“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’ān: the imperative
There is no imperative to memorise the entire Qur’ān. We also recognise that not everyone will. The imperative is to memorise something of the Qur’ān because we need it for our prayers.
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’ān. It could be a Juz, five, or fifteen.
Most people I know who have only memorised part of the Qur’ān, no longer remember it. If they do it’s weak. They go through life, and end up in a career, they tried to become a Hāfidh but didn’t/couldn’t finish. Most often the reason they forgot was that they never memorised with a broad set of objectives and weren’t taught in such a way.
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 their mind.
I went through this phase myself. I’d done half of the Qur’ān when I’d stopped memorising, busy with study and exams I’d forgotten much of what I’d memorised. 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 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 Hāfidh as the ultimate. Whilst forgetting about the whole picture. Becoming a Hāfidh 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 recite the Qur’ān at all. They don’t even know the Fātiha. Then there are those who only know the Fātiha or Surat al-Ikhlās (which can be enough).
The point is this: we don’t want anyone else falling into the same traps. Look at memorisation from a 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 Allāh and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, have said about the Qur’ān (you have to invest!).
Teach about the virtues of the Qur’ān: 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 Inshā’Allāh, 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 extra motivation for the children whilst at the same time allowing you to 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’ān, 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, Tajwīd, 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 Hāfidh or visit one, or watch videos with my students of other Huffādh. You can watch an amazing one called “Traveller with the Qur’ān” 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.