Remembering The Similar Verses [Mutashābihāt] - Part 1

Whoever is trying to memorise the Qur’ān will have to deal with āyāt (verses) that are similar. The resemblance between two or three can cause you confusion and cause you to start reciting from another place. They may start the same but end differently. They might follow the same pattern but have different words and in different orders.

This is why books have been written and resources have been made. They can make things easier. I’ll be sharing the techniques, methods and resources in an accessible way for you on how you can effectively memorise and recall the Mutashābihāt.

Bismillah. Let’s start.

How to remember the Mutashābihāt

The primary ways to remember these are:

  • repetition
  • understanding the verses
  • creating connections
  • creating cues or triggers
  • creating groups
  • contrasting and comparing (analysis)
  • patterns like we discussed when looking at Sūrah Yaseen

In todays article, we will explore reversal patterns.

Mutshābihāt Reversal Patterns

Patterns are identifiers. You find things within the verses that help you recall them, especially in the absence of any understanding.

Reversals are when a similar āyah appears with the same words but in a reverse order. If you’re memorising and you confuse similar verses, always take a step back. Look at them. Repeat them. Study the differences and meanings. This will help you build a deeper connection that goes beyond repetition and helps you recall much better.

Analysis can make a huge difference. Compare a specific āyah that you mix up and see where you’re slipping. Create a memory trigger.

Let’s take a look at reversal patterns.

Example one: Surah al-Baqarah

Compare the two:

2:48 وَٱتَّقُوا۟ يَوْمًۭا لَّا تَجْزِى نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍۢ شَيْـًۭٔا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَـٰعَةٌۭ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌۭ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

Guard yourselves against the Day on which no soul will be of help to another. No intercession will be accepted, no ransom taken, and no help will be given.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

2:123 وَٱتَّقُوا۟ يَوْمًۭا لَّا تَجْزِى نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍۢ شَيْـًۭٔا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌۭ وَلَا تَنفَعُهَا شَفَـٰعَةٌۭ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

And guard yourselves against the Day when no soul will be of any help to another. No ransom will be taken, no intercession accepted, and no help will be given.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

The first āyah enters with intercession (شَفَـٰعَةٌۭ) and the next one leaves with intercession (شَفَـٰعَةٌۭ). There’s a reversal. You can also say the same of the word عَدْلٌۭ. The order has flipped.

Example two

Compare the two:

2:58 وَإِذْ قُلْنَا ٱدْخُلُوا۟ هَـٰذِهِ ٱلْقَرْيَةَ فَكُلُوا۟ مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ رَغَدًۭا وَٱدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْبَابَ سُجَّدًۭا وَقُولُوا۟ حِطَّةٌۭ نَّغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطَـٰيَـٰكُمْ ۚ وَسَنَزِيدُ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ

And ˹remember˺ when We said, “Enter this city and eat freely from wherever you please; enter the gate with humility, saying, ‘Absolve us.’ We will forgive your sins and multiply the reward for the good-doers.”
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

7:161 وَإِذْ قِيلَ لَهُمُ ٱسْكُنُوا۟ هَـٰذِهِ ٱلْقَرْيَةَ وَكُلُوا۟ مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ وَقُولُوا۟ حِطَّةٌۭ وَٱدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْبَابَ سُجَّدًۭا نَّغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطِيٓـَٔـٰتِكُمْ ۚ سَنَزِيدُ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ

And ˹remember˺ when it was said to them, “Enter this city ˹of Jerusalem˺ and eat from wherever you please. Say, ‘Absolve us,’ and enter the gate with humility. We will forgive your sins, ˹and˺ We will multiply the reward for the good-doers.”
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

You can see again, there’s a reversal.

In surah al-Baqarah, you enter with سُجَّدًۭا and in Surah al-A’rāf you leave with سُجَّدًۭا

Example three

Compare the two:

6:151 ۞ قُلْ تَعَالَوْا۟ أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ أَلَّا تُشْرِكُوا۟ بِهِۦ شَيْـًۭٔا ۖ وَبِٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ إِحْسَـٰنًۭا ۖ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوٓا۟ أَوْلَـٰدَكُم مِّنْ إِمْلَـٰقٍۢ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا۟ ٱلْفَوَٰحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ ۖ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا۟ ٱلنَّفْسَ ٱلَّتِى حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا بِٱلْحَقِّ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ وَصَّىٰكُم بِهِۦ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Come! Let me recite to you what your Lord has forbidden to you: do not associate others with Him ˹in worship˺. ˹Do not fail to˺ honour your parents. Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for you and for them. Do not come near indecencies, openly or secretly. Do not take a ˹human˺ life—made sacred by Allah—except with ˹legal˺ right. This is what He has commanded you, so perhaps you will understand.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

17:31 وَلَا تَقْتُلُوٓا۟ أَوْلَـٰدَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَـٰقٍۢ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْـًۭٔا كَبِيرًۭا

Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely killing them is a heinous sin.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

This one is a reversal pattern with the word ‘Kum’. You are entering the Kaaf (al-An’ām) and leaving the Kaaf (al-Isrā’).

