How To Memorise More While Maintaining Past Memorisation [Hifz]

Memorising Qur'ān is one of the most challenging yet immensely rewarding tasks a Muslim can undertake. It’s challenging because it requires time, concentration, and effort. And it’s rewarding because of the rewards from Allāh and the sense of accomplishment it brings.

There are many ways to memorise Qur'ān at any pace, but staying consistent can be difficult for anyone. Memorising Qur'ān is a habit that needs to be developed over time by anyone who wants to achieve it.

Amongst the primary challenges of Qur'ān memorisation is the art of revision. How do you balance and maintain what you've memorised before while increasing your Qur'ān memorisation? Many people struggle with this. It's a struggle I'm seeing with Muhammad who is sharing his Hifz journey with us for the newsletter.

In this article, I will share different methods on how you can increase your Qur'ān memorisation while maintaining what you’ve learned before.

Note: I have previously explained why you may forget your new memorisation, much of that is also linked to this article.

Follow a method that includes a clear system for revision

There are many methods for memorising the Qur'ān but you don't always have a revision system baked into it. For those methods that do. It is important that you follow the process of revision while making sure that you memorise well.

Examples of methods that have revision systems as part of the process include:

  1. The Imām Qāsim method from Madinah
  2. The Takrār method in Madinah
  3. The method used in India/Pakistan
  4. The Ottoman method
  5. The Ibrahīmi method
  6. The Five Fortress method
  7. Duraid's method
  8. A method in Malaysia

If you can do this well, with patience, determination and with a teacher, you'll be well on your way to finding a balance between the new and the old.

Typically these methods include pillars of action that are required in your daily routine such as:

  • new memorisation
  • repetition on a daily or weekly basis
  • revising your recent memorisation that can be anything from a specific number of pages (i.e. last 20 pages) or the amount equal to a specific period (i.e. last two weeks)
  • revising your past revision that can again be set by a specific amount, typically a minimum of a Juz' a day

This is the basic and most essential way of maintaining your past memorisation as well as memorising more at the same time.

An important note: accountability and discipline is needed

At times, however, especially when memorising alone (without a teacher) you can struggle even with a set method. This is because you might not have a set routine. You may also feel tired or lazy. Something might come up that will disturb your pattern of memorisation or review. All these things can happen when you're doing it alone. Your routine can easily be derailed off track.

At times, even those who have teachers may find themselves at odds too. Either the teacher doesn't offer much time or help. There is next no emphasis on revision and the teacher-student relationship is built upon new memorisation. As a result, the student is expected to revise themselves without accountability. If the student is a young person, they won't do that unless they have accountability from a parent. Likewise, if the student is an adult, they will likely also fall into the same trap.

It is these people that are more prone to finding growing pains and mistakes in their past memorisation. These pains and mistakes grow a burden on them. It is at this point that they don't know what to do. They either know that they have forgotten parts or are weak in them.

How to correct the past while memorising more Qur'ān

In this section of this article, I'll share different ways to address this issue.

Stop memorising anything new

This is the usual recommendation when you find yourself having weaknesses in your past memorisation. By taking a break, you can fully focus on strengthening and re-memorising your past memorisation. This is strongly advised for those who have forgotten large amounts of their past memorisation.

Reduce the amount you are memorising

You can think of your memorisation and your revision as blocks within a memory machine. These blocks can be given a certain amount of fuel. That fuel is your time and effort. You can think of your time and effort being divided between the blocks of memorisation and revision. This includes the amount you take on.

In the event that you are struggling to maintain your past memorisation, consider different splits between your time and effort. I would recommend that if you need to reduce your memorisation consider giving revision 80% of your time and effort. Then your memorisation is 20% of your time and effort. Alternatively, you can consider a 60/40 split.

Carry on memorising (and revising) as normal but take regular breaks

Another method is to carry on memorising, however, you should consider taking regular intervals where you break from memorisation.

This can be every time you finish a sūrah and every time you finish a Juz'. During that, stop memorisation and revise everything before you continue. You basically use this period to see where you stand and improve the quality of your memorisation. You can take a Juz' a day, less or more as you are able to do within your available time. You can call these consolidation revision sessions. During these sessions, you need to repeat, test and improve on your memorisation.

These can also be weekly or monthly sessions where you revise a certain amount with greater focus and intensity.

Carry on memorising (and revising) as normal but create focused revision sessions

Focused revision sessions will differ from consolidation revision sessions in that they are to be implemented on a daily basis. So let's say you have a number of weak spots in your revision and you need to strengthen them. This is where focused revision sessions come into play.

Focus on quarters (rub'), halves (hizb), or paragraphs (rukū')

Take either a quarter at a time, a half, or a specific number of paragraphs as an extra session or a focused session within your regular revision. This is where you take a certain portion (quarter, half or paragraph) and you take extra time repeating that portion. Shaykh Abu Bakr Shatri suggests a quarter at a time where you repeat it up to 7 times or more.

Focus on pages, page batches, or the Ottoman method

At times, you can have random pages that need attention and you find it a struggle to maintain the past due to this. What you can do here is take a page approach. Whenever you get a mistake jot down the page number and then separate that for a focused revision session. You can even batch pages together to get more done. You may also just like the Ottoman Hifz method where you take pages per Juz' and revise everything in batches at the same time page by page.

Have a regular Qur'ān recitation routine (by looking)

You can also add an additional period of time, where possible, for Qur'ān recitation as a regular khatm (completion). This will help you with regular exposure, and familiarity, and build those memory links. Think about all those surahs that you read consistently - how well do you know them?

Have regular self-testing in place

You should also seek to have regular self-testing put in place where you can randomly test yourself. This can be with a buddy or friend, or anyone else. You can also compete with others. This can help you identify strengths and weaknesses. The more you do it, the better you will get.

Have a regular practice of recalling in your salāh (namāz)

Revising Qur'ān through your salāh is an essential means of strengthening your memorisation. The greatest benefit is that it very clearly shows you your weak spots. Again, the more you do this, the better you will get.

Have a regular routine of listening to the Qur'ān

Think about all those surahs that you listen to consistently - how well do you know them? This is the impact of listening. You can actually use listening as a testing tool to also see how well you know your Hifz. Play a surah and follow along off memory. Do you start the next āyah incorrectly? Do you recite a word incorrectly? This is called active listening.

Having someone listen to you daily

This is incredibly important. By reciting to someone else, you can identify mistakes easily provided that person is a good listener and has adequate knowledge. Whenever you make a mistake like this, you are more likely to remember that mistake and correct it.

All of these methods create memory links and help you retain your past memorisation better. Remember to also make sure that you memorise to the highest quality that you can to ensure that you don't suffer from weakness in your past memorisation.

May Allāh grant ease and blessing in your path!

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