My Brother and Sister Muslim - there is no doubt that you know of excellence of memorising the Qur'an and the excellence of teaching it. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"The best amongst you is the one who learns the Qur'an and teaches it." [Recorded by al-Bukhari]
Presented to you are some rules which will assist in memorising the Qur'an, may Allah benefit us by them.
1. Ikhlas - Sincerity
The purification of ones intention and correcting ones desire is obligatory. It is likewise for making ones concern with and memorisation of the Qur'an for the sake of Allah, the Sublime and Exalted, and for gaining success with His Paradise and obtaining His pleasure.
Also for obtaining those mighty rewards which are reserved for those who recited the Qur'an and memorised it. Allah the Exalted said:
"So worship Allah, making the Din sincerely for Him. Is it not to Allah that sincere worship is due?" [Al-Qur'an 39:2-3]
He also said:
"Say: I have been commanded that I worship Allah making the Din sincerely for Him." [Al-Qur'an 39:11]
And the Messenger of Allah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "Allah the Exalted said: I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus, he who does an action for someone else's sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me." [Agreed upon]
Therefore, there is no reward for the one who recited the Qur'an and memorised it to show off and to be heard of. There is also no doubt that the one who recited the Qur'an desiring by it the world and seeking some sort of worldly reward for it is sinful.
2. Correction of One's Pronunciation and Recitation
The first step in memorising the Qur'an after that of ikhlas is the obligation of correcting the pronunciation of the Qur'an. This does not occur except by listening to a good reciter or a precise memoriser of the Qur'an. The Qur'an is not learned except by acquiring it (from another). Thus, the Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam who is the most eloquent of the Arabs in speech, took it from Jibril 'alayhis-salam orally. The Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam himself used to recited the Qur'an to Jibril once in every year and in the year that he died he recited it to him twice. [Recorded by al-Bukhari]
Likewise, the Messenger taught it to the Companions radiallahu 'anhum orally and those who came after them heard it from the Companions and so on for each generation after them.
Taking the Qur'an from a good reciter is obligatory. Likewise, correcting ones recitation firstly and not depending on oneself in its recitation even if one is knowledgeable of the Arabic language and of its principles, is also obligatory. This is because in the Qur'an there are many verses which occur in a way that is opposed to what is well known in the rules of the Arabic language.
3. Specifying a Daily Limit for Memorisation
It is necessary for the one desiring to memorise the Qur'an that he sets himself a daily limit for memorising a number of verses for example, perhaps a page or two pages or even an eighth of a juz (one thirtieth of the Qur'an). So he begins, after he has corrected his recitation and set his daily limit, to learn by frequent repetition. It is also necessary that this repetition is done melodiously and this is so that a person follows the Sunnah firstly and that it the memorisation is made firm and strong secondly. Melodious recitation is pleasing to ones hearing and also assists in memorisation. Furthermore, the tongue will always return to a specific tone (of voice) and as a result of this it will become familiar with any mistake whenever the balance in ones recitation and familiar tone becomes disordered or imbalanced. The reciter will know therefore, that his tongue will not comply with him when he makes a mistake and that if the tone is wrong or out of tune, his memorisation will return to him.
All of this is because reciting the Qur'an and beautifying it with ones voice is a matter which has been commanded. It is not permissible to oppose this command due to the saying of the Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam: "Whoever does not beautify the Qur'an (recite it melodiously) he is not of us." [al-Bukhari]
4. Not Surpassing One's Daily Limit Until You Have Perfected its Memorisation
It is not permissible for the memoriser to move to a new portion of the Qur'an until after he has perfected the memorisation of his previous limit. This is so that whatever he has memorised is firmly established in his mind. There is no doubt that amongst those things which aid the memoriser is his occupation with what he has memorised through the hours of the day and night. This occurs by reciting it in the silent prayers, and if he is the imam then in the loud prayers. Also in the superogatory prayers (nawafil) and in the times when one is waiting for the obligatory prayers. By this method the memorisation will become a lot easier. In this way it is possible for a person to practise it even if he is occupied with other matters and this is because he does not simply sit at a specific time for memorising the Qur'an. Thus the night will not arrive except with those verses memorised and firmly established in the mind. And if there is something which has occupied the memoriser during this day, he should not move onto his next portion of the Qur'an, rather he should continue on the second day with what he had started with the day before until the memorisation becomes perfected.
5. Memorise Using the Same Copy (Mushaf) of the Qur'an
Among the things which aid the memorisation is that the memoriser should keep for himself a specific mushaf (copy of the Qur'an) which he should never change. This is because a person memorises using the sight just as he memorises using the hearing. The script and form of the verses and their places in the mushaf leave an imprint in the mind when they are recited and looked at frequently. If the memoriser was to change his mushaf from which he memorises or if he was to memorise from a number of different copies the places of the verses would be in different places and also the script may also be different. This makes the memorisation difficult for him. Therefore it is obligatory for the one memorising the Qur'an that he does so from a single script and mushaf and he should never replace it.
6. Understanding is the Way to Memorising
Among the things which greatly aid the process of memorisation is understanding the verses that one has memorised and knowing their relationship and link, one to another. This is why it is necessary for the memoriser to read the tafsir (explanation) of those verses which he desires to memorise and that he knows their connection, one with another. Also, that he brings this to mind when he is reciting. This makes it easier for him to memorise the verses. Having said this, it is also necessary that he does not depend on knowing the meaning of the verses alone in memorising them. Rather the repetition of these verses should be the foundation. This should be done until the tongue can recite the verses even if the mind is occupied with other than the meaning of these verses. This is sign that the verses are firmly established in the mind. As for the one who relies upon the meaning alone then he will forget often and his recitation will be disjointed due to his mind being scattered and occupied with other things. This occurs frequently, especially when the recitation is long.
