Remembering The Similar Verses [Mutashābihāt] – Part 3

In parts one and two, you learnt different rules and formulas you can use to remember similar verses (the Mutashābihāt) in the Qur’ān. I also shared reversal patterns and incremental patterns in sūrah yasīn.

There are more than 22+ different patterns or techniques that can be used to remember similar verses. So far I have shared 7 of these. In this article, I share more of them so you can make use of them to help you remember any similar verses.

Creating mnemonics (or combining letters)

I mentioned a technique of mnemonics when I wrote about how to memorise Surah ar-Rahmān. The idea is very simple. If there are similar verses between 2, 3 or more verses you can make a mnemonic using the first letter of each of them (the similar words). This would help you remember the order of any similar verses.

These words can carry meaning or be completely random resembling initials. Mnemonics are usually sentences that gather words but in this case it can be both words or letters.

For example:

Example 1 – ‘AAM (عام) when confusing ‘azeem, aleem, and muheen [Āli ‘Imrān]
3:176 وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
[…] and they will suffer a tremendous punishment.
3:177 وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
[…] they will suffer a painful punishment.
3:178 وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌۭ مُّهِينٌ
[…] and they will suffer a humiliating punishment.
If we take the first letter from each of the highlighted words we have the letters ‘AYN, ALIF, and MEEM. When put together, we create the word ‘AAM (عام which can mean general or common) and this now can be used to remember these verses and how they end.

Note: This is not the only way to remember this. As a side note, there is a difference between these words in meaning and they are used in their respective verses for a reason. Being aware of things like this will also help you remember. For instance, you can remember them in terms of intensity. Āyah 176 ends with the word for tremendous or great. This intensifies in āyah 177 and becomes painful. This intensifies further and becomes humililation. By using translations, you can make connections or pointers as triggers to remember things.

Example 2 – ARUS(SU) (أَرُصّ) in Surah al-Qamar
وَلَقَدْ أَنذَرَهُم بَطْشَتَنَا فَتَمَارَوْا۟ بِٱلنُّذُرِ
He had already warned them of Our ˹crushing˺ blow but they disputed the warnings.
وَلَقَدْ رَٰوَدُوهُ عَن ضَيْفِهِۦ فَطَمَسْنَآ أَعْيُنَهُمْ فَذُوقُوا۟ عَذَابِى وَنُذُرِ
And they even demanded his angel-guests from him,[1] so We blinded their eyes. ˹And they were told,˺ “Taste then My punishment and warnings!”
[1] Who came in the form of handsome men.
وَلَقَدْ صَبَّحَهُم بُكْرَةً عَذَابٌۭ مُّسْتَقِرٌّۭ
And indeed, by the early morning they were overwhelmed by an unrelenting torment.
If we take the first letter from each of the highlighted words we have the letters ALIF, RĀ’ and SAAD. When put together, we create the word ARUSS (أَرُصّ which can mean to put together or stack).
Example 3 – RA’S (رأس) in Surah as-Sabā
وَإِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـٰتُنَا بَيِّنَـٰتٍۢ قَالُوا۟ مَا هَـٰذَآ إِلَّا رَجُلٌ يُرِيدُ أَن يَصُدَّكُمْ عَمَّا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ ءَابَآؤُكُمْ وَقَالُوا۟ مَا هَـٰذَآ إِلَّآ إِفْكٌ مُّفْتَرًۭى ۚ وَقَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ لِلْحَقِّ لَمَّا جَآءَهُمْ إِنْ هَـٰذَآ إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌۭ
When Our clear revelations are recited to them, they say, “This is only a man who wishes to hinder you from what your forefathers used to worship.” They also say, “This ˹Quran˺ is no more than a fabricated lie.” And the disbelievers say of the truth when it has come to them, “This is nothing but pure magic.”
In this āyah after the words هَـٰذَآ إِلَّ we have three different words as highlighted. The starting letters are RĀ’, ALIF, and SEEN. Together we get the word RA’S (رأس which can mean head, top, leader).

Note: Again, trying to get you to think, you can always make use of your own language. In this case, mine is English and so if you look at the meanings of the three highlighted words, they are: man, lie, and magic. You can make sentence from this can’t you? The man (رَجُلٌ) always tells a lie (إِفْكٌ) as fake as magic (سِحْرٌ). I just made that up on the spot. I’m sure you can do much better.

