To give your recitation a quick boost, try ‘Itmaam-ul-Harakaat’. No, it’s not a medicine from Yemen. ‘Itmaam’ simply means completion & ‘harakaat’ could be loosely translated to mean vowels. It means fine-tuning the vowels. Unlike English, unitary vowels in Arabic are not letters – thus not written out explicitly. Instead, they are shown with either of the following 3 marks above or below a letter.

Fathah: straight stroke on top of a letter, pronounced like the ‘a’ as in “bat”. The common mistake is to pronounce it as the ‘a’ in “ball”, thus making it heavy. Bear in mind that heavy letters are only a minority (7 of 28), so for most cases pick up the “bat” and throw the “ball” away. Trust me on this.

Kasrah: straight stroke below a letter, pronounced as the ‘e’ in “bee” & not as the ‘ay’ in “bay”. Say Bismillah. Go ahead, I’m waiting. See? Did you say “base”millah (really bad)? or “bes”millah (still wrong)? or “bis”millah(correct) as in “biscuit”?

Imagine it is night-time & you are standing at the shore of a “bay” when a “bee” attacks you from behind. You have two options: jump in the “bay” or fight the “bee”. Well, if you are carrying the “bat” from the first vowel, you can easily fight the “bee”.

Dammah: looks almost like a ‘9’ & found above the letter. It is pronounced as the ‘oo’ in “moon”. This requires that your lips make a complete circle as they extend outwards. Try imitating Lifesavers. Don’t eat ’em though – not halal. Anyways, whatever you do, don’t pronounce it like the ‘o’ in “moan”. Hence, the spelling ‘Mohammed’ is wrong. It should really be ‘Muhammed’.

So after fighting the “bee” with your “bat”, you look at the beautiful “moon” and praise Allah. For either the “ball” or the “bay” would have had you “moan”ing right now.