All praise and thanks are due to Allāh (SWT), who blessed us with the Glorious Qur’ān. Abundant salutations be upon our beloved teacher and role model, the first haafidh, Nabi Muhammad (SAW).
This post is a sneak peek into my course book for my upcoming hifdh workshop. Here’s the intro plus section one.
I write this course book with the intention of pleasing Allah by benefitting those who intend to memorise the Qur’an, those who are learning as well as parents of hifdh students.
I feel that hifdh has been glamourised. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I made the intention to memorise the Qur’an. While I was learning, I always thought to myself, if I had known, I would never have started. Now that I’ve completed, I always think, if I had known, I would have thought about and done things differently.
It is my sincere intention to help others think about hifdh differently and do things differently, bi-ith-nillah (with the permission of Allah). With this in mind, this course book is written in the format of my thoughts, followed by what I should have done differently. It also integrates many of the resources I was fortunate to have access to while I was learning. This course book affords me the opportunity to compile and pass on these wonderful aids. I also aim to cover the “technical” aspect of hifdh such as correcting old mistakes and mutashabihat and the “other” side of hifdh: mental/emotional/spiritual etc.
I hope this compilation proves to be useful in-sha-Allah. I pray Allah grants us all tawfiq (opportunity and ability) to fulfill all that He loves. May Allah accept from me. All mistakes are from me and all that is good is from Him, Most Generous.
Mindset: “Box” vs “Journey”
My hifdh completion ceremony was perfect, Alhamdulillah. I looked like a bride and the ceremony looked like a small wedding. My mother and I had planned every detail, right down to the serviettes (for the cake ‘n tea afterwards).
My hifdh “journey” however, was the furthest as can be from perfection, glamour and beauty.
I put this word “journey” in inverted commas because I disagree with hifdh being a journey. Every journey has a destination, and with Qur’an memorisation, the supposed destination is completion. So being on the other side of completion, why do I feel like I’ve been fooled? Completion is supposedly an accomplishment, but how can it be when it’s still a work in progress? When every single day one still has to conscientiously revise, otherwise the memorisation will be forgotten. Forgotten in a flash, might I add.
When one is memorising, people ask, “How far are you?” but once one’s completed, nothing. Maybe one will get a “ma-sha-Allah” now and again. This proves people’s perception is all about reaching the finish-line.
I found memorising the Qur’an so difficult that I saw completion as the light at the end of the tunnel. In reality, the Qur’an was supposed to be the light. So what was I missing?
What I identify is that I had the “memorisation box” mindset as opposed to the “memorisation journey” mindset. I learned this from an awesome blog post by Qari Mubashir Anwar over at www.howtomemorisethequran.com. Here’s the post:
We need to start thinking beyond the ‘memorisation box’ and align our objectives to the Qur’an itself.
When you ask people why they’re memorising the Qur’an or why they did so, you get typical responses.
– My mum or dad wanted me to do it;
– I did it for Allah;
– I wanted to gain the rewards for memorisation like the crown, the promise of ten and other things.
If I asked some of them whether they would have memorised if the case were different, I’d get a resounding no. No matter how worrying that might be, you can’t say the same for many hundreds of people. Many sacrifice everything to memorise and have clear intentions.
This is the matter I want to touch today: ‘mindset’.
There is a great truth that I have got to mention. We become too obsessed with ‘memorisation’. We become agitated and impatient for the finishing line. Parents get carried away with the desire for their children to memorise the Qur’an. Their thoughts get clouded by the great rewards in the hereafter and much more. Anyone would love to have a crown placed on their head on the Day of Judgment but, there’s a bigger picture to think about. Not for our sake but the sake of the memoriser.
What is it that people are missing?
There are two types of mindsets you can adopt:
(a) The Memorisation Box Mindset
(b) The Memorisation Journey Mindset
The Memorisation Box Mindset
This is looking at memorisation within the context of the Qur’an. The things mentioned above are examples. People concentrating on memorisation, the process, technique and completion. A focus on the mechanics but ignoring the dynamics. It’s a memorisation race mindset.
Frankly, it is a battle to move out of it.
You might change your mindset yourself but others around you might not. Your parents or your teachers may still have the same mindset. So you find yourself continually bombarded with questions and statements like:
– “How much have you memorised now?”
– “Why is memorisation taking you long for?”
– “You should be finishing within x number of years – what’s the matter?”
– “You should eat y and z, and recite a and b to boost your memory.”
Some of you may be thinking at this point, “Hey wait a minute, isn’t the work you do all about the memorisation box mindset?”
The content of what I advocate is that you should memorise the Qur’an with productivity. Which is why I concentrate on methods and practical advice. What I don’t do is advocate a sole concentration on ‘memorisation’. This is important. So in many ways it’s the memorisation journey that I explore, which is what we’ll look at now.
