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Tips for motivating those who memorise the Qur’an

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison

Continuing further to our previous discussion, you also need to keep a check on your motivation. This is important for parents or teachers, in particular.

Tips for motivating those who memorise the Qur’an: the imperative

First things first, there is no imperative to memorise the entire Qur’an. We also recognise that not everyone will memorise the entire text. What is the imperative then? To memorise some of the Qur’an because we need it for our prayer. So this is not just a matter for those seeking to memorise the whole text.

Generally speaking, you’ll find at least three types of memorisers:

(1) the one who always creates a means of motivation for himself/herself;
(2) the one who is constantly on and off; and
(3) the one who doesn’t seem to have much interest.

The third type.

I wouldn’t call him/her lazy, for the most part they are those who memorised without a great deal of passion. They never had the broad set of objectives we spoke about. This person is likely to have memorised a part of the Qur’an. It could be a Juz, five or fifteen.

Most people I know who have only memorised part of the Qur’an, no longer remember it. If they do it’s weak. They go through life, end up in a career, they tried to become a Hafidh but didn’t/couldn’t finish. Most often the reason they forgot was because they never memorised with a broad set of objectives.

We can’t generalise the situation, but everyone is different. A lot of these individuals think they failed and gave up. Why put effort into failure? – this plays on them.

I went through this phase myself. I’d done half of the Qur’an when I’d stopped memorising, busy with study and exams I’d forgotten much of what I’d learnt. I had conversations with those close to me about stopping. The finishing line was always on my mind. Getting to the finishing line is one thing, the other thing was to the pain of forgetting verses or chapters. When both combine it creates a powerful deterrent. The basis of these issues is I believe is mindset. It is the mindset where you’ve been chasing the goal of becoming a Hafidh as the ultimate. Whilst forgetting about the whole picture. Becoming a Hafidh as a goal is not a problem. That is a goal but it’s the long term reasoning and goals we are talking about.

No matter how much one memorises, it should be something that’s celebrated.

Whether you’ve done one, three or fifteen Juz – you should be happy and grateful. It works both ways. People can look at those who have memorised only a few Juz as failures! If you’re reading this feeling like you’re one of them, I’m here to tell you WELL DONE! There are people who go on in their lives who cannot even read the Qur’an at all. They don’t even know the Fatiha. Then those who the only verses they know are the Fatiha or Surat al-Ikhlas.

The point is this: we don’t want anyone else falling into the same traps. Look at memorisation from the wider perspective.

So how can you motivate and support others memorising?

There are many things you can do for motivation. The things mentioned here are relevant for those motivating children mainly:

Teach them about the memorisation journey mindset.

If you are a parent or teacher, be motivational in your speech and action.

Adopt patience: as parents you often short circuit patience sooner than a teacher.

Invest in learning what Allah and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, have said about the Qur’an (you have to invest!).

Teach about the virtues of the Qur’an: Sit down with all the family and talk, make them engaging through discussion.

Set priorities: Make memorisation the most important, most celebrated and the supported thing in the house.

Keep track of the mindset: Align what you say in trying to motivate them with the memorisation journey mindset. Motivation can remain constant this way. Instead of “finish, finish, finish”, say: “Memorise what we can, take it easy and remember: even if you learnt a single verse it is the biggest thing in the world. You can use it when you talk to Allah in your prayer – how cool is that?” – if they are exposed to the right mindset they will find motivation and will eventually finish one day Insha’Allah, even by themselves.

Provide a conducive environment at home. A place where they can memorise away from everyone is ideal. It is good idea to have everyone else in the house do work at the same time your son/daughter memorises. You don’t want others to be having fun whilst he or she’s locked away memorising. Even if you invite family, they shouldn’t be memorising but they should be with the family.

Design a purposeful space: Create a space such a space for those memorising such that they can feel happy yet also make it feel private. “You made this for me?!”

Keep tracking! Despite the privacy you still need to monitor them. From my own experiences, mothers tend to spend more time with kids that memorise. She tends to do the listening, she even reads or studies at the same time or will memorise with them. This creates an extra motivation for the children whilst at the same time allows you monitor things.

Don’t just monitor, supervise: The benefit of keeping tabs on them is that you can see how they are memorising, how efficient they are, how focused is he or she? For example, if you gave them an hour but they were productive for only in 20-30 mins, you know now that they need to make use of the other 30 mins in a different way.

