When you're memorising the Qur'ān or wanting to start memorisation, you may find yourself struggling with feelings of unworthiness, hypocrisy, coming short of the Qur'ān and your responsibilities.
You begin to question, what is the point of memorising the Qur'ān if it will go against me because of not acting upon it? If I finish memorising the Qur'ān, what do I do next? How can I keep getting better rather than staying stagnant?
You begin to self-reflect and ponder over how you are living your life and how you can even be worthy of memorising His Words. You begin to reflect over your sins and the state of your Imān and begin to question things.
Our minds and thoughts are powerful devices. When you begin to listen to the wrong thoughts and dig deeper, you become overwhelmed. The thoughts take over. The good actions you wanted to perform become nothing but wishes and dreams. All of these thoughts then give you a paralysis and an allergy to all good things.
In this article, I want to address these thoughts and struggles and how you can overcome them before, during and after memorising the Qur'ān.
Why are you feeling unworthy of the Qur'ān?
The first place to start is to dig deep and understand why it is that you feel the way that you do. These feelings can come from a number of places.
- you don't feel confident in your abilities
- you compare yourself with others
- you feel like you're doing the wrong thing (imposter syndrome)
- you may have low self-esteem
- you may be a perfectionist
- you are not so accepting of your past decisions
- you feel you are not good enough for something with such a responsibility
- you are affected by the evils of shayateen
- you may have underlying mental health conditions
Understanding what you're facing can go a long way in helping to find the right way to deal with the feelings that you're struggling with. Each reason will need different approaches in how you deal with feeling unworthy.
Feeling unworthy can leave you unmotivated and can make you behave in ways that will have a negative consequence on the quality of your life. It's important that you know how to deal with this.
General advises to reclaim your self-worth
1. Acknowledge it and speak to someone
Make space for everything that you're feeling. Be mindful of them and accept it. Speak to a friend, professional or a learned person about it and ask for help. They can help uplift your spirit, give you motivation and point out your hard work and strengths.
2. Have a plan with sound intent
Pen down your intentions and make a loose plan for whatever it is that you want to achieve. Include a plan for self-help: journaling, dhikr and adkhar, exercise, talking aloud to yourself, etc.
3. Commit to your best, and understanding that changes day to day
A lot of things influence what your best will look like each day, including factors beyond your control. Committing to your best doesn't mean perfection. Instead, it means doing what you can! Accepting what you can do! Accepting that it is not always perfect and that it is OK.
This should include you acknowledging the things you know you can do well, it can help you know yourself better and send more self-love your way.
You can read a lot more on advice around this but let's go more specific to the Qur'ān.
What can possibly be better than memorising the Qur'ān?
Let's first address the thought of memorising the Qur'ān being the peak.
Uthman bin Affan reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The best of you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5027)
You will have heard this Hadīth many times but you don't always appreciate the nuances in the meaning. When the Prophet (ﷺ) mentions those who 'learn' (ta'allam) and 'teach' ('allama), it means those who continually strive to learn and teach the Qur'ān. The process is never-ending. So no matter what stage you are at, be it a beginner that's striving to memorise, or a proficient reciter trying to memorise in a different riwāyah - you are amongst the best of people. Why?
It is because of the Qur'ān. By virtue of keeping the company of the greatest Speech, you are being raised to higher stations. If you feel that the Qur'ān is something you can't be worthy of.
In reality, the best actions are those that are done with most presence of Allāh in them (intention and deed). This can mean even one moment of sincerity with the Qur'ān that you have will come to save you. You just need a moment.
It's all about changing your mindset and perspective. What's the best action after memorising the Qur'ān? Anything and everything to do with the Qur'ān. That includes your consistent relationship with Qirā'ah (recitation), Tilāwah (recitation that is followed), Murāja'ah (revision), Tadabbur (contemplation), Tafakkur (reflection), Tafsīr (commentary) and striving to learn and understand more of the Qur'ān. Memorising the Qur'ān is actually considered the first step of this journey. Look at the Qur'ān for what it truly is. An ocean. Memorising the Qur'ān is only a tiny microscope. I strongly believe, when you develop a relationship beyond memorisation like this you will begin to see changes.
There's a story related to us by a student that illustrates this. He says:
"One of our shuyūkh in Alexandria used to say: "When we went to study Qur'ān in Tanta, they'd ask us if we had memorized the Qur'ān. We used to answer yes. They'd then ask if we had strong knowledge of the Tafsīr. When we'd say no, they'd ask how we knew where to start and stop...
