25 Amazing Techniques To Memorise The Mutashabihat Verses

Whoever is trying to memorise the Qur'ān will have to deal with āyāt (verses) that are similar. The resemblance between two or three can cause you confusion and cause you to start reciting from another place. They may start the same but end differently. They might follow the same pattern but have different words and in different orders.

This is why books have been written and resources have been made. They can make things easier. I'll be sharing the techniques, methods and resources in an accessible way for you on how you can effectively memorise and recall the Mutashābihāt.

Bismillah. Let's start.

Using the incrementals method

What this means is that you will observe patterns, connections and links between similarities. There's an obvious pattern that can only be found if you pay attention. You will notice that in Sūrah Yaseen there are similar verses but there'll be a difference in either a letter or a word incremental but also the meaning. So one verse will appear but then the second will use the same exact words but with something extra. That extra part is what I call an incremental link. Increment means something that is added or increased.

This is one way of remembering the similar verses.

Let's take a look.

Example 1

Compare the two
إِذْ أَرْسَلْنَآ إِلَيْهِمُ ٱثْنَيْنِ فَكَذَّبُوهُمَا فَعَزَّزْنَا بِثَالِثٍۢ فَقَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّآ إِلَيْكُم مُّرْسَلُونَ
We sent them two messengers, but they rejected both. So We reinforced ˹the two˺ with a third, and they declared, “We have indeed been sent to you ˹as messengers˺.” — 36:14

"mursaloon"
قَالُوا۟ رَبُّنَا يَعْلَمُ إِنَّآ إِلَيْكُمْ لَمُرْسَلُونَ
The messengers responded, “Our Lord knows that we have truly been sent to you. — 36:16

"la-mursaloon"

What do you notice between verse 14 and 16?

You can see that they are similar in the ending but with an extra wording (an incremental link). One is emphasised in meaning, while the other isn't.

Now see the next one...

Example 2

Compare the two
ءَأَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِهِۦٓ ءَالِهَةً إِن يُرِدْنِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ بِضُرٍّۢ لَّا تُغْنِ عَنِّى شَفَـٰعَتُهُمْ شَيْـًۭٔا وَلَا يُنقِذُونِ
How could I take besides Him other gods whose intercession would not be of any benefit to me, nor could they save me if the Most Compassionate intended to harm me? — 36:23

"wa la yunqidhoon"
وَإِن نَّشَأْ نُغْرِقْهُمْ فَلَا صَرِيخَ لَهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يُنقَذُونَ
If We willed, We could drown them: then no one would respond to their cries, nor would they be rescued — 36:43

"wa la hum yunqadhoon"

What do you notice between verse 23 and 43? Again, there's an increment.

Example 3

Compare the two
إِن كَانَتْ إِلَّا صَيْحَةًۭ وَٰحِدَةًۭ فَإِذَا هُمْ خَـٰمِدُونَ
All it took was one ˹mighty˺ blast, and they were extinguished at once. — 36:29

"fa idha hum khamidoon"
إِن كَانَتْ إِلَّا صَيْحَةًۭ وَٰحِدَةًۭ فَإِذَا هُمْ جَمِيعٌۭ لَّدَيْنَا مُحْضَرُونَ
It will only take one Blast, then at once they will all be brought before Us. — 36:53

"fa idha hum jamee'ul ladaynaa muhdaroon"

What do you notice between verse 29 and 53? Again, there's an increment of words.

The first one is occurring in the world, one blast and they were wiped out (khamidoon). The second is one blast but it's the hereafter where everyone (Jamee') will rise again to be present (muhdaroon) for account.

Example 4

Compare the three
أَلَمْ يَرَوْا۟ كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا قَبْلَهُم مِّنَ ٱلْقُرُونِ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ لَا يَرْجِعُونَ
Have the deniers not considered how many peoples We destroyed before them who never came back to life again? — 36:31

"alam ya row kam"
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا۟ أَنَّا خَلَقْنَا لَهُم مِّمَّا عَمِلَتْ أَيْدِينَآ أَنْعَـٰمًۭا فَهُمْ لَهَا مَـٰلِكُونَ
Do they not see that We singlehandedly created for them, among other things, cattle which are under their control? — 36:71

"alam ya row annaa"
أَوَلَمْ يَرَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنُ أَنَّا خَلَقْنَـٰهُ مِن نُّطْفَةٍۢ فَإِذَا هُوَ خَصِيمٌۭ مُّبِينٌۭ
Do people not see that We have created them from a sperm-drop, then—behold!—they openly challenge ˹Us˺? — 36:77

"alam yaral insaanu annaa"

The start of āyah 31, 71, and 77.

You can see again an increment in words and emphasis. The first is about seeing/thinking about those in the past, while the last two are about those things that can be seen/considered in front of you right now.

Grouping similarities and creating memory triggers

The second method is where you observe differences in groups. There are a number of these in Sūrah Yaseen.

The Five Qālū

Āyāt 15, 16, 18, 19, and 52.

Learn and compare as a group
قَالُوا۟ مَآ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا بَشَرٌۭ مِّثْلُنَا وَمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ مِن شَىْءٍ إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا تَكْذِبُونَ
The people replied, “You are only humans like us, and the Most Compassionate has not revealed anything. You are simply lying!” — 36:15
قَالُوا۟ رَبُّنَا يَعْلَمُ إِنَّآ إِلَيْكُمْ لَمُرْسَلُونَ
The messengers responded, “Our Lord knows that we have truly been sent to you. — 36:16
قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا تَطَيَّرْنَا بِكُمْ ۖ لَئِن لَّمْ تَنتَهُوا۟ لَنَرْجُمَنَّكُمْ وَلَيَمَسَّنَّكُم مِّنَّا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌۭ
The people replied, “We definitely see you as a bad omen for us. If you do not desist, we will certainly stone you ˹to death˺ and you will be touched with a painful punishment from us.” — 36:18
قَالُوا۟ طَـٰٓئِرُكُم مَّعَكُمْ ۚ أَئِن ذُكِّرْتُم ۚ بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌۭ مُّسْرِفُونَ
The messengers said, “Your bad omen lies within yourselves. Are you saying this because you are reminded ˹of the truth˺? In fact, you are a transgressing people.” — 36:19
قَالُوا۟ يَـٰوَيْلَنَا مَنۢ بَعَثَنَا مِن مَّرْقَدِنَا ۜ ۗ هَـٰذَا مَا وَعَدَ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ وَصَدَقَ ٱلْمُرْسَلُونَ
They will cry, “Woe to us! Who has raised us up from our place of rest? This must be what the Most Compassionate warned us of; the messengers told the truth!” — 36:52

The Seven Mubeen

Āyāt 12, 17, 24, 47, 60, 69, and 77.

Learn and compare as a group
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْىِ ٱلْمَوْتَىٰ وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا۟ وَءَاثَـٰرَهُمْ ۚ وَكُلَّ شَىْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَـٰهُ فِىٓ إِمَامٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ
It is certainly We Who resurrect the dead, and write what they send forth and what they leave behind. Everything is listed by Us in a perfect Record. —  36:12
وَمَا عَلَيْنَآ إِلَّا ٱلْبَلَـٰغُ ٱلْمُبِينُ
And our duty is only to deliver ˹the message˺ clearly.” — 36:17
إِنِّىٓ إِذًۭا لَّفِى ضَلَـٰلٍۢ مُّبِينٍ
Indeed, I would then be clearly astray. — 36:24
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ أَنفِقُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ أَنُطْعِمُ مَن لَّوْ يَشَآءُ ٱللَّهُ أَطْعَمَهُۥٓ إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا فِى ضَلَـٰلٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ
And when it is said to them, “Donate from what Allah has provided for you,” the disbelievers say to the believers, “Why should we feed those whom Allah could have fed if He wanted to? You are clearly astray!” 36:47
لَمْ أَعْهَدْ إِلَيْكُمْ يَـٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ أَن لَّا تَعْبُدُوا۟ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّۭ مُّبِينٌۭ
Did I not command you, O  Children of Adam, not to follow Satan, for he is truly your sworn enemy, — 36:60
وَمَا عَلَّمْنَـٰهُ ٱلشِّعْرَ وَمَا يَنۢبَغِى لَهُۥٓ ۚ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌۭ وَقُرْءَانٌۭ مُّبِينٌۭ
We have not taught him poetry, nor is it fitting for him. This ˹Book˺ is only a Reminder and a clear Quran — 36:69
أَوَلَمْ يَرَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنُ أَنَّا خَلَقْنَـٰهُ مِن نُّطْفَةٍۢ فَإِذَا هُوَ خَصِيمٌۭ مُّبِينٌۭ
Do people not see that We have created them from a sperm-drop, then—behold!—they openly challenge ˹Us˺? — 36:77



The Three 'Wa āyatullahum'

Āyāt 33, 37, and 41 can be tricky for some people. They will forget the order of the āyāt. We can use this one as an example of where you can create memory triggers. These behave as memory hooks. Here you can think of a sequence hook as you being on earth, you look at the sky. See the narrative.

Earth = you're on it and taking from it. There's life.
Night = while on the earth you look up at the sky where you'll see night and day.
Them = Put it all together. There were others before who have been here.

You see a sequence from ground to sky, you're on the earth and you look up at the night sky and see the stars and moon.

Compare the three
وَءَايَةٌۭ لَّهُمُ ٱلْأَرْضُ ٱلْمَيْتَةُ أَحْيَيْنَـٰهَا وَأَخْرَجْنَا مِنْهَا حَبًّۭا فَمِنْهُ يَأْكُلُونَ
There is a sign for them in the dead earth: We give it life, producing grain from it for them to eat. — 36:33
وَءَايَةٌۭ لَّهُمُ ٱلَّيْلُ نَسْلَخُ مِنْهُ ٱلنَّهَارَ فَإِذَا هُم مُّظْلِمُونَ
There is also a sign for them in the night: We strip from it daylight, then—behold!—they are in darkness. — 36:37
وَءَايَةٌۭ لَّهُمْ أَنَّا حَمَلْنَا ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ فِى ٱلْفُلْكِ ٱلْمَشْحُونِ
Another sign for them is that We carried their ancestors ˹with Noah˺ in the fully loaded Ark, — 36:41

The Six Mursaleen/Mursaloon

Others may confuse the endings of āyāt 3, 13, 14, 16, 20, and 52.

In this one, you'll see the incremental technique. The word Mursaloon and Mursaleen means Messengers. The difference between the two is grammatical. In Arabic, there are three states that a certain type of word (like a noun) can have. Without going into detail, the difference between mursaloona and mursaleena is the difference between a word being either the object or the subject in the sentence. If you learn the basics of Arabic, this can help you get over words that trip you up at the end of an āyah (oona/eena).

Group and compare
إِنَّكَ لَمِنَ ٱلْمُرْسَلِينَ
You ˹O Prophet˺ are truly one of the messengers — 36:3
وَٱضْرِبْ لَهُم مَّثَلًا أَصْحَـٰبَ ٱلْقَرْيَةِ إِذْ جَآءَهَا ٱلْمُرْسَلُونَ
Give them an example ˹O Prophet˺ of the residents of a town, when the messengers came to them. — 36:13
إِذْ أَرْسَلْنَآ إِلَيْهِمُ ٱثْنَيْنِ فَكَذَّبُوهُمَا فَعَزَّزْنَا بِثَالِثٍۢ فَقَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّآ إِلَيْكُم مُّرْسَلُونَ
We sent them two messengers, but they rejected both. So We reinforced ˹the two˺ with a third, and they declared, “We have indeed been sent to you ˹as messengers˺.” — 36:14
قَالُوا۟ رَبُّنَا يَعْلَمُ إِنَّآ إِلَيْكُمْ لَمُرْسَلُونَ
The messengers responded, “Our Lord knows that we have truly been sent to you. — 36:16
وَجَآءَ مِنْ أَقْصَا ٱلْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌۭ يَسْعَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلْمُرْسَلِينَ
Then from the farthest end of the city a man came, rushing. He advised, “O my people! Follow the messengers. — 36:20
قَالُوا۟ يَـٰوَيْلَنَا مَنۢ بَعَثَنَا مِن مَّرْقَدِنَا ۜ ۗ هَـٰذَا مَا وَعَدَ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ وَصَدَقَ ٱلْمُرْسَلُونَ
They will cry, “Woe to us! Who has raised us up from our place of rest? This must be what the Most Compassionate warned us of; the messengers told the truth!” — 36:52

These are a few things to spark your mind as to the ways that one can deal with similar verses.

