“When the companion of the Qur’ān (the one who has memorised it and remains committed) stands up (for night prayer) and recites it night and day, it remains fresh in his mind, but if he does not get up (to recite in his prayers and maintain his struggle) he forgets it.” – Sahīh Muslim
Revision in Ramadān is different. It’s special.
The Tarāwīh or Qiyām al Layl play a major role, in general, for the ḥāfiẓ and ḥifẓ students in the month of Ramadān. They can be utilised to consolidate memorisation and assess where you stand with your memorised Qur’ān.
Here are some tips to help you prepare.
Check your heart for sincerity (ikhlās)
You have not memorised the Qur’ān so that you lead the Tarāwīh and receive a pay cheque – you recite it for Allāh. Begin with a heart check. Renew your intentions.
Have a ḥifẓ buddy
It’s from the sunnah to have a buddy so that you review your Qur’ān with them during the month. Make sure you can get someone to recite to. This will help you identify and iron out mistakes. It will also help build confidence.
Record yourself in the absence of a buddy
If you don’t have anyone around to listen to you, the next best thing is to record yourself. Make your revision and then make an attempt from memory. You should record this attempt. Listen to it and if you make any mistakes work on those one by one. Repeat and study them. Now try again and record yourself. Have a listen. If you make mistakes again, repeat the process.
One of the most effective methods I was taught was to rehearse through nawāfil as if I was leading the real thing. This boosts confidence. I would literally do 40-60 rak’ah of practice. This meant that I would recite out loud just the way I would do in the Tarāwīh and practice. This is also something important as part of your preparation, recite just like you will in the real thing. There was one important element to this though. I had a teacher present. He was listening and making any corrections that needed to be made. So I would advice that you do the same. If you don’t have anyone to listen to you like this, you can attempt it but record yourself and listen to it between each cycle.
Some of us that lead the Tarāwīh, don’t lead the entire thing but might do a specific set of cycles. Some may not lead at all but stand behind the Imām to make corrections. For these individuals, it’s important to have revised everything. Not just their own portion for the day. In fact, those that are listening need to be stronger than the Imām. It takes a lot of skill to listen to someone carefully especially if they recite at a faster pace than yourself. If you’re not strong in your Qur’ān, you might begin to second guess or question whether a mistake was made or not.
Maintain daily revision outside Ramadān
There are so many that are not revising throughout the year and only do so during Ramadān. I have met so many like this. I don’t understand it. I always tell them, you’re not guaranteed to reach Ramadān every year. What if your life came to an end in a state where you’ve forgotten everything? To avoid this and to avoid having to spend hours upon hours revising in the month of Ramadān in preparation for the Tarāwīh – it’s a must to keep revision going throughout the year.
There are Huffāż like Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rashīd as-Sūfī and many others who when asked about how they prepare for the Tarāwīh say they don’t prepare. In fact, they have never prepared. They’ve not needed to. Allāh bless them and grant us the same consistency and strength. This is not by chance. They have a maintained connection to the Qur’ān on a daily basis.
Dealing with nerves
Nerves hit everyone. Make sure the first few nights are comfortable, it will set the tone for the rest. Don’t look back at the congregation. Make du’ā’ before starting. Embrace every moment, including your mistakes!
Maintain a healthly lifestyle
Look after your health and diet during the month. Many of us have to make sacrifices with time, sleep, commitments, and even diet. It comes with the territory of having to spend a lot of time on revision.
You should make sure you get enough rest so that you aren’t exhausted when it’s time to lead. Watch what you eat – avoid heavy and oily foods. Say no to fried foods. Personally I would avoid red meat too. Avoid foods that produce a lot of gas and phlegm. It’s essential that you look after your throat by avoiding cold and fizzy drinks. Have more warm natural drinks – herbal teas are great. Keep your throat warm and do not expose it to coldness and the wind.
When Shaykh Tāriq (the son of al-Qāri’ Shaykh ‘Abd al-Bāsit ‘Abd as-Samad) was asked about how Shaykh ‘Abd al-Bāsit kept his throat (in great condition), he replied:
“My father, may Allāh have mercy on him, used to be very careful (and attentive) with his voice. He used to sleep about two hours before any gathering until the throat was completely relaxed. He was (of those who) ate little and did not strain (or overload) his stomach, and he was (of those who) spoke little because regular speech strains the throat and hurts it. He avoided spicy foods and very cold and very hot drinks. He would not stand in front of fans or the air conditioner, and he did not open the car window. And if they were leaving the house, he would wait for a little at the door so that he would not be exposed to the cold air, and he would warm his neck with a scarf.”
Keep a strict schedule and make use of every Salāh
Use your time wisely and don’t get distracted. Keeping a strict schedule is essential. You can divide out your recitation throughout the day in your salāh as a means of additional practice. This will definitely help and is something you are encouraged to do outside Ramadān as well.
Understand more of the Qur’ān
When you can understand more, you will taste more. You will feel more. You can deal with the similar verses better. You can recite from the heart and focus more. But the greatest gift of understanding is that it can strengthen your memorisation. This is not something to be ignored.