tanween. These letters are (ص-ض-ط-ظ-ق). Thus, in the verse: (على الأرائك ينظرون), the Ghunnah in the Noon has a quality of heaviness due to the presence of the letter ظ after it.
  • On the contrary, the rest of the Ikhfaa’ letters don’t share the same influence as they result in a quality of ترقيق to the Noon Saakin or Tanween. The verse: (إن الإنسان لفي خسر) has a case of Ikhfaa where the Ghunnah is light because it is followed by س, not one of the تفخيم letters.

3. The Incomplete Ghunnah

A shorter version of Ghunnah than the previous one is found in this case when Noon Saakin and Meem Saakin are in a state of Izhar or clear pronunciation. Here, the Ghunnah is still detectable but it is less prevalent than the previous ones.

This takes place when Noon Saakin comes before one of the following letters:

 (ء – هـ – ع – ح – غ – خ) as in the following verse:

(فَصَلِّ لِرَبّكَ وَانْحَر)

As for the Meem Saakin, it is pronounced with an incomplete Ghunnah when it precedes any letter of the Arabic alphabet except (ب-م) and this occurs in this verse:

{الذَينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَاتِهِم سَاهُون}

4. The Most Incomplete Ghunnah

The last rank of Ghunnah is the shortest form. Unlike the previous ranks, the most incomplete Ghunnah coincides with the presence of Noon and Meem with Harakah (Dummah, Fatha or Kasrah). Examples of this Ghunnah in Quran include:

  • (فَوَسَطْنَ بِهِ جَمْعَا)
  • (لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ)

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