For any surah that you're memorising, you want to use your strengths but also your preferred way of learning. Reciting, repetition, spaced repetition, listening/repeating, writing, mind mapping, visualising, watching, moving or any combination.⁣

⁣Grouping the Sūrah into divisions

This surah can be divided into 5/6 parts/groups when memorising...⁣

1. Introduction / The truth of the Qur'ān and the truth of Prophethood. [1-12]⁣
2. Aṣḥāb al-Qaryah (People of the town) and the messengers that were sent and the response of those to whom the prophets were sent and the result of their denial. [13-32] ⁣
3. The signs and power of Allāh in nature serving as a clear reminder. [33-47]⁣
4. The scenes of the resurrection. [48-54]⁣
5. The division of people: people of paradise [55-58] and the bad fellas [59-70]⁣
6. The ending/reminders about death and the Day of Judgment. [71-83]⁣

Mutashābihāt Reversal Patterns

Patterns are identifiers. You find things within the verses that help you recall them, especially in the absence of any understanding.

Reversals are when a similar āyah appears with the same words but in a reverse order. If you're memorising and you confuse similar verses, always take a step back. Look at them. Repeat them. Study the differences and meanings. This will help you build a deeper connection that goes beyond repetition and helps you recall much better.

Analysis can make a huge difference. Compare a specific āyah that you mix up and see where you're slipping. Create a memory trigger.

Let's take a look at reversal patterns.

Example one: Surah al-Baqarah

Compare the two:

2:48 وَٱتَّقُوا۟ يَوْمًۭا لَّا تَجْزِى نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍۢ شَيْـًۭٔا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَـٰعَةٌۭ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌۭ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

Guard yourselves against the Day on which no soul will be of help to another. No intercession will be accepted, no ransom taken, and no help will be given.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

2:123 وَٱتَّقُوا۟ يَوْمًۭا لَّا تَجْزِى نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍۢ شَيْـًۭٔا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌۭ وَلَا تَنفَعُهَا شَفَـٰعَةٌۭ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

And guard yourselves against the Day when no soul will be of any help to another. No ransom will be taken, no intercession accepted, and no help will be given.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

The first āyah enters with intercession (شَفَـٰعَةٌۭ) and the next one leaves with intercession (شَفَـٰعَةٌۭ). There's a reversal. You can also say the same of the word عَدْلٌۭ. The order has flipped.

Example two

Compare the two:

2:58 وَإِذْ قُلْنَا ٱدْخُلُوا۟ هَـٰذِهِ ٱلْقَرْيَةَ فَكُلُوا۟ مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ رَغَدًۭا وَٱدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْبَابَ سُجَّدًۭا وَقُولُوا۟ حِطَّةٌۭ نَّغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطَـٰيَـٰكُمْ ۚ وَسَنَزِيدُ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ

And ˹remember˺ when We said, “Enter this city and eat freely from wherever you please; enter the gate with humility, saying, ‘Absolve us.’ We will forgive your sins and multiply the reward for the good-doers.”
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

7:161 وَإِذْ قِيلَ لَهُمُ ٱسْكُنُوا۟ هَـٰذِهِ ٱلْقَرْيَةَ وَكُلُوا۟ مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ وَقُولُوا۟ حِطَّةٌۭ وَٱدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْبَابَ سُجَّدًۭا نَّغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطِيٓـَٔـٰتِكُمْ ۚ سَنَزِيدُ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ

And ˹remember˺ when it was said to them, “Enter this city ˹of Jerusalem˺ and eat from wherever you please. Say, ‘Absolve us,’ and enter the gate with humility. We will forgive your sins, ˹and˺ We will multiply the reward for the good-doers.”
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

You can see again, there's a reversal.

In surah al-Baqarah, you enter with سُجَّدًۭا and in Surah al-A'rāf you leave with سُجَّدًۭا

Example three

Compare the two:

6:151 ۞ قُلْ تَعَالَوْا۟ أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ أَلَّا تُشْرِكُوا۟ بِهِۦ شَيْـًۭٔا ۖ وَبِٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ إِحْسَـٰنًۭا ۖ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوٓا۟ أَوْلَـٰدَكُم مِّنْ إِمْلَـٰقٍۢ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا۟ ٱلْفَوَٰحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ ۖ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا۟ ٱلنَّفْسَ ٱلَّتِى حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا بِٱلْحَقِّ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ وَصَّىٰكُم بِهِۦ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Come! Let me recite to you what your Lord has forbidden to you: do not associate others with Him ˹in worship˺. ˹Do not fail to˺ honour your parents. Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for you and for them. Do not come near indecencies, openly or secretly. Do not take a ˹human˺ life—made sacred by Allah—except with ˹legal˺ right. This is what He has commanded you, so perhaps you will understand.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

17:31 وَلَا تَقْتُلُوٓا۟ أَوْلَـٰدَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَـٰقٍۢ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْـًۭٔا كَبِيرًۭا

Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely killing them is a heinous sin.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

This one is a reversal pattern with the word 'Kum'. You are entering the Kaaf (al-An'ām) and leaving the Kaaf (al-Isrā').

Example four

Compare the two:

7:188 قُل لَّآ أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِى نَفْعًۭا وَلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ ۚ وَلَوْ كُنتُ أَعْلَمُ ٱلْغَيْبَ لَٱسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ ٱلْخَيْرِ وَمَا مَسَّنِىَ ٱلسُّوٓءُ ۚ إِنْ أَنَا۠ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌۭ وَبَشِيرٌۭ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يُؤْمِنُونَ

Say, “I have no power to benefit or protect myself, except by the Will of Allah. If I had known the unknown, I would have benefited myself enormously, and no harm would have ever touched me. I am only a warner and deliverer of good news for those who believe.”
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

10:49 قُل لَّآ أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِى ضَرًّۭا وَلَا نَفْعًا إِلَّا مَا شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ ۗ لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلٌ ۚ إِذَا جَآءَ أَجَلُهُمْ فَلَا يَسْتَـْٔخِرُونَ سَاعَةًۭ ۖ وَلَا يَسْتَقْدِمُونَ

Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “I have no power to benefit or protect myself, except by the Will of Allah.” For each community there is an appointed term. When their time arrives, they cannot delay it for a moment, nor could they advance it.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

Again, a reversal pattern where you are entering the نَفْعًا (al-A'rāf) and leaving with نَفْعًا (Yūnus).

Example five

Compare the two:

15:1 الٓر ۚ تِلْكَ ءَايَـٰتُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ وَقُرْءَانٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ

Alif-Lãm-Ra. These are the verses of the Book; the clear Quran.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

27:1 طسٓ ۚ تِلْكَ ءَايَـٰتُ ٱلْقُرْءَانِ وَكِتَابٍۢ مُّبِينٍ

Ṭâ-Sĩn. These are the verses of the Quran; the clear Book.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

Example six

Compare the two:

3:126 وَمَا جَعَلَهُ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا بُشْرَىٰ لَكُمْ وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ قُلُوبُكُم بِهِۦ ۗ وَمَا ٱلنَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلْعَزِيزِ ٱلْحَكِيمِ

Allah ordained this ˹reinforcement˺ only as good news for you and reassurance for your hearts. And victory comes only from Allah—the Almighty, All-Wise—
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

8:10 وَمَا جَعَلَهُ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا بُشْرَىٰ وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ بِهِۦ قُلُوبُكُمْ ۚ وَمَا ٱلنَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

And Allah made this a sign of victory and reassurance to your hearts. Victory comes only from Allah. Surely Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

Example seven

Compare the two:

28:20 وَجَآءَ رَجُلٌۭ مِّنْ أَقْصَا ٱلْمَدِينَةِ يَسْعَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰمُوسَىٰٓ إِنَّ ٱلْمَلَأَ يَأْتَمِرُونَ بِكَ لِيَقْتُلُوكَ فَٱخْرُجْ إِنِّى لَكَ مِنَ ٱلنَّـٰصِحِينَ

And there came a man, rushing from the farthest end of the city. He said, “O Moses! The chiefs are actually conspiring against you to put you to death, so leave ˹the city˺. I really advise you ˹to do so˺.”
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

36:20 وَجَآءَ مِنْ أَقْصَا ٱلْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌۭ يَسْعَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلْمُرْسَلِينَ

Then from the farthest end of the city a man came, rushing. He advised, “O my people! Follow the messengers.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

Example eight

4:135 ۞ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُونُوا۟ قَوَّٰمِينَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ شُهَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ ٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ وَٱلْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًۭا فَٱللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلْهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعْدِلُوا۟ ۚ وَإِن تَلْوُۥٓا۟ أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا۟ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًۭا

O believers! Stand firm for justice as witnesses for Allah even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or close relatives. Be they rich or poor, Allah is best to ensure their interests. So do not let your desires cause you to deviate ˹from justice˺. If you distort the testimony or refuse to give it, then ˹know that˺ Allah is certainly All-Aware of what you do.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

5:8 يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُونُوا۟ قَوَّٰمِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَآءَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَـَٔانُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰٓ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا۟ ۚ ٱعْدِلُوا۟ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرٌۢ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

O believers! Stand firm for Allah and bear true testimony. Do not let the hatred of a people lead you to injustice. Be just! That is closer to righteousness. And be mindful of Allah. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what you do.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

All of these are examples of reversals.

Here's a great YouTube resource:

The alphabetical order pattern

This pattern is when you find two verses that are similar and on closer look, you'll find a letter difference between two words that match the order of the Arabic alphabet.

For example:

Example 1 - RĀ' followed by 'AYN
2:18 صُمٌّۢ بُكْمٌ عُمْىٌۭ فَهُمْ لَا يَرْجِعُونَ
They are ˹wilfully˺ deaf, dumb, and blind, so they will never return ˹to the Right Path˺.
2:171 صُمٌّۢ بُكْمٌ عُمْىٌۭ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ
˹They are wilfully˺ deaf, dumb and blind so they have no understanding.
You'll see the first point of difference between the highlighted words is the letter attached to the YĀ'. The first one is RĀ' and the second is an 'AYN. This is in alphabetical order.

Example 2 - 'AYN followed by QĀF
2:125 وَعَهِدْنَآ إِلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِـۧمَ وَإِسْمَـٰعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِىَ لِلطَّآئِفِينَ وَٱلْعَـٰكِفِينَ وَٱلرُّكَّعِ ٱلسُّجُودِ
And We entrusted Abraham and Ishmael to purify My House for those who circle it, who meditate in it, and who bow and prostrate themselves ˹in prayer˺.
22:26 وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَٰهِيمَ مَكَانَ ٱلْبَيْتِ أَن لَّا تُشْرِكْ بِى شَيْـًۭٔا وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِىَ لِلطَّآئِفِينَ وَٱلْقَآئِمِينَ وَٱلرُّكَّعِ ٱلسُّجُودِ
And ˹remember˺ when We assigned to Abraham the site of the House, ˹saying,˺ “Do not associate anything with Me ˹in worship˺ and purify My House for those who circle ˹the Ka’bah˺, stand ˹in prayer˺, and bow and prostrate themselves.
You'll see the first point of difference between the highlighted words is the first letter. The first one is 'AYN and the second is QĀF. This is in alphabetical order.

Example 3 - FĀ' followed by LĀM
3:167 يَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَٰهِهِم مَّا لَيْسَ فِى قُلُوبِهِمْ
[...] saying with their mouths what was not in their hearts
48:11 يَقُولُونَ بِأَلْسِنَتِهِم مَّا لَيْسَ فِى قُلُوبِهِمْ
They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts
You'll see the first point of difference between the highlighted words is the letter attached to the Hamza. The first one is FĀ' and the second is LĀM. This is in alphabetical order.

Example 4 - SHEEN followed by SAAD
15:73 فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ ٱلصَّيْحَةُ مُشْرِقِينَ
So the ˹mighty˺ blast overtook them at sunrise.
15:83 فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ ٱلصَّيْحَةُ مُصْبِحِينَ
But the ˹mighty˺ blast overtook them in the morning
You'll see the first point of difference between the highlighted words is the letter attached to the MEEM. The first one is SHEEN and the second is SAAD. This is in alphabetical order.

