Using Competitions to Help You Memorise the Quran

In the journey of memorising the Qur'ān, the task of committing the Blessed Words of Guidance to heart can be both challenging and rewarding. As aspiring students of the Qur'ān, we constantly seek effective techniques to improve our memorisation skills and deepen our connection with it. One powerful method that often goes overlooked is leveraging competitions to support and accelerate the memorisation process.

It's typically used by certain communities and while others don't. I want to delve into the benefits of using competitions as a means of boosting Qur'ān memorisation and how they can play a pivotal role in elevating your recitation proficiency.

The Power of Friendly Rivalries

Participating in Qur'ān memorisation competitions introduces a dynamic element of friendly rivalries among fellow students. These competitions provide an environment where individuals can challenge and motivate each other to excel in their memorisation journey. When like-minded individuals come together to showcase their efforts and achievements, it fosters an atmosphere of enthusiasm and dedication.

Allāh says in Surah al-Baqarah: "So compete with one another in doing good. Wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together ˹for judgment˺."

Setting Clear Goals and Targets

Competitions often come with specific targets and deadlines. These predefined goals act as a driving force to help students set clear objectives for their memorisation progress. With well-defined milestones, students can measure their advancement and strategise their learning plan accordingly.

Enhancing Memory Retention through Repetition

Repetition is a fundamental aspect of memorisation, and competitions encourage participants to recite more frequently. The repetitive nature of competitions aids in reinforcing the memorised verses, leading to improved retention and recall abilities. Moreover, the pressure and excitement of competing in front of an audience mimic real-life scenarios, better preparing students for various recitation settings like the Tarāwīh.

The Sense of Community and Support

Participating in Qur'ān memorisation competitions creates a sense of community among students, fostering an environment of support and encouragement. Peers cheering each other on and celebrating each other's achievements strengthen the bond within the memorisation group. This camaraderie boosts motivation and confidence, making the memorisation journey more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Valuable Feedback and Constructive Criticism

During competitions, participants often receive feedback from judges and experienced teachers. This valuable input allows students to identify areas for improvement and refine their recitation skills. Constructive criticism can be a powerful tool for growth, as it guides students in overcoming challenges and becoming more proficient in their memorization efforts.

A Platform for Self-Reflection

Competitions provide an excellent platform for self-reflection. As students prepare for and participate in these events, they are encouraged to critically assess their performance and identify strengths and weaknesses. Engaging in self-reflection enables students to gain deeper insights into their memorisation journey and make necessary adjustments to optimise their learning process.

This can have a limiting factor too. It can lead to a sense of failure and and undermine the students' intrinsic motivation.

Nurturing a Spirit of Perseverance

Memorisation competitions often demand rigorous preparation and perseverance. The determination required to compete prepares students to face obstacles with resilience and dedication. This spirit of perseverance extends beyond the competition and seeps into their daily memorisation practice, helping them overcome challenges with steadfastness.

Building Confidence and Overcoming Stage Fright

Public speaking and reciting in front of an audience can be nerve-wracking for many individuals. However, participating in competitions exposes students to such scenarios, helping them conquer stage fright and build self-assurance. This newfound confidence can positively impact their overall recitation abilities and enhance their connection with the Qur'ān.

It Improves Your Memory and Attention

Studies show that social motivation—specifically, competition—can have strong effects on attention and memory, although significant individual and gender differences exist. Competition in a physical effort setting may increase attention, while the presence of a competitor may have detrimental effects on memory and performance.

Memorising Through Competition

Dr Yahyā bin ‘Abd al Razzāq al-Ghawthānī says:

The scholars of education and psychology recognise the role of encouragement and motivation in boosting people’s production and creativity. Thus, I argue that various ways of motivation can be used as an impressive impetus to stimulate and achieve the noble project of Qur’ān memorisation (my paraphrase). Competitions can take different ways. The following are a few of them:

First Way: A Compromise with Work Colleagues

  1. Make an agreement with your work colleagues to memorise a particular Surah during three days and compete with each other to see who will memorise it first.
  2. After three days, meet together at the mosque (workplace prayer room) or at any other place.
  3. One of you can test his fellows by asking a question and giving marks.
  4. The one who would commit the least of mistakes would be the first. A star is put next to his name. During a month the one who gets more stars would be the winning.
  5. One fellow from the group can volunteer to offer an award to the winning fellow who gets six stars during a month. The award can be a valuable book, crayons, or a recited Qur’ān etc.

Second Way: Declaring a Qur’ān Competition

The administration can announce a competition in memorising five parts (Juz’) of the Qur’ān at the end of the year and devote proper awards for the winning students.

Motivation is also manifested in international competitions held in many countries such as the famous International competition in Makkah.

Another way of motivation is the rivalry between husband and wife. For instance, they can compete about who will memorise more during a month.

Other Ways of Motivation

  1. The teacher with his students: He can tell them some ahādith about the significance of Qur’ān memorisation and some stories about the Qur’ān memorisers and ask to memorise a particular Surah for the next day. The one who would perfectly memorise the Surah, his name would be written and hung on a school honour board.
  2. A school or any other institution can announce that whoever would memorise the whole Qur’ān would get a monetary award.
  3. Announcing to prisoners that whoever memorises the Qur’ān his period of punishment would be reduced or he would be released. This is applied in Saudi Arabia by the charitable organisations of teaching Qur’ān.
  4. The father and his children: he can get new clothes or a bicycle, or suggest a delicious dinner out of the home as motivations and awards to incite the children to memorise.
  5. The Shaykh and his group: the shaykh can organise a party to honour the one who memorises the whole Qur’ān. He can also grant his students an award. This party can be an unforgettable souvenir for the winner and an impressive motivation for his fellows and the attendants to emulate him.
  6. The husband with his wife: for instance, when the husband leaves the home to work or to travel he can tell his wife to memorise a particular Surah. When he comes back he brings with him a gift to his wife as an award for her memorisation. The wife can do the same with her children to motivate them and her reward will be great in the hereafter.

Many use competition as part of their memorisation process. For example, after certain milestones like having memorising 1 juz', then 5 ajzā', then 10 ajzā', etc, they will participate in a competition or some form of testing.

So leveraging competitions as a tool for Qur'ān memorisation can significantly contribute to the growth and proficiency of students. These competitions foster a sense of community, set clear goals, enhance memory retention through repetition, and provide valuable feedback. Moreover, the spirit of perseverance, confidence-building, and self-reflection instilled through competitions can leave a lasting impact on the journey of memorising the Qur'ān.

May Allāh grant us all success!

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