The Memorisation Journey Mindset
This is what you need to aim for. This is looking at memorisation in the context of Islam. In the context of Din: your transactional life with Allah. It’s about looking at memorisation as a journey of life as opposed to a journey to finish memorisation. And when that’s done, you’re done.
A shift from saying:
“What is my purpose in becoming a Hafidh?”
“What are my objectives for memorising in Islam, Din and life?”
This will work wonders for you.
Becoming a Hafidh is one thing, and memorising the Qur’an as a Muslim is another. If you make becoming “Hafidh” the end-goal of your mission there’s nothing wrong with that. It was my mission and it is likely to be or had been yours too. The thing is that it needs more depth. It needs context, it needs a step by step goal orientated journey.
For example, if it were a blanket statement: “I want to become a Hafidh in x number of days” what happens if you fail? You’ll make anew or you’ll think you’re a failure (maybe not).
If you said instead, “I’m going to start memorising the Qur’an because as a Muslim I believe that I have to do such and such a thing. And my first goal is to memorise the 30th chapter which I can then use to such and such a thing.” Like this you’re more likely to progress with better focus. You make small goals along the way that slowly build up to the finishing line.
Remember, memorisation is not a race or a marathon but it is a journey for life.
So what are some of the objectives of memorising the Qur’an under this mindset?
1. Seeking the acceptance and pleasure of Allah
This is without doubt amongst the most supreme intentions for memorising the Qur’an. Make this your aim. Remember these are the Words of Allah. You might tell me you are memorising because of your parents just like I might have. Perhaps instead say, “I seek the pleasure of Allah by fulfilling my duty to my parents.”
2. Seeking proximity with Allah and His Messenger
The Beloved of Allah, our master Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as narrated by ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab (May Allah be well pleased with him) said:
“Actions are valued according to the intentions, and every man is credited with what he intended. If someone’s emigration was to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), his emigration was therefore to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). And if someone’s emigration was to acquire worldly benefit or to take a woman in marriage, his emigration was to that which he emigrated.”
You may say I’m memorising because it is a dream of mine to be able to say “I have committed to memory 600+ pages containing the Words of Allah.” You should instead say, “I seek the pleasure and acceptance of Allah through aiming to protect His Words by Hifdh.”
One of the quickest ways to become close to Allah is to become closer to His Beloved (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). One of the prime methods to do so is through the Qur’an itself. So make proximity part of your mindset.
3. To improve your prayer and enjoy it
This is a basic thing, but it’s something that we’ve forgotten these days. Many Huffadh race to finish reading just like those who haven’t memorised. They always read the same verses when leading the prayer on rotate. Why would you memorise the Qur’an if you are just going to read certain chapters or portions all the time. There might be a genuine reason you’d do it like the Ansari mentioned in the Hadith of Anas, who used to recite Surah Ikhlas in every rak’ah. His reason was his love for the Surah because it speaks about Allah, upon which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said he would enter into Paradise.
But your memorisation should be a means to make your prayer better. You can recite long passages and short, you can recite from different places, or you can recite the whole Qur’an – why not.
This is something I never appreciated. My dad always told me to recite the Qur’an as revision in the daily prayers. He always told me to stop reading the smaller Suwar and recite other verses (when leading the prayer). I didn’t do it. Most people don’t do it. My reason for not doing so was in light of those praying behind me. I could easily start reading Surah Baqarah but you have to take into account others. There could be people who can’t stand for long and others who have to leave. Most people have to realise this through experience. I am no different. Start to recite the Qur’an as revision in the prayer. Just try it. Reciting in the prayer will make your memorisation stronger.
Remember a lot of people may only know between one to four chapters by heart, if not up to ten. Their prayers are on the same routine all the time. Pencil in your prayers as a goal.
A point related to this, and one that I find annoying is that memorisation has become about leading the Tarawih night prayers in Ramadan. As if memorisation is centred around it. I’ve found this to be the case in certain circles. Again this is all to do with mindset. This is wrong on so many levels. It illustrates one thing – people need to think more long term and adopt a broader mentality.
The more you memorise the more you should enjoy it.
When memorising, you make so much repetition. Through that repetition, you make corrections and through that you improve your recitation. You should make the sweetness and enjoyment of the recitation of the Qur’an a goal. Memorising with this in your mindset makes listening to the Qur’an an enjoyment too. Don’t underestimate listening.
5. To inspire action according to the Qur’an
The Hadith which I discussed talks about the Sahib al Qur’an. As pointed out the word ‘Sahib’ can mean companion, friend, holder, keeper, or authority. Although I like to translate it as ‘reciter’, in the literal sense it is companionship. Here’s the Hadith:
‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr narrates that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“It will be said [on the Day of Judgement] to the reciter* of the Qur’an: ‘Recite and be uplifted [in your rank]! And recite in the distinct manner (Tartil) as you used to recite in the world. For indeed your rank [in Paradise] will be according to the last verse you recite.’”