To see further examples of this pattern see:

  • Surah al-Kahf, verse 71 and 73. The difference between IMRA and NUKRA.
  • Surah Hajj, verse 28 and 36. The difference between ALBĀ'ISA and AL-QĀNI'A.
  • Surah Yūnus, verse 2 and Surah Zukhruf, verse 3. The difference between ANZALNĀHU and JA'ALNĀHU.
  • Surah Fussilat, verse 52 and Surah al-Ahqāf, verse 10. The difference between THUMMA KAFARTUM and WA KAFARTUM.
  • Surah al-Mujādilah, verse 4 and 5. The difference between ALEEM and MUHEEN.
  • Surah at-Takwīr, verse 6 and Surah al-Infitār, verse 3. The difference between SUJJIRAT and FUJJIRAT.
  • Surah at-Takwīr, verse 14 and Surah al-Infitār, verse 5. The difference between AHDARAT and QADDAMAT WA AKH-KHARAT.

The odd one out pattern

This is when a collection of verses that use the same words appear throughout the Qur'ān but there's always one that stands alone with a difference. There are around 20 examples of these.

Let's take at examples:

In Surah al-Mā'idah, we see an example where Allāh says...

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ أَقَامُوا۟ ٱلتَّوْرَىٰةَ وَٱلْإِنجِيلَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِم مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ لَأَكَلُوا۟ مِن فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِن تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِم ۚ مِّنْهُمْ أُمَّةٌۭ مُّقْتَصِدَةٌۭ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌۭ مِّنْهُمْ سَآءَ مَا يَعْمَلُونَ
And had they observed the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to them from their Lord, they would have been overwhelmed with provisions from above and below. Some among them are upright, yet many do nothing but evil. (5:66)

The highlighted words in this āyah differ from the words that are used in Surah at-Tawbah (v9), al-Mujādilah (v15), and al-Munāfiqoon (v2). They use the word KAANOO between MA and YA'MALOON.

In Surat al-Baqarah, we see another example in...

2:129 رَبَّنَا وَٱبْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًۭا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـٰتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلْعَزِيزُ ٱلْحَكِيمُ
Our Lord! Raise from among them a messenger who will recite to them Your revelations, teach them the Book and wisdom, and purify them. Indeed, You ˹alone˺ are the Almighty, All-Wise.”

This verse stands alone in the order of the words because this is the only verse where the highlighted word (wa yuzak-keehim) is at the end. Everywhere else it is before the words "teach them the Book" (Surah Āle 'Imrān (v163) and al-Jumu'ah (v2)).

In Surah al-An'ām, verse 90, we see another example…

6:90 أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ هَدَى ٱللَّهُ ۖ فَبِهُدَىٰهُمُ ٱقْتَدِهْ ۗ قُل لَّآ أَسْـَٔلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا ۖ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَـٰلَمِينَ
These ˹prophets˺ were ˹rightly˺ guided by Allah, so follow their guidance. Say, “I ask no reward of you for this ˹Quran˺—it is a reminder to the whole world.”

This stands alone when elsewhere in the Qur'ān, its similar verses in Yūsuf (v104), Saad (v87), and at-Takwīr (v27) use: "In huwa illa zikrun" and in al-Qalam (v52) "wa ma huwa illa zikrun".

Other examples include:

  • "MA NAZZALALLAHU" in Surah al-A'rāf (v71) vs "MA ANZALA" like it is in Yūsuf and an-Najm.
  • "LI-YAFTADOO" in al-Mā'idah (v36) vs "LAFTADOO" in ar-Ra'd (v18) and az-Zumar (v47).
  • "WALADUN" in Āle-'Imrān (v47) vs "GHULĀMUN" in Āle-'Imrān (v40), and Surah Maryam (v8, 20).
  • "ĀYĀTUNĀ" in Surah al-Anfāl (v31) vs without the word "BAYYINĀTIN" as it is in the rest of the Qur'ān (Yūnus (v15), Maryam (v73), al-Hajj (v72), Saba (v43), al-Jāthiyah (v25), al-Ahqāf (v7)). There's a slight difference in one verse aside this but on a different word (Luqmān, v7).
  • "DHĀLIKUM" in al-An'ām, verse 99, vs "DHĀLIKA" in other verses (al-Ankabūt, v24, ar-Rūm, v37, az-Zumar, v52).
  • "SALAWĀTIHIM" in al-Mu'minoon, verse 9, vs "SALĀTIHIM" elsewhere (al-An'ām, v92, al-Ma'ārij, v23 and 34).

The WOW (و) before FĀ' (ف) and BĀ' (ب) before MEEM (م) patterns

There are many of us that memorise and struggle with verses that begin with a WOW/و or FĀ'/ف. We can get confused as to which verse is next and can easily mix them up. Like و نعم أجر العالمين (wa ni'ma ajrul 'ālameen)vs فنعم أجر العالمين (fa ni'ma ajrul 'ālameen).

For this, there's a pattern to help you remember the verses and that is that the verse that begins with the WOW (و) will always be before the similar verse that starts with the FĀ' (ف). There are 20+ examples of these. Likewise, there are similar verses that start with a BĀ' (ب) that will come before a similar verse that starts with a MEEM (م). There are about 4 examples of these.

WOW (و) before FĀ' (ف) examples

Here are some examples:

Example 1
52:48 وَٱصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ فَإِنَّكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا ۖ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ حِينَ تَقُومُ
So be patient with your Lord’s decree, for you are truly under Our ˹watchful˺ Eyes. And glorify the praises of your Lord when you rise.
68:48 فَٱصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تَكُن كَصَاحِبِ ٱلْحُوتِ إِذْ نَادَىٰ وَهُوَ مَكْظُومٌۭ
So be patient with your Lord’s decree, and do not be like ˹Jonah,˺ the Man of the Whale, who cried out ˹to Allah˺, in total distress.
You'll see that in Surah at-Tūr (28) the verse starts with a WOW and then it's similar verse that arrives later in the Qur'ān in Surah al-Qalam (68) starts with a FĀ'.

Example 2
28:60 وَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّن شَىْءٍۢ فَمَتَـٰعُ ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتُهَا
Whatever ˹pleasure˺ you have been given is no more than ˹a fleeting˺ enjoyment and adornment of this worldly life.
42:36 فَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّن شَىْءٍۢ فَمَتَـٰعُ ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا
Whatever ˹pleasure˺ you have been given is ˹no more than a fleeting˺ enjoyment of this worldly life.
You'll see that in Surah al-Qasas (28) the verse starts with a WOW and then it's similar verse that arrives later in the Qur'ān in Surah ash-Shurā (42) starts with a FĀ'.

Example 3
5:88 وَكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ حَلَـٰلًۭا طَيِّبًۭا
Eat of the good, lawful things provided to you by Allah.
16:114 فَكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ حَلَـٰلًۭا طَيِّبًۭا
So eat from the good, lawful things which Allah has provided for you
You'll see that in Surah al-Mā'idah (5) the verse starts with a WOW and then it's similar verse that arrives later in the Qur'ān in Surah an-Nahl (16) starts with a FĀ'.

BĀ' (ب) before MEEM (م) examples

There fewer examples of these but they include:

Example 1
2:120 وَلَئِنِ ٱتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَآءَهُم بَعْدَ ٱلَّذِى جَآءَكَ مِنَ ٱلْعِلْمِ ۙ مَا لَكَ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ مِن وَلِىٍّۢ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ
And if you were to follow their desires after ˹all˺ the knowledge that has come to you, there would be none to protect or help you against Allah.
2:145 وَلَئِنِ ٱتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَآءَهُم مِّنۢ بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ ٱلْعِلْمِ ۙ إِنَّكَ إِذًۭا لَّمِنَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
And if you were to follow their desires after ˹all˺ the knowledge that has come to you, then you would certainly be one of the wrongdoers.
You'll see that in Surah al-Baqarah (verse 120) the highlighted words starts with a BĀ' and then it's similar verse that arrives later in the same Surah (verse 145), the highlighted words start with a MEEM. Both of them are after the same set of words that begin the verses.

Example 2
2:234 فَإِذَا بَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا فَعَلْنَ فِىٓ أَنفُسِهِنَّ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌۭ
When they have reached the end of this period, then you are not accountable for what they decide for themselves in a reasonable manner. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.
2:240 فَإِنْ خَرَجْنَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِى مَا فَعَلْنَ فِىٓ أَنفُسِهِنَّ مِن مَّعْرُوفٍۢ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌۭ
But if they choose to leave, you are not accountable for what they reasonably decide for themselves. And Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.
You'll see that in Surah al-Baqarah (verse 234) the highlighted words starts with a BĀ' and then it's similar verse that arrives later in the same Surah (verse 140), the highlighted words start with a MEEM. Both of them are after the same set of words just before it.

A link between the place of the similar verse and the name of the Surah

This is a pattern that has been of great benefit to many people, known to make dealing with similarities easy, and is one of the easiest to remember. It is where the placement of the similar verse has a direct link to the Surah name. This can be by a letter-link, apparent meanings, or other things.

There are around 26 examples of these. Let's take a look at some of them.

Example 1
2:80 وَقَالُوا۟ لَن تَمَسَّنَا ٱلنَّارُ إِلَّآ أَيَّامًۭا مَّعْدُودَةًۭ
˹Some of˺ the Jews claim, “The Fire will not touch us except for a number of days.”
3:24 ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا۟ لَن تَمَسَّنَا ٱلنَّارُ إِلَّآ أَيَّامًۭا مَّعْدُودَٰتٍۢ
This is because they say, “The Fire will not touch us except for a few days.”
In the first verse from Surah al-Baqarah the word مَّعْدُودَةًۭ ends with a round tā' which is also at the end of the Surah name al-Baqarah. The word مَّعْدُودَةًۭ is also singular (mufrad) and the Surah name is also singular. However, its similar verse in Surah Āle-'Imrān uses the word مَّعْدُودَٰتٍۢ which is a feminine plural just like the Surah name.

Example 2
21:16 وَمَا خَلَقْنَا ٱلسَّمَآءَ وَٱلْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَـٰعِبِينَ
We did not create the heavens and the earth and everything in between for sport.
44:38 وَمَا خَلَقْنَا ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَـٰعِبِينَ
We did not create the heavens and the earth and everything in between for sport.
In the first verse from Surah al-Anbiyā' the word ٱلسَّمَآءَ ends with an alif and hamzah and the surah name ends with an alif and hamzah. Its similar verse in Surah ad-Dukhān uses the word ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ which is a feminine plural. In Surah al-Anbiyā', the word ٱلسَّمَآءَ (sky/heaven) is singular like the individuals Prophets (al-Anbiyā') and their collective is like the ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ skies/heavens (word used in Surah ad-Dukhān).

Example 3
10:33 كَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ فَسَقُوٓا۟ أَنَّهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
And so your Lord’s decree has been proven true against the rebellious—that they will never believe.
40:6 وَكَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوٓا۟ أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ
And so your Lord’s decree has been proven true against the disbelievers—that they will be the inmates of the Fire.
In the first verse from Surah Yūnus the word فَسَقُوٓا۟ contains a SEEN and the Surah name contains a SEEN at the end. The similar verse in Surah Ghāfir has the word كَفَرُوٓا۟ which contains a RĀ' just like the Surah name. Again, another example of a link between the similar verse and the surah name.

Example 4
6:102 ذَٰلِكُمُ ٱللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ ۖ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ خَـٰلِقُ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ فَٱعْبُدُوهُ ۚ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ وَكِيلٌۭ
That is Allah—your Lord! There is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him. ˹He is˺ the Creator of all things, so worship Him ˹alone˺. And He is the Maintainer of everything.
40:62 ذَٰلِكُمُ ٱللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ خَـٰلِقُ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ لَّآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ
That is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of all things. There is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him. How can you then be deluded ˹from the truth˺?
In the first verse from Surah al-An'ām the words لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ (there is no God expect Him) and we see that this Surah speaks about Tawheed (Divine Oneness) and its evidence. The similar verse in Surah Ghāfir has the word خَـٰلِقُ which is a word using the same word pattern and form as the Surah name: Ghāfir/Khāliq.

Example 5
26:200 كَذَٰلِكَ سَلَكْنَـٰهُ فِى قُلُوبِ ٱلْمُجْرِمِينَ
This is how We allow denial ˹to steep˺ into the hearts of the wicked.
15:12 كَذَٰلِكَ نَسْلُكُهُۥ فِى قُلُوبِ ٱلْمُجْرِمِينَ
This is how We allow disbelief ˹to steep˺ into the hearts of the wicked.
In the first verse from Surah ash-Shu'arā' the words سَلَكْنَـٰهُ can be linked to the SHEEN in the Surah name (because it's the sister of SEEN).

