And dedicated his life to the Glorious Qur’ān!
He was raised in a religious Christian family with his father being a deacon of the church in Bartella — an area that is largely Assyrian Orthodox. He converted to Islām in 1993 after speaking to classmates at University in Mosul, Iraq. He was 18 and knew nothing of Islām (his wife was also a Christian and converted). After he converted he fell in love with the Chapter of the Cave (Surah al-Kahf) and wished to memorise the Qur’ān. So embarked on this journey sometime in 2012 beginning with that chapter and he was amazed!
He then mastered the memorisation of the whole Qur’ān. Starting from Surah al-Kahf, he went to Surah al-Isrā’, then Maryam, and then al-Anbiyā’. He began with all the chapters he loved and those happened to be the chapters filled with stories. He then went from al-Kahf backward towards al-Baqarah. He memorised everything in around 1.8 years in 2014. He even memorised the 30th in a single day. He had complete focus on this whenever he was at home. He didn’t have a teacher! Guess what, he ends up getting certified and connected to a chain (Ijāzah / sanad) in the recitation of Hafs in 2017.
He started in Ramadān and finished in Ramadān. He cried telling his wife and they both shed tears. He says this is the best of all sustenance that Allah grants one from His sustenance. This led him to document his learnings. He devoted himself to memorisation, learning Arabic, understanding and contemplating over the Qur’ān, using this to master the similar verses, learning and teaching the science of Tajwīd. He ended up publishing several books on Qur’ān, in particular, a 7-volume series of Q&A on similar verses (Mutashābihāt).
He is known as Duraid Ibrāhīm al-Mawṣilī.
Today he shares his advice online (in Arabic).
Mā shā’ Allāh, you’ve got to love this guy. For those of you who are learning Arabic, I recommend you check his work out online and have a listen to his videos on YouTube. His Arabic is easy-going, accessible, and will prove useful for you, In shā’ Allāh.
Let’s look at his method.
Memorise the Qur’ān like you memorise the Fātihah
This is the name of an excellent book he has published on memorisation and review in Arabic. This is what he likes to call his method. It centers around 5 pillars: (1) foundational reading (2) memorisation (3) repetition (4) solidification and (5) review.
As you’ve seen, he never had a teacher and so this method is suited to those individuals without a teacher. However, let me add, this is not recommended at all. We need a teacher!
1. Choice of copy.
He chose the 15-lined copy of Madīnah al-Munawwarah because every page begins with a verse and ends with a complete verse. There’s no overflowing onto another page.
2. Set a fixed daily amount.
He chose to memorise a page a day. By page a day, we’re speaking of one side. He stuck to this as a job and never exceeded this. He would never go to a new page without having known the previous extremely well. This would take him 2.5–3 hours to do.
3. Getting started: only focused recitation
Focus purely on a normal recitation of the page. Read the whole page 20 times. Paying attention to the words and the vowel sounds. If you struggle with any particular word or verse then listen to that verse using a competent reciter like al-Khalīl al-Husarī (may Allāh be pleased with him). He had never heard the Qur’ān in his life prior to Islām and when he did, he listened to al-Husarī and Minshāwī. If you have a competent teacher that is even better (light upon light). This initial phase is to focus on reaching a firmly rooted memorisation by getting the words right and creating a picture of this page. This is the reason for so much repetition.
4. Begin memorising to the power of 10
Now begin memorising a line, as in the first line, repeating it a minimum of 10 times. Do this until it is perfected. Now move onto the next line and repeat that 10 times. In this way move onto the 15th line, line by line.
Once this is done, you need to review the entire page 10 times without looking. If you struggle with a word, take a look and review it. Then repeat without looking again.
Now you must get someone to listen to this page that you have memorised. Listen to yourself through recording and measure it against a competent recitor, or get anyone you can to listen.
