Written in Stone, Tips on Memorizing the Qur’an
The battle raged on and the forces of Musaylimah AlKadhdhab were winning. The Sahabah could not lose; they would not lose. ‘Ammar ibn Yasser(RA) mounted a rock and called to all the Muslim fighters, “YAA HAMALAT ALQURAN!!” Oh carriers of the Qur’an!
He gathered a battalion of Sahabah that only consisted of the Huffadh. Every fighter at the side of ‘Ammar ibn Yasser had memorized the Qur’an in his heart. The battle was won!
Back to today. Have you ever been in a Masjid with elder respected members of a community, but when Salah time comes, a young unassuming brother steps forward from amongst everyone and leads the congregation? Why was this young boy honoured such? Someone whispers into your ear, “Oh, don’t you know? He memorized the Qu’ran by heart.”
Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (SAW) said, “Verily, Allah elevates some people with this Qur’an and abases others.” [Muslim].
This article is meant [for] those who have taken their first steps, not those who are still waiting for motivation. It is dedicated to all our young brothers and sisters in Qu’ran Hifdh schools (and all the wannabes). Insha Allah, I will discuss how you can become more effective in your memorization of the Qur’an.
Let me ask this question, “Who wants to memorize the Qur’an?” No doubt, the hands initially will rise slowly, but then almost everyone should have their hand raised. But, most truthfully, is that desire a sincere, heartfelt desire? If it was, then action would follow. If I said, “Who wants to lose weight?” Most people would raise their hands and upon being asked would mention the steps they are taking to achieve their goal. What steps are we taking to memorize the Qur’an if indeed our intentions are passionate?
I would like to tell you a story of my own. A few months ago, I was sitting in a Halal chicken restaurant in Canada. All of a sudden, one of my classmates from the Qur’an school I went to when I was young entered. We hugged each other and sat together reminiscing about our days in Qur’an school. I told him about Allah’s blessings upon me and my family. He said to me, “Muhammad, I swear by Allah, I still remember the day when you came to the school and you couldn’t read alif-baa-taa correctly!” How best do we make use of our time?
We attend school for about 13 years. Then another 4 or 6 or 10 years at a University. More then 15 years of our life in such a slow process. Why? Because, we see the benefit of education for prosperity on earth. Why then do we not see such a rush to memorize the book of Allah? Perhaps the benefits are not readily apparent. Consider the following:
While other children are playing games and eating bubble gum, your child could be memorizing thousands of pages from the book of Allah. How does this benefit them? Quite obviously, the child’s mind is trained at such a young age to absorb information and facts. When the child who memorized the Qur’an is put in a class with bubblegum chewing/Playstation absorbed children, there is little doubt who will be the head of the class. Isn’t this what every parent wants?
Umar’s Dawee anNahl observed: What is our ‘Goldness’? On the highway, it’s music and tv. Our golden generations were not golden because they watched tv and listened to music. They were golden because of their buzzing with the Qur’an.
When a young brother or sister is blessed with the gift of memorizing the entire Qur’an, it is a sign that Allah ta’ala loves them! Many humans chase after material wealth. They may achieve it, but that is not a sign that Allah loves them. Look at Fir’own, he had everything of the material world, but he was one of the most hated humans because of his actions.
Moses prayed: “Our Lord! Thou hast indeed bestowed on Pharaoh and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of the present, and so, Our Lord, they mislead (men) from Thy Path. Deface our Lord, the features of their wealth, and send hardness to their hearts, so they will not believe until they see the grievous penalty.” [Qur'an 10:88]
And more than material wealth, what humans really want in life is significance and contribution. No one wants to live their life without having done something for their Deen and the betterment of life on earth. We want to leave a legacy.
With that in mind, notice the life of a Haafidh. From a very young age, he or she is pushed into a position of leadership. Consider it a mere 10% shift in their path. In the beginning it seems like a little, but after 20 or 50 years, it becomes a different destiny.
