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Memorising the Qurʾān

Golden rules for memorising the Book of Allāh.

My Brother and Sister in Islām – there is no doubt that you know of excellence of memorizing the Qurʾān and the excellence of teaching it. The Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) said: “The best amongst you is the one who learns the Qurʾān and teaches it.”
Presented to you are some rules which will assist in memorising the Qurʾān, may Allāh benefit us by them.

The First Rule: Ikhlās – (Sincerity)

The purification of one’s intention and correcting one’s desire is obligatory. It is likewise for making ones concern with and memorisation of the Qurʾān for the sake of Allāh, 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 Qurʾān and memorised it. Allāh the Exalted said:

فَاعْبُدِ اللَّهَ مُخْلِصًا لَّهُ الدِّينَ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ

So worship Allāh, making the Dīn sincerely for Him. Is it not to Allāh that s sincere worship is due?

[Zumar 39:2-3]

He also said:

قُلْ إِنِّي أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ مُخْلِصًا لَّهُ الدِّينَ ‎﴿١١﴾‏

Say: I have been commanded that I worship Allāh making the Dīn sincerely for Him.

[Zumar 39:11]

And the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) said: “Allāh 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.” [Bukhārī and Muslim]

Therefore, there is no reward for the one who recited the Qurʾān and memorised it to show off and to be heard of. There is also no doubt that the one who recited the Qurʾān desiring by it the world and seeking some sort of worldly reward for it is sinful.

The Second Rule: Correction of one’s Pronunciation and Recitation

The first step in memorizing the Qurʾān after that of Ikhlās is the obligation of correcting the pronunciation of the Qurʾān. This does not occur except by listening to a good reciter or a precise memoriser of the Qurʾān. The Qurʾān is not learned except by acquiring it (from another). Thus, the Messenger (ﷺ) who is the most eloquent of the Arabs in speech, took it from Jibrīl (عليه السلام) orally. The Messenger (ﷺ) himself used to recited the Qurʾān to Jibrīl once in every year and in the year that he died he recited it to him twice. [Reported by Bukhārī]

Likewise, the Messenger taught it to the Companions (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhū) orally and those who came after them heard it from the Companions and so on for each generation after them.

Taking the Qurʾān 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.

The Third Rule: Specifying a Daily Limit for Memorisation

It is necessary for the one desiring to memories the Qurʾān that he sets himself a daily limit for memorizing. A number of verses for example, perhaps a page or two pages or even an eighth of a juz (one thirtieth of the Qurʾān). 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 ret urn to a specific tone (of voice) and as a result of this, it will become familiar with any mistake whenever the balance in one’s 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 Qurʾān and beautifying it with one’s voice is a matter which has been commanded. It is not permissible to oppose this command due to the saying of the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam): “Whoever does not beautify the Qurʾān ( recite it melodiously) he is not of us.” [Bukhārī]

The Fourth Rule: 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 Qurʾān 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 imām then in the loud prayers. Also in the supererogatory prayers (nawāfil) 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 practice it even if he is occupied with other matters and this is because he does not simply sit at a specific time for memorizing the Qurʾān. 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 Qurʾān, rather he should continue on the second day with what he h ad started with the day before until the memorisation becomes perfected.

The Fifth Rule: Memories Using the Same Copy (Mushaf) of the Qurʾān

Among the things which aid the memorisation is that the memoriser should keep fo r himself a specific mushaf (copy of the Qurʾān) 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 memorizing the Qurʾān t hat he does so from a single script and mushaf and he should never replace it.

The Sixth Rule: Understanding is the Way to Memorizing

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 t o another. This is why it is necessary for the memoriser to read the tafsīr (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 memories the verses. Having said this, it i s also necessary that he does not depend on knowing the meaning of the verses al one in memorizing 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 a 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.

The Seventh Rule: Do not move on from a Complete Sūrah until you have connected the first part of it to the last

After one Sūrah from among the Sūrahs of the Qurʾān has been completed it is desirable for the memoriser that he does not move onto another Sūrah 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 b e 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 m the meaning of these verses. It should be as a person recites al-Sūrah Fātiḥah  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 Sūrah of the Qurʾān will not be like that of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah except rarely but the intent and desire should be to try to make it as such. Therefore, it is necessary that when a Sūrah 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 Sūrah until he has memorised it with precision.

The Eighth Rule: 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 Sūrah in quest ion 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 memories a Sūrah make mistakes and a person ma y not realize that until he looks into the mushaf. Furthermore, the one who desires to memories may not realize 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 Qurʾān is a means of perceiving and knowing these errors and being constantly aware of them.

Published: June 5, 2007
Edited: January 6, 2022

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