I was walking on the streets of Hayy ath-Thāmin (the eighth zone or district) in Nasr City of Cairo. I was so interested to know what happened in the mosques and schools there. In particular, the Qur’ān memorisation schools. I’d learned of a local mosque after a friend took me down to see a teacher. So I went along into the mosque between the ‘Asr prayer and Maghrib for the Qur’ān memorisation circle. As far as I remember they had a 6-month Hifdh programme there. I went to check it out.
Straight away, I saw a huge difference in the experience I got used to back home in Manchester. I was used to a class around benches on the floor rocking away reading out aloud with a loud angry teacher! Over in Cairo, I couldn’t tell who was the teacher and who was the student. People were all over the place – I mean, there was no sign of a structured class. It was a simple process, anyone could come in at any time and read to one of the teachers. The teacher was always kneeling against a pillar with a bunch of adults and children around him. Yes, adults and children! This was a session where it didn’t matter who you were, where you were from, and what age you were.
So where’s that 6 year old?
I walked in and sat down thinking this is so awesome. I was next to the teacher and he said, “Start reciting.” Before I started I explained my situation and that I was here to revise and continue my memorisation. He was cool and I began reciting. Whilst I was reciting there was a young boy that caught my eye. He was staring at me. Most importantly he was closely guarding my every word. He was a Hāfidh!
He got me so motivated. I was amazed when listening to him recite. I decided to have a chat with him even though I could I knew it was going to be difficult to converse. So I ask him, “Have you memorised the whole of the Qur’ān?” so he said yes. I then asked him to tell me his story, “How have you done it? How so young?”
He explained that…
“My mum and dad used to play Shaykh Muhammad Khalīl al-Husarī all the time. Even when I was not born yet. I grew up with Shaykh al-Husarī. I started memorising when I was 4 by repeating the words with my father. I listened to Shaykh al-Husarī too.”
The reason I’m sharing this moment with you is that its such great inspiration. That day there were so many children but many adults too. All chasing the same goal – complete mastery of memorising the Qur’ān.
Here are some lessons I learned that day:
- Don’t disregard your age, it doesn’t matter what age you are. Just pursue the goal with the right intentions.
- It is great to be amongst the young even if you are a lot older. You inspire them and they can inspire you too.
- Don’t underestimate what you feed your children at a young age. What they listen to and what they see. Children learn with their eyes and ears. In fact, it is said that they learn 80% with their eyes. It shapes them. So make sure you get them attached to the sound of the Qur’ān before they open their eyes. When they open their eyes, have them see your attachment to the Qur’ān. It will help ease memorisation for them.
How can you memorize the Qur’ān by listening?
Listening also had a direct impact on me and my journey. The first Huffādh in existence listened, and today many hearts receive by listening. They are writing the Qur’ān. It’s incredible.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rashīd ‘Alī Sūfī grew up listening to the Qur’ān. Every day at Fajr and Maghrib without breaks, there was an obligatory circle at home with his father. Through this, he found himself having memorised the Qur’ān. All he needed to do was recite over it. Whether you’re busy or not, keep listening to the Qur’ān.
Listening in order to do hifz is powerful. Hearing is an ability that is largely a passive process in receiving sound. Listening is a skill and something done consciously with thoughtful attention. It’s giving consideration to meaning and is an active process. It’s not limited to the ears.
Choose a recitation that is with excellent standards of tajwīd, clarity, and speed you can keep up with. The likes of al-Husarī, al-Minshāwī, ‘Abd al-Bāsit, Ayman Suwayd, Sāmir an-Nass, al-Ma’sarawī, and the likes are ideal. You may also do experimentation of switching to see what reciter benefits you the most. A sister that used to listen to al-Husarī struggled. When she switched to al-Minshāwī, she was a lot better. Also, there are many sisters that are recording these days, sisters can check them out.
Listen and repeat
Listen for however long you need but make sure you’re repeating alongside it. You want to be actively listening. Look at the mus’haf at the same time where possible. You can even record yourself and listen to that while looking. You can help yourself by closing your eyes and imagining the page and words.
Listen to an ayah at a time
Listening to smaller chunks at the start works better. So go through an ayah on loop. Then the next and the next till the end fo your target portion. Then listen to all of it. This can be 10, 20, or 30x. You can increase the speed as you get more fluent. This saves time.
Listen at night
When I used to memorise I would take an ayah at a time, 10-20x and repeat alongside it. Combine them and go to sleep (ideally with it on loop). When you wake up start memorising it.
Work in pairs or groups
Group memorising benefits auditory learners. Go through your memorisation yourself first. Listen to it and be fluent with it. Then work with a partner working through an ayah at a time going back and forth with each other. You can review in the same way.
Connect with the ayah
Read the meanings of the words through translation and tafseer. When you listen to the ayat, it will help you connect your mind to it. Another means to help you would be to teach or speak about the ayah aloud to someone else. This can also be an audio diary for yourself.
Watch videos listening to the ayah, the commentary, and animated videos for example by Free Quran Education.
With review, you don’t need to be listening but it can help greatly. You should really be reciting yourself from memory and can listen to that, especially in the absence of a teacher or partner.
I know a sister that memorised while cleanings and cooking through listening. It’s also great for them while on menses.
What if you have hearing difficulties?
Perhaps you have Tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and find it difficult to listen. You need to avoid listening and using headsets/headphones until your symptoms improve. Many have reported refraining from using them helped clear the symptoms. Keep a balance when listening. Also be careful with diet, and exercise. Instead of listening, try to use writing instead.
May Allāh allow us for good and accept us for good. May he place the love for Him and His people in our hearts. And may we love those actions that are beloved to Him.