Hifz Tips For Visual Learners

You might be a visual learner if you:

  • remember what you see
  • prefer learning with pictures, maps, or diagrams
  • prefer learning with highlighting, bullet points, or sketching
  • prefer to learn through observation
  • you like visual expression and art
  • you need the big picture
  • you need to picture words when reciting from memory
  • zone out when listening to someone

These are among the common visual learning preferences someone might have if they are visual learners. When it comes to Qur'ān memorisation, it's no different. You can use techniques to make your memorisation process visually more engaging. With things like:

  • Written notes
  • Using colours to highlight
  • Diagrams, charts and pictures
  • Mindmaps (colourful!) and summaries

Here are some ideas for you to consider using when you are memorising.

1. Second Copies

Many of the scholars of Qur'ān were visual learners. One of our teachers once told us about how Shaykh al-Qāri' Abul Hasan al-Kurdi (may Allāh be pleased with him) in Damascus (may Allāh send safety and security to the land) used to work during the day as a butcher and memorised the Qur'ān whilst doing it. He would take a copy of a page from the Mus'haf and start reciting whilst at work.

In this way, if you take the page or portion that you want to memorise and make a second copy of it to use for memorisation. You can photocopy it, take a picture, take a screenshot, print it or use a second Mus'haf. Use any of them to highlight, make marks, images, mindmap or whatever helps on the blank side. You can use it as a flip card to use as a means of testing yourself. You can use it on the move, write the verses off memory on the other side, transliteration, translation, tafseer points and more.

This has helped many of my students.

2. Use Mindmaps 

Mindmaps are continually being used, most predominantly in the Arab world to memorise the Qur'ān. This not only makes the process easier but also helps one to memorise with the meanings and themes of the verses in mind. The meanings are what shape the mindmap. Mindmaps can incorporate drawings and diagrams.

In 2013, mind mapping was studied with two groups of learners that were memorising Surah al-Baqarah. One group memorised with mindmaps and one without them. They found the group that memorised with mind mapping not only memorised faster but they made fewer mistakes.

Let’s take the start of Surah Al-Baqarah for example.

  • You’ll make “Baqarah” the root of the map.
  • Then make “Alif Laam Meem” the first branch.
  • Then after reciting the second verse, you realise it is about guidance, so you make the next branch called “Hudan” and add a picture about the verse.
  • Then you make the next branch for the next verse making a picture of a cloud, a prayer mat and a money sign.
  • For the next verse, you would call it “Unzila” for revelation and then add pictures to represent the past and present.
  • For each branch, you would add the verse number too. You would do the same for every sitting when you memorise.

Surah al-'Asr:

  • You can draw a clock in the middle for first ayah with an 'ayn in the middle of it for 'asr.
  • Then the handle can lead out of the clock and point to a sad face with the word khusr and loss next to it.
  • Then have that branch out to the word BUT taking you to the third part which will be a branch linking four things: faith, good deeds, truth and patience.

For something slightly longer and harder like Surah al-Jinn, you can do it verse by verse, or section by section. Let's look at an example verse by verse:

  • Having something representing the unseen in the middle, can be as simple as a circle with "unseen experience" written in the middle of it.
  • Then branch out for verse one, with the words "heard a group of Jinn" and drawing something that represents a group of beings (with a keyword from the Arabic like nafarun and 'ajaban)
  • For the next verse focus on belief and the path to guidance (with key word being nushrika)
  • Then the next verse having a focus on nothing being like Him, and maybe drawing a father and son with an X over them.

I made a quick video on this example on Instagram.

3. Use writing

You can take lessons from the best of methods that utilise writing. The best methods I have found for this are in Mauritania and Morocco. Whilst they traditionally make use of wooden boards, you can make use of fixed or moveable whiteboards, notebooks, Qur'ān writing books, or tablet devices.

  • You can get hold of mini-whiteboards to larger boards to keep for memorisation purposes in a specific room or place. Also, get coloured non-permanent board markers. This is a great way to get children involved too. You can also play games.
  • Writing in Arabic or transliteration, use a black pen for the letter, a red pen for the vowels, and separate the verses using a green pen. Each time you make mistakes you can erase and re-write. You can then leave what you wrote for a few days, erase it and rewrite off memory.
  • If you use paper, you can use what you write to hang up on a wall to see throughout the day or night to aid memorisation and retention.

These are a few ideas that you can incorporate into your memorisation system.

May Allāh grant ease!

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