Speaking to IQNA on the anniversary of Sheikh Rifat’s death, Yahya al-Sahaf said a spirit of originality and sublime spiritual values in addition to modern features can be noticed in the Egyptian master’s recitations.
He said the skills and the melodies used by Rifat were novel as they could not be heard in the recitations of the time or earlier.
Rifat employed special techniques and principles to open a new door to a modern style of recitation, he stated.
He introduced a strong and credible style of recitation that can be a source for other reciters to refer to, the Iraqi Quran master said.
He went on to say that one of the main features of Rifat’s style is boosting the relation between musical melodies and recitation in order to express and illustrate the meanings of the verses and convey them to the listeners.
Those who listened to his recitations were impressed by the style and fell in love with its beauty, sincerity and profound emotion, he added.
The voice of Sheikh Rifat is unrepeatable and unique, Sahaf commented, adding that it is as if his larynx had been made in a special way with exceptional capabilities.
Rifat viewed Quran recitation as a great skill that is manifested in the sphere of faith and that innovation in it is not possible except through humbleness and being blessed by the sublime concepts of what is being recited.
Muhammad Rifat was born on May 9, 1882, in Cairo. He was only two years old when he lost his sight due to inflammation and infection, and his life changed from the very beginning.
Muhammad was interested in reciting the Quran as a child. This was something that happened in his family, and Muhammad followed the path of his family, especially his father, in learning the Quran.
Of course, this path was much more difficult for Muhammad than the others, because not having sight made it difficult for him, and others had to read the Quran and he learned it.
At the age of five, his father took him to the Fazel Basha Mosque, and before he was 10, Muhammad memorized the entire Quran. His teacher loved him due to his memorization and beautiful recitation of the Quran, so he taught him Tajweed. He gave him the license of memorizing and Tajweed of the Qur'an before he becomes 16.
With the death of his father, Muhammad Rifat, who was not more than 15 years old; He became the head of the family until he was appointed as a qari on Friday in Fazel Mosque, and from there he became famous. Many people were coming to the mosque because of his beautiful voice. He recited in this mosque for 30 years.
In 1934, Radio Egypt was and he was invited to recite the Quran as the first reciter in this Media, so Surah “Al-Fath” was recited for the first time by Sheikh Muhammad Rifat on Egyptian radio.
Otherworld radios, including Radio Berlin, London, and Paris, were beginning their Arabic programs with the recitation of Sheikh Muhammad Rifat during World War II.
Sheikh Muhammad Rifat, in addition to his extraordinary ability to harmonize the sound with the verses of the Quran, he was called "Sayyid Adhanguyan" and a large number of people converted to Islam after hearing the adhan of Sheikh Muhammad Rifat.
Sheikh Muhammad Rifat lived an ascetic and dignified life and he did not even accept the request of the Egyptian non-governmental radio to broadcast his recitation because he believed that inappropriate songs were broadcast on this radio that did not conform to the blessings and teachings of Quranic verses.
Shortness of breath was a disease and a problem that Sheikh Rifat suffered from in the last years of his life, and this incident caused him to have difficulty reciting.
Shortness of breath while reciting in one of the Egyptian mosques was a bitter incident that made the audience cry because he tried to continue his recitation but he could not and he came down from the stand sadly and all the people cried when they saw this scene.
After that, the sheik was no longer able to recite.
Muhammad Rifat, the famous Qari of the Islamic world, passed away on May 9, 1950, at the age of 68.
Now, 72 years after the death of this famous reciter, he is still mentioned as one of the stars of the recitation sky of the Islamic world.