How To Memorise Surah an-Nisa'

I recall how difficult it was to memorise Surah an-Nisā’. It wasn’t so much that the memorisation was difficult. I was struggling with all the similarities and becoming confused.

Does that sound familiar to you? If it does, you are one of the thousands of people that have struggled with this surah. If anything, it’s the first quarter of the surah. Especially the verses about inheritance (11 onwards).

In this article, I will share my tips and those from the community on how you can memorise the surah without such struggles.

Techniques to use to memorise Surah an-Nisā’

A mix of repetition, understanding, pattern recognition and your strengths is how you memorise this surah.

You may need to repeat things a lot more than usual. You need to make use of your strengths in visualisation, listening, or otherwise. Perhaps the most important, is understanding and pattern recognition. The example in this article is going to be using the verses on inheritance.

You first need to break down the verses into different segments. Study them and create points of reference to help you remember them.

Verse 11

يُوصِيكُمُ ٱللَّهُ فِىٓ أَوْلَـٰدِكُمْ ۖ
Allah commands you regarding your children:

لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ ٱلْأُنثَيَيْنِ ۚ
the share of the male will be twice that of the female. [1]

فَإِن كُنَّ نِسَآءًۭ فَوْقَ ٱثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَكَ ۖ
If you leave only two ˹or more˺ females, their share is two-thirds of the estate.

وَإِن كَانَتْ وَٰحِدَةًۭ فَلَهَا ٱلنِّصْفُ ۚ
But if there is only one female, her share will be one-half.

وَلِأَبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَٰحِدٍۢ مِّنْهُمَا ٱلسُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَكَ إِن كَانَ لَهُۥ وَلَدٌۭ ۚ
Each parent is entitled to one-sixth if you leave offspring. [2]

فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُۥ وَلَدٌۭ وَوَرِثَهُۥٓ أَبَوَاهُ فَلِأُمِّهِ ٱلثُّلُثُ ۚ
But if you are childless and your parents are the only heirs, then your mother will receive one-third. [3]

فَإِن كَانَ لَهُۥٓ إِخْوَةٌۭ فَلِأُمِّهِ ٱلسُّدُسُ ۚ مِنۢ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍۢ يُوصِى بِهَآ أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۗ
But if you leave siblings, then your mother will receive one-sixth [4]—after the fulfilment of bequests and debts. [5]

ءَابَآؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَآؤُكُمْ لَا تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعًۭا ۚ
˹Be fair to˺ your parents and children, as you do not ˹fully˺ know who is more beneficial to you. [6]

فَرِيضَةًۭ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًۭا
˹This is˺ an obligation from Allah. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

Footnotes:

[1] According to Islamic law of inheritance, a female—whether she is a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, etc.—gets one of three shares, depending on her closeness to the deceased:

Less than a male’s share. If she is a daughter, she will get half of the share of her brother, since he—unlike his sister—has to provide for the family and pay a dowry at the time of his marriage.

More than a male’s share. For example, if a man leaves $24 000 and six sons, two brothers, a wife, and a mother. The wife will get one-eighth ($3000), the mother one-sixth ($4000), each of the sons will receive about $2 833 and the two brothers will not get anything.

An equal share. This is in the case of siblings from the mother’s side (mentioned in verse 4:12 of this sûrah).

[2] “Offspring” here means any number of children—male or female.

[3] And the father will take the rest of the estate.

[4] Although the existence of siblings reduces the mother’s share from one-third to one-sixth, siblings themselves do not receive a share of inheritance and the rest of the estate goes to the father.

[5] Debts as well as any other financial obligations (such as funeral expenses, unfulfilled vows, or unpaid dowry) have to be repaid before the fulfilment of bequests, then the estate can be distributed among the heirs. A person can bequest up to one-third of their estate for charities as well as individuals who are not entitled to a share in inheritance.

[6] You do not know who will benefit you by looking after you during your life or doing good deeds on your behalf after your death.

Verse 12

۞ وَلَكُمْ نِصْفُ مَا تَرَكَ أَزْوَٰجُكُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُنَّ وَلَدٌۭ ۚ
You will inherit half of what your wives leave if they are childless.

فَإِن كَانَ لَهُنَّ وَلَدٌۭ فَلَكُمُ ٱلرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْنَ ۚ مِنۢ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍۢ يُوصِينَ بِهَآ أَوْ دَيْنٍۢ ۚ
But if they have children, then ˹your share is˺ one-fourth of the estate—after the fulfilment of bequests and debts.

وَلَهُنَّ ٱلرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّكُمْ وَلَدٌۭ ۚ
And your wives will inherit one-fourth of what you leave if you are childless.

فَإِن كَانَ لَكُمْ وَلَدٌۭ فَلَهُنَّ ٱلثُّمُنُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُم ۚ مِّنۢ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍۢ تُوصُونَ بِهَآ أَوْ دَيْنٍۢ ۗ
But if you have children, then your wives will receive one-eighth of your estate—after the fulfilment of bequests and debts.

وَإِن كَانَ رَجُلٌۭ يُورَثُ كَلَـٰلَةً أَوِ ٱمْرَأَةٌۭ وَلَهُۥٓ أَخٌ أَوْ أُخْتٌۭ فَلِكُلِّ وَٰحِدٍۢ مِّنْهُمَا ٱلسُّدُسُ ۚ
And if a man or a woman leaves neither parents nor children but only a brother or a sister ˹from their mother’s side˺, they will each inherit one-sixth,

فَإِن كَانُوٓا۟ أَكْثَرَ مِن ذَٰلِكَ فَهُمْ شُرَكَآءُ فِى ٱلثُّلُثِ ۚ مِنۢ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍۢ يُوصَىٰ بِهَآ أَوْ دَيْنٍ غَيْرَ مُضَآرٍّۢ ۚ
but if they are more than one, they ˹all˺ will share one-third of the estate[1]—after the fulfilment of bequests and debts without harm ˹to the heirs˺.[2]

وَصِيَّةًۭ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌۭ
˹This is˺ a commandment from Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, Most Forbearing.

Footnotes:
[1] If there are two or more brothers and sisters from the mother’s side, they share one-third equally—the female will receive the same share of the male.
[2] Harming the heirs includes giving away more than one-third of the estate as a bequest.

When looking at the verses, you can see that I have highlighted certain words with highlights and underlines. What you see is a mindmap. That’s what you should create next. Then seek to remember the order. For example:

  1. Children (awlād) [Verse 11]:
    • Male (two females)
    • Females (two-thirds) ثُلُثَا
    • Female (half) ٱلنِّصْفُ
  2. Parents (abaway) [Verse 11]:
    • With children (one-sixth) ٱلسُّدُسُ
    • No children, mother gets (one-third) ٱلثُّلُثُ
    • Siblings, mother gets (one-sixth) ٱلسُّدُسُ
  3. Wives/Husband (azwāj) [Verse 12]:
    • Childless (half) نِصْفُ
    • Children (one-forth) ٱلرُّبُعُ
    • Childless (one-forth) ٱلرُّبُعُ
    • Children (one-eighth) ٱلثُّمُنُ
  4. Siblings (akh/ukht) [Verse 12]:
    • No parents, children but brother or sister (one-sixth) ٱلسُّدُسُ
    • More than one sibling (one-third) ٱلثُّلُثِ

You can, for example, create a pattern of numbers. Let’s say the first 2 represents 2 females, 3 represents one-third, 2 represent half, 6 represents one-sixth, 4 represents one-forth, and 8 represents one-eighth.

Part 1 (verse 11)

  • 2
  • 3
  • 2

Part 2 (verse 11)

  • 6
  • 3
  • 6

Part 3 (verse 12)

  • 2
  • 4
  • 4
  • 8

Part 4 (verse 12)

  • 6
  • 3

From here, you should recognise the key vocabulary and remember them. Now put it together and repeat.

Another point of confusion for some people might be another thing that I highlighted. The similar words:

  • وَصِيَّةٍۢ يُوصِى بِهَآ
  • وَصِيَّةٍۢ يُوصِينَ بِهَآ
  • وَصِيَّةٍۢ تُوصُونَ بِهَآ
  • وَصِيَّةٍۢ يُوصَىٰ بِهَآ

How do you remember these? You can either remember the pattern (Yusee-Yuseen-Tuseen-Yusaa) or know the meaning/grammar. Yusee is ‘he has made’ [3rd person masculine singular], Yuseen is ‘they have made’ [3rd person feminine plural], Tusoon is ‘you have made’ [2nd person masculine plural], and Yousaa is ‘was made’ [passive 3rd person masculine singular].

What others have said about memorising Surah an-Nisā’

By far, the greatest thing you can do is to understand what you are reciting. For some of you, you might need more. Here are some of the ways that the community on Instagram shared with me when I asked about how they memorised the verses on inheritance:

Writing who gets what in inheritance and writing the āyah in Arabic giving the different portions colours according to who gets what and then repeating them. Also listening and reciting it multiple times. I honestly loved this part of Surah an-Nisā’ especially because it was a bit challenging.

myhifdhjourney

One of the easiest surahs to memorise… learn the meaning, read the tafseer. Surah an-Nisā’ is about the love and Rahmah Allāh has for women. It will make you love Allāh more. The long āyah are easy to remember if you remember the endings of the āyāt with the attributes of Allāh according to the ahkām (rulings). I wish and pray every woman should know this surah before blowing the trumpet of feminism. Even if they memorise it or not, no one can give the honour and protection as Allāh has given to the women through His Words.

charming.victory

Repetition is what I did. But looking back, I think it would have been better if I had I learnt it with the meaning too.

london2madinah

Knowing the grammar is what got me through the wasiyyah section.

yousephae

With the help of translation and separating the categories, I kept count of the order.

I wrote it all down. The tafseer. The numbers.

Listening many times, understanding the meaning, reading the tafseer and writing down the āyāt.

Remember the pattern. Reading the page 40 times! Repeating each āyat 100 times.

Keep the translation in mind, in the 1st verse parents and brothers/sisters, and then husband and wife, etc.

mixed

The Mutashābihāt of Surah an-Nisā’

Here are some of the Mutashābihāt (similar verses) of this surah.

Āyah 5Āyah 8
وَلَا تُؤْتُوا۟ ٱلسُّفَهَآءَ أَمْوَٰلَكُمُ ٱلَّتِى جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمْ قِيَـٰمًۭا وَٱرْزُقُوهُمْ فِيهَا وَٱكْسُوهُمْ وَقُولُوا۟ لَهُمْ قَوْلًۭا مَّعْرُوفًۭا
Do not entrust the incapable ˹among your dependants˺ with your wealth which Allah has made a means of support for you—but feed and clothe them from it, and speak to them kindly.
وَإِذَا حَضَرَ ٱلْقِسْمَةَ أُو۟لُوا۟ ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَٱلْيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلْمَسَـٰكِينُ فَٱرْزُقُوهُم مِّنْهُ وَقُولُوا۟ لَهُمْ قَوْلًۭا مَّعْرُوفًۭا
If ˹non-inheriting˺ relatives, orphans, or the needy are present at the time of distribution, offer them a ˹small˺ provision from it and speak to them kindly.
  • The first āyah (وَٱرْزُقُوهُمْ فِيهَا) has more words.
  • The first āyah has the word (ٱلسُّفَهَآءَ) which has the the letters fā’ and hā’ and the word where the similarity is also has the letters fā’ and hā’ (وَٱرْزُقُوهُمْ فِيهَا).

Compare and remember the endings:

Āyah 11 & 24Āyah 17, 92, 104, 111, & 170
وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًۭا
And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًۭا
Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise
Also see: Al-Ahzāb, 1 and al-Insān, 30Also see: al-Fath, 4

The following three are the only places in the Qur’ān where there’s a mention of ‘Ilm (knowledge) and Hilm (forebearance) together:

Surah an-Nisā’, Āyah 12Surah al-Hajj, Āyah 59Surah al-Ahzāb, 51
وَصِيَّةًۭ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌۭ
˹This is˺ a commandment from Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, Most Forbearing
لَيُدْخِلَنَّهُم مُّدْخَلًۭا يَرْضَوْنَهُۥ ۗ وَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌۭ
He will certainly admit them into a place they will be pleased with. For Allah is truly All-Knowing, Most Forbearing.
وَٱللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِى قُلُوبِكُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَلِيمًۭا
Allah ˹fully˺ knows what is in your hearts. And Allah is All-Knowing, Most Forbearing.

