How To Re-Memorise Quran When You've Forgotten It

How do you approach memorising or revising the Qur’ān once again when you’ve forgotten the majority of it?

So let’s say, for example, you memorised the Qur’ān when you were young and then due to a lack of review, eventually you began forgetting many parts. Many Juz’ become weak, others remain near-strong and others nearly forgotten. Your Qur’ān becomes this confused mix of personalities. In one place you feel like you’re an ill patient, on other side, you feel like you’re friends.

So over the years, you’ve been trying to remember, trying to revise but nothing has been going your way. You’re busy with work, you’re busy with life at home with family, and you don’t have much time due to these commitments. Perhaps, you get distracted after work, or you feel lazy, you’re not motivated and you try to engage with the Qur’ān but it doesn’t click. You say to yourself, you’ll memorise after praying Fajr but you go back to bed.

There will be many things that are happening but the one thing that you want to happen (Hifdh ul Qur’ān!), isn’t?

Why is that?

The mistakes you’re making

There are some common mistakes you’re finding yourself making repeatedly that need to be addressed. There are a number of things that you must remember.

Not removing isolation

The first of them is that you should ensure that you don’t remain isolated in this path. You must reach out to your teachers. And if you can’t do that for whatever reason, then seek another teacher. If you can’t do that then at least find a Hāfidh or Hāfidhah that you can speak to and establish a working relationship with so that you can keep accountable and motivated. So that you can recite to each other.

If you remain isolated, you will remain in a cycle of starting and stopping memorisation or review. You will remain in a cycle of obeying your own whims and desires. You will fall short and always live your days with wishes and dreams that eventually lead to disappointment. You then end up in a lifestyle where you live more in thoughts rather than action. You live more in planning rather than execution.

I have seen this, time and time again.

Take the example of a student and teacher relationship. The student begins the journey with the teacher but if something happens that affects this relationship, it often leads to a pitstop in the relationship with the Qur’ān itself. For example, a teacher might stop teaching or take a break. This directly affects the students, if there are no plan B’s in place, who eventually then stop memorising and their relationships with the Qur’ān become almost non-existent in comparison to the levels they were seeing when they were active under the teacher. You often see that when a teacher offers a student some time off in the form of holidays, the student begins to become lazy and doesn’t revise. This leads to breaks of habit and stagnation of progress.

It is the same for you.

Not working on forming a habit

One of the primary reasons for you being in this position today is because you weren’t able to establish a habit. A habit is something that you begin to do automatically. It’s something you feel completes your day, rather than it being something you “have” to do. The likelihood of you not having had a habit of revision is high, and it is what led you to forget your Qur’ān. This means you need to build a new habit.

Think about those that try to wake up for Fajr. They can do it during the time of the year when Fajr is towards the start of a working day, but they struggle when Fajr is in the middle of the night. They might begin to sleep on time and as early as possible and wake up for Fajr, but this can easily be broken. It takes one night for this routine to be disturbed. When you reach a level of what is a true habit, that one night wouldn’t disturb your pattern. When you wake up, regardless of how late, you may still do your toothbrush. That’s a habit. This is what you need for Qur’ān.

Trying to memorise the hard way

What do I mean by the hard way? I mean in a way that creates friction and demotivation between you and the task. This is usually because of three reasons.

  1. You’re trying to memorise/revise too much, too quickly
  2. You’re trying to memorise/revise the parts that are hardest first
  3. You’re treating every part, regardless of whether it’s weak or not, as equals.

These are the reasons that form a method of how you should approach re-memorisation of the Qur’ān, if you’ve forgotten a lot of it.

1. Make an honest assessment of where you stand

Before you begin your process of re-memorisation of revision, you should look at every Juz’ and every surah and ask yourself: “Do I really know this?”

Give yourself a framework to follow. How many mistakes are there? How many gaps are there in the memory? And then give yourself a mark out of 10. So you want to give yourself a rating for every Juz’ or surah. For example, the 30th Juz’ might be a 9/10 but Juz’ 1 might be a 5/10.

How can you assess this?

  • You will know what you know and don’t naturally
  • Think about those places that you definitely need to look it several times before reciting from memory (these are weak)
  • Think about the places where you might only need to look at it once and you can recite them from memory (these are comfortable)
  • Have yourself tested
  • Remember the standards that were required of you when you first memorised

Once you’ve done this, look at what you’re truly dealing with and break things down into groups. These groups can be:

  1. Those you rate between 0-3 [forgotten to very weak]
  2. Those you rate between 4-7 [weak to progressing]
  3. Those you rate between 8-10 [comfortable to strong]

Place every Juz’ or surah into these groups.

2. Start with the parts that you know well

You should start with those areas that you know well and aim to make these into 9s or 10s. Why do this instead of starting with those that are most weak? Because it will help you form a habit. It will help you to begin some form of consistency and develop motivation in you once again. Doing it the opposite way, often leads to greater friction and it keeps you the cycle you’ve been stuck in for years.

If you feel you need something that is easier, then you should start by establishing a relationship with the Qur’ān again through the habit of listening and reciting. Just take the surah that are sunnah to recite daily (like al-Mulk, al-Wāqi’ah, etc) and listen to your favourite reciter. Do this every day and begin to add to it. This will begin to impact your heart and grant you an opening.

3. Return to the way you once memorised

Treat the whole process like you’re memorising the Qur’ān once again. This means you should have a daily amount that is realistic and to be treated like it is a new lesson. This means you should then also have a revision system.

When re-memorising or revising those ajzā’ that you know very well, those perhaps between an 8-10, you can make exceptions for. You can start with doing a quarter a day or half a Juz’ but I would still make it as easier as possible with a focus on just trying to do something with consistency.

Brother Muhammad who is sharing his weekly memorisation dairy with us has been through this process. He needed to build up his confidence again and began with those Juz’ he still knew well. He was doing as much as possible at first but he knew when he needed to set a new daily amount. That became his new lesson (which is a rukū’ at a time).

You can learn how Hafiz Bilal Memon did this too. You can also find some schedules to make memorisation strong again from Duraid and Abu Bakr al-Shātri (and others). You can also find different revision methods that you may need to use.

May Allāh make your path easier!

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