Creating mnemonics (or combining letters)

I mentioned a technique of mnemonics when I wrote about how to memorise Surah ar-Rahmān. The idea is very simple. If there are similar verses between 2, 3 or more verses you can make a mnemonic using the first letter of each of them (the similar words). This would help you remember the order of any similar verses.

These words can carry meaning or be completely random resembling initials. Mnemonics are usually sentences that gather words but in this case it can be both words or letters.

For example:

Example 1 - 'AAM (عام) when confusing 'azeem, aleem, and muheen [Āli 'Imrān]
3:176 وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
[...] and they will suffer a tremendous punishment.
3:177 وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
[...] they will suffer a painful punishment.
3:178 وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌۭ مُّهِينٌ
[...] and they will suffer a humiliating punishment.
If we take the first letter from each of the highlighted words we have the letters 'AYN, ALIF, and MEEM. When put together, we create the word 'AAM (عام which can mean general or common) and this now can be used to remember these verses and how they end.

Note: This is not the only way to remember this. As a side note, there is a difference between these words in meaning and they are used in their respective verses for a reason. Being aware of things like this will also help you remember. For instance, you can remember them in terms of intensity. Āyah 176 ends with the word for tremendous or great. This intensifies in āyah 177 and becomes painful. This intensifies further and becomes humililation. By using translations, you can make connections or pointers as triggers to remember things.

Example 2 - ARUS(SU) (أَرُصّ) in Surah al-Qamar
54:36
وَلَقَدْ أَنذَرَهُم بَطْشَتَنَا فَتَمَارَوْا۟ بِٱلنُّذُرِ
He had already warned them of Our ˹crushing˺ blow but they disputed the warnings.
54:37
وَلَقَدْ رَٰوَدُوهُ عَن ضَيْفِهِۦ فَطَمَسْنَآ أَعْيُنَهُمْ فَذُوقُوا۟ عَذَابِى وَنُذُرِ
And they even demanded his angel-guests from him,[1] so We blinded their eyes. ˹And they were told,˺ “Taste then My punishment and warnings!”
[1] Who came in the form of handsome men.
54:38
وَلَقَدْ صَبَّحَهُم بُكْرَةً عَذَابٌۭ مُّسْتَقِرٌّۭ
And indeed, by the early morning they were overwhelmed by an unrelenting torment.
If we take the first letter from each of the highlighted words we have the letters ALIF, RĀ' and SAAD. When put together, we create the word ARUSS (أَرُصّ which can mean to put together or stack).
Example 3 - RA'S (رأس) in Surah as-Sabā
34:43
وَإِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـٰتُنَا بَيِّنَـٰتٍۢ قَالُوا۟ مَا هَـٰذَآ إِلَّا رَجُلٌ يُرِيدُ أَن يَصُدَّكُمْ عَمَّا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ ءَابَآؤُكُمْ وَقَالُوا۟ مَا هَـٰذَآ إِلَّآ إِفْكٌ مُّفْتَرًۭى ۚ وَقَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ لِلْحَقِّ لَمَّا جَآءَهُمْ إِنْ هَـٰذَآ إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌۭ
When Our clear revelations are recited to them, they say, “This is only a man who wishes to hinder you from what your forefathers used to worship.” They also say, “This ˹Quran˺ is no more than a fabricated lie.” And the disbelievers say of the truth when it has come to them, “This is nothing but pure magic.”
In this āyah after the words هَـٰذَآ إِلَّ we have three different words as highlighted. The starting letters are RĀ', ALIF, and SEEN. Together we get the word RA'S (رأس which can mean head, top, leader).

Note: Again, trying to get you to think, you can always make use of your own language. In this case, mine is English and so if you look at the meanings of the three highlighted words, they are: man, lie, and magic. You can make sentence from this can't you? The man (رَجُلٌ) always tells a lie (إِفْكٌ) as fake as magic (سِحْرٌ). I just made that up on the spot. I'm sure you can do much better.

I'm sure you'll have understood this technique now! Here are further examples for you look up:

  • Making مقر from the words (الظَّالِمِينَ - الْفَاسِقِينَ - الْكَافِرِينَ) in Surah at-Tawbah (verses 19, 24, and 37).
  • Making سَعَت from the words (يَسْمَعُونَ - يَعْقِلُونَ - يَتَفَكَّرُونَ) in Surah an-Nahl (verses 65, 67, and 69).
  • Making قل from the words after (فِى جَنَّةٍ عَالِيَةٍ) in Surah al-Hāqqah (verses 22-23) and al-Ghāshiyah (verses 10-11).
  • Making عصف from the words (يَعْمَلُونَ - يَصْنَعُونَ - يَفْعَلُونَ) in Surah al-Mā'idah (verses 62, 63, 79).

Grouping together the Mutashābihāt

What is meant by this is to collect similar verses and to know their locations. This can be used in a few places. For example:

Example 1

(كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ) appears in 4 places:

  • (كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ) in Al-Baqarah, verse 242
  • (كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ) in Āli 'Imrān, verse 103
  • (كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ) in Al-Mā'idah, verse 89
  • (كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ) in An-Nūr, verse 59

By putting them together you can try to remember the order and differences. You can recall them by using any device (poetry, sentences, etc). For example:

"The Cow (al-Baqarah) may understand (تَعْقِلُونَ), but the Family of 'Imrān (Āli 'Imrān) are truly guided (تَهْتَدُونَ). We should be grateful (تَشْكُرُونَ) for our Table of food (al-Mā'idah). Truly, there is Light (an-Nūr) from the All-Knowing, All-Wise (وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ)."

Again, i just made this up at the time of writing to give you an idea. Another idea would be to learn by sequence:

"If we understand (تَعْقِلُونَ), we can be truly guided (تَهْتَدُونَ). For this we should always be grateful (تَشْكُرُونَ). For without Allāh, All-Knowing, All-Wise (وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ), we cannot reach this."

In comparison to this, similar verses also have the words (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ):

  • (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ) in Al-Baqarah, verse 219 ("khamr")
  • (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ) in Al-Baqarah, verse 266 ("I'sār")
  • (وَيُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ) in An-Nūr, verse 18 ("Nūr")
  • (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ) in An-Nūr, verse 58 ("Nūr")
  • (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ) in An-Nūr, verse 61 ("Nūr")
  • (وَإِذَا بَلَغَ الْأَطْفَالُ مِنكُمُ الْحُلُمَ فَلْيَسْتَأْذِنُوا كَمَا اسْتَأْذَنَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ) in An-Nūr, verse 59 (except "Tifl")

Here we have verses that have the wordings (لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ). You can remember these by gathering them together and using a device to remember them by. For example, the Arabs write poetry saying:

وبالآيات إثم الخمر إعصار
وكل النور إلا الطفل مكثار
And in the Verses (āyāt), the sin of intoxicant (khamr) is a whirlwind (i'sār)
And all the Light (Nūr) except the child (Tilf) is abundant.

They've done this to remember this group of verses more easily. "Al-Āyāt" (الآيات) refers to the words in the verses. "Al-Khamr" (الخمر) is taken from the verse in al-Baqarah (219) and "I'sār" (إعصار) is taken from the verse in al-Baqarah (266). Then "Kul an-Nūr" (كل النور) refers to that fact that the rest of them are in Surah an-Nūr. Finally, there is the exception also in Surah an-Nūr. In that verse, Allāh speaks about children (الْأَطْفَالُ) and so the last reference uses the word "Tifl" (الطفل) for child. Get it?

Example 2

There are 3 places where Allāh says (ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَبِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ):

  • (وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَبِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤْمِنِينَ) in al-Baqarah, verse 8
  • (وَٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَٰلَهُمْ رِئَآءَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَلَا بِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ) in an-Nisā', verse 38
  • (قَـٰتِلُوا۟ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَلَا بِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ) in at-Tawbah, verse 29

Example 3

Allāh has used the words (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَاء وَيَقَدِرُ) in many places and this can be very confusing for memorisers because there are variations. You'll find it with extra words in some places like ( من عِبَادِهِ ) after ( يشاء ) and ( لَهُ ) after ( يقدر ). Putting these verses together can be done in many ways. Here are three examples:

Group 1

You will find in two places (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ). So (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَاء وَيَقَدِرُ) with the addition of (عِبَادِهِ) and (لَهُ):

  • (اللّهُ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ) in al-'Ankabūt, verse 62
  • (قُلْ إِنَّ رَبِّي يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ) in as-Sabā, verse 39

Group 2

You will find in one places (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ) which is without the (لَهُ) in Surah al-Qasas, verse 82.

Group 3

You will find in six remaining places that have the words (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَاء وَيَقَدِرُ) without the addition of (عِبَادِهِ) and (لَهُ):

  • Surah ar-Ra'd, verse 26
  • Surah al-Isrā', verse 30
  • Surah ar-Rūm, verse 37
  • Surah as-Sabā, verse 36
  • Surah az-Zumar, verse 52
  • Surah as-Shūra, verse 12

Example 4

Allāh using the words (لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ) in three places (al-An'ām, verse 32; Muhammad, verse 36; al-Hadīd, verse 20) except one where the order of the words is reversed to (لَهْوٌ وَلَعِبٌ) in al-'Ankabūt, verse 64. So, they say have fun before playing (لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ) o he who dies in Spiders (al-'Ankabūt).

Example 5

Allāh using the words (فِيمَا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ) in Surah Yūnus, verse 19 and then (فِى مَا هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ) in Surah as-Zumar, verse 3. In the remaining 6 places Allāh uses the words (فِيمَا كَانُوا۟ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ): al-Baqarah, 113; an-Nahl, 124; as-Sajdah, 25; Yūnus, 93, al-Hajj, 69, al-Jāthiyah, 17.

Example 6

One of the benefits of this method to remember the Mutashābihāt is that you can map out the groups and see patterns. For example, you can see a series of similar verses are the same in two places but begin to change from the third place:

ExamplePlace 1
(same)
Place 2
(same)
Place 3
(change)
Place 4
(change)
Words that come after this
1(عَن)
an-Nisā, 46
(عَن)
an-Mā'idah, 13
(مِن بَعْدِ)
an-Mā'idah, 41
مَوَاضِعِهِ
2(سَعَوْا)
al-Hajj, 51
(سَعَوْا)
as-Sabā, 5
(يَسْعَوْنَ)
as-Sabā, 38
فِي آيَاتِنَا مُعَاجِزِينَ
3(النَّبِيِّينَ)
al-Baqarah, 61
(النَّبِيِّينَ)
Āli 'Imrān, 21
(الأَنبِيَاء)
Āli 'Imrān, 112
بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ
4(قَرِيبٌ)
as-Sabā, 50
(قَرِيبٌ)
as-Sabā, 51
(بَعِيدٍ)
as-Sabā, 52
(بَعِيدٍ)
as-Sabā, 53
[end of verse]
5(وَخُفْيَةً)
al-An'ām, 63
(وَخُفْيَةً)
al-A'rāf, 55
(وَخِيفَةً)
al-A'rāf, 205
[end of verse]
6(يَظْلِمُونَ)
al-A'rāf, 160
(يَظْلِمُونَ)
al-A'rāf, 162
(يَفْسُقُونَ)
al-A'rāf, 163
(يَفْسُقُونَ)
al-A'rāf, 165
[end of verse]
7(مَذْمُومًا)
al-Isrā', 18
(مَذْمُومًا)
al-Isrā', 22
(مَلُومًا)
al-Isrā', 29
(مَلُومًا)
al-Isrā', 39
مَذْمُوماً مَّدْحُوراً
مَذْمُوماً مَّخْذُولاً
مَلُوماً مَّحْسُوراً
مَلُوماً مَّدْحُوراً

These are 7 groups in which you can see this pattern where the changes take place from the third instance of similarity.

Creating sentences out of the Mutashābihāt

Another beneficial method and useful technique is to create sentences that gather the similar verses together. There are 12 examples of this.

Example 1: "There's no seclusion in Hajj" (لا اعتكاف في الحج)

This sentence is created to remember two similar verses:

  • (أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ) in al-Baqarah, 125
  • (وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ) in al-Hajj, 26

Notice that the difference between the two are the words (وَالْعَاكِفِينَ which means those who seclude) in al-Baqarah and (وَالْقَائِمِينَ which means those that stand) in al-Hajj. Surah al-Baqarah speaks of fasting and seclusion (and Ramadān) whereas in Hajj there is no seclusion (I'tikāf).