5. Memorise a new page just like yesterday but return to yesterdays
Review yesterday’s page together with the new page you’ve memorised without looking. Combine them. Do this 10 times. Then have this listened to and corrected. If they are not perfected, do not move forward yet. Perfect them. Repeat as much as needed.
6. The further you go, the more you need to keep up with
Make sure review is not neglected! How can you do this?
He says his method is to keep things as simple as possible at the start. During the early period of your memorisation journey beyond a single part (juz’), you won’t have too much to review. Since this is the case, it makes sense to review everything every day. This is similar to the system that I grew up with and so many from the subcontinent have. The system of Sabak-Sabki-Manzil/Dhor. When you’ve memorised one juz’, repeat that daily alongside the new page you memorise in the way mentioned in point 4. Continue in this way until you’ve done 3 juz’. After you’ve memorised 3 ajzā’, set your daily amount to 3 juz’ of review after your new memorisation.
7. What do you do after you’ve memorised 4 juz’?
You will stick with the 3 for now after the new memorisation. What does this mean? It means after you’ve memorised a page, you review juz 1 + 2 + 3 on day one. Then on day two, you review juz 4 + 1 + 2, then on day three, you do juz 3 + 4 + 1. You keep this circular system. Make sure you get this listened to as well. You will have strong memorisation, in shā’ Allāh.
8. What do you do when you’ve reached more than 6 juz’?
When you’ve reached this level, you still need to stick to 3 daily in review as mentioned in point 7 and ensure you have had it listened to. Meaning that when you reach 15 juz’, the halfway point, you’re really working with divisions of 3. Divide 15 into 3 and you get 5. Meaning you review all 15 juz within 5 days. Don’t forget to have it listened to! (He stresses this point).
9. Document your struggles!
During your review process, you will encounter forgetfulness and may struggle with certain verses. Take note of these. Look at the verses again and repeat them as though you’re reviewing them as new. Then recite that portion from memory until you perfect it.
Keep a log for recording any observations, notes, remarks, and guidelines for your journey. Note down mistakes and struggles but do so alongside trying to understand what is causing them. Create a way of connecting to that mistake in order that it no longer occurs. In other words, study your mistakes. Don’t just note them down.
That’s his process!
His key takeaways:
- Do not review until you have memorised perfectly and fixed the best time and place to review. Review is more important than memorisation.
- You must have someone listen to you! A Qur’ān buddy.
- Take a day off for rest. You don’t memorise nor review. Take Fridays off. Let your brain rest and re-energise.
- Have a fixed amount per day to memorise and stick to it. There could be days of emergency, days of unforeseen circumstances, and in that case you can make it up the next day. (Let me add here personally, I wouldn’t recommend to make things up the next day. It will be too much). Stick to a minimum viable memorisation (the MVM) according to your capability and circumstance.
- Every week or up to 10 days maximum, get yourself tested! Have random questions asked of you from any place to challenge you and help you perfect your memorisation.
Duraid also speaks of other important points, difficulties and shares three schedules for memorisation:
(1) a 115 week (2.2 years) schedule,
(2) a 5-week schedule on how to review after memorisation, and
(3) a 30-week schedule for those who have forgotten Qur’ān after having memorised it.
I’ll now share them here.
115-week schedule for memorisation and review
You can access the 115 Week Hifz Schedule and find the full table.
5-week review schedule after you have complete your Hifz
You can find the 5 Week Schedule and find the full table.
30-week schedule for those who have forgotten large portions or more
You can find the 30 Week Schedule and see the full table.
Some notes on this one.
- You should have a desire to complete a khatm once bi-weekly on a medium paced recitation. Pay attention to pages, letters, words, etc. Familiarise yourself with the pages once again.
- Listen to the Qur’an more.
- You’ll find yourself improving year by year.
- Listen to yourself (if you’re alone).
- Complete what you know in your salah.
- Listen to the completed surahs while travelling, in times of leisure and before sleep.
- Pray for success and opening of your heart!
Here is a video explanation: