How To Use The Five Senses When Doing Hifz ul-Quran

As we embark on this noble journey of learning and reciting the Words of Allāh, we encounter various techniques and strategies to enhance our memorisation capabilities. One of the most powerful and modern principles of learning is the integration of our five senses, which profoundly impacts the way we retain and recall information.

According to the principle of integration of the five senses, our ability to remember information is influenced as follows:

  • We remember 20% of what we read
  • We remember 30% of what we hear
  • We remember 40% of what we see
  • We remember 50% of what we say
  • We remember 60% of what we do
  • We remember 90% of what we see, hear, say, and do simultaneously

This implies that the more senses we engage during the learning process, the better we remember.

Applying the Principle to Qur'ān Memorisation

Each of us has a dominant sense that we rely on during the learning and memorisation process. For instance, some individuals are visual learners and prefer learning through images, shapes, and colours, relying primarily on their sense of sight. Others are auditory learners who enjoy hearing different sounds and tones, relying mainly on their sense of hearing. Additionally, some people rely on their tactile and gustatory senses, emphasising feelings, touch, and taste. Combining these senses is the key to enhanced memorisation. If you haven’t discovered your learning style yet, take this quiz to find out.

Utilising Eye Indicators

The eyes play a crucial role in the memorisation process. They serve as a window to the mind, directing us towards essential information stored in our memories. Here are eye indicators that demonstrate the integration of senses:

  1. Visual Recall: When we recall an image, our eyes tend to shift to the extreme left. For example, remembering our elementary school days, the eyes move towards the far left while recalling the colour of the classroom wall.
  2. Visual Imagination: When imagining an image not present in memory, the eyes move to the extreme right. For instance, picturing a car with wings, the eyes look to the far right.
  3. Auditory Recall: When recalling a sound, the eyes move towards the middle left.
  4. Auditory Imagination: When imagining a sound not heard before, the eyes shift towards the middle right.
  5. Emotions and Feelings: When experiencing emotions or feelings, the eyes move downwards, emphasising the importance of connecting emotionally with the āyāt of the Qur'ān al-Kareem.

These indicators facilitate optimal memorisation and recall by engaging multiple senses simultaneously.

The Optimal Way to Hold the Qur'ān

Based on eye indicators, the optimal way to hold the Qur'ān for memorisation is at a 45-degree angle, slightly above the left eye for right-handed individuals and slightly above the right eye for left-handed individuals. This position enhances visual recall and strengthens the connection between sight, hearing, and emotions, leading to more effective memorisation.

Five Steps to Integration-Based Memorisation

  1. Hold the Qur'ān above the left eye (for right-handed) and above the right eye (for left-handed) at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Take a deep breath to calm your mind before starting the memorisation process.
  3. While looking towards the extreme left, read the first verse out loud and melodiously. Beautify your recitation, for the Prophet (ﷺ) said, "He is not one of us who does not recite the Qur'ān melodiously (with Tajweed and melody)."
  4. Take a deep breath again.
  5. Lower your head, directing your gaze to the lower right (the emotional area), and recite the verse you just memorised from your heart.

By following these five steps, you integrate your senses effectively and increase the efficiency of your memorisation.

After memorising the first line, proceed as follows:

  • Begin memorising the second line just as you did with the first line.
  • Once you have memorised the second line, recite both the first and second lines together before moving on to the third line. This step aims to establish a connection between the memorised verses. Remember, connecting the verses is more important than memorising new ones. Keep your head lowered with closed eyes, focusing on your heart during this step.
  • Proceed to memorise the third line individually, then recite all three lines together (first, second, and third). Repeat this process for all subsequent lines.

Important Notes:

  1. If you encounter difficulty in recalling a verse due to forgetting, do not immediately open the Qur'ān. Instead, try one of the following steps first:

    - Attempt to remember the visual image of the Qur'ān by looking towards the top left (visual recall).
    - Try to recall the sound of the verse by looking towards the middle left (auditory recall).

    Only if these steps prove ineffective should you then open the Qur'ān to review the verse. It is essential not to get into the habit of immediately reaching for the Qur'ān whenever you encounter a challenge.
  2. Divide each page of the Qur'ān into two halves and memorise each half separately. Connect the last line of the first half with the first line of the second half (lines seven and eight). This technique capitalises on the mind's tendency to retain the beginning and end of information more effectively.
  3. If your eyes become fatigued from looking towards the top left, you can hold the Qur'ān at the auditory recall or the unfocused gaze position (eyes looking forward) until your eyes recover.