Example 2:
"Think of the world, then listen to the wise" (فكر العالم فأسمع العقلاء) or "Think, O Scholar, and listen, O wise one" (فكر یا عالم واسمع يا عاقل)

This sentence is formed to remember similar verses from Surah ar-Rūm from verses 21 to 25 that end with:

  • إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
  • إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّلْعَـٰلِمِينَ
  • إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَسْمَعُونَ
  • إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

Using the last words for thinking (يَتَفَكَّرُونَ), the world (عَـٰلِمِينَ), listening (يَسْمَعُونَ) and understanding/wisdom (يَعْقِلُونَ) the sentence is formed.

Example 3: "Guide the follower" (اهتدى المقتدي)

This is made from two similar verses in Surah al-Zukhruf:

  • بَلْ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا وَجَدْنَآ ءَابَآءَنَا عَلَىٰٓ أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَىٰٓ ءَاثَـٰرِهِم مُّهْتَدُونَ (43:22)
  • وَكَذَٰلِكَ مَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ فِى قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّذِيرٍ إِلَّا قَالَ مُتْرَفُوهَآ إِنَّا وَجَدْنَآ ءَابَآءَنَا عَلَىٰٓ أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَىٰٓ ءَاثَـٰرِهِم مُّقْتَدُونَ (43:23)

By taking the words (مُّهْتَدُونَ) and (مُّقْتَدُونَ) a sentence is formed in light of the meaning of those who are guided and those who follow.

Example 4: "What was hidden was earlier" (ما خفِيَ كان أسبق)

This is similar to the sentence (ما خفِيَ كان أعظم) that what was hidden was greater. This sentence is formed from Surah al-Mā'idah, verses 15 and 19:

  • يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ كَثِيرًا مِّمَّا كُنتُمْ تُخْفُونَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ
    (O People of the Book! Now Our Messenger has come to you, revealing much of what you have hidden of the Scriptures)
  • يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ عَلَىٰ فَتْرَةٍ مِّنَ الرُّسُلِ
    (O People of the Book! Our Messenger has indeed come to you, making things clear to you after an interval between the messengers)

So the sentence is formed from "what you have hidden" and "after an interval".

Example 5: "The man of stories, Yaseen al-Aqsa" (رجل القصص ياسين الأقصى)

This is taken from two similar verses in al-Qasas (verse 20) and Surah Yaseen (verse 20):

  • وَجَاءَ رَجُلٌ مِّنْ أَقْصَا الْمَدِينَةِ يَسْعَىٰ
  • وَجَاءَ مِنْ أَقْصَا الْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌ يَسْعَىٰ

You can see how the sentence is formed using the word (رَجُلٌ) from Surah al-Qasas and then (أَقْصَا) from Yaseen.

Other examples

  1. "May Allāh forgive al-Haj Muhammad Yusuf" (غفر الله للحاج محمد يوسف) = This is formed for the similar verses using the words (أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُو) in Yusuf, 109; al-Hajj, 46; Ghāfir, 82; Muhammad, 10. The sentence is formed by using the Surah names.
  2. "The Originator of the Romans is the Forgiver" (فاطر الروم غافر) = In the same way, this is formed for the similar verses using the words (وَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا) in Surah Fātir, 44; ar-Rūm, 9 and Ghāfir, 21.
  3. "The Cattle prostrated to the Forgiver" (سجدت الأنعام للغافر) = This is formed for the similar verses that end with the words (تَتَذَكَّرُونَ) or (تَذَكَّرُونَ). Those with using two TĀ' are gathered in this sentence [al-An'ām, 80, as-Sajdah, 4, and Ghāfir, 58]. There are six other places that use (تَذَكَّرُونَ) or (يذَّكَّرُونَ) which are in al-An'ām, 126; al-A'rāf, 26 and 130; al-Anfāl, 57; at-Tawbah, 126; and an-Nahl, 13.
  4. "Women of Jinn are an alliance" (نساء الجن أحزاب) = This is formed for the similar verses that use the words (خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا) for those who disbelieve. As appearing in the verses of Surah an-Nisā', 169, al-Ahzāb, 65, and al-Jinn, 23. Those that have (خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا) used in favour of believers appear in 8 places [an-Nisā', 57 and 122, at-Tawbah, 22 and 100, al-Mā'idah, 119, at-Taghābun, 9, at-Talāq, 11 and al-Bayyinah, 8]. Note that the words (أَبَدًا) do not come together with (خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا) with the word (هو), like in Surah al-Mā'idah, 119 with the words (ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ). Look at at-Tawbah, 72 and 100, al-Hadīd, 12, and at-Taghābun, 9.
  5. "This is an Ant, we are Believers" (هذا النمل ونحن المؤمنون) = This is formed for the similar verses that use the words (هَذَا - this) and (نَحْنُ - we) in Surah al-Mu'minoon, 83 and an-Naml, 68. So (نَحْنُ - we) comes first in al-Mu'minoon and to remember this, your trigger is that it's about us (the Believers). Whereas (هَذَا - this) comes first in an-Naml.
  6. "Increase them, O Walā', in Consultation and Women" (يزيدُهم يا ولاء في الشورى والنساء) with "Increase them, O Sāmir, in the Light and the Originator" (يزيدَهم يا سامر في النور وفاطر) = This is formed for the similar verses that contain the words (وَيَزِيدُهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ). There are two key differences where in Surah an-Nisā', 173 and ash-Shūra, 26 the word (يَزِيدُ) appears with a dammah/pesh on the letter DAAL. Whereas in Surah an-Nūr, 38 and Fātir, 30 it appears with a fatha/zabr on the letter DAAL.
  7. "The Believers want to eat" (يريد المؤمنون الأكل) = This example is formed from the similar verses of Surah al-Mu'minoon, 24 and 33. After the words (مَا هَٰذَا إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ) there is a difference. That difference is captured in the sentence.

The Masculine vs The Feminine

There are some examples of where you can have similar verses that use a specific word differently in two different places. The difference between them is that one is usually masculine and the other is feminine. The pattern is usually masculine first and then feminine in the next similar verse.

For example:

Example 1
16:66
وَإِنَّ لَكُمْ فِى ٱلْأَنْعَـٰمِ لَعِبْرَةًۭ ۖ نُّسْقِيكُم مِّمَّا فِى بُطُونِهِۦ مِنۢ بَيْنِ فَرْثٍۢ وَدَمٍۢ لَّبَنًا خَالِصًۭا سَآئِغًۭا لِّلشَّـٰرِبِينَ
And there is certainly a lesson for you in cattle: We give you to drink of what is in their bellies, from between digested food and blood: pure milk, pleasant to drink.
23:21
وَإِنَّ لَكُمْ فِى ٱلْأَنْعَـٰمِ لَعِبْرَةًۭ ۖ نُّسْقِيكُم مِّمَّا فِى بُطُونِهَا وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَنَـٰفِعُ كَثِيرَةٌۭ وَمِنْهَا تَأْكُلُونَ
And there is certainly a lesson for you in cattle, from whose bellies We give you ˹milk˺ to drink, and in them are many other benefits for you, and from them you may eat.

The word here is "Butoon" for bellies but the attached pronoun is first a masculine form (hu) and then it's feminine (ha).

Example 2
32:20
وَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا۟ فَمَأْوَىٰهُمُ ٱلنَّارُ ۖ كُلَّمَآ أَرَادُوٓا۟ أَن يَخْرُجُوا۟ مِنْهَآ أُعِيدُوا۟ فِيهَا وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ ذُوقُوا۟ عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ ٱلَّذِى كُنتُم بِهِۦ تُكَذِّبُونَ
But as for those who are rebellious, the Fire will be their home. Whenever they try to escape from it, they will be forced back into it, and will be told, “Taste the Fire’s torment, which you used to deny.”
34:42
فَٱلْيَوْمَ لَا يَمْلِكُ بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍۢ نَّفْعًۭا وَلَا ضَرًّۭا وَنَقُولُ لِلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا۟ ذُوقُوا۟ عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ ٱلَّتِى كُنتُم بِهَا تُكَذِّبُونَ
So Today neither of you can benefit or protect each other. And We will say to the wrongdoers, “Taste the torment of the Fire, which you used to deny.”

Again, you see similar verses but first it's the word "ٱلَّذِى" (masculine) and then it's "ٱلَّتِى" (feminine).

I'm sure you'll have understood this technique now! Here are further examples for you look up:

  • Look at verse 49 of Āle 'Imrān (Fīhi which is masculine) and verse 110 of al-Mā'idah (fīhā which is feminine).
  • Look at verse 54 of al-Muddathir (innahū which is masculine) and verse 11 of 'Abas (innahā which is feminine).
  • Look at verse 44 of Āle 'Imrān (dhālika and nūhīhi that are masculine) and verse 49 of Hūd (tilka and nūhīhā that are feminine).
  • There's one where the feminine is first and then masculine (al-Anbiyā' verse 91 vs at-Tahrīm verse 12).

Mental visualisation of the similar verses

Sometimes it is beneficial to mentally visualise the words of similar verses. This means that you create associative links through the meaning of the similarities. For example:

Surah al-Wāqi'ah

If you take a look at the following verses:

أَفَرَءَيْتُم مَّا تُمْنُونَ 56:58
Have you considered what you ejaculate?
56:63 أَفَرَءَيْتُم مَّا تَحْرُثُونَ
Have you considered what you sow?
56:68 أَفَرَءَيْتُمُ ٱلْمَآءَ ٱلَّذِى تَشْرَبُونَ
Have you considered the water you drink?
56:71 أَفَرَءَيْتُمُ ٱلنَّارَ ٱلَّتِى تُورُونَ
Have you considered the fire you kindle?

This is how you'd create a mental link or visualisation of these similarities:

  • Human beings are created from a single sperm
  • Every human being then benefits and requires the next three things: food (what is sowed), water (that is drunk), and then fire to cook it all.

Or you can see it as:

  • A seed (ejaculate)
  • Then you put the seed into soil (sow)
  • Then you water it (drink)
  • Then let the sun do its job (fire you kindle).

Surah adh-Dhāriyāt

Take a look at the following verses 20 to 22:

51:20 وَفِى ٱلْأَرْضِ ءَايَـٰتٌۭ لِّلْمُوقِنِينَ
There are ˹countless˺ signs on earth for those with sure faith,
51:21 وَفِىٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُون
as there are within yourselves. Can you not see?
51:22 وَفِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ رِزْقُكُمْ وَمَا تُوعَدُونَ
In heaven is your sustenance and whatever you are promised.

Here we have three words: earth, yourselves (people), and sky (heaven). You can create a mental image like this:

  • The earth was created first
  • Then the human being
  • Then our destination is heaven

Or you may see it as:

  • The earth is below us
  • Then it is us (the people)
  • Then the sky is above us

Linking the vowels of the similar words with the vowels of the surah name

Another beneficial method and useful technique is to link the vowels of the similar words or verses to the vowels of the surah name. There are 5 examples of this.

Example 1: The word (رَغَدًا) in Surah al-Baqarah

This word appears in Surah al-Baqarah (verses 35 and 58) and in Surah an-Nahl (verse 112). Since they appear in al-Baqarah, you see that in the name 'al-Baqarah' there are three vowels of 'a' (fatha) and also in the word 'raghadan' there are three vowels of 'a' (fatha).

Example 2: The word (يُنزَفُونَ) and (يُنزِفُونَ)

These words appears in Surah as-Sāffāt (verse 47) and in al-Wāqi'ah (verse 19). You see the difference in the vowels of the letter 'za'? It matches the vowels of the surah names.

Example 3: The word (مَوْتَتَنَا) and (مَوْتَتُنَا)

These words appear in Surah as-Sāffāt (verse 59) and ad-Dukhān (verse 35). You see the difference between the vowels once again. There's a fatha for surah as-Sāffāt and a dhammah for ad-Dukhān.

Example 4: The word (فَأَنَّ لَهُۥ نَارَ جَهَنَّمَ) and (فَإِنَّ لَهُۥ نَارَ جَهَنَّمَ)

Again the difference between these in Surah at-Tawbah (verse 63) and al-Jinn (verse 23) is the vowel change in the word fa-anna or fa-inna. They, again, match the surah names.

