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Journey to Memorisation of the Holy Quran

Written by Kashif Hussain

How to start memorising the Quran

I was typical lad with very poor short-term memory. Never could remember a name, number or items on a list. Likewise, I only knew a handful of small surahs and duas. It was an arduous task to memorise more. I didn’t think I could memorise the Quran.

I always have wanted to memorise more but everyone I spoke to said, “It’s impossible at 28, your memory will be weak and it’s too late!”

It’s never too late!

It began for me in Nov 2018, where my wife challenged me to memorise Surah Mulk. 30 verses, 30 days. From experience of poor memory, I didn’t think I could live to the challenge. I’m a working lad with a busy schedule, but I thought the verses are small and it’s one verse a day, I’m sure I can do this! Others memorise half a page a day.

I began with Surah Mulk: Verse 1 on the 1st of Nov. I first read the ayah a few times to achieve fluency and then tried to recall a couple of words from memory i.e. Tabāraka Al-Ladhī. And then recall a few more, till in 30 mins, I was recalling the first verse by memory.

It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The one who recites the Qur’aan and learns it by heart, will be with the noble righteous scribes (in Heaven) and the one who exerts himself to learn the Qur’aan by heart and recites it with great difficulty, will have a double reward.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4653; Muslim, 798

My methodology has been unconventional. I commute for 50 mins a day (one way), I listen to a bit of Radio 4, then Bismillah with the recitation. By the time, I park up, I’ve memorised the verse. I could probably memorise more for the commute back.

But this is where some of us will go wrong. We all have short-term memory and long-term memory. What I did in the morning was only commit the verse to short term memory. I needed to firmly plant it, i.e. in my long-term memory. Some theorist suggests, we only remember what we recall. Maybe you remember events from childhood, what they say is, the only reason you do, is because over the years you’ve been recalling that memory and now it’s planted. The idea I preferred was to memorise in the morning, recall it during Dhuhr Salah (the pressure is on!) and then recall it when I commute home. At this point, I also start reading the next verse.

As the days went by, I memorised verse by verse. I used a number of tools. A bit excessive for memorisation, but I like to have all tools in my reach.

  • I had a Surah Mulk recitation on CD by Hazza al-Balushi – So I’d listen to this as I commute (along with other Surahs). He’s quiet melodic so helps with remembering.
  • I downloaded the Quran Companion App (Costs £3 a month). It allows you to track your verses, play recitation and hide the text. This app alone is quite good for memorisation.
  • I downloaded Anki. Anki is a flashcard-based app that uses an algorithm. You create your cards and then you go through them. If you recall easily then you mark them as ‘good’,  Anki will then place that card to be revisited in a day, if it still easy the in 3 days. The idea is to make you recall from memory after a set number of days, this then helps you commit to long term memory. Anki is great of Vocab but you can use it for Surah Mulk, say you’ve learnt the first 5 verses, you can use Anki to solidify them.

    Someone has put together the top 5000 words found in the Quran, I’ve been going through them too. And my vocab is now Alhamdulillah.

Now there were some verses that just wouldn’t stick. I couldn’t get them to roll off my tongue easily, and I was constantly forgetting it. But I found after some concentration before bed, I’d find it easy to recall the verse in the morning.

30 days later I memorised the whole Surah, 30 verses!

But my recitation of the whole surah was not perfect. So I spent the next 15 days, trying to perfect it in one go.

It’s Mid Dec 2018, I finally have memorised Surah Mulk.

I remember the beautiful feeling of, when I first listened to Hazza Belushi, I knew one or two verses, but now I’m reciting ahead of him, and so confidently. Alhamdulillah who would have thought!?

This really gave me a boost and desire to memorise more. I spent the xmas period reading the whole Quran in English and Arabic. And on the first of the new year, I started memorising the Last 20 surahs of the Quran. I managed to complete them in 25 days, which was amazing again. I spent the next month reciting these in my Salah to perfect them. Now in Ramadhan, I’m able to stand on an odd night and recite a good portion of the Quran. Something I hadn’t anticipated.

My memory is a lot sharper. I’ve also memorised half of Surah Waqiah, First ruku of Surah Baqarah, Surah Baqarah verse 152 – 157, Ayah Kursi and many Duas.

I plan to memorise:

  • Surah Yaseen
  • Surah Rahman
  • Surah Sajdah
  • Surah Dukhaan
  • And various other common verses, like those of Ramadhan, Marriage, Me’raj, etc.

You may ask why not the whole Quran. Currently I’m studying further which has left me tight on time. I’d rather commit to smaller Surahs right now and recite them in my Salah, than break up because of a schedule.

But for you, do not feel it’s too late! They say if you memorise one page a day, it will take you two years to memorise he Quran, ½ page 4 years and a couple a verses 8/9 years.

If I’m 30, by the age of 40 I’m a hafidh. It’s never too late to become a hafidh. You will still, Insha’Allah have another 40 years of life. Imagine 40 years of being a hafidh. This is not a small thing. I used to think, I’m going to enrol at least one child into a Hifdh class. But what about me!? I should focus on me.

Then one day you are leading the tarawih.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Qur’aan will come on the Day of Resurrection and will say, ‘O Lord, adorn him.’ So he will be given a crown of honour to wear. Then it will say, ‘O Lord, give him more.’ So he will be given a garment of honour.’ Then it will say, ‘O Lord, be pleased with him.’ So Allah will be pleased with him. Then it will be said to him, ‘Recite and advance in status, and for each verse you will gain one more hasanah (reward for good deed).”

Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2915

And for your parents

It was narrated that Buraydah said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever reads the Qur’aan, learns it and acts in accordance with it, on the Day of Resurrection his parents will be given a crown to wear whose light will be like the light of the sun, and his parents will be given garments which far surpass everything to be found in this world. They will say, “Why have we been given this to wear?” It will be said, “Because your child learned the Qur’aan.”’”

Narrated by al-Haakim, 1/756

Universal Tips

  1. Its advised to memorise at fajr as your mind is fresh and information retention is at its peak.
  2. Get a teacher, preferably a hafidh with good tajweed. I do not have a formal teacher but important to get your memorisation signed off. They’ll also keep you in check. I used to voice note my recitation and get it checked.
  3. Find someone who can motivate you and ask you how things are. If you don’t have anyone. message me inshaAllah!
  4. Don’t prioritise chilling over your memorisation. If you spend 20 mins in the evening memorising at around 7, then do this everyday. Put everything second. Consistency will help you do something every day. I had problems with the weekend as I wasn’t commuting. Instead I spent the weekend memorising the verses I learnt mon to fri.
  5. Keep your mouth, eyes and other limbs from sin
  6. Try not to memorise something pronounced wrong. It will stick!
  7. Have one quran/mushaf that you’re comfortable with. When you memorise using it, it will help you visualise the verses which will help with memory.
  8. You don’t have to be static. some people memorise better whilst strolling.
  9. If you understand the language this will make it easier as you’ll make sence of the sentences
  10. Don’t burnout, do 70% of what you can do. It’s easy to do 100% in the beginning, but in fact you burn yourself out.

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