A Beginners Guide To Hifz Revision Methods

This might just be the most important guide you read.

There are a lot of words that are used to describe the process of recalling our memorisation. So let's start with understanding them.

Review, revision, or recall?

You will notice that I use all of these different terms across my work.

Recall is when you call something back from memory. Self-testing.
Review is a second or subsequent reading. So it's a form of repetition.
Revision is not only reviewing something previously learned but it's a process of improvement. Correcting mistakes and strengthening your memorisation.

In truth, your Qur'ān revision is a mix of all this. You must do recall (testing off memory), you must improve (revise), and you must repeat consistently (review).

What is revision?

Revision is a process of mastery, not just repetition.

It's a process that exists to ensure that you're not forgetting what you've memorised. A process that will tell you that you still remember. A process that will tell you what you may have forgotten and need to revise.

Often too many people revise just because they know they have to repeat things. So they don’t sort out mistakes whilst they do it. They just repeat. Revision is about removing mistakes not repeating them. If you’re repeating them you’re not revising, you’re trying to revise. This is important because after one memorises they not only have to retain what they’ve memorised but aim to perfect it. Perfect it in recitation and in recollection.

We don't mime. We master the Qur'ānic rhyme.

So this means we can't simply recite over what we've memorised by looking and call it a day. We must make active recall - make many attempts off memory with full attention. You make your memory work hard. This hard work requires time.

What are the terms used for revision?

The most common are:

  • Sabki (سبکی Urdu) for recent memorised portions
  • Manzil (منزل Urdu) for past memorised portions
  • Dhor (Urdu) for past memorised portions
  • Murāja'ah (مراجعة Arabic) as a general term
  • Murāja'ah Qarībah (مراجعة قريبة Arabic) for recent memorised portions
  • Murāja'ah Bar'ībah (مراجعة بعيدة Arabic) for past memorised portions

There will be different words used by different methods and languages.

Why are there different revision elements and methods?

Different methods will have different approaches to memorisation and this often includes a revision process that is baked into it. Everyone is different. Some of us have less time than others. Some of us have more ability than others. We all have different needs. Different revision methods cater towards these differences and varying contexts.

Many elements exist because many of the methods divide revision into managed categories. Typically this is using the recent memorised portions and past memorised portions divide.

Everyone needs a revision cycle

The idea of a cycle is the amount of days it takes you to revise everything you've memorised. The ideal is to make a completion every week. If this is not possible, it can vary according to your situation.

How much are you supposed to revise?

Your cycle will determine this. You should aim to revise everything you know as a beginner up till you've memorised more than a Juz'. From there, you can begin to divide your revision between new and old. With the old being a minimum of a complete Juz' and a maximum of five.

How long do you revise for?

The average for someone with time is 2-4 hours daily to reach a form of mastery. This is because they can recite more than one juz' and recite it to someone else. For others, it can vary. Yet no matter how busy you might be, you should commit to revise consistently. More so than memorisation. At a minimum, 30-60 mins.

What are some of the methods people use?

Recall using your daily prayers (salāh)

Recite everything in your salāh/namāz. The Beloved of Allāh (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) advised, "When the companion of the Qur'ān (the one who has memorised it and remained comitted to it) stands up (for night prayer) and recites it night and day, it remains fresh in his mind, but if he does not get up (to recite in his prayers and maintain his struggle) he forgets it." [Sahīh Muslim]. You memorise the Qur'ān for a reason - it's time to use it. It elevates your salāh. I remember a teacher in Cairo used to recite the entire Qur'ān throughout the year using his salāh. Every congregational prayer was a continuation of where he was from the last prayer.

The 30-day plan

You revise a Juz' every single day. You can divide it throughout the day. You can do it all in one session. You will recite off memory first ideally and then note down any mistakes you make. Correct those areas. You can do it in the reverse too.

The 90 days plan

7-8 pages daily and listening. Listen to the Juz' throughout the day or you listen to the juz' when you're going to revise. Now you repeat the Juz' from memory (ideally to someone else) and you record it. The next day, you will listen to the recording throughout the day to re-enforce it. In the next revision session, listen to the next juz'. Repeat the process.

A page a day per Juz'

In this method, you revise a page per juz' every day. You can create various plans for this and be as flexible as you like. This is not a common method. For example:

  • Day 1: 1st page (or a number of pages) of Juz' 1-30 (or Juz' 1-5, or any other quantity)
  • Day 2: 2nd page (or a number of pages) of juz' 1-30 (or Juz' 1-5, or any other quantity)
  • You continue like this till the last page.
  • You can combine the previous pages with the days portion.
  • This is based on the Ottoman method but for revision.

The Rule of Five (weekly cycle)

You make moves in five. "Whoever recites five, never forgets" is a popular saying amongst scholars, especially in Egypt and Syria. The reason for this is their personal experience and the experience of their teachers. The average number of verses that were revealed at a time were 5 over 23 years of revelation. Sayyidunā Imām 'Alī (may Allāh be pleased with him) is attributed to have said, "Whoever memorises five at a time will never forget it" (source to be found).

When we speak of the rule of five in revision, we mean to create a cycle of five. You cover everything you know within 5-to-6 days. The key is to build up to it. Although this is one method, you can do anything for your own cycle but a week is ideal as a minimum. Let's say for example you've memorised half of the 30th, you'll revise 2 pages daily (or a set number of surah). Every 5 days, you'll begin from the first 2 pages again. That's a full cycle. If you've memorised more, say 3 juz', then you'll begin revising half a juz' (10 pages) daily. You can add to it slowly as you increase your memorisation.

A weekly cycle progression will look like:

Memorised (by Juz')Revise (daily)
14 pages
28 pages
312 pages
416 pages
51 Juz'
624 pages (Juz' + quarter)
728 pages
832 pages
936 pages
102 Juz'
204 Juz'
305 Juz' (6 days)
*Based on 15-lined Qur'ān

You'll find more in the articles library on review to explore more topics.

Allāh grant blessing.

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