Example 5: The word (وَيُتِمُّ نِعْمَتَهُ) and (وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ)

Again the difference between these in Surah Yusuf (verse 6) and al-Fath (verse 2) is the vowel change in the words. They, again, match the surah names.

Looking at commonalities at the end of the verses

Among the difficulties of memorising the Qur'ān is that you can have many similar verses but the last word will change. This difference can often confuse the reciter and they will begin reciting from the wrong place.

How do you deal with this? In this example, the method is to look at the commonalities of the endings in the particular surah. You want to look for a pattern.

For example:

Example 1
23:51
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلرُّسُلُ كُلُوا۟ مِنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ وَٱعْمَلُوا۟ صَـٰلِحًا ۖ إِنِّى بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌۭ
O messengers! Eat from what is good and lawful, and act righteously. Indeed, I fully know what you do. [al-Mu'minoon]
34:11
أَنِ ٱعْمَلْ سَـٰبِغَـٰتٍۢ وَقَدِّرْ فِى ٱلسَّرْدِ ۖ وَٱعْمَلُوا۟ صَـٰلِحًا ۖ إِنِّى بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌۭ
Indeed, I am All-Seeing of what you do [as-Saba']

If you look at the verses before and after [23:51], you will find that the verses end with words on the following patterns:

  • يَهْتَدُونَ [23:49]
  • مَعِينٍۢ [23:50]
  • عَلِيمٌۭ [23:51]
  • فَٱتَّقُونِ [23:52]
  • فَرِحُونَ [23:53]

The verses end with the patterns of oon (waw and noon), een (ya and noon), or eem (ya and meem). Whereas if you compare this to Surah as-Saba', you will find endings with the Qalqalah (bouncing), or ya and ra' (مُّنِيبٍۢ, حَدِيدَ, بَصِيرٌۭ, ٱلسَّعِيرِ).

So like this you'd remember which one is the right right word and what belongs to which surah based on the pattern. Note, this method as well as all the others I have shared are used universally. Even Arabs themselves use these to remember similarities.

Example 2
9:114 إِنَّ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ لَأَوَّٰهٌ حَلِيمٌۭ
Abraham was truly tender-hearted, forbearing.
11:75 إِنَّ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ لَحَلِيمٌ أَوَّٰهٌۭ مُّنِيبٌۭ
Truly, Abraham was forbearing, tender-hearted, and ever turning ˹to his Lord˺.

Again, you see similar verses but the ends differ. According to this principle, you should look at what the commonalities are in the verse endings in their respective chapters. So you'll see that in Surah at-Tawbah, the verses end with words like Jaheem, Aleem and Haleem. Whereas Surah Hūd, the verses end in Qalqalah. So, again, you use this to remember.

Example 3
7:81 إِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ ٱلرِّجَالَ شَهْوَةًۭ مِّن دُونِ ٱلنِّسَآءِ ۚ بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌۭ مُّسْرِفُونَ
You lust after men instead of women! You are certainly transgressors.
27:55 بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌۭ تَجْهَلُونَ
In fact, you are ˹only˺ a people acting ignorantly.

Again, you see similar verses but the ends differ. According to this principle, you should look at what the commonalities are in the verse endings in their respective chapters.

You'll find that in Surah al-A'rāf, all the verses end in words concerning people like Nasiheen or Mursaleen. Whereas in Surah an-Naml, you see the verses end in verbs like Tubsiroon, Yattaqoon or Ya'maloon.

A commonality between the similar verse or word with the start of the surah

This is a fascinating one. Often, you'll find similar verses or words that are in a surah can be remembered by associating them with the start of the surah. You'll find a link. For example:

Surah al-Isrā' vs Surah al-Kahf

If you take a look at the following verses:

17:9 إِنَّ هَـٰذَا ٱلْقُرْءَانَ يَهْدِى لِلَّتِى هِىَ أَقْوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًۭا كَبِيرًۭا
Surely this Quran guides to what is most upright, and gives good news to the believers—who do good—that they will have a mighty reward.
18:2 قَيِّمًۭا لِّيُنذِرَ بَأْسًۭا شَدِيدًۭا مِّن لَّدُنْهُ وَيُبَشِّرَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا حَسَنًۭا
˹making it˺ perfectly upright, to warn ˹the disbelievers˺ of a severe torment from Him; to give good news to the believers—who do good—that they will have a fine reward,

The word is yubashiru (al-Isrā') and yubashira (al-Kahf). Here's the interesting part, if you go to the start of the respective chapters, what do they start with? Surah al-Isrā' starts with 'Subhān' - there's an oo sound (the dhammah/pesh) and the similar word has an oo ending (yubashiru). Look at the start of Surah al-Kahf, it begins with al-Hamdu which beings with an aa sound (fatha/zabar) and that corresponds to the similar word used in the surah (yubashira).

So you get it?

More examples

Take a look at the following verses and find the connections:

  • Surah Yūnus (verse 61) vs as-Saba' (verse 3). You will find that the start of surah as-Saba' matches with the plural difference (samawāt).
  • Surah an-Nahl (verse 33) vs al-An'ām (verse 158). You'll find the similarity matches the start of the surah with an-Nahl which uses the same word (amr).

A link between proper (definite) and common (indefinite)

There are some similarities that have a difference of being either proper (definite) or common (indefinite). This is often the difference between the al/ٱل and not having it. The difficulty this may present, is remember which one comes first. As a general rule, you'll find that common is usually first and then proper.

Example of the word salaam

In regards of Yahyā (peace be upon him), Allāh says:

19:15 وَسَلَـٰمٌ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ وُلِدَ وَيَوْمَ يَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ يُبْعَثُ حَيًّۭا
Peace be upon him the day he was born, and the day of his death, and the day he will be raised back to life!

Then in regards to 'Īsā (peace be upon him), Allāh says:

19:33 وَٱلسَّلَـٰمُ عَلَىَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدتُّ وَيَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّۭا
"Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I will be raised back to life!”

So you see that the indefinite comes first.

Other examples

  • The word baladan in surah al-Baqarah (verse 126) and al-balada in surah Ibraheem (verse 35).
  • The words "innahu samee'un 'aleem" in al-A'rāf (verse 200) and "innahu huwas-samee'ul 'aleem" in al-Fussilat (verse 36).
  • The word "kaziban" like that in al-'An'ām (21, 93, 144), al-A'rāf (37), Yūnus (17), al-'Ankabūt (68), Hūd (18), al-Kahf (15) and "al-kaziba" everywhere else (like surah as-Saff).

A link between two surah or more and the place of similarity

It's beneficial to look at similarities between surah or verses and find a link. Here are some examples:

Example 1: Reflection (tafakkur) before understanding (ta'aqqul)

  • 13:3 إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍۢ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
    Surely in this are signs for those who reflect.
  • 13:4 إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍۢ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يَعْقِلُونَ
    Surely in this are signs for those who understand.

Example 2: Nahshuruhum (نَحْشُرُهُمْ), Yahshuruhum (يَحْشُرُهُمْ)

You'll find if you look at Surah al-An'ām and Surah Yūnus and look for these words. What will you find? You will find that nahshuruhum always comes first and then yahshuruhum.

Example 3: Yunsaroon (يُنصَرُونَ), Yunzaroon (يُنظَرُونَ)

You'll find if you look at Surah al-Baqarah and al-Anbiyā' - there are verses that end with these words. You'll notice a pattern with them. What's that pattern? The word Yunsaroon will always come first.

Finding something that can create links of commonality

This has at minimum 15 examples in the Qur'ān.

What it means is that when we come across a difficult passage or verse, we can look at the surrounding āyāt (verses), words, or suwar (chapters) before it and after it. When doing so, you try to connect them either through a common letter, a similar word, or other means as will be provided by the following examples:

Example 1
10:103
ثُمَّ نُنَجِّى رُسُلَنَا وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ حَقًّا عَلَيْنَا نُنجِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
Then We saved Our messengers and those who believed. For it is Our duty to save the believers.
10:104
قُلْ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِن كُنتُمْ فِى شَكٍّۢ مِّن دِينِى فَلَآ أَعْبُدُ ٱلَّذِينَ تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ وَلَـٰكِنْ أَعْبُدُ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى يَتَوَفَّىٰكُمْ ۖ وَأُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “O humanity! If you are in doubt of my faith, then ˹know that˺ I do not worship those ˹idols˺ you worship instead of Allah. But I worship Allah, Who has the power to cause your death. And I have been commanded, ‘Be one of the believers,’

Allāh does not say (وَاُمِرۡتُ اَنۡ اَكُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡمُسۡلِمِيۡنَ) here like He did in the verses before this (like verse 72) as it's linked to what came before it. In addition to this, the word faith/belief and its derivatives are repeated 10 times in this page (Uthmānī script and Indo-Pak, page 220) alone, and this helps remember the similarity.

Example 2
33:35
إِنَّ ٱلْمُسْلِمِينَ وَٱلْمُسْلِمَـٰتِ وَٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَٱلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتِ وَٱلْقَـٰنِتِينَ وَٱلْقَـٰنِتَـٰتِ وَٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ وَٱلصَّـٰدِقَـٰتِ وَٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ وَٱلصَّـٰبِرَٰتِ وَٱلْخَـٰشِعِينَ وَٱلْخَـٰشِعَـٰتِ وَٱلْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَٱلْمُتَصَدِّقَـٰتِ وَٱلصَّـٰٓئِمِينَ وَٱلصَّـٰٓئِمَـٰتِ وَٱلْحَـٰفِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَٱلْحَـٰفِظَـٰتِ وَٱلذَّٰكِرِينَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرًۭا وَٱلذَّٰكِرَٰتِ أَعَدَّ ٱللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةًۭ وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًۭا
Surely ˹for˺ Muslim men and women, believing men and women, devout men and women, truthful men and women, patient men and women, humble men and women, charitable men and women, fasting men and women, men and women who guard their chastity, and men and women who remember Allah often—for ˹all of˺ them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.

An interesting way of remembering the order of these words is that fasting is greatly linked to the protection of ones chastity. We are reminded directly.

Example 3
40:28
وَإِن يَكُ كَـٰذِبًۭا فَعَلَيْهِ كَذِبُهُۥ ۖ وَإِن يَكُ صَادِقًۭا يُصِبْكُم بَعْضُ ٱلَّذِى يَعِدُكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِى مَنْ هُوَ مُسْرِفٌۭ كَذَّابٌۭ
If he is a liar, it will be to his own loss. But if he is truthful, then you will be afflicted with some of what he is threatening you with. Surely Allah does not guide whoever is a transgressor, a total liar.
40:34
وَلَقَدْ جَآءَكُمْ يُوسُفُ مِن قَبْلُ بِٱلْبَيِّنَـٰتِ فَمَا زِلْتُمْ فِى شَكٍّۢ مِّمَّا جَآءَكُم بِهِۦ ۖ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا هَلَكَ قُلْتُمْ لَن يَبْعَثَ ٱللَّهُ مِنۢ بَعْدِهِۦ رَسُولًۭا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُضِلُّ ٱللَّهُ مَنْ هُوَ مُسْرِفٌۭ مُّرْتَابٌ
Joseph already came to you earlier with clear proofs, yet you never ceased to doubt what he came to you with. When he died you said, ‘Allah will never send a messenger after him.’ This is how Allah leaves every transgressor and doubter to stray—

Many people can mix up the two similar endings but there's some commonalities we can take benefit from in order to remember the right endings. For example, the verse ending with (كَذَّابٌۭ) has the letter KAAF repeatedly used in it (يَكُ, كَذِبُهُۥ, يَكُ, يُصِبْكُم) and hence a commonality. The verse ending with the word (مُّرْتَابٌ) uses words with the letter RĀ' (رَسُولًۭا ,مُسْرِفٌۭ, مُّرْتَابٌ).

Example 4
10:13
وَلَقَدْ أَهْلَكْنَا ٱلْقُرُونَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَمَّا ظَلَمُوا۟ ۙ وَجَآءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُم بِٱلْبَيِّنَـٰتِ وَمَا كَانُوا۟ لِيُؤْمِنُوا۟ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِى ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلْمُجْرِمِينَ
We surely destroyed ˹other˺ peoples before you when they did wrong, and their messengers came to them with clear proofs but they would not believe! This is how We reward the wicked people.
10:74
ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَا مِنۢ بَعْدِهِۦ رُسُلًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِمْ فَجَآءُوهُم بِٱلْبَيِّنَـٰتِ فَمَا كَانُوا۟ لِيُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِمَا كَذَّبُوا۟ بِهِۦ مِن قَبْلُ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَطْبَعُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِ ٱلْمُعْتَدِينَ
Then after him We sent ˹other˺ messengers to their ˹own˺ people and they came to them with clear proofs. But they would not believe in what they had rejected before. This is how We seal the hearts of the transgressors.

