Choosing The Best Mushaf For Quran Memorisation

When it comes to the memorisation of the Qur’ān, one of the major things that help is using the same Mus’haf (copy of the Qur’ān) to memorise. This is a piece of advice you will see everywhere.

When you memorise something of the Qur’ān you may find it being saved as a picture in your mind. The next time you try recalling the portion, your mind flashes the image of the portion you memorised. There are visual cues that your memory latches on to.

It’s similar to when you listen to the Qur’ān and being able to recall verses by being able to play the recitation in your mind. When you memorise by looking, at the same Mus’haf repeatedly, marking, underlining, circling, and highlighting your mistakes, you realise that you make gradual progress. You will realise that you will record a visual element of the words or pages. While it is true that some of us do not have the same visual learning abilities as others but it is something that can be developed.

In this article, however, I want to answer the question of what Mus’haf you should use to memorise and explore digital options.

What is the best Mus’haf to use?

The best Mus’haf to use is the best one for you as an individual. Stick to a simple decision filter by asking one question, “What type of copy am I able to recite comfortably and proficiently?”

This ease includes what is easy on the eyes as well as what is easy to recite. If you have specific needs in terms of your eyesight, you may need a copy that has larger text. You may prefer a certain script over another because you find it easier to recite. You may only have access to certain copies and in such a case, you should choose the one you are more comfortable with.

But shouldn’t we all be comfortable with any copy we pick up? That would be ideal but this is not the case for the majority of people. For those that are comfortable reciting from any Mus’haf, your criteria should remain the same.

Questions over paper quality, colour and memory

The quality of paper, although may seem to be a matter of no importance, might actually be something to pay attention to. Getting a thin low quality papered Qur’ān can be more prone to wear and tear. You’ll find those with better quality will save you from having to get more copies. Although the Qur’ān is now widely available and can be available for free, there are people who may not be able to afford higher-quality prints.

Colour is also something that seems like a matter of no importance, but in fact, can have a direct impact on your memorisation.

I would have to go back into my notes from the past but I remember coming across a paper that suggested using a Mus’haf that had a hint of yellow-brown to it being best for memorisation. Today though, we have the internet and we can search for these things. What did I find? Colour does have an impact. For instance, using yellow paper with red ink improves memory. A review studying the influence of colour on memory performance showed that colours can lead to better memory performance. The factors are using the same colour during memorisation, revision and testing. And a colour that attracts more attention and better visibility.

What does all of this come down to? Again, the same decision filter – what you find easy on the eye and tongue.

The different Mus’haf choices

Naskh (subcontinent, Indo-Pak)

This is a script that you might also call Nasta’leeq, Majeedi or non-‘Uthmānī. This type of script differs from the Naskh-‘Uthmānī script (the Arab’s Qur’ān) in that it uses a different style of writing, symbols, and divisions. I’m not going to go into the differences here but I will refer you to a decent article on this written by Qur’aan Teacher Resources.

With these copies of the Qur’ān there is a variety of Mus’haf choices. You will find the most popular to be:

  • The 13-lined Qur’ān
  • The 15-lined Qur’ān
  • The 16-lined Qur’ān

The ‘Uthmānī (rest of the world)

This is a beautiful script that is widely available and popularised by the printing press of the Haramayn in particular. The most popular and prefered copies are:

  • The 15-lined old Madinah script
  • The 15-lined Madinah script

Other Mus’haf includes more specific types like those that are 12-lines, Tahajjud, or Tajweed based. A great website to see all the main different types of Mus’haf that I have always used is Quran Flash.

Is the Tajweed Colour-coded Mus’haf good to use for Hifz?

Personally, I don’t recommend it to students but that doesn’t mean you can’t. If you are starting to learn Tajweed, you can use this type of Mus’haf to get familiar with the basics. After that, you should move away from it and learn to recite without it. Those colour-coded Mus’hafs also tend to not include everything in terms of Tajweed and can be subject to errors.

Why is the 15-lined Mus’haf so popular today?

It helps when it’s mass-produced and widely available but the reality is that because it starts and ends with a complete āyah (as in there is no overflow onto another page) and almost every Juz’ had 20 pages makes it a popular Mus’haf choice. You also find many memorisation methods are based on the 15-lined Mus’haf. If you take an approach to memorisation that is based on quarters, hizb or rukū’ it doesn’t matter as much.

Can you use an app to memorise the Qur’ān instead of a Mus’haf?

The debate over whether paper is better than digital for learning and memory is not new. But it is not something that is considered when it comes to the study of the Qur’ān.

Evidence suggests you should always stick to paper.

Our brains function differently when using a screen and when using paper. Print is visually less demanding than digital text. Print is easier to comprehend than digital text. Studies found digital reading breeds overconfidence. Digital reading impairs comprehension, particularly for longer, more complex texts.

2019 analysis by a University of North Dakota professor found that students of all ages absorb more information when they’re reading directly on paper. An international analysis also concluded that paper beat screens by over a fifth of a standard deviation. What does this mean exactly? Reading from paper can help students recall information much more easily and retain it for longer periods.

Research before 1992 concluded that people read slower and less attentively on screens than on paper. Later studies confirmed that conclusion, but others, like Singer and Alexander’s study, have found some significant differences in reading speed and comprehension between paper and screens.

The main findings from the study were as follows (in the words of the authors of the study):

  • Students overwhelming preferred to read digitally.
  • Reading was significantly faster online than in print.
  • Students judged their comprehension as better online than in print.
  • Paradoxically, overall comprehension was better for print versus digital reading.
  • The medium didn’t matter for general questions (like understanding the main idea of the text).
  • When it came to specific questions, comprehension was significantly better when participants read printed texts.

I would recommend that you have a physical Mus’haf first approach and only use the mobile, tablet or laptop when you need to. There is more barakah (blessing) in the Mus’haf, even picking up the Mus’haf and looking at it carries a blessing.

What Mus’haf do I use and recommend?

I first began memorising using the Taj Company 16-lined Mus’haf (Indo-Pak). This wasn’t by choice, I was given it upon my arrival. I continued to memorise half of the Qur’ān with this Mus’haf. Then I bought a new copy and took that to Egypt to continue memorisation. When I was there though I began to explore using the 15-lined Mus’haf. It began to grow on me. I had a habit of trying different methods and testing my own ideas so I got hold of a 15-lined Mus’haf.

Today, I would sway to recommend the 15-lined one but the choice is yours to make.

These are the main things to consider when it comes to Mus’haf choice. I hope this has helped clarify any questions you had on this. If you have anything in mind, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

May Allāh grant ease.

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