How To Make Your Hifz As Strong As Mountain

A few days ago I had a message on Instagram to make a post about revision based on the works of Dr Sa’eed Abul-‘Ulā Hamzah. The one who wrote about the memorisation method known as the Five Fortresses (al-Husoon al-Khams). Today, I’m sharing with you his thoughts (from “Solid mountains in preserving, reviewing, and consolidating the Words of the Master of People”) on how you can strengthen or solidify your memorisation (hifz).

This is essentially a schedule of revision and a program to follow so that you can strengthen your memorisation. Although, this is especially so for those that have complete their Hifz, it is also useful to learn from and extract elements from for those that haven’t. You may have memorised a large portion and need to solidify them. There are many other methods that I have shared for you to explore as well.

Remember the true nature of revision

Never assume that revision will one day stop or that you will never need it. This is one of the greatest injustices to your memorisation; because you kill your memorisation and relegate it to history, only to later say, ‘I once memorised’ or ‘I memorised and forgot.'”

Revision holds a noble role in the realm of memorisation.

To succeed, you must draw closer to your Rabb…

Who granted you this blessing in the first place.

Do not say: ‘I am bored’… for on the Day of Judgment, you might say: ‘I regret.’

A letter [of the Qur’ān] is a good deed, and this good deed is multiplied tenfold, and Allāh multiplies the reward for whom He wills.

Revision is till death.

One of the righteous was on his deathbed, and his son said to him, “Say: There is no diety but Allāh.” As he was dying, he replied, “Let me be, for I am in my sixth cycle of revising the Qur’ān!”

The sister of Imām Shu’bah, one of the leaders in Qur’ān recitation, was crying over her brother as he was dying. He said to her amidst his death throes, “Don’t cry. Look at this corner of the room, for I have completed the Qur’ān in it eighteen thousand times!”

This is a message for the Qur’ān teacher (and student) who neglects to review the Qur’ān, claiming that he doesn’t find time for himself. Whether that’s because he’s devoted to helping others memorise the Qur’ān or has other things to do. He has accepted a dangerous role for himself that ends with the death of his own memorisation – a candle that burns for the sake of others.

You come first… and then after that, you again. If you have any remaining time, you should prioritise yourself. Understand what I’ve said, weigh it according to Islamic law, and do not belittle the importance of revision.

What are the pillars of revision?

There are three core pillars:

  1. Consistency and perseverance (commit to it).
  2. A significant amount (that is catered for the benefit of your memory and consistency, not for your laziness).
  3. Careful fast recitation (Quick reading while paying attention to the letters, diacritical marks, elongations, and nasal sounds. Note that Tajweed is relative, where the elongations and the durations are adjusted according to the speed of your recitation).

Prohibitions to adhere to for revision

  • No phones or mobiles allowed.
  • No wasting time, saying “I’m busy”
  • No overeating… Your fasting, by the will of Allāh, is “accepted.”
  • Absolutely forbidden to commit sins… For you are a “bearer” of the Qur’ān, and tomorrow you will be “carried” [referring to death and being carried in a coffin].
  • Be sincere in your actions – for you are a Hāfiz, for you are on a journey to be perfected, a journey to be accepted, and a journey to be in paradise with its rivers, trees, fruits, and blessed company

The objectives of the solidification and revision process

  1. Strengthening the memorisation of the Qur’ān in hearts so that it becomes as firm as solid mountains, facing the winds of forgetfulness and the fluctuations of time.
  2. Cooperating in righteousness and mindfulness (taqwa).
  3. Achieving one of the conditions of Qur’ān proficiency, which is strong and firm memorisation (The proficient in the Qur’ān will be with the noble scribes [angels]).
  4. Attaining the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) glad tidings: “Read and ascend, and recite as you used to recite in the world, for your position (in paradise) will be at the last verse you read.”
  5. Alleviating distress, constraint, and feelings of frustration due to repeated forgetfulness and instability of what has been memorised.
  6. Producing a distinguished generation of imams and Qur’ān teachers.
  7. Enjoying the recitation of the Qur’ān.
  8. Providing a clear reason among the reasons for consistency in the worship of night prayers and frequent reading in every place, time, and circumstance.

