This article will analyse and review the method in detail and look at a study that took place in Malaysia who adopted the method in a memorisation school.
It is said that the origins of this method leads us back to a teacher who was from India, Panipati, a province in India. Pioneering this method, he spent his life teaching it in Pakistan and helped create thousands of Huffādh. This is why some call this method the Panipati method. Although I understand the Panipati method to be a derivative of the most common subcontinental method.
This method is widely used across the world and is without doubt successful. Even I used to memorise using this method. To my surprise, I recently learnt that this method had been adopted in some Malaysian memorisation schools since 1989!
Let’s take a look.
The basic core elements are three
The process of memorising and retaining the Qur’ān is broken into three categories basics:
(1) New lesson/portion. This is called the Sabaq (or Sabak).
(2) Recent memorisation portions. This is called the Sabqi(or Sabki).
(3) Old memorisation. This is called the Manzil(or Dhor).
These are the core. We’ll go into detail on each but before I do, let’s mention the second method.
The Panipati method adds other elements to it that adds up to 7 elements. This method is most commonly used in madrasah environments, today, more so in Malaysia who have similar Four Stage Method. This method has the following 7:
(1) New lesson/portion. This is called the Sabaq (or Sabak).
(2) Six of the most recent memorised portions. This is called the Six Sabaq (or Chey Sabak).
(3) Recitation of one juz’ here is called the Sabqi (or Sabqi).
(4) Recitation of verses of less fluency. This is called the Separah.
(5) Recitation of the Qur’ān that they haven’t memorised yet. This is called the Mutlaah.
(6) Recitation of the Qur’ān once you have completed memorisation in order to strengthen it. This is called the Tarteeb Waqf (or Wikaf).
(7) The seal is a ceremony called the Dastar Bandi where upon successful examination you are basically a graduate.
The new memorisation, the new lesson “Sabaq”
This is the start of memorsing something from the Qur’ān. The time period for this is typically 1 to 2 hours every day. The muṣḥaf they use is mainly the 13-lined or a 16-lined one. I used to use the 16-lined one myself. Although, nowadays people also use the 15-lined one too.
How much do you memorise in this period? The starting point depends upon your ability. The starting point is typically from the small Suwar from the 30th Juz’. So surah an-Nās, then al-Falaq and making your way up to Surah an-Naba’. From here, typically they will move to the 1st Juz’, not the 29th.
In some Madrasah’s (Faislabad, Pakistan and Kuala Lampur, Malaysia), students will learn Sabaq for two hours in the evening (7pm till 9pm). Then they have to recite this to the teacher after Fajr the next day. Before they do, they spend an hour before Fajr making Tahajjud prayers and work in groups on their memorisation in order to solidify them.
The new sabaq can be memorised any way that the student feels works for them. It is left to the student so there’s not a specific technique they use. Typically they may use something like this using a 15-lined:
- Whatever you would like to memorise, read it 10–20 times while looking into the muṣḥaf. (Though this could be a small sūrah). You must be doing all of this out loud.
- Read the first āyah on the page 10–20 times while looking into the muṣḥaf.
- Now read the same āyah 10–20 times without looking in, until you can recite the āyah without any mistakes.
- Begin connecting the āyāt. Recite the first and second āyāt together without looking in and without mistakes.
- Continue to connect the āyāt on the page. Each time you connect a new āyah, go back to the top of the page and read up to the āyah you have memorised.
- When you reach the last āyah, you should recite the whole page from the top without looking into the muṣḥaf and without any mistakes.
- Recite the page from memory to someone. You must have zero mistakes. Do not move forward except that you have no mistakes here.
- Repeat the above steps as needed to have a perfect page memorised.
Consider methods, tips and techniques from all aspects
- Use your strengths. Audio, read and writing, movement or visual. Even a mix of them all. For example, feel free to write a verse if it is difficult to orally memorise it. Some find they can memorise difficult verses when they write it from the muṣḥaf and onto a piece of paper while reciting it out loud.
- If you falter somewhat in the old memorisation, it is not a big deal. Just do not miss two to three days at once.
- Reviewing is more important than memorising, as I always tell you.
- Focus on perfecting your new lesson and recent memorisation.