Here you see that whatever came before matches in what follows. So in (وَجَآءَتْهُمْ) you have a start with the letter WAW and so it's (وَمَا كَانُوا۟). In verse 74, the word starts with a letter FĀ' and so the next similar word starts with FĀ' as well.

These are a few examples of what it means to look at other verses and trying to find common patterns or links.

Knowing the location of the verse in the mus-haf

What this means is that you should try to remember the location of verses to help you master them. There's often a connection between the words and the location of the verse (whether on the right or left page, top or bottom, etc).

This has 3 examples in the Qur'ān. This is only relevant to those using the Madinah Mus'haf (the 'Uthmānī 15 lined copy). You may find most of them also in the Indo-Pak copy but all of them.

Example 1: NAF'A WA DARRAN (نفعاً و ضراً)
7:188
قُل لَّآ أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِى نَفْعًۭا وَلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ ۚ
(Also) tell (them): ‘I do not have any control over profit/benefit and loss/harm for myself, except (that much) which Allah wills.’
25:3
وَٱتَّخَذُوا۟ مِن دُونِهِۦٓ ءَالِهَةًۭ لَّا يَخْلُقُونَ شَيْـًۭٔا وَهُمْ يُخْلَقُونَ وَلَا يَمْلِكُونَ لِأَنفُسِهِمْ ضَرًّۭا وَلَا نَفْعًۭا وَلَا يَمْلِكُونَ مَوْتًۭا وَلَا حَيَوٰةًۭ وَلَا نُشُورًۭا
Yet they have taken besides Him gods who cannot create anything but are themselves created. Nor can they harm or benefit themselves. Nor can they control life, death, or resurrection.

An interesting way of remembering the order of these words is that you will find where ever "benefit" (نَفْعًۭا) comes before "harm" (ضَرًّۭا), you'll find those verses on the pages on the right of the mus'haf. Whenever it's the other way around with harm coming before benefit, you'll find those verses being on the left page.

There are 8 or 9 instances of where Allāh uses these words together (e.g. Surah al-A'rāf, ar-Ra'd, As-Saba', al-Mā'idah, Yūnus, Tā-Hā, al-Furqān, al-Fath). Many people memorising can have difficulty determining the sequence of these verses but for those using the 'Uthmānī script can take advantage of knowing the location instead.

Example 2: FA-LAMMĀ JĀ'A AMRUNĀ vs WA LAMMĀ JĀ'A AMRUNĀ (فَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمْرُنَا - وَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمْرُنَا)
11:58
وَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمْرُنَا نَجَّيْنَا هُودًۭا وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مَعَهُۥ بِرَحْمَةٍۢ مِّنَّا وَنَجَّيْنَـٰهُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍۢ
When Our command came, We rescued Hūd and those who believed with him by a mercy from Us, saving them from a harsh torment.
11:66
فَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمْرُنَا نَجَّيْنَا صَـٰلِحًۭا وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مَعَهُۥ بِرَحْمَةٍۢ مِّنَّا وَمِنْ خِزْىِ يَوْمِئِذٍ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ ٱلْقَوِىُّ ٱلْعَزِيزُ
When Our command came, We saved Ṣâliḥ and those who believed with him by a mercy from Us and spared them the disgrace of that Day. Surely your Lord ˹alone˺ is the All-Powerful, Almighty.

In Surah Hūd, you'll find verses that begin like this and sometimes one might mix up the starts. According to this rule, you'll find the verses that begin with the (فَلَمَّا) will be on the right sided page, as seen in the stories of Sālih and Lūt (peace be upon them). You'll see the verses that begin with (وَلَمَّا) on the left sided page, as seen in the story of Hūd and Shu'ayb (peace be upon them).

A link between similar verses with longer verses or longer surah

What this means is that it's possible to remember certain similar verses or similar words, whether they are long of short, by linking the verse length to them. For example, you might find similarities where there are the same words used but with extra words or letters. You will find a link between the extra words and the length of the verse.

This has 6 examples in the Qur'ān.

Example 1
4:170
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ قَدْ جَآءَكُمُ ٱلرَّسُولُ بِٱلْحَقِّ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ فَـَٔامِنُوا۟ خَيْرًۭا لَّكُمْ ۚ وَإِن تَكْفُرُوا۟ فَإِنَّ لِلَّهِ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ۚ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًۭا
O humanity! The Messenger has certainly come to you with the truth from your Lord, so believe for your own good. But if you disbelieve, then ˹know that˺ to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
4:171
يَـٰٓأَهْلَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ لَا تَغْلُوا۟ فِى دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا۟ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ إِلَّا ٱلْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا ٱلْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ٱبْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُۥٓ أَلْقَىٰهَآ إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌۭ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَـَٔامِنُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا۟ ثَلَـٰثَةٌ ۚ ٱنتَهُوا۟ خَيْرًۭا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا ٱللَّهُ إِلَـٰهٌۭ وَٰحِدٌۭ ۖ سُبْحَـٰنَهُۥٓ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُۥ وَلَدٌۭ ۘ لَّهُۥ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ وَكِيلًۭا
O People of the Book! Do not go to extremes regarding your faith; say nothing about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was no more than a messenger of Allah and the fulfilment of His Word through Mary and a spirit ˹created by a command˺ from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers and do not say, “Trinity.” Stop!—for your own good. Allah is only One God. Glory be to Him! He is far above having a son! To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And Allah is sufficient as a Trustee of Affairs.

So how does the principle apply? You can see where there's extra words, there's a long verse.

For other examples see:

  • al-An'ām, verse 5 vs ash-Shu'arā', verse 6
  • al-Anfāl, verse 13 vs al-Hashr, verse 4
  • Sād, verse 9, vs, al-Tūr, verse 37
  • al-Baqarah, verse 173 (fa lamma ithma 'alayhi) vs elsewhere
  • al-Baqarah, 150 vs al-Mā'idah, 3

Using poetry or similar devices to remember similar verses

This is where you remember a similarity by creating a line of poetry alongside it. This is method that can be useful, especially for those that are into poetry, or have grounding in the Arabic language or their own native tongue. It is a method that scholars of the past used extensively.

Example 1

6:50
قُل لَّآ أَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِندِى خَزَآئِنُ ٱللَّهِ وَلَآ أَعْلَمُ ٱلْغَيْبَ وَلَآ أَقُولُ لَكُمْ إِنِّى مَلَكٌ ۖ إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَىٰٓ إِلَىَّ ۚ قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِى ٱلْأَعْمَىٰ وَٱلْبَصِيرُ ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَفَكَّرُونَ
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “I do not say to you that I possess Allah’s treasuries or know the unseen, nor do I claim to be an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me.” Say, “Are those blind ˹to the truth˺ equal to those who can see? Will you not then reflect?”
11:31
وَلَآ أَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِندِى خَزَآئِنُ ٱللَّهِ وَلَآ أَعْلَمُ ٱلْغَيْبَ وَلَآ أَقُولُ إِنِّى مَلَكٌۭ وَلَآ أَقُولُ لِلَّذِينَ تَزْدَرِىٓ أَعْيُنُكُمْ لَن يُؤْتِيَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ خَيْرًا ۖ ٱللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِىٓ أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ إِنِّىٓ إِذًۭا لَّمِنَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
I do not say to you that I possess Allah’s treasuries or know the unseen, nor do I claim to be an angel, nor do I say that Allah will never grant goodness to those you look down upon. Allah knows best what is ˹hidden˺ within them. ˹If I did,˺ then I would truly be one of the wrongdoers.”

we observe a distinction between the verses where one includes the word "لَكُمْ" (to you) and the other does not. Imam Sakhāwī beautifully expresses it in poetic form:

ولا أقولُ لكمْ إنّي مَلَك﴾ في سورة الأنعام قدْ بيَّنتُ لكْ﴿
"I do not say to you that I am an angel" in Surah Al-An'ām, I have clarified it for you.

This poetic line serves as a mnemonic device to remember that the word "لَكُمْ" is found specifically in Surah Al-An'am.

Now, the question arises: How can we create a poetic line in English to retain the memory of the similarity and difference between the verses? You don't have to. Just remember that the extra words come first in Surah Al-An'ām that clarifies, crystal clear. (See what i did there?)

Example 2

Jamāl 'Abd al-Rahmān Ismā'īl says (roughly translated):

والباء في ﴿باليوم﴾ يا إخواني - في التوبِ والنساءِ والعوان
"And the letter Bā' in 'bīl-yawm,' O my brothers,
(is) in Repentance, Women, and livelihood."

You will see verses where Allāh says either "wal-yawmil-ākhiri" or "wa bil-yawmil-ākhiri". This can cause confusion when you're trying to recall verses. So Jamāl 'Abd al-Rahmān Ismā'īl wrote in poetic form as above to remember that the letter Bā' is used in three places:

  • وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَبِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤْمِنِينَ (al-Baqarah, 8)
  • وَالَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ رِئَاءَ النَّاسِ وَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ (an-Nisā', 38)
  • قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ (at-Tawbah, 29)

Contemplating the meanings and making a connection with what's similar

This is the most important of all the methods. This is the method that the Qur'ān itself asks of us: reflection. It is why our scholars took great care and wrote many books on contemplation. It is the core of the similar verses.

A lot of the similar verses carry great meaning and rulings, much of which goes under the radar through a simple recitation. The meanings and differences only come to those that contemplate and the perceptive discerning heart.

Example 1
2:60
۞ وَإِذِ ٱسْتَسْقَىٰ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِۦ فَقُلْنَا ٱضْرِب بِّعَصَاكَ ٱلْحَجَرَ ۖ فَٱنفَجَرَتْ مِنْهُ ٱثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًۭا ۖ قَدْ عَلِمَ كُلُّ أُنَاسٍۢ مَّشْرَبَهُمْ ۖ كُلُوا۟ وَٱشْرَبُوا۟ مِن رِّزْقِ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ
And ˹remember˺ when Moses prayed for water for his people, We said, “Strike the rock with your staff.” Then twelve springs gushed out, ˹and˺ each tribe knew its drinking place. ˹We then said,˺ “Eat and drink of Allah’s provisions, and do not go about spreading corruption in the land.”
7:160
وَقَطَّعْنَـٰهُمُ ٱثْنَتَىْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا أُمَمًۭا ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰٓ إِذِ ٱسْتَسْقَىٰهُ قَوْمُهُۥٓ أَنِ ٱضْرِب بِّعَصَاكَ ٱلْحَجَرَ ۖ فَٱنۢبَجَسَتْ مِنْهُ ٱثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًۭا ۖ قَدْ عَلِمَ كُلُّ أُنَاسٍۢ مَّشْرَبَهُمْ ۚ وَظَلَّلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلْغَمَـٰمَ وَأَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلْمَنَّ وَٱلسَّلْوَىٰ ۖ كُلُوا۟ مِن طَيِّبَـٰتِ مَا رَزَقْنَـٰكُمْ ۚ وَمَا ظَلَمُونَا وَلَـٰكِن كَانُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ
We divided them into twelve tribes—each as a community. And We revealed to Moses, when his people asked for water, “Strike the rock with your staff.” Then twelve springs gushed out. Each tribe knew its drinking place. We shaded them with clouds and sent down to them manna and quails, ˹saying˺, “Eat from the good things We have provided for you.” They ˹certainly˺ did not wrong Us, but wronged themselves.

So what's the reflection here that can help to remember the similarities?

So the verb "ٱنفَجَرَتْ" (to burst forth) is paired with "ٱنۢبَجَسَتْ" (to gush forth), and the combination of eating and drinking is mentioned in Surah al-Baqarah, while only eating alone in Al-A'rāf. Why is this?