I’m sure you’ll have understood this technique now! Here are further examples for you look up:

  • Making مقر from the words (الظَّالِمِينَ – الْفَاسِقِينَ – الْكَافِرِينَ) in Surah at-Tawbah (verses 19, 24, and 37).
  • Making سَعَت from the words (يَسْمَعُونَ – يَعْقِلُونَ – يَتَفَكَّرُونَ) in Surah an-Nahl (verses 65, 67, and 69).
  • Making قل from the words after (فِى جَنَّةٍ عَالِيَةٍ) in Surah al-Hāqqah (verses 22-23) and al-Ghāshiyah (verses 10-11).
  • Making عصف from the words (يَعْمَلُونَ – يَصْنَعُونَ – يَفْعَلُونَ) in Surah al-Mā’idah (verses 62, 63, 79).

Grouping together the Mutashābihāt

What is meant by this is to collect similar verses and to know their locations. This can be used in a few places. For example:

Example 1

(كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ) appears in 4 places:

  • (كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ) in Al-Baqarah, verse 242
  • (كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ) in Āli ‘Imrān, verse 103
  • (كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ) in Al-Mā’idah, verse 89
  • (كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ) in An-Nūr, verse 59

By putting them together you can try to remember the order and differences. You can recall them by using any device (poetry, sentences, etc). For example:

“The Cow (al-Baqarah) may understand (تَعْقِلُونَ), but the Family of ‘Imrān (Āli ‘Imrān) are truly guided (تَهْتَدُونَ). We should be grateful (تَشْكُرُونَ) for our Table of food (al-Mā’idah). Truly, there is Light (an-Nūr) from the All-Knowing, All-Wise (وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ).”

Again, i just made this up at the time of writing to give you an idea. Another idea would be to learn by sequence:

“If we understand (تَعْقِلُونَ), we can be truly guided (تَهْتَدُونَ). For this we should always be grateful (تَشْكُرُونَ). For without Allāh, All-Knowing, All-Wise (وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ), we cannot reach this.”

In comparison to this, similar verses also have the words (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ):

  • (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ) in Al-Baqarah, verse 219 (“khamr”)
  • (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ) in Al-Baqarah, verse 266 (“I’sār”)
  • (وَيُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ) in An-Nūr, verse 18 (“Nūr”)
  • (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ) in An-Nūr, verse 58 (“Nūr”)
  • (كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ) in An-Nūr, verse 61 (“Nūr”)
  • (وَإِذَا بَلَغَ الْأَطْفَالُ مِنكُمُ الْحُلُمَ فَلْيَسْتَأْذِنُوا كَمَا اسْتَأْذَنَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ) in An-Nūr, verse 59 (except “Tifl”)

Here we have verses that have the wordings (لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ). You can remember these by gathering them together and using a device to remember them by. For example, the Arabs write poetry saying:

وبالآيات إثم الخمر إعصار
وكل النور إلا الطفل مكثار
And in the Verses (āyāt), the sin of intoxicant (khamr) is a whirlwind (i’sār)
And all the Light (Nūr) except the child (Tilf) is abundant.

They’ve done this to remember this group of verses more easily. “Al-Āyāt” (الآيات) refers to the words in the verses. “Al-Khamr” (الخمر) is taken from the verse in al-Baqarah (219) and “I’sār” (إعصار) is taken from the verse in al-Baqarah (266). Then “Kul an-Nūr” (كل النور) refers to that fact that the rest of them are in Surah an-Nūr. Finally, there is the exception also in Surah an-Nūr. In that verse, Allāh speaks about children (الْأَطْفَالُ) and so the last reference uses the word “Tifl” (الطفل) for child. Get it?

Example 2

There are 3 places where Allāh says (ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَبِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ):

  • (وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَبِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤْمِنِينَ) in al-Baqarah, verse 8
  • (وَٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَٰلَهُمْ رِئَآءَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَلَا بِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ) in an-Nisā’, verse 38
  • (قَـٰتِلُوا۟ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَلَا بِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ) in at-Tawbah, verse 29

Example 3

Allāh has used the words (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَاء وَيَقَدِرُ) in many places and this can be very confusing for memorisers because there are variations. You’ll find it with extra words in some places like ( من عِبَادِهِ ) after ( يشاء ) and ( لَهُ ) after ( يقدر ). Putting these verses together can be done in many ways. Here are three examples:

Group 1

You will find in two places (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ). So (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَاء وَيَقَدِرُ) with the addition of (عِبَادِهِ) and (لَهُ):

  • (اللّهُ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ) in al-‘Ankabūt, verse 62
  • (قُلْ إِنَّ رَبِّي يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ) in as-Sabā, verse 39

Group 2

You will find in one places (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ) which is without the (لَهُ) in Surah al-Qasas, verse 82.