Notice the young brothers that memorized the Qur’an in your community, they are already pushed to the front of the congregation by virtue of their accomplishment. They, at this early start, are forced to contribute to the community and live a life of significance. Bi-idhnillah. That’s what we all want. The Qur’an can do it for you.
But these gifts have a condition: the taqwa of Allah. There is one absolute naseeha(advice) that will make or break the persons drive to memorize the Qur’an: One must desist from sin! Ibn Mas’ood said, “I feel that indeed someone will forget knowledge they had a acquired because of sins they commit.”
When Abu Haneefah(rh) was confronted with a Fiqh Mas’alah that he was unable to conclude, he would get up and pray two raka’at in tawbah to Allah. These are people who truly knew the prize to be won. Allah ta’ala teaches us in the Qur’an: [Be conscious of Allah and Allah will teach you.] This knowledge is from Allah ta’ala, a gift. It makes no sense that someone spends their nights disobeying the gift-giver while awaiting His gifts in the morning.
Al-Khateeb reported in al-Jaami’ (2/387) that Yahya ibn Yahya said: “A man asked Maalik ibn Anas, ‘O Abu ‘Abd-Allaah! Is there anything that will improve my memory?’ Maalik ibn Anas(rh) replied, ‘If anything will improve it, it is giving up sin.’” Bishr Alhaafee(rh) said, “A servant commits a sin, and is deprived [thereby] of performing tahajjud.”
In this country, the wealthy are followed and studied. What are the secrets of massive accumulation of wealth? I wish someone would do a study on Huffadh. I’ve done my own surveying (albeit unscientific) of those who accomplished the memorization of the Qur’an. Every Hafidh I know has strong encouraging parents. I do not have any examples of anyone who memorized the Qur’an who has an irreligious family.
One parent I know has two and soon to be three, in sha Allah, of his children who memorized the Qur’an. I know you’re thinking, three! Hey share some of those kids with ours, that’s not fair. Well, I contemplated his situation. The father takes his children to class and at the same time, he tries his utmost to memorize the Qur’an himself. His children, day after day, see their father practicing his words. They don’t hear him say things like, ‘Hey kids, don’t be like me.’ Absolutely not.
The key: if you want your children to be effective in their Deen and their memorization of Qur’an, YOU have to be the one that you want your children to become. Do not let them see a contradiction.
When I was young, I did not want to go to a Qur’an school. Subhan Allah. I went to that Qur’an school, I went to Madinah University and here I am today. I recently received a beautiful email after giving a lecture to the Canadian Hujjaj, my father’s group. While I spoke, my father had his head up high, smiling and crying during the speech. The brother wrote in his email that he was watching my father during the lecture. It dawned on him that Muhammad is here today giving this speech because of the dua of this man! I hadn’t contemplated it much until I read that email, for indeed it is correct. After the tawfeeq of Allah, it was the dua of my parents for me that helped me become who I am.
Ibn `Abbas (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “The heart that has no Qur’an in it is like an abandoned ruined dwelling.” [At-Tirmidhi]. What kind of home would you like your heart to dwell in? excusitis, is a most powerful sickness that keeps people back from accomplishing in life. Excuse-itis. If you interview effective people, you will rarely find them making excuses. If you want to succeed in your memorization, never make excuses. Do what you have to do. I forbid those around me from making excuses. I advise the same for you. Do what you have to do to accomplish. If you cannot, then do not make excuses.
One of the interesting excuses is “I have to completely understand the Qur’an before I memorize it. I have to know Arabic, and Fiqh and Hadith before I start from the source.” Do not look at what a scholar is currently reading or studying. Look at what he did in the beginning. Every single scholar I have ever met started with Qur’an, nothing else. If you want to accumulate massive knowledge of this Deen, you must begin with memorization of the Qur’an. The children in the Hifdh school are well on their way to accomplishing massive accumulation of knowledge of this deen by virtue of their Hifdh. Bi idhnillah.
