What's the best way to memorize Qur'ān? How can I consolidate my Hifdh? How can teachers help students overcome boredom? Fatigue? Missed days? How can you engage with Qur'ān beyond memorisation, with interactive learning? These are the questions that the Hifdh Workbook seeks to address.
Al-Itqan recently sent me a copy of their Juz 1-5 Hifdh Workbook. I've had a look at it, I've also had a local hifdh teacher look at it as well as some hifdh students.
What is Al-itqan?
Al-Itqan was set up by a medical student and secondary school teacher, both of whom memorised the Qur’an in their teens. After realizing many people are finding it difficult to maintain their revision due to life commitments, we decided to combine our knowledge of neuroscience, psychology, and education to make revising a little more enjoyable, engaging, and effective. So the founders went ahead and began work on Hifdh workbooks.
They say, "We understand memorising the Qur'an can be difficult in todays age, especially for those working and in full-time education. That's why we've made it our goal to develop resources to lighten your burdens, and make it easier to revise your hifdh efficiently and effectively."
What is a Hifdh Workbook?
Do you know how teachers will make you practice questions or give you consolidation questions to work on so that you can solidify what you've learnt? This is the idea behind the Hifdh Workbook.
The workbooks are in a set of 6 covering the full Qur'ān. Each book consists of two halves: (1) Notes and (2) Questions.
The notes section covers notes on the Mutashābihāt (similar verses) of each Juz'. It's a beautifully simple presentation, perhaps heavily influenced by Hafiz Abrar, the physics teacher on the team. And it's a great founding team, Allāhumma bārik lahum!
For example, there are 16 notes for Juz' 1. In these notes, you will not only see Mutashābihāt, but you will also see sections for you to write tips or notes. There are small hints and advice throughout the notes. You will find diagrams, flowcharts, tables, and reflection spaces to help you strengthen your hidfh.
The questions section includes questions covering 5 elements:
- Multiple choice words
- Multiple choice verses
- Missing letter
- Harakat and dots
For example, instead of missing words, the missing letters question gets you thinking! The added benefit of a workbook is that you get to write answers down which can help you remember things even better.
The questions are in multiple-choice format for missing word questions but they are focused on the similarities.
They take things even further with a question that removes the harakāt (vowels) and dots [perhaps they may want to address the wording here]. You have to fill in the vowels and dots on the passages they've provided. This is an excellent question. A question that will benefit students immensely as it will get them to think about every letter and sound. You'll be surprised by what you'll discover.
After the questions, there's a space for you to reflect and your own notes.
A launchpad for learning and teaching Hifdh
I see this Hifdh Workbook as a great learning and teaching launchpad for Hifdh. Although I haven't seen the other workbooks, students can use these workbooks to develop a solid foundation. I would advise students to use this as a learning opportunity to find their weaknesses in terms of identifying what types of mistakes are being made. It's a great way to centralise a record of these mistakes as well.
Room for improvement
As with anything, we can always improve and grow in our efforts. One of the reasons I see this as a launchpad is that there are mutashābihāt that may not be covered. I would encourage students to recognise patterns, observe similar verses and apply learnings in places that are not covered.
When I was going through the workbook (Juz 1-5), I first thought, 'This is rather thin for 5 Juz''. So I thought perhaps it's nice and concise work. Perhaps it covers select places but it makes sense to not make the process overwhelming. The main Juz' for me to look at based on experience were juz' 2, 4, and 5. I was hoping certain verses would be covered, especially in Surah an-Nisā', but they weren't.
It would be interesting to know how the Huffāz made decisions on what notes to select and what questions to ask. You can go off personal experience or you can go off select works on the Mutashābihāt, or combine both. For example, the Mutashābihah Tester I made is based on a work that collected verses that most Huffāz commonly confuse.
Some ideas the team can consider is to perhaps look at creating an "Advanced Hifdh Workbook" someday, where they can include other similar verses and progressive difficulty-based advanced questions. Perhaps also link this to some tech. If there's a need, they can also create a Workbook where the script is based on the Indo-Pak script.
Many things can be done, but this is a great effort and contribution towards the Qur'ān. Even someone as solid as Abdullah Hanook says this is a must-have book.
Concluding words on the Hifdh Workbook
I would first like to congratulate Hafiz Tameem and Hafiz Abrar on this noble effort in trying to make the hifdh experience better and provide students of the Qur'ān (and Huffādh) the opportunity to consolidate their hifdh.
I do think it is a game-changer. I've been teaching for over 15 years and I have never seen anything like it. They have provided the Ummah in the West (English speakers) with a much-needed tool, not just for students but teachers likewise. If a teacher is off on emergency or off sick, students can go through their workbook. You can do group sessions, compete, and have students engage in ways you couldn't previously.
I see this work as a launchpad for further improvements in both teaching and learning experiences. And it is a must for Hifz classes, Hifz teachers, and those doing hifdh in whatever capacity.
May Allāh grant success!