Upon contemplation of these two verses, you find that in the first verse, there are stronger words used compared to the second. In the first verse, the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) struck the rock for water when he prayed for his people, and in the second verse, it emphasises that his people asked for the water. In al-Baqarah, the verse says "We said" (faqulnā) and in al-A'rāf it says We revealed (awhaynā). But what's interesting is that in the first verse the word "ٱنفَجَرَتْ" is used which represents a stronger and more powerful gushing of water, while "ٱنۢبَجَسَتْ" (gush forth) appears in Al-A'rāf, signifying a push or flow, which is generally a weaker flow. Furthermore, the combination of eating and drinking is Surah Al-Baqarah with the stronger word, while the focus is solely on eating in the second verse when weaker word is used, as seen in Al-A'rāf.

Example 2
40:56 فَٱسْتَعِذْ بِٱللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ
So seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He alone is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
41:36 فَٱسْتَعِذْ بِٱللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْعَلِيمُ
then seek refuge with Allah. Indeed, He ˹alone˺ is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

One verse ends with (ٱلْبَصِيرُ) and the other with (ٱلْعَلِيمُ) and one might confuse the two. How can you contemplate over the difference and remember these similar verses? You will come to realise when contemplating over them that in the first verse, Allāh is talking about people that dispute the signs of Allāh (اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ يُجَادِلُوۡنَ فِىۡۤ اٰيٰتِ اللّٰهِ). Whereas the second verse is about shaytān and his temptation. When it comes to the first verse, Allāh mentions both hearing and seeing because these are two things that are required for the recognition of the signs of Allāh. Whereas the second verse mentions, hearing and knowing. To equip ourselves with protection from the temptations we must attain listen to Allāh and acquire knowledge.

Another contemplation is that in the first verse, humans are the focus and as humans we can hear and see. But the focus is shaytān in the second verse, we can't hear and see them and so both of them are in paired here. We can only acquire knowledge about shaytān.

Like this, we can create a link from contemplation in a way that it can help us remember the ending words. These are two examples of many. Why don't you contemplate and think over the following similar verses:

  • The end of al-Ghāfir, verse 87 vs the end of al-Ghāfir, verse 85.
  • The end of verse 27 of surah al-Qasas vs the end of verse 102 of as-Sāffāt.
  • The end of verse 71 vs verse 72 of al-Qasas.
  • The extra words of verse 5 after musāfiheen of al-Mā'idah vs verse 24 of an-Nisā'.
  • The end of verse 11 of surah Ibrāhīm vs verse 12 of surah Ibrāhīm.

Contemplating over the placement and order of words

One of the other methods to remember the Mutashābihāt is that you can often find a certain order and consistency in the way that words are used. The positions and placements of the words begin to make sense when you take a closer look.

Example 1
2:34
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةِ ٱسْجُدُوا۟ لِـَٔادَمَ فَسَجَدُوٓا۟ إِلَّآ إِبْلِيسَ أَبَىٰ وَٱسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ ٱلْكَـٰفِرِينَ
And ˹remember˺ when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam,” so they all did—but not Iblīs, who refused and acted arrogantly, becoming unfaithful.
15:31
إِلَّآ إِبْلِيسَ أَبَىٰٓ أَن يَكُونَ مَعَ ٱلسَّـٰجِدِينَ
but not Iblīs, who refused to prostrate with the others.
38:74
إِلَّآ إِبْلِيسَ ٱسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ ٱلْكَـٰفِرِينَ
but not Iblīs, who acted arrogantly, becoming unfaithful.

You can see here the verses as they come in order of the surah (from al-Baqarah, to al-Hijr, to Saad). In al-Baqarah the words (أَبَىٰ وَٱسْتَكْبَرَ) are mentioned together and then the words come separately but again in the same order with (أَبَىٰ) coming first and then (ٱسْتَكْبَرَ) last. See the consistency in placement?

Example 2
5:12
۞ وَلَقَدْ أَخَذَ ٱللَّهُ مِيثَـٰقَ بَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ وَبَعَثْنَا مِنْهُمُ ٱثْنَىْ عَشَرَ نَقِيبًۭا ۖ وَقَالَ ٱللَّهُ إِنِّى مَعَكُمْ ۖ لَئِنْ أَقَمْتُمُ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَيْتُمُ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَءَامَنتُم بِرُسُلِى وَعَزَّرْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَقْرَضْتُمُ ٱللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًۭا لَّأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنكُمْ سَيِّـَٔاتِكُمْ وَلَأُدْخِلَنَّكُمْ جَنَّـٰتٍۢ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرُ ۚ فَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ مِنكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَآءَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ ١٢
Allah made a covenant with the Children of Israel and appointed twelve leaders from among them and ˹then˺ said, “I am truly with you. If you establish prayer, pay alms-tax, believe in My messengers, support them, and lend to Allah a good loan, I will certainly forgive your sins and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow. And whoever among you disbelieves afterwards has truly strayed from the Right Way.”
5:85
فَأَثَـٰبَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ بِمَا قَالُوا۟ جَنَّـٰتٍۢ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ جَزَآءُ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ
So Allah will reward them for what they said with Gardens under which rivers flow, to stay there forever. And that is the reward of the good-doers.
5:119
قَالَ ٱللَّهُ هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ يَنفَعُ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ صِدْقُهُمْ ۚ لَهُمْ جَنَّـٰتٌۭ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَآ أَبَدًۭا ۚ رَّضِىَ ٱللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا۟ عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلْفَوْزُ ٱلْعَظِيمُ
Allah will declare, “This is the Day when ˹only˺ the faithful will benefit from their faithfulness. Theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow, to stay there for ever and ever. Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. That is the ultimate triumph.”

You can see here the verses as they come in order in Surah al-Mā'idah. As the verses come, the words are in the same order but each time something extra is being added. As the verse number increases, the words increase. In this way, you can remember the differences.

Pay attention to what distinguishes the Surah

This is again, a method that uses a lot of contemplation of the Qur'ān. Many verses of the Qur'ān are characterised by their length or shortness, the amount of similarities, the way words are used and rotated and knowing all of these things will help you master the similar verses.

For this method, we look at four techniques:

  1. How verses can use less words (similar to the increments)
  2. How verses can make frequent rotation of words, phrases or sentences in a surah
  3. How verses can use the same words or phrases frequently in a surah
  4. How there are certain patterns and rules specific to a surah (distinguishing features)

How verses can use less words

This is evident in Surah Āli 'Imrān and al-A'rāf, as the verbal structure in these two verses are less than that of other surah. Let's take a look.

Surah Āli 'Imrān (less words)Rest of the Qur'an (more words)
3:60 ٱلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ فَلَا تَكُن مِّنَ ٱلْمُمْتَرِينَ
This is the truth from your Lord, so do not be one of those who doubt.
6:114
فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلْمُمْتَرِينَ
So do not be one of those who doubt.
(also in Surah al-Baqarah and Yunus)
3:52 وَٱشْهَدْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ
"so bear witness that we have submitted.”
5:111 وَٱشْهَدْ بِأَنَّنَا مُسْلِمُونَ
"and bear witness that we fully submit ˹to Allah˺.”
3:84
قُلْ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ وَإِسْمَـٰعِيلَ وَإِسْحَـٰقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَٱلْأَسْبَاطِ وَمَآ أُوتِىَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَٱلنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍۢ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُۥ مُسْلِمُونَ
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and his descendants; and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and other prophets from their Lord—we make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we ˹fully˺ submit.”
2:136
قُولُوٓا۟ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِـۧمَ وَإِسْمَـٰعِيلَ وَإِسْحَـٰقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَٱلْأَسْبَاطِ وَمَآ أُوتِىَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَمَآ أُوتِىَ ٱلنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍۢ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُۥ مُسْلِمُونَ
Say, ˹O believers,˺ “We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us; and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and his descendants; and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and other prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them. And to Allah we all submit.”
3:151
مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِۦ سُلْطَـٰنًۭا
a practice He has never authorised
6:81
مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِۦ عَلَيْكُمْ سُلْطَـٰنًۭا
a practice He has never authorised

This is the majority difference between Surah Āli 'Imrān and other similar verses. You will see the wording is shorter in this surah compared to others. This is the same for Surah al-A'rāf:

Surah al-A'rāf (less words)Rest of the Qur'an (more words)
7:14 قَالَ أَنظِرْنِىٓ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ
He appealed, “Then delay my end until the Day of their resurrection.”
15:36 قَالَ رَبِّ فَأَنظِرْنِىٓ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ
Satan appealed, “My Lord! Then delay my end until the Day of their resurrection.”
7:16 قَالَ فَبِمَآ أَغْوَيْتَنِى
He said, “For leaving me to stray"
15:39 قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَآ أَغْوَيْتَنِى
Satan responded, “My Lord! For allowing me to stray"
7:19 فَكُلَا مِنْ حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا
"eat from wherever you please"
2:35 وَكُلَا مِنْهَا رَغَدًا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا
"and eat as freely as you please”
7:45 وَهُم بِٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ كَـٰفِرُونَ
and disbelieved in the Hereafter.
11:19 وَهُم بِٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ هُمْ كَـٰفِرُونَ
and disbelieve in the Hereafter

You will many examples like this from Surah al-A'rāf.

How verses can make frequent rotation of words, phrases or sentences in a surah

There are many examples of this:

  • If you look at Surah al-A'rāf, you will see the word (arsala / أرسل) being used a lot in different forms (minal-mursaleen, fa-arsalna, an arsil, yursil). What does knowing this help with? It helps with the mutashābihāt in surah al-A'rāf vs other surah. For example, if you look at verse 111 (أَرْجِهْ وَأَخَاهُ وَأَرْسِلْ فِى ٱلْمَدَآئِنِ حَـٰشِرِينَ) and compare it with verse 36 of surah ash-Shu'arā' (قَالُوٓا۟ أَرْجِهْ وَأَخَاهُ وَٱبْعَثْ فِى ٱلْمَدَآئِنِ حَـٰشِرِينَ) - you can remember what surah uses the words (arsil) because surah al-A'rāf rotates and frequently uses this word.

Likewise, you can see the same thing happening with other surah:

  • Surah al-An'ām uses the word (dhulm - dhālimūn, adhlam, bi-dhulmin, dhalamū) whereas other surah like Yunus use the word (ajram - mujrimūn or mujrimīn).
  • Surah al-Jāthiyah uses the word ('amal - 'amilū) but surah az-Zumar uses the word (kasab - kasabū)
  • Surah al-Qasas frequently uses the word (Zeenah, like verse 60) whereas in Surah ash-Shūra, you don't find the word (like verse 36).
  • You find the word (Qist) used in surah Yunus (like verses 4, 47, 54) but the word Qist is not used elsewhere (like bil-Haqq).
  • Surah al-Baqarah uses the word (lan - verses 80, 95, 111, 120, ) but surah al-Jumu'ah does not (verse 7).
  • Surah az-Zukhruf uses the word (ja'ala) a lot but other surah like Tā Hā uses the word (salaka).
  • Surah al-Ambiyā' uses the word (Rabb - like verse 2 or 4) but ash-Shu'arā' uses the word (Rahmah - like verse 5 and 9).

There are many examples like this but one can only come to know these if you pay attention and you contemplate. This is what I mean when I say to study the differences between the similar verses.

How verses can use the same words or phrases frequently in a surah

You can benefit greatly as well by contemplating over the repetitive use of phrases in a surah. Like in al-Qasas we see (la'allahum yatadhakkaroon) appear three times but this is (la'allahum yattaqoon) in the rest of the Qur'ān. Other examples include:

  • The repetition of (as-samaawaati wal-ardi) in Surah an-Noor without a "fee" on the word "ard" like it is in the rest of the Qur'ān.
  • In Surah ash-Shu'arā', you find three times ('adhāba/'adhābu yawmin 'adheem) whereas this is (aleem or muheen) elsewhere in the Qur'ān.

How there are certain distinguishing features specific to a surah

Sometimes a surah will have something that no other surah has. Nothing this can also help you rememeber the similar verses. For example in Surah an-Nahl, you will see the words (āyah) and (āyāt) like (inna fi dhālika la-āyah) or (inna fi dhālika la-āyāt).

Other examples include:

  • In Surah Hūd, you see the words (wa lammā jā'a amrunā) or (fa lammā jā'a amrunā) appear. The difference between the use of wa and fa is to do with the amount of time it took for the punishments to arrive.
  • In Surah an-Nahl, we see the frequent use of (wa lam yaku) or (wa la taku).

In this way, we find many solutions to help us remember the Mutashābihāt.

May Allāh grant us blessing and ease in our memorisation!

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