Ottoman Quran Hifz Method

The Ottoman method of memorising Quran is a unique Quran memorization method widely used in Bosnia and Turkey. You can even find it being used in schools as far as Malaysia!

Core Principles of the Ottoman Hifz Method

The Ottoman Hifz Method is founded on a few key principles that ensure effective memorisation:

  1. Structured Repetition: The method involves a systematic approach to repetition, ensuring the verses are deeply ingrained in the memory.
  2. Consistency: Regular review sessions are essential to prevent forgetting what has been memorised.

The Stacking System

It uses what I call the stacking system. When you're building something, you start from the bottom. Say, you're building a lego block, you'd create the foundational blocks and then begin to build on top of it. When it comes to memorizing the Qur'an, this method uses something similar. You start from the bottom but it uses an unconventional approach.

How do you begin?

The Qur'an of choice is the 15-lined mus'haf. Day one will look different depending on what system is being used by the teacher. There are some differences.

One system will have you begin to memorize from the 30th Juz' first. A total focus on that. It's a great way to start. It has more pages than any other Juz', covers every Tajweed rule you'd need to know, and has a great range of āyāt (small to medium). After this, some will go on to the 29th or memorize specific sūrah, such as Yāsīn, al-Wāq'iah, ar-Rahmān, and al-Mulk. After this, they will go on to start rounds of stacking. I'll explain this shortly.

Another system will have you memorize the 30th Juz' and then start a round of stacking. Others will not start with the 30th at all - but will begin with the stacking system itself.

How does the stacking system work?

You will start memorizing a page a day but starting from the last page of the first Juz'. The way to memorize it can be to either begin from the first line to the last or from the last line to the first. The next day you move on to the last page of the second Juz'. Then the same for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and so on. In this way, by the end of the month, you will have finished 29 or 30 pages. One page per Juz'. This is round one. Each round can last between 29/30 (minimum) to 40 days (max).

So in other words, you are stacking pages together over time. You begin with the 20th page of Sūrah al-Baqarah (وقال كونوا). After that, count another 20 pages and memorize the 40th page of Sūrah al-Baqarah (فلما فصل or و قال لهم نبيهم). After memorizing that, keep counting every 20 pages and memorize until you reach the end. This will complete one round of stacking.

Now you will go on to memorize the 19th page of Sūrah al-Baqarah (the page right before وقال كونوا or و قال لهم نبيهم), then count another 20 pages until you reach the 39th page of Sūrah al-Baqarah (ألم تر إلى الملاء or ألم تر إلى الذين خرجوا) and so on.

This means, using the 15-lined Mus'haf (copy of Qur'an), you will make at least 20 rounds of learning a page per juz'. This is a 20 month period.

Does this mean you have to read:

  • in accumulation, constantly stacking?
  • 30 pages on day 30?
  • 60 pages on day 60?
  • 90 pages on day 90?
  • then eventually the entire Qur'an in one go?

Technically yes. This is part and parcel of the stacking system. What the method attempts to do is remove the need for recent memorization and an old memorization cycle that is typical of other methods. In this way, the Ottoman method combines new memorization and revision together without having to stop your momentum to stop and revise.

Is there a program with stages used for the method?

Yes. A typical structure used in schools looks like this:

  1. Khatm - You must first complete at least 10 readings of the Qur'ān. Recitation fluency and pronunciation is a core focus. You must be able to recite a page within 2 minutes.
  2. Chi - If you qualify with the Khatm, you take Chi, which means new memorization. In a school this would be 9 hours daily at minimum, 6 days a week.
  3. Zor Pismis - This is repeating difficult verses.
  4. Kolay Pismis - This is the repetition of easier verses.
  5. Tekrar - repetition of everything.
  6. Tekrar Hepsi Seyfa - repetiion of the pages from the Juz'.
  7. Has - a final test reciting the entire Qur'an or 10 ajzā' a day.
graph TD; A[Khatm - Complete at least 10 readings] -->|Qualify| B[Chi - New memorization] B --> C[Zor Pismis - Repeating difficult verses] B --> D[Kolay Pismis - Repetition of easier verses] C --> E[Tekrar - Repetition of everything] D --> E E --> F[Tekrar Hepsi Seyfa - Repetition of pages from Juz'] F --> G[Has - Final test recitation]

Should you use this method?

  • The system is designed for a specific type of individual: those who can recite quickly (no understanding), and memorize quickly.
  • It's suitable for those who wish to go full-time. I tried the method in various modified forms to see if it could work part-time and it's difficult to pull off with consistency.
  • Scholars have disagreements about using the method. Notable scholars in Istanbul perceive this method to be the best way to memorize - period!
  • Caution: If a student uses this, you will attain perfect memorization, but any inconsistency and drawbacks can lead to memorizing inconsistent disconnected parts of the Qur'an. So you would find continuation a challenge.
  • If you're not a consistent person, I wouldn't attempt it.

How do you revise using this method?

Revision is baked into it. There's not a separate system. You memorize every last page of each Juz' (that's 30 days) and on the 31st day, you memorize the second last page of the Juz' and repeat the last page too. So when you give your memorization you have a fresh page that you have done and one from your last. You keep on stacking up your pages as so, which means you have your review within the system.

Can you use the method for revision for what you have already memorized?

  • If you've memorized the entire Qur'ān and it's weak, you can use this system to strengthen it.
  • Let's say, you struggle with your revision cycle. You go through one round and you find that you have a weakness again. Using this method instead would mean that you can batch pages together. This can be for example 5 pages per 5 juz' a day, or anything else that you can think of.

You can read more about the stacking system and other use cases.

May Allāh grant blessing!

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