Group 3

You will find in six remaining places that have the words (يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَاء وَيَقَدِرُ) without the addition of (عِبَادِهِ) and (لَهُ):

  • Surah ar-Ra’d, verse 26
  • Surah al-Isrā’, verse 30
  • Surah ar-Rūm, verse 37
  • Surah as-Sabā, verse 36
  • Surah az-Zumar, verse 52
  • Surah as-Shūra, verse 12

Example 4

Allāh using the words (لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ) in three places (al-An’ām, verse 32; Muhammad, verse 36; al-Hadīd, verse 20) except one where the order of the words is reversed to (لَهْوٌ وَلَعِبٌ) in al-‘Ankabūt, verse 64. So, they say have fun before playing (لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ) o he who dies in Spiders (al-‘Ankabūt).

Example 5

Allāh using the words (فِيمَا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ) in Surah Yūnus, verse 19 and then (فِى مَا هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ) in Surah as-Zumar, verse 3. In the remaining 6 places Allāh uses the words (فِيمَا كَانُوا۟ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ): al-Baqarah, 113; an-Nahl, 124; as-Sajdah, 25; Yūnus, 93, al-Hajj, 69, al-Jāthiyah, 17.

Example 6

One of the benefits of this method to remember the Mutashābihāt is that you can map out the groups and see patterns. For example, you can see a series of similar verses are the same in two places but begin to change from the third place:

ExamplePlace 1
Place 2
Place 3
Place 4
Words that come after this
an-Nisā, 46
an-Mā’idah, 13
(مِن بَعْدِ)
an-Mā’idah, 41
al-Hajj, 51
as-Sabā, 5
as-Sabā, 38
فِي آيَاتِنَا مُعَاجِزِينَ
al-Baqarah, 61
Āli ‘Imrān, 21
Āli ‘Imrān, 112
بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ
as-Sabā, 50
as-Sabā, 51
as-Sabā, 52
as-Sabā, 53
[end of verse]
al-An’ām, 63
al-A’rāf, 55
al-A’rāf, 205
[end of verse]
al-A’rāf, 160
al-A’rāf, 162
al-A’rāf, 163
al-A’rāf, 165
[end of verse]
al-Isrā’, 18
al-Isrā’, 22
al-Isrā’, 29
al-Isrā’, 39
مَذْمُوماً مَّدْحُوراً
مَذْمُوماً مَّخْذُولاً
مَلُوماً مَّحْسُوراً
مَلُوماً مَّدْحُوراً

These are 7 groups in which you can see this pattern where the changes take place from the third instance of similarity.

Creating sentences out of the Mutashābihāt

Another beneficial method and useful technique is to create sentences that gather the similar verses together. There are 12 examples of this.

Example 1: “There’s no seclusion in Hajj” (لا اعتكاف في الحج)

This sentence is created to remember two similar verses:

  • (أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ) in al-Baqarah, 125
  • (وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ) in al-Hajj, 26

Notice that the difference between the two are the words (وَالْعَاكِفِينَ which means those who seclude) in al-Baqarah and (وَالْقَائِمِينَ which means those that stand) in al-Hajj. Surah al-Baqarah speaks of fasting and seclusion (and Ramadān) whereas in Hajj there is no seclusion (I’tikāf).

Example 2:
“Think of the world, then listen to the wise” (فكر العالم فأسمع العقلاء) or “Think, O Scholar, and listen, O wise one” (فكر یا عالم واسمع يا عاقل)

This sentence is formed to remember similar verses from Surah ar-Rūm from verses 21 to 25 that end with:

  • إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
  • إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّلْعَـٰلِمِينَ
  • إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَسْمَعُونَ
  • إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

Using the last words for thinking (يَتَفَكَّرُونَ), the world (عَـٰلِمِينَ), listening (يَسْمَعُونَ) and understanding/wisdom (يَعْقِلُونَ) the sentence is formed.

Example 3: “Guide the follower” (اهتدى المقتدي)

This is made from two similar verses in Surah al-Zukhruf:

  • بَلْ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا وَجَدْنَآ ءَابَآءَنَا عَلَىٰٓ أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَىٰٓ ءَاثَـٰرِهِم مُّهْتَدُونَ (43:22)
  • وَكَذَٰلِكَ مَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ فِى قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّذِيرٍ إِلَّا قَالَ مُتْرَفُوهَآ إِنَّا وَجَدْنَآ ءَابَآءَنَا عَلَىٰٓ أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَىٰٓ ءَاثَـٰرِهِم مُّقْتَدُونَ (43:23)

By taking the words (مُّهْتَدُونَ) and (مُّقْتَدُونَ) a sentence is formed in light of the meaning of those who are guided and those who follow.