Important things to adhere to (for this process):

  1. Sincerity.
  2. Certainty and trust in the promise of Allāh and seeking His help.
  3. Discarding previous negative beliefs and approaching the Qur’ān with a renewed spirit.
  4. Careful reading without dropping letters or neglecting the rules of Tajweed. The task is easy and straightforward, not overwhelming. Especially since, in this process, you will be assigned many duties. May Allāh help.
  5. Comportment, avoiding laziness, neglect, procrastination, and other traits that a Qur’ān holder should not possess.
  6. Military discipline (executing orders without discussion or considering the objectives and outcomes, just obeying the command. You will only be commanded in what is in obedience to Allāh).
  7. Time management and avoiding distractions and wasting time.
  8. Taking into account the rights of other acts of worship, parents, family, wealth, and children.
  9. Turning off your mobile, closing your room door, cutting off all distractions. This process is like a “camp,” but it’s only for men, both males and females.
  10. Observing the general etiquettes of memorisation and revision, including focus, repetition, preparation, and having someone else listen.
  11. Praying salāh with what has been memorised. Even though it is part of the etiquettes of memorisation and revision, prayer has its distinct status.

The first step to solidification revision

This process is based on 10 stages, each stage or level has within it a revision of 3 ajzā’ within 13 days. Each stage is divided into three steps. The first step is preparation.

Step one: Preparation

This encompasses the first five days of the phase, during which the following occurs:

  • Reciting the portion assigned for the stage (3 ajzā’) from the Mus’haf with focus twice daily, taking 15-20 minutes for each. Reading by heart (memorisation) is not permitted during this phase. Recite the Juz’ quickly.
  • Each Juz’ must be read twice consecutively. It’s not permissible to read all three ajzā’ and then return to the first. This approach is gentler on you and more conducive to solid memorisation.
  • Listening to the assigned portion for the phase twice during these five days, preferably from people like Shaykh Mahmoud Ali Al-Banna or Shaykh Muhammad Siddiq Al-Minshawi, may Allah have mercy on them, and no one else. [According to Dr Hamza]
  • The three ajzā’ specific to each phase are not sequential according to the order of the Mus’haf. Instead, they emphasise the last ten ajzā’ of the Qur’ān. The details will be provided in a table outlining all ten phases’ activities. May Allāh grant success.
  • The benefit of this preparatory reading is to familiarise oneself with the Qur’ān and establish a renewed, healthy relationship with previously memorised verses. The processes success hinges on this prep work.
  • The 15-day completion (two juz’ daily – 15 days) should never be halted, as it fuels memorisation. However, if it overlaps with some juz’ of the phase, there’s no harm in not re-reading them. Meaning, if the reading of the 15-day completion aligns with the juz’ being read in a particular phase, these juz’ shouldn’t be re-read from your 15-day completion.

Step two: Consolidation

This encompasses the six days following the preparation phase (above), during which the following occurs:

You will focus on making a Hizb (half a juz’) strong (which is 4 quarters in the Madani ‘Uthmānī script).

  1. Reading the designated portion (Hizb / half juz’) that is scheduled for the next day, slowly and melodiously (tarteel), before sleeping (takes around 15 minutes) – Nightly preparation.
  2. Reading the designated portion (Hizb) right before starting its consolidation, with pace (hadr) (takes around 10 minutes).
  3. Consolidating one quarter (Rubu’) should not take more than 30 minutes and no less than 20 minutes, as follows:
    • Reading each page (face) five times carefully from the Mushaf and then five more times, trying to occasionally lift your gaze from the Mushaf, referring back to it in case of forgetfulness or error.
    • Completely closing the Mushaf and then reading the page from memory without attempting to refer to the Mushaf – this is a real test, and you’re not allowed to look at the Mushaf.
    • Continue this way until you complete reading the entire section (Rubu’), ensuring that you create a strong link between each page. This means repeating the last word of one page and the first word of the subsequent page several times in a distinct, elevated voice. For example, the last page of Surah Āli ‘Imrān, number 60, ends with: طوعا وكرها وإليه رجعون. The following page, number 61, starts with: قل آمنا باالله . The link involves repetitively reading the last segment of the final verse on page 60 with the first segment of the initial verse on page 61: وإليه رجعون – قل آمنا باالله.
  4. Take a mental break between the quarters you are memorising, reviewing, and consolidating. Do not exert any other mental effort or try to think about anything related to memorisation during this time. This is a time for complete relaxation so that you can start afresh.
  5. The next day, study and consolidate another Hizb (section) in the same manner. Seek Allah’s help and don’t be discouraged.
  6. It’s essential to review the sections studied daily without laziness or neglect (recent review). By the sixth and last day of this section, the review should encompass five Hizbs, consolidating the last Hizb of this phase.
  7. The continuous reading task shouldn’t stop at all during the days of this section (consolidation) in any phase of the process—two juz’ daily, no more, no less. The purpose is continuity and persistence.
  8. Review the distant parts (past revision), which refers to the sections reviewed in the previous phases to the current phase, where you consolidate three new consecutive juz’. This review shouldn’t exceed two juz’ daily, read carefully.
  9. Thus, the process for this section (Consolidation) becomes:
    • Nightly preparation (reading the Hizb melodiously in 15 minutes) with reflection and focus. Crying is wonderful!
    • Preliminary preparation (reading the Hizb carefully in 10 minutes) right before starting the consolidation.
    • Studying and consolidating the Hizb as previously mentioned (not less than 80 minutes and not more than 200 minutes).
    • Recent review from memory, without the Mushaf, either during prayer or outside of it. Every day of this section, in any case, won’t exceed five Hizbs, especially on the sixth and last day of this section.
    • Continuous reading task: two juz’ read fast (no more than 20 minutes per juz’).