Let me give you two views by two very different people and how they look at the challenges of life:
Person 1: “Oh man, that’s a killer. I can’t do that. This time I just give up. Looks like I’m finally whipped. I’ll never amount to anything. I’m tired.”
Person 2: “Awesome, that was the kind of challenge I’ve been waiting for. Yaa Rabb, I am going to make you proud of me. I’m going to give it my best. I’m going to pump 110% of my energy into every part of this challenge!”
Guess which one will succeed in their memorization of the Qur’an. That’s right, the second one. Why? Because the second one has the right attitude.
When I hear someone talking about their attempts to memorize Qur’an, I can usually tell which category they have locked themselves into. It is not the Qur’an. The Qur’an is easy to remember. Allah ta’ala testifies to that in the Qur’an: [And verily we made the Qur’an easy to remember, so is there anyone who will take heed?] If you think it’s easy for you, it is. If you think it is hard for you, it is. It is your attitude that determines it.
Below are some quick tips that will help you in memorizing the Qur’an:
- You absolutely must have a teacher. Do NOT memorize on your own. You must have a teacher who you respect and whom you fear. Don’t ask ‘how’ to memorize the Qur’an. Ask where you can find the best teacher. The teacher will then guide you on the ‘how’.
- Distractions. In memorizing the Qur’an, you must free your mind and environment of distractions. Imagine trying to memorize at a football game? Tough, huh? How about a theme park, could you sit down and control yourself to memorize? Probably not. Getting into a Qur’an Hifdh program with a teacher and discipline will assist you in creating the perfect atmosphere for memorization.
- Memorize through Audio. A lot of people think they are memorizing the ‘look’ of the Mushaf, but actually you are memorizing the ‘sound’ of Ayat. When I review, I record my recitation on CD and listen to it again and again. The students that read the loudest in class are all the strongest students. Why? Because they can hear themselves the most?
When I was in Qur’an school, the boy beside me read so loud. I asked the teacher to ask him to read more quietly. He said a most powerful statement that became my motto: “No, you read louder!” I did and it benefited me unbelievably.
- Location of the Mushaf. Your eyes follow a specific direction depending on what you are thinking or doing. If you are lying, your eyes go left. If you are remembering something visual, like where you left your keys, your eyes will look upwards. When you memorize, the direction of memorization is right and left, not downwards. The mistake I see people make is that they put their mushaf low on the ground and then try to memorize. In order to fully harness the power of your mind, you must keep the mushaf at eye level, and not dip your head..
- Eat brain food. We’ve all heard the advice of uncles that you have to eat Badams (almonds) to improve memory. Well, I’m here to tell you that the uncles were right! The food you eat, the drinks you drink, directly affect your ability to excel in memorization of the Qur’an. Do not eat fatty, unhealthy food. Do not drink fizzy drinks. Eat a nutritious light breakfast, a nutritious light lunch, with almonds for snacks during the day. Subhan Allah, you will find you accomplish much more in your day.
- Make everyday a victory. You can move a mountain rock by rock. Enjoy every page you memorize, every Ayah.
I am often asked about my secret to memorizing the Qur’an. They are expecting me to teach them a special ‘south-beach-hifdh-diet’ or something. (I call it tip shopping, they are expecting a specific tip). I say again and again, there is no doubt that there are three ingredients. If you have these three ingredients, you will accomplish what you set out for:
- Dua, supplication (you must always reflect your desire to Allah).
- Sabr, patience
- Taqwa, protecting yourself from sin.
If you do not remember anything from this article except these three ingredients (DST – Dua, Sabr, Taqwa – DST) then, bi idhnillah, it will suffice.
`Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (SAW) said, “The one who was devoted to the Qur’an will be told on the Day of Resurrection: `Recite and ascend (in ranks) as you used to recite when you were in the world. Your rank will be at the last Ayah you recite.”’ [Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].
How many ranks will you climb on the Day of Resurrection?
How many ranks would you like to climb?