Don't Force Memorizing The Quran, Build It Instead

Motivating children for Qur’ān memorization (Hifz) can be a hard task.

In this article, I reflect on the story of a well-known Mufti who, despite his having no intentions, ended up memorising the Qur’ān. I also consider my own upbringing and draw some lessons for you and your journey.

How a young person fell in love with Qur’ān memorisation

He was busy with school and had his own interests when he was younger, but, as we all do, he had to learn Qur’ān. So he used to gather with his siblings after Fajr for 15-30 minutes under the supervision of his elder brother, who was a Hāfiz.

His elder brother asked them to memorise selected surah after learning how to recite the Qur’ān and completing a recitation (khatm). This young man began to love memorizing the Qur’ān after learning so many small surahs. He wasn’t forced to do it; rather, a process led him to love it. He eventually finished his Hifz during his years of study as a student.

That’s pretty much all I know about his story. I’m not sure why he fell in love with the Qur’ān memorisation journey, but the important thing to note here is that it wasn’t forced. Many parents force their children to memorise the Qur’ān, which does not always work out well. Instead, each child was given the opportunity to experience memorization and, if desired, to learn more. As a result, the procedure changed. It wasn’t about memorising the entire Qur’ān as such, but about seeing if one could recall one surah after another.

Don’t force Hifdh, build it

When I mentioned this story on Instagram, there were some comments worthy of note. One commented:

“I was forced at a young age but I liked it when years passed. I felt I was forced and I wasn’t able to concentrate, I felt bored. So I just paused and when my relatives asked, I said I’ve completed only this much and they discouraged me by saying, ‘oh only this much’ and I felt very upset. So I became rude whenever someone asked me about my hifz. Eventually I stopped memorizing new juz’ but I revised the old ones by myself. And alhamdulillah I got motivated by few pages in instagram @qarimubashir ,@hifz__tips etc.. and started my hifz again from where I left in this lockdown. It’s nearly been a year and alhamdulillah I’ve completed 5 juz’. This may be a little and still people say me things to me but I don’t care. I know what I’ve learned.”

Another said:

“I used to struggle as a kid, it took me 16 years to even be fluent. Interest in hifz has come just because now I’m not being pushed into it, but I just want to have some portion of it in my heart and connect with it more than I did as a child”

These are very common findings. In fact, I went through the same and I talk about it in my posts and book. It is fundamental that a student understands why they are memorising. It is also fundamental that they have the capability paired with the desire to do so.

Creating small achievable goals

Creating increments of achievement when it comes to developing a relationship with the Qur’ān (whether in your children or your students) is essential. It’s a progression ladder.

I recall a parent once asking me for tips on how to motivate her children for the Hifdh of the Qur’ān. One of the ideas I talked about was a progression ladder. In this case, the children loved art and so I asked the parent to have them draw a huge piece of work based on their favourite thing in the world. The task wasn’t to draw it, rather, it was to build a dot drawing. Every day after they finished a memorization session, they should go to the wall where they have this and they would need to add a line. Over time they will see the picture emerge and they’ll be motivated to get it to completion.

Connection through meaning

As adults, many of us, find the need to connect to the meaning of anything that we’re memorising. This can also be of great benefit to a child. By highlighting meanings and connecting those meanings to their world, you bring the Qur’ān to life. You begin to take them on a journey. For example, when my students finished Surah al-Ghāshiyah, I’d watch videos of mountains, camels, and the earth. If it was possible to go outdoors, we’d do that. We’d discuss and experience an āyah.

Everyone connects differently, the question is what connects you?

This is what I call “building” Qur’ān memorisation. You’re “building” an experience that they will fall in love with.

I was not forced to memorise the Qur’ān when I was younger

Looking back at my childhood, I see two things. One was a father who had a desire that at least one of his children memorised the Qur’ān. Two was a father that exposed us to the recitation of the Qur’ān. Three was a nurturing teacher.

I would always listen to the Qur’ān being played by sweet voices and I began to imitate them. I began to pick things up. I never thought to myself that I wanted to be like them or that I want to memorise the Qur’ān. This exposure alone was forming something within me that I was unaware of.

Then I went to madrasah, I was noticed for my voice and my keen interest in recitation. I began to listen to Egyptian reciters and I fell in love with the art of recitation. The teacher I had was also really encouraging and motivated me to recite. It was then that the desire to memorise the Qur’ān began to take shape in my heart. I was asked if I wanted to do it, and I did. I was perhaps around 12/13 years old.

This is another example of how one can become attached to the Qur’ān and how the love of memorisation can begin to grow within the heart.

There are so many ways that Allāh leads people to guidance and in the same way, there are so many ways that Allāh leads a person to preserve His Words.

May Allāh grant you success in your endeavours and accept it from you.

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