Example four

Compare the two:

7:188 قُل لَّآ أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِى نَفْعًۭا وَلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ ۚ وَلَوْ كُنتُ أَعْلَمُ ٱلْغَيْبَ لَٱسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ ٱلْخَيْرِ وَمَا مَسَّنِىَ ٱلسُّوٓءُ ۚ إِنْ أَنَا۠ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌۭ وَبَشِيرٌۭ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يُؤْمِنُونَ

Say, “I have no power to benefit or protect myself, except by the Will of Allah. If I had known the unknown, I would have benefited myself enormously, and no harm would have ever touched me. I am only a warner and deliverer of good news for those who believe.”
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

10:49 قُل لَّآ أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِى ضَرًّۭا وَلَا نَفْعًا إِلَّا مَا شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ ۗ لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلٌ ۚ إِذَا جَآءَ أَجَلُهُمْ فَلَا يَسْتَـْٔخِرُونَ سَاعَةًۭ ۖ وَلَا يَسْتَقْدِمُونَ

Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “I have no power to benefit or protect myself, except by the Will of Allah.” For each community there is an appointed term. When their time arrives, they cannot delay it for a moment, nor could they advance it.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

Again, a reversal pattern where you are entering the نَفْعًا (al-A’rāf) and leaving with نَفْعًا (Yūnus).

Example five

Compare the two:

15:1 الٓر ۚ تِلْكَ ءَايَـٰتُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ وَقُرْءَانٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ

Alif-Lãm-Ra. These are the verses of the Book; the clear Quran.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

27:1 طسٓ ۚ تِلْكَ ءَايَـٰتُ ٱلْقُرْءَانِ وَكِتَابٍۢ مُّبِينٍ

Ṭâ-Sĩn. These are the verses of the Quran; the clear Book.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

Example six

Compare the two:

3:126 وَمَا جَعَلَهُ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا بُشْرَىٰ لَكُمْ وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ قُلُوبُكُم بِهِۦ ۗ وَمَا ٱلنَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلْعَزِيزِ ٱلْحَكِيمِ

Allah ordained this ˹reinforcement˺ only as good news for you and reassurance for your hearts. And victory comes only from Allah—the Almighty, All-Wise—
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

8:10 وَمَا جَعَلَهُ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا بُشْرَىٰ وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ بِهِۦ قُلُوبُكُمْ ۚ وَمَا ٱلنَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

And Allah made this a sign of victory and reassurance to your hearts. Victory comes only from Allah. Surely Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

Example seven

Compare the two:

28:20 وَجَآءَ رَجُلٌۭ مِّنْ أَقْصَا ٱلْمَدِينَةِ يَسْعَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰمُوسَىٰٓ إِنَّ ٱلْمَلَأَ يَأْتَمِرُونَ بِكَ لِيَقْتُلُوكَ فَٱخْرُجْ إِنِّى لَكَ مِنَ ٱلنَّـٰصِحِينَ

And there came a man, rushing from the farthest end of the city. He said, “O Moses! The chiefs are actually conspiring against you to put you to death, so leave ˹the city˺. I really advise you ˹to do so˺.”
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

36:20 وَجَآءَ مِنْ أَقْصَا ٱلْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌۭ يَسْعَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلْمُرْسَلِينَ

Then from the farthest end of the city a man came, rushing. He advised, “O my people! Follow the messengers.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

Example eight

4:135 ۞ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُونُوا۟ قَوَّٰمِينَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ شُهَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ ٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ وَٱلْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًۭا فَٱللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلْهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعْدِلُوا۟ ۚ وَإِن تَلْوُۥٓا۟ أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا۟ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًۭا

O believers! Stand firm for justice as witnesses for Allah even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or close relatives. Be they rich or poor, Allah is best to ensure their interests. So do not let your desires cause you to deviate ˹from justice˺. If you distort the testimony or refuse to give it, then ˹know that˺ Allah is certainly All-Aware of what you do.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

5:8 يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُونُوا۟ قَوَّٰمِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَآءَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَـَٔانُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰٓ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا۟ ۚ ٱعْدِلُوا۟ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرٌۢ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

O believers! Stand firm for Allah and bear true testimony. Do not let the hatred of a people lead you to injustice. Be just! That is closer to righteousness. And be mindful of Allah. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what you do.
— Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran

All of these are examples of reversals. This is one of many techniques I will show you of how you can tackle the similar verses.

I hope this is beneficial.

May Allāh grant blessing!

Bonus

Here’s a great YouTube resource:

Similar Posts