Compare:

Surah an-Nisā’, Āyah 22Surah al-Isrā’, Āyah 32
وَلَا تَنكِحُوا۟ مَا نَكَحَ ءَابَآؤُكُم مِّنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ فَـٰحِشَةًۭ وَمَقْتًۭا وَسَآءَ سَبِيلًا
Do not marry former wives of your fathers—except what was done previously. It was indeed a shameful, despicable, and evil practice.
وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا۟ ٱلزِّنَىٰٓ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ فَـٰحِشَةًۭ وَسَآءَ سَبِيلًۭا
Do not go near adultery. It is truly a shameful deed and an evil way.

Compare:

Surah an-Nisā’, Āyah 24Surah an-Nisā’, Āyah 25Surah al-Mā’idah, 5
وَٱلْمُحْصَنَـٰتُ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـٰنُكُمْ ۖ كِتَـٰبَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَآءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَن تَبْتَغُوا۟ بِأَمْوَٰلِكُم مُّحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَـٰفِحِينَ
Also ˹forbidden are˺ married women—except ˹female˺ captives in your possession. This is Allah’s commandment to you. Lawful to you are all beyond these—as long as you seek them with your wealth in a legal marriage, not in fornication
فَمِن مَّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـٰنُكُم مِّن فَتَيَـٰتِكُمُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتِ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَـٰنِكُم ۚ بَعْضُكُم مِّنۢ بَعْضٍۢ ۚ فَٱنكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أَهْلِهِنَّ وَءَاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ مُحْصَنَـٰتٍ غَيْرَ مُسَـٰفِحَـٰتٍۢ وَلَا مُتَّخِذَٰتِ أَخْدَانٍۢ ۚ
…then ˹let him marry˺ a believing bondwoman possessed by one of you. Allah knows best ˹the state of˺ your faith ˹and theirs˺. You are from one another. So marry them with the permission of their owners, giving them their dowry in fairness, if they are chaste, neither promiscuous nor having secret affairs.
وَٱلْمُحْصَنَـٰتُ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ إِذَآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَـٰفِحِينَ وَلَا مُتَّخِذِىٓ أَخْدَانٍۢ ۗ
…chaste women of those given the Scripture before you—as long as you pay them their dowries in wedlock, neither fornicating nor taking them as mistresses.

The first verse above is about the rights of Muslim women, the second is female bondwomen, and the third is for women from the People of the Book. Likewise, there is a difference in the verses.

Compare the words in the verse on inheritance, an-Nisā’, verse 11. When the share of the father and father are mentioned, the words (ٱلثُّلُثُ) and (ٱلسُّدُسُ) are not mentioned twice in a row, but you can remember the pattern of S-TH-S (sixth-third-sixth).

123
وَلِأَبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَٰحِدٍۢ مِّنْهُمَا ٱلسُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَكَ إِن كَانَ لَهُۥ وَلَدٌۭ ۚ
Each parent is entitled to one-sixth if you leave offspring. 
فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُۥ وَلَدٌۭ وَوَرِثَهُۥٓ أَبَوَاهُ فَلِأُمِّهِ ٱلثُّلُثُ ۚ
But if you are childless and your parents are the only heirs, then your mother will receive one-third.
فَإِن كَانَ لَهُۥٓ إِخْوَةٌۭ فَلِأُمِّهِ ٱلسُّدُسُ
But if you leave siblings, then your mother will receive one-sixth

I will add further to the Mutashābihāt in coming updates.

I hope this is useful and gets you thinking!

If you want to add your own experiences, get in touch.

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