They would then tell us that we had not yet memorized correctly. When we finished studying Tafsīr and went to study with the shuyūkh of el-Beheira, they'd ask us if we had memorized the Qur'ān. We'd answer that we had. They then asked us to write three pages from Surat Hūd...
From memory according to the science of Rasm. When we struggled to do so, they'd ask us where our memory went. They would tell us that we had not memorized well. Every time we went to our shuyūkh they found a way for us to improve the preservation of the Qur'ān in our hearts...
Not because what we came with at first wasn't great, but because they themselves never claimed that they were hāfidh and did not want us to think that there was ever a destination when it came to memorizing the Qur'ān. You will be a hāfidh only when you are asked to read in the Hereafter when it is said to you:
"اقرأ ورتل وارتق كما كنت ترتل"@MohamedSkandari [Twitter]
"Recite and rise in status as you used to recite"
And not a word of the Revelation escapes your memory.
Then, and only then will you be a hāfidh. Live your life knowing that is the hifdh exam to prepare for"
You are experiencing true faith
Allāh make it easier for you but this yearning and reflection that you have is from Allāh Himself. The fact that you started or have a desire for the Qur'ān is a matter of Tawfīq (Divine facilitation). Allāh has granted you this desire and drive for the Qur'ān.
No matter whatever bad you are doing, the Qur'ān remains. None of us are perfect. We make mistakes all the time but the Qur'ān gives us an opportunity to wipe them away.
If you feel hypocrisy or being unworthy can be a sign of true faith. This type of feeling is a blessing from Allāh. It is the opposite of one of the most dangerous qualities, which is deception.
Imām al-Bukhārī mentions in the chapter of faith the statement of Ibn Abi Mulayka (Allāh have mercy on him), ‘I met 30 of the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ), all of them feared hypocrisy for themselves. None of them said that he had faith like that of Jibril or Mika'il.’
Imām al-Bukhārī then adds, ‘It is being narrated from Hasan, ‘No one fears it (i.e., hypocrisy) except the true believer, and none feels safe from it except the hypocrite.” [Bukhari]
Feeling a big responsibility and burden on your shoulders
As for responsibility, we are all in the same boat. We do fall short but we must recognise those shortcomings and make attempts to amend them.
The first step is the process of tawbah (repentance and a return to good) and taking the company of the pious.
The rejected shaytān has a way of also tricking us into believing that we aren't good enough. You should learn about how he operates and attacks us. He wants you to think that you aren't worthy but, in reality, he knows you are. He just wants you to fail. You have to keep fighting. When you plant a seed into the ground, it has to first fight against the darkness for it to grow out and become something. But even still, it has to keep fighting.
I understand what it feels like, you feel like a hypocrite, but again, the minute you entertain thoughts like these and you begin to drop good, you begin to take on the bad which is what the shaytanic algorithm wants of you. One of my teachers explained recently that when you're on a social network like TikTok or Facebook and you view a video, you tell the algorithm that runs what you see on your feed, to show you more of what you clicked on. The more you begin to see it, the more you will get exposed to that particular type of content. The rejected shaytān works in the same way. His algorithm will take every chance it can get to make you view what he's trying to get you to see. Once you see it - he's got you. You have to now work on defeating it but the longer you leave it, the harder it's going to be because you've made the whole algorithm catered towards that type of content. When you entertain bad thoughts and deeds, it is exactly the same thing. Yet the very thing that you need to break this chain is the very thing that you're running away from - the Qur'ān!
You get stuck into a cycle.
So it's important that you never drop good deeds regardless of whatever it is. Those good deeds are a defence, a weapon and they grant you a means of return.
You were made worthy by the fact that you started
Allāh granted you time and opportunity to form a relationship with His Word, and so you should embrace it. The very fact that you have started memorising or want to start is a blessing. This is a favour. Allāh has chosen you to do something with His Word.
You don't realise what good Allāh has in store for you. You will see wonders. You will see tests but you'll still be on the path.
Revisit your why and your renew your intentions
I've written two articles that you should revisit in particular:
Revisit your motivation and fundamentals
You can visit the many articles and the motivation section that I have written including:
May Allāh grant you ease, comfort, and success!
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