– Al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, Al-Hakim, Bayhaqi, Ibn Abi Shaybah.
A companion holds a sense of friendship, loyalty, and most importantly – a continuum. If we took this Hadith to mean those who memorised the Qur’an, we can’t say so as a fact. But one thing for certain is the word ‘Sahib’. Memorisation itself is not the most spectacular thing according to this Hadith. It’s a means to an end.
Did you know that there are non-Muslims who read and memorise the Qur’an? What would make you different? – The emphasis on practice.
This is what the Hadith is indicating by the word ‘Sahib’. Some scholars have even said this reciter will only be able to recite those verses he or she had practised. The companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and may Allah be pleased with them) had this mindset. They would memorise something new until they’d put into implementation what they already had memorised. This is why this is a must in the memorisation journey mindset.
6. To become a guardian preserver of the Qur’an
Islam has always had an incredible oral tradition. Remember that we’re looking at goals within the context of Islam. The transmission of Islamic sciences has been through chains of authority. Hadith went through a rigorous transmission process and the principles then made solid. Likewise, the Qur’an is impossible to distort due to millions adhering to the same oral tradition.
Imam Muslim quotes from ‘Abdu’llah ibn al-Mubarak, who states: “The Isnad (chain of authority) is a necessary part of Din. If there was no chain of authority then everyone would have said whatever he wanted to say.”
So remembering this, no matter how much you memorise you are contributing to the preservation of the Qur’an.
7. Memorise as preparation for further studies
Knowing the Qur’an by heart creates a strong foundation for studying further and makes it easier. There are many traditional schools that make it a prerequisite that you are a Hafidh before you can study under them. Many great scholars also had and have the same policy.
Say you don’t intend to memorise the whole Qur’an, you can one day take what you’ve memorised to understand it, and act upon it. If you wanted to memorise the whole Qur’an but never made it there – you can use that memorisation to drive further study.
8. To inculcate a life-long love and engagement with the Quran
This process should already have begun before you learnt how to read the Qur’an. We learn, recited, and completed the Qur’an in the mosque but then left it. The reason is that there was no engagement. There was no love. I refuse to teach children aged 5 or 6 and have managed to do so 99% of the time. I prefer that they play and hear stories from the Qur’an instead. In this way, they grow up listening to the Qur’an knowing it as a story book from God! Following that they immerse themselves into the Arabic textual universe, all excited.
It seems, however, our aims are for children to despise the Qur’an. We have engineered everything in a way which it is void of any fun or meaning. In the context of memorisation, far too often we place we pressurise on ourselves or our children. The pressure is often the race to complete it. Despite wanting good, this results in the opposite.
When you’re memorising, you’re not doing it for the now but you’re going to be doing it for the rest of your life.
Those who find themselves pressurised either (1) quit (2) want to finish immediately or (3) finish and then never come back to it. When you sell a product or service and you do a great job, the customers remember it well but they won’t boast about it. If you got on their bad side, they’ll want to tell the whole world. Likewise, when you memorise under pressure you remember those days more than the good days.
9. Making engagement with the Qur’an easier
Engagement with the Qur’an centres around three things: (1) recitation, (2) study, and (3) reflection.
Memorising makes recitation easier. As a memoriser or someone who has memorised you are bound to recite more. Revision, prayers, invites, and wherever you may be. A Hafidh can make the simple plan of covering the revision via prayer – this is easy to do. You can cover at least a third of the Qur’an, so why read the last 20 surah all the time?
Thousands of Huffadh do not study the translation of the Quran (if they have no understanding) even once ever.
After an amazing effort, they’ve done nothing. You have ample opportunity to do so. An opportunity far greater than those who haven’t memorised. Studying and reflecting over the Qur’an is for all mankind. Not just for scholars. Yes, perhaps there are a small number of verses to do with law that scholars attention is most needed, but the Qur’an is for us all to think over. Allah commands so. We just leave matters of derivative jurisprudence to the inheritors of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Thinking along in these three stages will improve your memorisation journey.
10. Making a life-long commitment to studying Islamic knowledge
If a child or adult has memorised the Qur’an, they’ve proven something: they can memorise, they are good at it. That means you can memorise anything else like the core texts of the Qur’an. So make it a goal when you memorise looking ahead whether that be texts of Tajwid or Hadith.
11. Gain the virtues of the Qur’an
You read and hear about many virtues from the salvation of the self and family members to the company of the elite angels and prophets. Notice that practice comes first, followed by virtue. Many of us make the rewards or virtues our sole goal. It should be within the mindset but in the end. The reason to include it in your mindset is that it allows you to contemplate over the hereafter and the rewards therein.
That’s it from me today.
Hope this is useful.
I pray Allah grants us all Tawfiq for all that He loves. All mistakes are from me and all that is good is from Him, Most Generous.