These are the fundamental rules for holding the Qur'ān and the memorisation process. Try implementing these techniques, and you will witness remarkable improvements in the speed and efficiency of your memorisation.

Always remember, when memorizing the Qur'ān, have complete faith and confidence in your mental abilities, bestowed upon you by Almighty Allāh. Believe in your potential and trust in Allah's guidance. Visualise yourself on the Day of Judgment, with the Qur'ān interceding on your behalf. Envision being told to recite and ascend the highest levels of paradise.

This visualisation will aid you in your memorisation journey. What are you waiting for?

Reading/Writing & Kinesthetic Type of Learners

Let’s now dive into Qur'ān memorisation tips for reading/writing and kinesthetic learners.

Are You a Reading/Writing & Kinesthetic Type of Learner?

Here are some of the most common strengths and characteristics these learners have:

  • They move around a lot
  • They prefer not to sit still
  • They move a lot while studying
  • They like to participate in learning
  • They like to do things rather than read about them
  • They do not prefer reading
  • They do not spell well
  • They enjoy problem solving by doing
  • They like to try new things
  • They talk with hands or gestures
  • They select clothes according to comfort
  • They like to touch objects

The following is what they tend to do as learning aids:

  • They practice by repeating motions
  • They write words; use markers, pens, pencils to see if they “feel right”
  • When memorizing, they use a finger to write on the table or in the air
  • They associate a feeling with information
  • They stretch
  • They write on a white board in order to use gross muscle movement
  • They use the computer
  • Study in short time periods; get up and walk around in between
  • They make study tools to hold like using flashcards; that separate into “know” and “don’t know” piles
  • They use plastic letters and magnetic boards for new vocabulary
  • They write and rewrite to commit to memory

Tips to Help You Memorise the Qur'ān

Write down the letters of each verse

One of the problems many face when memorising is linking verses. Especially when trying to recall the start of the next page. One way to deal with this is by writing down the first letter of every word on a separate sheet of paper as you read or recite the verse. One of my students felt the need to do this when memorising specific chapters. He’d do it in English by simply writing down what the first word of each verse on the page. It worked!

Use a pencil whilst reading

Another technique is to trace or follow the words with your finger as you read from the Qur'ān or from a Qur'ān app. Many have found that using a pencil or touch pen is far more effective. It gives the reader more focus and a great way to reinforce memorisation through sense of touch.

Get physical

This technique is especially good for those with a busy schedule. Qur'ān memorisation apps are great tools for this very purpose. You can play the audio of the verses you want to memorise on loop while driving, exercising, or doing housework.

In many places within Africa, Muslim Qur'ān institutions use movement as a tool to aid memorisation. In one class, ‘Abdul Halim in West Africa told me that they use writing slabs in class. The students sit in a circle and the teacher is in the middle. Whilst sitting they memorise new verses but everyone has to stand up and walk around in a circle when revising.

The teacher recognised that the students were too bored sitting around and this method did the trick. If you memorise with a Mus-haf, you can always move around whilst reading. Myself and my students do it all the time (they even play with a ball). It gives us more focus and motivation.

Competitive games

For two of my students, I had to invent two games on the spot in order for them to begin memorisation starting with the letters. I recognised that they weren’t good with books (both young boys) and so within the class, I told them to put the books away. We then made a board game together where he’d compete against me and another.

For the other boy, I asked him to play a competitive game involving forwards and backwards small and large steps. They had to answer questions and recall words or verses, if they got it right they moved one step closer to the target, if they got it wrong, they move one step backwards.

These are all effective means to utilise when trying to memorise.

What Can You Do – Try Different Methods

In this series we’ve spoken about visual, auditory, read/write and kinesthetic learners and what they can do when memorizing the Qur’ān.

We’ve learnt that visual learners should take advantage of drawing, writing and mindmaps. Auditory learners should take advantage of listening, recording, group memorisation, teaching, storytelling, verbal games and even flashcards. We saw in this post that read/write and kinesthetic learners can use competitive games, combining reading with physical activity, writing and using a pencil/finger as an aid.

This brings me to my last point.