Consider giving them breaks: There is a lot of research on this. In general you’ll find that focus is a key issue. To keep them motivated they need to be productive and not feel like things are being dragged out. Taking breaks can help you memorise more! I usually advise a maximum of 40 or 52 minutes of memorisation focus and then a nice break in which they can do as they like. Taking a break can help you regain focus and make you more productive. But it also matters how you take a break. For a more effective break that will truly revive your brainpower, avoid any activity that puts a demand on your attention. There is something called attention restoration. The thing that underpins this theory is to allow the mind to wander. One of the things I do is to start telling creative stories during a break – it allows them to daydream and imagine things. This is what the focus is about:

“Such restoration occurs when we switch from effortful attention, where the mind needs to suppress distractions, to letting go and allowing our attention to be captured by whatever presents itself…a walk through a park or in the woods puts little such demand on attention. We can restore by spending time in nature— even a few minutes strolling in a park or any setting rich in fascinations like the muted reds of clouds at sunset or a butterfly’s flutter. This triggers bottom-up attention “modestly,” as Kaplan’s group put it, allowing circuits for top-down efforts to replenish their energy, restoring attentiveness and memory, and improving cognition.”
(Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence)

Develop technique: Help the child develop a technique that works for them, how everyone chooses and settles on a technique will differ. Whether that be the basic technique of repetition of a certain number with combinations, they will need to choose the number of times they repeat. This can take longer by themselves. Teachers and mentors should assist them with techniques. You need informed involvement. Observation trumps everything else.

Rewarding the child: One of the things to avoid here is to say “When you memorise the Qur’an, you’ll get £1,000”, that’s something my dad did with me but it didn’t really have any impact to be honest. Why? because it was too long term. It felt like it was a far distance. Instead I suggest you break rewards down instead, “Every time you do x you’ll get x”.

Rewards of children are set on differentiated targets: You can have a child who has memorised a Juz in a month and a child who has memorised in a quarter of a month both being celebrated equally. This is really important for motivation.

Invest in your own learning – it isn’t just for your child. The best way to show something, or give orders is that you do it yourself. Action speaks louder than words. So improve your own recitation, Tajwid, or memorisation.

Have achievement parties. Kids love experiences and adventures. Nothing trumps a party.

Organise trips out. As part of a motivation plan, it’s really important that you give them a breather but as a incentive take them out on trips. I saw a spike in motivation when I promised my students a trip out to play some sports with me. Have a go!

Visit or watch others: I often speak about, invite a Hafidh or visit one, or watch videos with my students of other Huffadh. You can watch an amazing one called “Traveller with the Qur’an” on YouTube. This always inspires and provides a good booster.

Set challenges: this can be between students or family. An example could be we all have a week, whoever memorises the most but without mistakes gets x.

Money!  This can work great but it should be used carefully. Remember the mindset. I remember once hearing that teachers shouldn’t be paid, it’s the memorisation student that should. it was a good point – they struggle but it has to be done properly.

Make things easy: Shortening the amount of time they spend on hifdh or lessening the amount they memorise. This is a great way to get them started and gradually built upon it.

Show some love! Praise and lots of hugs and affection. Do this regardless of the situation…

These are some quick thoughts from me and I’m sure you will have even better ideas from your experiences so do share them!

Asking for your good prayers.

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Written by Qari Mubashir Anwar

Qāri Mubashir began reciting the Holy Qur’ān to admiring audiences in public since the tender age of 10. He began memorising the Holy Qur’ān when he was around 12 years old, struggling down the path to successful completion over several years. He eventually completed memorisation in Cairo, Egypt (2006) where he was authorised in recitation. He sought knowledge and counsel from many legendary reciters at the time including the Chief of Reciters Shaykh al-Qāri’ Ahmad Muḥammad ‘Āmir (May Allah grant him mercy) and Shaykh al-Qāri ‘Abdul Rāziq Ṭahā ‘Ali from the Masjid Imam Hussain and Khikhiya Mosque (Cairo). Qāri also studied the Arabic language at with Ustadh Rabi’ in Cairo.

He then began studies in Law (LLB/LPC) at the University of Liverpool and the University of Law. Whilst doing so he also began teaching and studying the Deen. Formally beginning studying the Islamic Sciences (Dars-e-Nizami) in 2007 under the guidance of Shaykh Muhammad Ramadan al-Azhari (Australia), Shaykh Muhammad As'ad Sa'id as-Sagharji (Syria) and other world-renowned scholars gaining Ijāzah in various Islamic sciences, disciplines, and texts. Qāri has always dedicated his time towards educational, social, business and charitable organisations/projects since 2007. He has been teaching Qur'ān, Hifdh, Tajwid, Arabic and Islamic Studies in one way or another for 16 years.

In 2011, he was recognised as being within the most highly creative 6% of the population by a market research agency. He has channeled his creative talents into writing, graphic design and video editing, singing, and teaching. He is the author of “The Promise of Ten” with other books on their way. The founder of How To Memorise The Quran, The Blessed Hub, The Homeless Hub, and is involved in other initiatives and companies within the UK such as TODAYSMYDAY, a creative agency. He was also a founding trustee at The Urban Sanctuary, former Chief Product Officer and now Chief Learning Officer (CLO) and teacher at Quran Academy. Currently, he is also a lecturer in Tajwid at Minhaj College, Manchester and Imam, and Khateeb at Minhaj-ul-Quran Int. Mosque, Manchester.


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