- If you find a part is not strong, give preference to reviewing that part rather than memorising something new.
- Read something every day. Not only should we do this as students of hifdh, but it should be our habit as Muslims.
The recent memorisation, new memorisation or six previous “Sabqi”
This is the amount of Qur’ān which you have memorised in the last six days, two weeks, or month. This is a solidification process and is taken seriously, as it will determine if the āyāt you memorised will be solid for your life or not.
Retaining/reviewing in this method is typically a 25 to 30-day process. After those days, reviewing once a month or so should suffice your overall memorisation.
- This section must always be recited to someone who has either memorised the āyāt or is well-versed in reading the Qur’ān. Ideally, the teacher.
- If you have memorised five pages in the last five days, you must recite them to yourself without any errors. Then go recite it to a qualified person.
- From this point on, whatever you memorise will be read daily. When we say read, it means reviewed to yourself without mistakes and recited to a qualified person.
- If for some reason you did not review your sabqi for the day, then do not memorise new āyāt. You will be pouring water into a cup with a hole. Each day you do not review the sabqi, you are making the hole in your cup bigger and bigger until you will not remember anything! (If you did not review a page for seven days consecutively, go back to the new lesson and re-memorise the page). You must make sure you’re reviewing your recent memorisation!
- If you memorise a page a day, you will finish a juz’ in twenty days on average, give or take. After these twenty days, take five extra days to review the whole juz’ with someone proficient.
- The juz’ you have memorised will now be considered a part of your old memorisation.
In the six-day method, however, they don’t do this. Instead, after the students finished reading sabaq, they are required to read six sabaq that is six times memorisation of the latest or six days memorisation of the previous. For example, if the students memorise the page ten of first juz’ , therefore six sabaq is on page nine, eight, seven, six, five and four. These recitations should be infront of the group’s teacher. Students need to smoothen the six sabaq to ensure that they can continue to memorise on the next day. If students failed to recite the six sabaq well enough, then they are not allowed to memorise the new verses, unless after obtaining consent from the group’s teacher. The time to perform six sabaq is after the recitation of sabaq until 8.30am in the morning (in the madrasah’s).
Let’s look at some examples of what we’re looking at.
Day 1 — Memorise sabaq from page 1 of Juz’ 2 + read the previous memorisation which could be the entire Juz’ 2, or two weeks worth, or a weeks worth.
Day 2 — Memorise sabaq from page 2 of Juz’ 2 + read the previous memorisation which could be the entire Juz’ 2, or two weeks worth, or a weeks worth including yesterdays portion.
The old memorisation (Manzil or Dhor)
This is the third thing to read in the day after Sabqi. Although for the Panipati method, this is also called Sabqi. This is anything you have reviewed for at least 25 to 30 days consecutively. The amount you review depends on how much Qur’ān you’ve memorised or you’ll be given a set amount. This is often the entire previous juz’. Once you’ve memorised the Qur’ān, you’ll continue with this element only. This will continue for the rest of your life.
In the Madrasah that uses the Panipati method, the time to recite sabqi is after the completion of six sabaq until 9:30am in the morning. Sabqi will be recited in front of their respective teacher. Not all students will be called upon to recite sabqi infront their teacher, however students must always be ready to be called for.
For example, if a student memorised on page 62, therefore page 62 is sabaq, page 61, 60, 59, 58, 57 and 56 is the six sabaq. Meanwhile Sabqi is from page 36 to page 55, that is one juz’ behind six sabaq. This is an example if a student memorises one page each day.
Others will take another approach in how much you review per day in accordance to how much you’ve memorised. They might look like this:
- Between 1-3 juz, you should review five pages daily.
- Between 4-7 juz, you should review 10 pages (which equals half the juz) daily.
- Between 7-15 juz, you should review 20 pages (which equals one juz) daily.
- Between 15-20 juz, you should review 30 pages (which equals 1.5 juz) daily.
- Between 20-30 juz, you should review 60 pages (which equals 2 juz) daily.
- This is usually reciting the juz’, to yourself and then to a teacher or listener.