Very Important Notes:

  • Mental relaxation is very crucial.
  • Give each quarter (Rubu’) its due time, focus, and solidification as if it’s being memorised for the first time. This is the real test. Do not be lax in studying any quarter under the pretext that it’s an easy one. The benefit in reviewing it is that you’re training and exercising your memory by revisiting the more challenging quarters.
  • Seeking forgiveness (Istighfār), repentance, supplication, obedience, and placing trust in Allāh are significant reasons for success in this monumental task. You are now on your path to paradise. Indeed, by Allāh, there are heavens whose breadth spans the earth and the skies, prepared for you, the bearer of the Qur’ān, for Allāh and not for the people.

Step Three: Reinforcement

This last step lasts for only two days, no more and no less.

  • “No less” means you shouldn’t start the next phase before completing the two days of this step.
  • “No more” means you shouldn’t delay starting the next phase due to laziness or neglect.

During this step, the following activities are undertaken:

  • Revise the three juz’ that have been consolidated during this phase by reading them once each day of this section.
  • Pay special attention to verses that still need fine-tuning.
  • Focus on the endings of verses, ensuring they are well-learned. It’s okay to refer to a book for difficult verses without spending excessive time on it.
  • The continuous reading task shouldn’t stop as it fuels memorisation.
  • Review of recently learned sections shouldn’t cease in this phase; this is a constant practice.
  • Absolutely refrain from starting to consolidate new juz’. Be patient and don’t rush.

Testing your memorisation

This test should be held at the end of each step.

This test is a fundamental condition for your continued participation in this process and for your ongoing monitoring. It’s evident to everyone the importance of tests in solidifying what has been memorised, motivating oneself, and pushing away laziness. So, seek help from Allāh and don’t be discouraged.

Table illustrating the tasks of the ten stages of the process “The Solid Mountains”

StageTask (A)Task (B)
1Juz’ 1, 2Juz’ 21
2Juz’ 3, 4Juz’ 22
3Juz’ 5, 6Juz’ 23
4Juz’ 7, 8Juz’ 24
5Juz’ 9, 10Juz’ 25
6Juz’ 11, 12Juz’ 26
7Juz’ 13, 14Juz’ 27
8Juz’ 15, 16Juz’ 28
9Juz’ 17, 18Juz’ 29
10Juz’ 19, 20Juz’ 30

This table outlines a systematic approach to studying or reviewing the Qur’ān, with each stage focusing on specific parts (Juz’) of the Qur’ān.


  • The parts of each stage should be consolidated such that the tasks in column (B) are done in the early days of the “Reinforcement” section. This could either be two quarters from task (A) and two quarters from task (B) during the first four days. The second approach is decidedly and practically better because it’s gentler on oneself and provides better consolidation for task (B), especially since it will be done during the early days of the “Reinforcement” section when one’s energy is at its peak. Moreover, it will be reviewed more during the days of the “Reinforcement” section (recent review).
  • Do not allow yourself to consider another suggestion. You don’t have time to think; leave the thinking to me and I will leave the work to you. Just do your part. We’ve wasted so much time creating “imaginary” and “model” timetables.

Table illustrating the duration of each section for each stage

StepsPreparation StepConsolidation StepReinforcement Step
13 days only5 days only6 days only2 days only

The table presents the duration required for each step or section during a 13-day stage. The preparation step takes 5 days, the consolidation step takes 6 days, and the reinforcement step takes 2 days.

