Listening and repeating is the most natural pattern of learning. This is the most tried and tested method for memorising the Qur’ān. Suitable for young children and adults.
In this article, I share the ‘repeat after me’ method.
Ibn ‘Abbās narrated that “The Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) used to teach us tashahhud (the testimony of faith for sitting in prayer) just as he used to teach us a Surah of the Qur’an (and in another the version: the Qur’ān)” (Saheeh Muslim)
How did he teach them Qur’ān? It was to listen to him and repeat after him.
This was the primary method and is a treasure from the treasures of revelation. The archangel Jibreel (peace be upon him) taught like this and the Prophet (ﷺ) taught like this.
The Listen-Repeat Method for Hifz
I recently heard a scholar in the subcontinent share a story about his father who memorised the entire Qur’ān using this method. There was a tremendous Hāfiz from a village that was blind and used to teach Qur’ān by having students repeat after him. He taught the scholar’s father as well as his grandfather. His students memorised the entire Qur’ān without ever having to look at the Mus’haf (copy of the Qur’ān).
He has never seen anyone that knew the Qur’ān as well as his father. His father used to make a khatma (completion) of the Qur’ān every 3 to 4 days. He had even done it in one night. He used to drive to university to teach and would recite two Juz’ while driving. One on the way there and one on the way back. That’s not an easy task because you’re multitasking. You can only do that if you know it really well. His father told him:
“Memorise in this way and you’ll never forget it. It has been 40 years and I never looked at the Mus’haf. I have never forgotten that I needed to refer to the Mus’haf. If I get the desire to look and experience the Mus’haf, after opening it, I end up losing where I am because the Qur’ān is so fluent and fast on my tongue.”
That is an incredible achievement, Allāh had truly blessed him.
How did he achieve this?
The teacher used to say an āyah and we would repeat it until we knew it by heart. This may have been a few āyāt as a new lesson. This is usually a small amount to begin with and then it increases over time.
Then the teacher would ask them to take a misbāha/tasbīh (if you can’t then by hand) and repeat all of the āyāt 100 times by heart. Then they would go back to the teacher and say them to him. This would ingrain the words in them.
Then the next lesson would be done in the same way. The teacher says the āyah and the student repeats it until he knows it. Then go and repeat it 100 times and finally recite it to the teacher.
After the second lesson, they had to link the lessons (1 and 2) together and repeat them 50 times. You will realise, it is 100 times, then 100 times, and then both together 50 times. So it is like doing 150 repetitions per lesson.
They would then do lesson 3, it would be repeated 100 times. Then lesson 4 would be the same, and then they would combine lessons 3 and 4 together 50 times. Then they had to repeat all lessons four lessons together 25 times.
They would work on memorisation in this way, effectively, creating a set of four lessons. They would do exactly the same for the next four lessons until they reached eight lessons. Once they reached eight lessons, they would repeat all eight 13 times. So 100, 50, 25, and 13 were around 188 times per lesson.
This method is similar to those who memorise in Mauritania, Morocco, or Sudan for example but with the inclusion of writing. They repeat and repeat until they know it with a number of repetitions easily exceeding 500 for one page. In Mauritania, they emphasise understanding and grammar so students have a grounding with meanings. The students from the village in the narrated story didn’t know Arabic as a language. Yet they memorised to the same standards that Mauritanians would.
I have explained the role of repetition using the example of Fātihah many times.
Things take time. You have to keep chipping away little by little.
Using the Tasbeeh
This is a method that many people have used. In Sudan they have you repeat 100 times. This is how Imām Suhaib Webb memorised. It is especially suited to those that are in need of physical interaction while learning. An interesting method with beads is as follows:
- Listen to the āyah 33, 66 or 100 times.
- Recite it by looking 33, 66 or 100 times.
- Recite without looking, eyes closed, 33, 66, or 100 times.
- Then move on to the next āyah and memorise it in the same way.
- Then connect the two āyāt together 33, 66, or 100 times.
- Then do the third and forth verses and so forth until it is completely finished
- Once finished repeat the whole portion 33, 66, or 100 times.
- Then make Sajdah and thank Allāh and ask Him to help you further.
Many people have told me that they use this for hifz or revision and it works brilliantly.
Allāh grant blessing.