Most systems that use these three elements say you cannot make more than 1–3 mistakes in each element. Some say in the manzil/dhor you cannot make more than 4. What constitutes a mistake will differ teacher to teacher. When I was memorising it was 3. Some will include stutters too. A mistake classifies as reading something incorrectly and not being able to correct it. A stutter classifies reading something incorrectly, being sent back a few āyāt to correct it, and finally reading it correctly. At the same time, you should not make more than one mistake or one stutter for every five pages you read. In a new lesson, only one stutter is acceptable, nothing more.
The worst thing about these madrasah’s is that for each mistake when reciting sabqi, students will be caned for a total of three strokes for just making one mistake! This method requires patience and fortitude to every student who follows this. They believe, to follow this method, students must be dedicated and truly interested in the memorisation of the Qur’ān because this method imposes heavy penalties for students who are unable to follow it very well. Apparently, caning is fundamental in implementing this method. It’s normal and customary as to ensure the students will successfully memorise the Qur’ān very well and effectively.
I am totally against this and think it’s a disgrace. There’s no need for it nor does it have any basis in the Deen. On the contrary, other Madrasah’s use a reward system like:
- If you complete one juz’, you get a certificate.
- If you reach 10 ajzā’, you get a certificate and a small medal.
- You reach 15 ajzā’, you get a certificate and a class party.
- You reach 20 ajzā’, you get a certificate and a large medal.
- You reach 30 ajzā’, you get a trophy and gifts presented on a special occasion.
- If you complete a certain amount per year, you get a certificate at the end of the year.
Merit and reward based on effort is far better.
The extras that the Panipati adds
During the separa, students spend the hours 10:00am to 12:00 noon to repeat the memorisation of verses that have been memorised with less fluency. From 12:00 noon to 2:00pm students who follow this method are required to sleep. This is one aspect is compulsory for every student. Based off on the prophetic sunnah, they use this so that energy can be restored to the students for attending classes in the afternoon.
Next up is the Mutlaah where students are required to recite verses from the Qur’ān which will later be memorised by looking to ensure that the recitation is accurate and with good tajweed. At 2:30 pm the students are required to be in their respective groups. The students are required to read accurately in terms of tajweed infront of the teacher to ensure that recitation is correct and stable. The rate of recitation is based on the ability of the students who wish to memorise these verses. Normally the students will read from only page one until page four in front of their respective teacher.
Call it the familiarisation period. These verses must be repeated several times to facilitate memorisation. After recitation of mutlaah infront of the teacher, students are required to proceed with the preparation of separah recitation on the next day. The recitation limit is not determined by the teacher rather it is left to the students to decide. Normally the students will choose the juz’ which they are not so fluent for recitation.
After the student has memorised all 30 juz’, they must repeat it all for Tarteeb Wikaf. These students are still bound by the ordinary memorisation system and timeframes. The time taken to sit for this class is within three months.
In the morning the students must recite a total of five juz’. This means that within six days the students were able to complete 30 juz’. Later on they will be tested by their respective teachers to ensure there is a smooth memorisation. For each mistake, they will be caned. Normally in each juz, two questions will be asked to each student.
Upon completion of three months, students will be sitting an examination. They will be tested with a variety of questions from the entire Qur’ān. Normally they are asked randomly for 10 questions and each question should be recited in about three pages. When the students have been successful at this level, they will be considered to have passed the memorisation of the Qur’ān, but for those students who fail, they have to repeat this process again by sitting an examination for the next session.
Dastar Bandi comes next which is a graduation given to students who completed their recitation passed examination. The successful student will be awarded with a special turban by the Dean of the school.
The Panipati Schedule
So in total they 10 hours a day at this madrasah with the day looking like this:
Sabak = 7:00 Evening – 9:00 Evening
Sixth Sabak = 6:30 Morning – 8:30 Morning
Sabki = 8:30 Morning – 9:30 Morning
Separah = 10:00 Morning – 12:00 Noon
Mutlaah = 2:30 Afternoon – 4:30 Afternoon
Based on the schedule and daily activities of Panipati methods, the students utilise the time to memorise the verses of the Qur’ān for 10 hours and to repeat the verses of the Qur’ān in one day. For the new memorisation (Sabaq), students take about 2 hours, whilst 8 hours is utilised by the students to repeat the old verses.
This is the subcontinental method based off several different approaches.
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