Despite knowing that we are all different and have different strengths in learning, the world is not as black and white. That is why the VARK model provides four scores and also why there are mixtures of those four modes. Those who do not have a standout mode with one preference score well above other scores, are defined as multimodal.

They are of two types. There are those who are flexible in their communication preferences and who switch from mode to mode depending on what they are working with. They are context specific. They choose a single mode to suit the occasion or situation. If they have to deal with legalities they will apply their read/write preference. If they are to watch the demonstration of a technique they will be expressing their kinesthetic preference.

There are others who are not satisfied until they have had input (or output) in all of their preferred modes. They take longer to gather information from each mode and, as a result, they often have a deeper and broader understanding. They may be seen as procrastinators or slow-deliverers but some may be merely gathering all the information before acting – and their decision making and learning may be better because of that breadth of understanding.

And so the best benefit comes from a mixed modality, for instance I used auditory, visual and read/write techniques for myself and many of my students.

May Allāh bless you in your Qur'ān memorisation efforts, and remember, this is a long-term journey. Stay consistent, even if it’s small, and you will reach your goal successfully.

Let’s now dive into Qur'ān memorisation tips for auditory learners.

Are You An Auditory Learner?

Auditory learners tend to have the following characteristics.

  • They like to read to self out loud, subvocalize when they read or like to be read to.
  • They sit where they can hear and retain best when they hear.
  • They are good at explaining things.
  • They remember names and things they hear.
  • They notice sound effects in movies or things they watch.
  • They are good at grammar and foreign languages.
  • They read slowly.
  • They follow spoken directions well.
  • They can’t keep quiet for long periods.
  • They are good in study groups.

Due to these strengths and characteristics, aural learners tend to:

  • Use word association to remember facts and lines.
  • Record things.
  • Watch videos.
  • Repeat facts with eyes closed.
  • Participate in group discussions.
  • Use audiotapes for language practice.
  • Make recording notes after writing them.

Aural Tips to Memorise the Qur'ān

The common tip you hear, even from me, are to use recording and listening to your advantage. Listen to verses of the Qur'ān recited by yourself as well as a Qari.

  • Ayah looping function
  • Record yourself and listen back
  • Group challenges

This stuff works and was something that I did myself in the world before mobile apps existed. Today, I want to give you other tips that can also work for you in tandem.

Group Memorisation

This is a concept that has spread throughout the world, it’s something I’ve seen in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco. The idea actually has its roots in Pakistan. In 1962, Shaykh Muhammad Yusuf Siti started a Quran memorisation groups movement and it eventually reached Madinat-ul-Munawwarah.

Practically, as an aural learner, the advantage of group memorization is that as a mixed group of individuals you get to bounce off each other and to listen to one another.

Use flashcards or photos

Whether you are memorizing a few lines, verses or even a full page – flashcards or photos will come in handy.

Flashcards can be used for the words that you keep forgetting or have difficulty with to even jotting down whole verses. If you don’t like to write, take a photo on your phone. You can then use these throughout the day or week to recite out loud from and test yourself.

Play verbal games

One of the games I’ve conducted is a “throw and recite” game. As a group or individual, you take a ball and each time you throw it you need to recite a verse or portion of the verse. You continue doing rounds until you complete it. This worked wonders with some of my students.

Create a story to tell out loud

To memorize the start of each ayah, you will make a story up with a location and the ayah. For example:

You smash through your front gate and say ‘Bismillah”

You are knocking on your front door and accidentally burp. You say ‘Al-hamdulillah’

You get the picture? This is an even stronger method when you incorporate the meanings of the verses into the equation.

Teach someone else the verses

This is one of the strongest things an aural learner can do. As an aural learner myself, I always turn to teaching. When you memorize verses and have it listened to, you’ve completed the first step. Now you have to maintain it and one of the ways is to incorporate teaching into your revision plan.

If you have kids, teach them or if you have no one to teach, pretend to teach someone. As you keep recalling it, you will associate those verses with that session and In shā’ Allāh, you will never forget it.

You can read more on learning by listening where I explore methods.

A common question I get asked is, “What is the best method to memorise the Qur'ān?” and the answer is never the same.

This is because everyone of us has a different learning style that best suits us. The VARK model, identifies four primary types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Each learning type responds best to a different method of teaching. So when you memorise the Qur'ān, you need to identify your strengths and learning style first.

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