Example 4: “What was hidden was earlier” (ما خفِيَ كان أسبق)

This is similar to the sentence (ما خفِيَ كان أعظم) that what was hidden was greater. This sentence is formed from Surah al-Mā’idah, verses 15 and 19:

  • يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ كَثِيرًا مِّمَّا كُنتُمْ تُخْفُونَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ
    (O People of the Book! Now Our Messenger has come to you, revealing much of what you have hidden of the Scriptures)
  • يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ عَلَىٰ فَتْرَةٍ مِّنَ الرُّسُلِ
    (O People of the Book! Our Messenger has indeed come to you, making things clear to you after an interval between the messengers)

So the sentence is formed from “what you have hidden” and “after an interval”.

Example 5: “The man of stories, Yaseen al-Aqsa” (رجل القصص ياسين الأقصى)

This is taken from two similar verses in al-Qasas (verse 20) and Surah Yaseen (verse 20):

  • وَجَاءَ رَجُلٌ مِّنْ أَقْصَا الْمَدِينَةِ يَسْعَىٰ
  • وَجَاءَ مِنْ أَقْصَا الْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌ يَسْعَىٰ

You can see how the sentence is formed using the word (رَجُلٌ) from Surah al-Qasas and then (أَقْصَا) from Yaseen.

Other examples

  1. “May Allāh forgive al-Haj Muhammad Yusuf” (غفر الله للحاج محمد يوسف) = This is formed for the similar verses using the words (أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُو) in Yusuf, 109; al-Hajj, 46; Ghāfir, 82; Muhammad, 10. The sentence is formed by using the Surah names.
  2. “The Originator of the Romans is the Forgiver” (فاطر الروم غافر) = In the same way, this is formed for the similar verses using the words (وَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا) in Surah Fātir, 44; ar-Rūm, 9 and Ghāfir, 21.
  3. “The Cattle prostrated to the Forgiver” (سجدت الأنعام للغافر) = This is formed for the similar verses that end with the words (تَتَذَكَّرُونَ) or (تَذَكَّرُونَ). Those with using two TĀ’ are gathered in this sentence [al-An’ām, 80, as-Sajdah, 4, and Ghāfir, 58]. There are six other places that use (تَذَكَّرُونَ) or (يذَّكَّرُونَ) which are in al-An’ām, 126; al-A’rāf, 26 and 130; al-Anfāl, 57; at-Tawbah, 126; and an-Nahl, 13.
  4. “Women of Jinn are an alliance” (نساء الجن أحزاب) = This is formed for the similar verses that use the words (خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا) for those who disbelieve. As appearing in the verses of Surah an-Nisā’, 169, al-Ahzāb, 65, and al-Jinn, 23. Those that have (خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا) used in favour of believers appear in 8 places [an-Nisā’, 57 and 122, at-Tawbah, 22 and 100, al-Mā’idah, 119, at-Taghābun, 9, at-Talāq, 11 and al-Bayyinah, 8]. Note that the words (أَبَدًا) do not come together with (خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا) with the word (هو), like in Surah al-Mā’idah, 119 with the words (ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ). Look at at-Tawbah, 72 and 100, al-Hadīd, 12, and at-Taghābun, 9.
  5. “This is an Ant, we are Believers” (هذا النمل ونحن المؤمنون) = This is formed for the similar verses that use the words (هَذَا – this) and (نَحْنُ – we) in Surah al-Mu’minoon, 83 and an-Naml, 68. So (نَحْنُ – we) comes first in al-Mu’minoon and to remember this, your trigger is that it’s about us (the Believers). Whereas (هَذَا – this) comes first in an-Naml.
  6. “Increase them, O Walā’, in Consultation and Women” (يزيدُهم يا ولاء في الشورى والنساء) with “Increase them, O Sāmir, in the Light and the Originator” (يزيدَهم يا سامر في النور وفاطر) = This is formed for the similar verses that contain the words (وَيَزِيدُهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ). There are two key differences where in Surah an-Nisā’, 173 and ash-Shūra, 26 the word (يَزِيدُ) appears with a dammah/pesh on the letter DAAL. Whereas in Surah an-Nūr, 38 and Fātir, 30 it appears with a fatha/zabr on the letter DAAL.
  7. “The Believers want to eat” (يريد المؤمنون الأكل) = This example is formed from the similar verses of Surah al-Mu’minoon, 24 and 33. After the words (مَا هَٰذَا إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ) there is a difference. That difference is captured in the sentence.

We will look at more examples in part 4.

May Allāh increase us in our memory, understanding and piety.

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