7. Do Not Move On From a Complete Surah Until You Have Connected the First Part of it to the Last
After one surah from among the chapters of the Qur'an has been completed it is desirable for the memoriser that he does not move onto another surah except after having perfected its memorisation and connecting its first part to its last so that his tongue can flow in reciting it, from its beginning to its end. He should be able to recite it without having to think or go through trouble in remembering the verses. Rather it is a must that the memorisation (and recitation) of these verses is like (flowing) water and that the memoriser recites these verses with out hesitation, even if his mind is occupied with more than one thing, away from the meaning of these verses. It should be as a person recites Surah al-Fatihah without any difficulty or having to think about it. This occurs by repeating these verses frequently and reciting them often. However the memorisation of every surah of the Qur'an will not be like that of Surah al-Fatihah except rarely but the intent and desire should be to try to make it as such. Therefore, it is necessary that when a surah is completed it is firmly established in the mind, with its beginning connected to its end and that the memoriser does not move onto another surah until he has memorised it with precision.
8. Reciting to Others
It is necessary for the memoriser not to depend on himself for his memorisation. Rather he should test his memorisation by reciting the verses or surah in question to somebody else, or he should recite them by following the mushaf. And how excellent this would be if a person had with him a precise memoriser (who would test his memorisation). This is so that the memoriser becomes aware of the possibility of his being forgetful or confused in his recitation (without knowing it). Many individuals amongst us who memorise a surah make mistakes and a person may not realise that until he looks into the mushaf. Furthermore, the one who desires to memorise may not realise by himself at which place he makes an error in his recitation despite the fact that he may be reciting from a mushaf. For this reason making others listen to his recitation of what he has memorised from the Qur'an is a means of perceiving and knowing these errors and being constantly aware of them.
9. Constantly Returning to what One has Memorised
The Qur'an is different from any other material that is memorised such as poetry and prose. And this is because the Qur'an is quickly lost from on'es mind. In fact the Messenger of Allah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "By Him in whose Hand is my soul, it is faster in escaping than a tied camel." [Agreed upon]
No sooner does the memoriser of the Qur'an leave it for a while until the Qur'an slips away from him and so he forgets it quickly. This is why it is necessary to constantly follow up what one has memorised and to be vigilant over it. Regarding this we have the saying of the Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam:
"Verily, the example of the owner of the Qur'an is like the example of the owner of the tied camel. If he keeps it tied (commits himself to it) he will hold it back and if he lets it loose it will escape from him."
And he also said:
"Commit yourselves to the Qur'an, for by Him in Whose Hand is my soul, it is faster in slipping away than a tied camel." [Agreed upon]
This means that it is obligatory upon the memoriser of the Qur'an to continuously recite what he has memorised from the Qur'an. With this constant attention and returning to what has been memorised will the Qur'an remain in his mind and without it, it will escape.
10. Being Aware of the Resembling Parts of the Qur'an
The various parts of the Qur'an resemble each other with respect to the meaning, wording and (repetition of) verses. The Exalted said:
"Allah has sent down the most beautiful of speech, a Book, (parts of it) resembling (others) oft-repeated. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it. Then their skins and their hearts soften to the remembrance of Allah." [Al-Qur'an 39:23]
The Qur'an has approximately six and a half-thousand verses. And there are approximately a thousand verses in which there is a resemblance of some sort. Sometimes there is agreement or difference due to a single letter or a word or two or more. For this reason it is necessary for the good reciter of the Qur'an that he has special concern for the parts of the Qur'an that resemble each other in terms of their wording. The excellence of one's memorisation will be according to the extent that one has concern for these resembling parts. One of the ways to aid oneself in this matter is to study those books which deal with this topic of resembling verses in the Qur'an. Among the most famous of them are:
- Durrat al-Tanzil wa Ghurrat at-Ta'wil fi Bayan al-Ayat al-Mutashabihat fi Kitab'il-Lah al-Aziz by al-Khatib al-Iskafi; and
- Asrar at-Tukrar fil-Qur'an by Mahmud ibn Hamzah ibn Nasr al-Kirmani.
11. Taking Advantage of the Golden Years of Memorising
The successful one, inevitably, is the one who takes advantage of the best years of memorisation and these are from the age of five to twenty-three approximately. A person's ability to memorise during these years is very good. In fact these are the golden years of memorising. Therefore, it is necessary for a person to keep himself occupied during the these years of his life, memorising the Book of Allah as much as he can.
Committing things to memory at this age can be done very quickly and forgetting is not so easy. This is in opposition to what happens after this time when a person memorises with difficulty and forgets with great speed. He spoke the truth who said:
Memorising in youth is like engraving on stone and memorising when old is like engraving on water.
Thus, it is necessary for all of us to take advantage of the golden years of memorising. If we cannot then we should encourage our sons and daughters to do so.
And with Allah is success and prayers and peace be upon our Messenger Muhammad, upon his family and all his Companions.
28th Ramadan 1416
(s) Al-Qawa'id adh-Dhahabiyyah al-Hifdh al-Qur'an al-Adhim
(t) Amjad ibn Muhammad Rafiq