I’ve found myself being asked questions like:

  • what are the qualities someone memorising the Qur’ān should have?
  • what are the things you have found consistent among those who have memorised the Qur’ān?
  • what is important to succeed? Allāh chooses His People, how can somebody be chosen?
  • what is the secret that makes someone worthy to receive the gift of becoming a Hāfiz?

In this article, I want to share with you some of the common qualities you’ll find amongst hifz students. Things I have observed over the last two decades.

Students that are ‘successful’. I say successful in the sense of completion. This is not to say those that who don’t complete the entire Qur’ān are not successful. No! This is far from the truth. If you can memorise large portions of the Qur’ān, increase what you know, and increase your time with it – you are without a doubt successful. Remember, not everyone will be able to recite the entire Qur’ān before Allāh on that day. Perhaps we can say those who make sustained progress in their pursuit of the Qur’ān have certain qualities. Among these qualities are foundational qualities to have when traveling on any journey. Take the time to reflect on them and ask yourself:

  • what qualities do you want?
  • what qualities can you improve upon?⁣
  • what qualities have you seen in someone that’s memorised?

When we look at these qualities, they give us a clue into finding an answer to the above questions.

1. A Hifz student has strong and clear intentions

Where there is a pure will, there is a way to achieve it. The successful hifz student knows why they’re memorising the Qur’ān. They are strong in understanding where they stand but also the value of the task they have chosen. When you understand the value of something, you should treat it with equal standing.

In the hadīth of intentions, we learn that you get what you intend for:

‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb (Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allāh, peace, and blessings of Allāh be upon him, said, “Indeed, actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. Whoever migrates with an intention for Allāh and His Messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allāh and His Messenger. And whoever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.”

When your intentions are pure and sincere, you must believe that Allāh will grant them to you. Belief and intent go hand in hand but there’s also action. The Beloved of Allāh (ﷺ) used the word “migrate” (hijrah / هِجْرَتُهُ). This is taking physical action. To migrate, you must take the path. To achieve the task, you must take the path. This is the first element to success. A devotion, a sincerity, and a desire for the Qur’ān. It’s not just passion, it’s also purposeful. The purpose has clarity and that clarity drives action.

I will write more about intentions in an upcoming article.

2. The Hifz student has self-awareness

When you have clarity of intention, there’s a big chance that you also know yourself pretty well. Be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are with honesty. Those that are successful go all-in on their strengths. They know their learning preferences, motivating factors, pace, ability, productivity cycles, and lifestyle. They can say no to things that do not serve them well in the journey and say yes to things that will.

On the other side, there’s something that will attract success even more. In āyah 7 of Surat Tāhā, Allāh says that “He knows the secret (that you carry) and what is even more hidden”. Secrets are kept within us but what can be even more hidden than that? There are dynamics inside us that we are not even aware of which impact the way we behave, but Allāh knows us even better than we know ourselves. We have things in our subconscious, or deep memories that we’ve forgotten but are impacting the way we behave. This means our closeness to Allāh helps us unravel our deeply-ingrained complexities. It alleviates us from sadness and negative emotions in our lives.

Allāh Most Loving says, “Believers! Take care of yourselves.” (5:105). Allāh also says: “And do not be like those who forgot Allāh, so He made them forget themselves.” (59:19) – meaning they were deprived of even doing good for themselves. Ibn Kathīr said, “Do not forget the remembrance of Allāh, the Exalted, otherwise, He will make you forget to perform the good deeds that benefit you in your return because the recompense is equated with the action.”

We see that the remembrance of Allāh is linked to knowing oneself. So whoever knows Allāh, knows himself. All of these āyāt direct us to know ourselves, watch over ourselves, and seek improvement. Not everyone has this degree of taqwa (nearness to Allāh). Not every successful hifz student will be completely pious or hold this level of closeness. At the very least, they will have an attraction towards good and the remembrance of Allāh. This multiplies your chances of success.