Table illustrating the tasks for each step of the stage

SectionPreparation SectionConsolidation SectionReinforcement Section
TaskRead 2 juz’ twice daily with focus from the Mushaf in a fast paceReview and consolidate one Hizb (half a juz’) daily (Maximum of two hours daily, 20-30 minutes per quarter)Read the stage’s portion that was consolidated once daily (3 juz’) from memory

Table illustrating the constants for each stage of the process

Continuous ReadingRecent RevisionPast RevisionNightly PreparationPrior Preparation
Two Juz’ daily (20 minutes per part) with focusReview of everything that was previously consolidated daily during the “Consolidation” sectionReview what was studied in the preceding stages of the current stage (two juz’ daily) with focusReading the Hizb that will be studied and consolidated the next day, to be done right before sleeping, for 15 minutes, melodiously. Don’t forget to listen, as it’s the backbone of memorisation. (Only in the “Consolidation” section)Read the quarters that will be studied right before starting the memorisation; to prepare the memory to receive the great guest (The words of the Almighty Allāh). (Only in the “Consolidation” section)

The exams

I won’t share too much about the exam process other than that it is intense. Set at a 75% pass mark and tests you in a written and oral format. You get tested on everything you can imagine.

General Plan and Timeline for the “Al-Jibal Al-Rawasi” process:

DescriptionAssignedDurationExam Content
First Phase3 juz’13 days3 juz’
Second Phase3 juz’13 days6 juz’
Third Phase3 juz’13 days9 juz’
Fourth Phase3 juz’13 days12 juz’
Fifth Phase3 juz’13 days15 juz’ (after a week of break for revision)
A full week (7 days) break for comprehensive review of half of the Qur’ān that has been established in the previous five stages and preparation for the half Qur’ān exam. Reviewing 4 sections from the (A) curriculum and a section from the (B) curriculum daily, along with the continuous reading routine (two juz’). The seventh day is a study of half of the Qur’ān in full, by listening to scattered quarters through a randomised method and establishing important positions.
Sixth Phase3 juz’13 days18 juz’
Seventh Phase3 juz’13 days21 juz’
Eighth Phase3 juz’13 days24 juz’
Ninth Phase3 juz’13 days27 juz’
Tenth Phase3 juz’13 daysThe entire Qur’ān, two weeks after the end of this phase
Total10 phases30 sections151 days (days of the break for the review before the half Qur’ān exam and the full Qur’ān exam were calculated. The days were calculated excluding the holy month of Ramadān).

Note: This is a structured summary of the general plan for the entire process.

The following table describes the daily process for the “Preparation Phase” (5 days):

Continuous Reading (Completion in half a month)Two parts (Juz’)40 minutes, in order, during non-obligatory prayers and other times
Preparation3 juz’ repeated twice = 6 sections15 minutes per juz’
Review of Recent MemorisationNot present__________
Review of Previous MemorisationTwo juz’ per day (if applicable)15 minutes per juz’
Nightly PreparationNot presentThere is no memorisation during this period
Pre-PreparationNot presentThere is no memorisation during this period

The following table describes the daily process for the “Consolidation Phase” (6 days):

Continuous Reading (Completion in half a month)Two parts (Juz’)40 minutes, in order, during non-obligatory prayers and other times
ConsolidationOne Hizb daily (4 quarters)Maximum 30 minutes, 3 quarters from set (A) and one quarter from set (B)
Review of Recent MemorisationReview of what has been consolidated in this phase until the end of the phase’s days
Review of Previous MemorisationTwo juz’ per day (if applicable) of what has been consolidated in the previous stages of the current phase
Nightly PreparationReading (twice) and listening to the Hizb (once)10 minutes (reading), 20 minutes (listening)
Pre-PreparationReading the Hizb once directly before memorisation10 minutes

The following table describes the daily process for the “Re-enforcement Phase” (2 days):

Continuous Reading (Completion in half a month)Two parts (Juz’)40 minutes, in order, during non-obligatory prayers and other times
Emphasis/re-enforcement3 juz’ daily, from memory, in orderRe-enforcement of the juz’ of the current phase only
Review of Recent MemorisationNot applicableNot applicable
Review of Previous MemorisationTwo sections per day (if applicable)For juz’ before the current phase
Nightly PreparationNot applicableNot applicable
Pre-PreparationNot applicableNot applicable

It’s not a simple process but can take a while to understand.

May Allāh grant blessing!

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