وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِنْ مُدَّكِرٍ
And We have certainly made the Qur’an
easy for remembrance, so is there any
who will remember?
Recently I was requested by an esteemed and honourable friend to write down some suggestions for memorizing the Qur’an. Taking this as a chance to earn some extra reward from Allah, I decided to type up a few notes on the issue. The following is a tried and tested formula for memorizing the Qur’an and for maintaining it. I cannot say that it will work for everyone, but it has worked for many people. May Allah help you through it too.
There are three things a person has to focus on when memorizing the Qur’an:
(1) The New Lesson,
(2) The Recent Lessons,
(3) The Revision.
Let us discuss each of them in detail.
1. The New Lesson
Repeat new lesson 10–15 times in the evening:
It has always been beneficial to start memorizing any fresh portion of the Qur’an in the evening. Recite the new page, or however much you intend to memorize, approximately 10–15 times. The first few readings should be careful and slow so as to pick out any inadvertent mistakes you may be making on any of the words or vowels. Then as you get more used to the words begin to read it faster and faster with each reading. Read with the intention to memorize by just focussing on the words. Do NOT focus on the meaning. Focusing on the meaning at this point could cause one to memorise the meaning and paraphrase some of the words when reading from memory.
Sleep on it and revise in the morning:
Once it has been recited repeatedly in the evening, it is always nice to sleep on it and then revise it, before or after Fajr, in the morning. You will find that by reading it just a few more times in the morning, it will be very easy to retain.
Test with a colleague then read to teacher:
Now read it to someone to test if you are still making mistakes in some places or have some hesitations. If there are mistakes, they need to be removed by repeating the words or verse correctly 50 or so times over. Remember the longer you leave a mistake and read it incorrectly, the longer it takes to correct afterwards. That is why one should be very careful at this stage.
Similarly, you need to smooth over any hesitations. Do not just try to remember what is next in a series of verses, but rather memorize everything. Take a few words from before the hesitation and a few from after it and read them together several times, so that the transition becomes automatic and you do not even need to think about what is next. If you rely on remembering what is next and don’t memorize it, you will have to refresh your memory each time. Eventually there will be just too many instances to remember and it will get out of hand. Commit everything to long term memory by repeating it so many times that eventually the entire Qur’an becomes etched in your mind like Surat al-Fatiha.
Once you have learned your new lesson, read it to a teacher.
2. The Recent Lessons
It is said that the part of the Qur’an that is easiest to forget is yesterday’s lesson. This is why you must spend time learning and refreshing the previous 5–7 lessons on a daily basis after finishing your new lesson. Each new lesson will, therefore, be learned for at least five more days before it moves to the revision phase.
Correct any lingering mistakes or hesitations you still have by repeating them multiple times over. Never allow mistakes or hesitations to pass beyond this stage. One you have learned these five lessons well, read them to the teacher.
Anybody who surges forth without refreshing the recent lessons should not be surprised if they forget what they learned the week before.
One you complete a juz’, read it to the teacher in quarters on the first day, in halves the next day, and in full the third day. Now you can move onto the next juz’.
3. The Revision
One a lesson moves out of the recent lessons stage it becomes part of the revision stage. The goal now is to ensure that everything you have learned of the Qur’an is reviewed at least once a week. You do this in parts, with the amount increasing the more juz’ you complete. For instance, when you have memorized two juz’, you should recite at least half a juz’ for revision each day to your teacher. When you have memorized 4–5 juz’, you should recite a full juz’ or at least three quarter of a juz’. After memorizing 5 juz’, then at least one juz’ a day. But now do this by reading the first half of juz’ 1 and the first half juz’ 3, the next day the second half of each, and then move along to complete them all within a week. No part should be neglected for too long. Of course, when you have completed 15 or more juz’ it will take more time to complete the entire revision.
Remember revision is key to maintaining the Qur’an in your heart. Otherwise, it will leave the heart very fast. See the following hadith:
عن أبي موسى الأشعري قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: تعاهدوا القرآن، فوالذي نفسي بيده لهو أشد تفصيا من الإبل في عقله
It is related from Abu Musa al-Ash’ari t that the Messenger of Allāh e said, “Preserve what you have memorized of the Qur’ān, because by Him in whose hand lies my life, it escapes [from the heart] faster than a camel does from its rope (Bukhārī, Muslim).
If the revision has been neglected for a while and becomes weak, new lessons should be paused and 2–3 full revisions should be completed before continuing.
General Notes and Tips
- Any mistakes not corrected at stage one will bother you in stage two. If not corrected in stage two they will become even more difficult to correct in stage three as they will accumulate. Hence, try your utmost to not allow any mistakes to linger beyond the first stage.
- The teacher or student can use a pencil to lightly mark any mistakes they make. On repeating a mistake, a second mark can be made, followed by one in the margin if it persists. Once a mistake is corrected, however, the marks should be erased. Such marks should never be made in pen as it is disrespectful and scars the mushaf for life.
- Always read with the proper tajwid intonations.
- Memorize the Qur’an so you can read it in a calm and measured pace and not too fast. Anyone who can read it slowly should be able to read it fast when needed. However, those who have memorized it fast usually get confused, stumble and makes mistake when they try to slow down.
- Using the same type of mushaf layout throughout the memorization process and thereafter is a good idea. For instance, the 13 line or 15 line formats. For a hafiz, each page becomes mentally imprinted in their mind and if they try to use a different format they get confused.
- Remember the brain is a muscle. The more you use it, the better it will function and your memorization will become easier and quicker, insha Allah.
- Reciting Surat al-Inshirah (Alam nashrah laka sadrak…) three times before sitting to learn each day has been said to help and is full of baraka.
- Listening attentively to the new lesson being recited can be very beneficial. One of my students used to learn her new lesson each day primarily by listening to it over and over again through headphones.
- Eat foods that are known for strengthening the mind. For instance, seven almonds a day, with some raisins and walnuts are said to be very beneficial.
- Above all, one needs a high level of personal commitment along with a compassionate and firm teacher.
- There will always be some children who will find memorizing extremely difficult despite trying their best and being supported by their parents. Such children should never be forced to continue as this can have negative consequences.
- If the above has been helpful for you please do remember me in your du’as.
- Also, do let me know of any other strategies or methods you have found to be helpful in the memorization process.