“Allāh Almighty says: Whoever comes with a good deed will have the reward of ten like it and even more. Whoever comes with an evil deed will be recompensed for one evil deed like it or he will be forgiven. Whoever draws close to Me by the length of a hand, I will draw close to him by the length of an arm. Whoever draws close to Me the by length of an arm, I will draw close to him by the length of a fathom. Whoever comes to Me walking, I will come to him running. Whoever meets Me with enough sins to fill the earth, not associating any partners with Me, I will meet him with as much forgiveness.” (Sahīḥ Muslim 2687).

I have experienced this myself. When I was younger, I had a great zeal for the Qur’ān and so much so that I would be obsessed with recitations. I would collect cassettes and MP3 files. I had folders upon folders of files. I would make CDs of them. I would love to go to the Masjid and memorise. Alhamdulillāh. Yet over time, you become engulfed in the interests of the dunya. You are tested and you can fail. I saw a difference when my attachment to the Qur’ān dropped – I was no longer consistent, I was forgetting things, and things weren’t going my way anymore. I used to attend gatherings dedicated to the remembrance of Allāh and loved to go. All of a sudden I wasn’t going anymore. I used to offer salāh in the masjid, but all of a sudden I stopped attending. I used to recite Qur’ān in public, but all of a sudden it stopped. There was a domino effect. It sent me down a path I didn’t realise I was falling into. I began to miss everything. You can go so high, that one drop of a needle can send you back to square one. The path to Allāh is not easy. It’s a difficult path but if you remain consistent (and with a guide) you succeed. I am emotional while typing this but I really want you to know how important this point is.

Having said this, many students that memorise the Qur’ān are not aware of their strengths but might know their weaknesses. They don’t know of any method for memorisation other than what their teacher has told them to do. What carries them forward? It’s the intent.

3. The Hifz student has a realistic confidence

Mistakes and setbacks will occur, you need to have the mental fortitude to carry on. Take lessons on from mistakes you’ve made and seek to always improve. Don’t sit back and think over them. This dwelling will make you swell. When you swell, you will drown. You must challenge any self-limiting beliefs you have. Remain focused completely on what you’re able to do, not what you wish you could do.

I remember when I doubted myself so much when I was memorising. I let negative emotions hit me hard and I quit. This in effect created a distance. It created a hole. It created an excuse for me to become lazy, impatient, and forget what was important. What I found helpful during this time was speaking to my seniors. Speak to my parents. Speak to other teachers. I eventually found myself in Cairo where I resumed my memorisation.

Having some confidence is important to get through the journey. This food for this confidence is the intention and self-awareness you have. This confidence should also be realistic in the sense that you keep it in line with your self-awareness. You know your limits and boundaries.

4. The Hifz student is calculated

You start with a plan in mind that is reasonable and realistic. This keeps you in check and allows you to have a measured approach. You know what you need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. There’s no need to look at the end goal. You focus on getting through the present day.

When I started, it was progressive and slow. I used to memorise a few lines. This then builds up to a page, then two or three pages. When I reached a page or more, I understood what it meant to be realistic. I understood what it was like to have a mindset that focused on just trying to get it all done and out of the way. This might work for some but it doesn’t tend to work out later on.

5. The Hifz student has ‘focused productivity’

They maintain control of their focus and presence when carrying out tasks. This means that they make the most important task’s priority. They schedule them and get them done by cutting out unproductive habits and activities. Distractions are killed. You make many sacrifices.

6. The Hifz student can adapt to changes

They manage timekeeping, dealing with changes, and loss of time. They will make use of any moment they have. Listening and reciting during travel, using any waiting periods, weddings, events, holidays, or taking advantage of any opportunity.

7. The Hifz student has patience

They are impatient with taking daily action but patient with the results. Drops make streams. Streams make rivers. Rivers make oceans. Mindset and habits are the same. Despite having the end goal in mind, they know the journey itself is what is most important.

8. The Hifz student is persistent and hardworking

There will be setbacks. There will be moments of struggle. There will be a loss of motivation. But they are persistent. There will be days when they can’t memorise. There will be days when they will find review difficult. But they work hard.

These are qualities that are foundational for the memorisation phase but after that too. Of course, there are many other qualities like consistency, perseverance, discipline, and determination too.

I ask Allāh to bless us with Qur’ān and make us successful with His acceptance. Make the Qur’ān our companion and noble friend.

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