Qur'an recitation is ancient tradition dating from the time of the first caliphs. Men gather usually after the evening prayer in circles, listening to and repeating the recitations of the Qur'an, an act that is called Tajweed. The holy words are memorised through repetition.
In this painting, a study for a larger work of the same subject, three figures in very traditional Egyptian dress are shown in three quite different postures. The composition is condensed and evocative, typical of Mahmoud Said. The reciter sits on a bench, prayer beads in his hand, his head upturned but eyes downcast. His companions, one sitting on the bench beside him, the other seated on the floor, both appear lost in contemplation. Behind them, a bright patchwork quilt, of the sort commonly found in Egypt, especially during the month of Ramadan, forms a colourful geometric backdrop.