Using Flashcards For Hifz (Quran Memorisation)

Using flashcards for your Hifz (Qur’ān memorisation) can be very helpful and for many other use cases. Students use them for revision. Students use them to memorise languages. Whether you’re using an index card, a flashcard, a flashcard maker app, cardflow, or any note paper, it has come in useful for so many.

How can flashcards help you with your Qur’ān memorisation?

They can help you memorise Qur’ān, review it and correct mistakes you might be making.

A student asked me:

‘I have my final Juz’ 30 Hifdh test tomorrow and I am still getting stuff wrong…’

‘I forget Madds, sometimes I get ‘ayn (ع) and hamza (ء) mixed up, sometimes I mix a few āyāt or get the similar āyāt confused…’

This particular student recently started memorising after University while working full-time. She had long forgotten what she had memorised when she was younger from the 30th Juz’. She was used to reciting with bad Tajweed habits.

So the question was how could she review better with all these issues?

I knew she used to use index cards for her revision for her secular studies so I told her to use the same strategy for hifz. Use flashcards!

It’s something many people use for Hifz and have thousands of cards!! Some call them: memory cards but, if you want to give them a try, go for it!

How to use flashcards for your Hifz

Write the specific issue you face with a reference or association to remember it with on one side of the card. On the other side write in Arabic the actual word(s) from the āyah. (If you intend to memorise an āyah, write the āyah on one side, and write the translation on the other side).

The more you see the card and engage with the words, the more you’re going to remember. You can use physical cards or apps and can even write the meanings and cues to aid memorisation. You can even use post-it notes to place strategically throughout your home so that you see them more and more.

You might be wondering how the student got on with this. I checked in on her to see if she did anything. She was doing well. I asked her to share what she had done.

The Cardflow Strategy

She said:

‘I’m using an app called Cardflow (iPad). You can make your own cards and arrange them on a board in whatever order you want.

I wanted to review juz 30 so I split it up into 7 parts so I can review the full juz once a week. Then I spent a week making the notes. So each day I recited one section, recorded myself and listened back to the recording. Every single mistake I made I wrote a flip card for it.

I flip through all the cards daily reciting one section.”

Can I use Anki Flashcards for Hifz?

For those of you that are aware of Anki you can use it as a medium to test yourself. There are also apps like Quran flashcards. Anki is designed to allow people to remember things more easily over time using the spaced repetition theory.

In 2013, brother Zeeshan mentioned that he had memorised using Anki. He said:

“Prior to using spaced repetition, it would take me fifteen to twenty minutes to review a page I had memorized. However, with the help of spaced repetition, I was able to review a page within 3 to 5 minutes and a complete Juz within one to one and a half hours! And this was for a guy like me who has a horrible memory. And the best part is that I felt no tension while reviewing.

This technique is often used by people who learn languages and need to memorize large lists of vocabulary. Psychologists are shocked that schools do not implement spaced repetition to teach information. They say not using this system despite the research which supports its effectiveness is like a person who has weak eyesight but refuses to wear glasses despite knowing that glasses can help him see properly!

Using Anki is simple. Once you have downloaded the software you just need to create flashcards for what you have memorized. How I do this is that I put a page of the Quran I have memorized into the Back of the Card and the page before that into the Front of the card. Then I enter the phrase “Recite the page which follows” in the Front of the card. Whenever, it is time to review the page, the program shows me the Front of the card and I see the “Review Next Page” command and I try to recall what I have memorized.

If you find using software difficult then you can implement spaced repletion manually for what you have memorized. Simply follow this formula. Whenever you memorize a portion of the Quran, review it 1 day after you have memorized it. Then review it after 3 days.

After that take the last interval which in this case is 3 days, divide it by 2, round it up, and then add the result to the previous interval to get the next interval. So in this case the next interval would be 5 days since 3 divided by 2 is 1.5. Round it up and you get 2. Add that to 3 and you get 5.

When you revise on the 5th day then to get the next interval divide 5 by 2 and you get 2.5. Round it up and you get 3. Add that to 5 and you have 8 days which is the next interval.

After eight days to get the next interval divide 8 by 2 and you get 4. Add 4 to 8 and you get 12 days which is the next interval.

Using this method you will Insha Allah never forget the Quran and you will feel no pressure when reviewing.

Note: In case you cannot completely recall what you have memorized don’t hesitate to look at what you have missed. With time whatever you have memorized will become a part of long-term memory and you will not forget anything!”

I believe, this method (using spaced repetition) has its own place, but to use it for the Qur’ān requires a number of tweaks. That’s something I’ve been exploring for a number of years. I believe I’m getting closer to a method that can work, in shā’ Allāh.

Allāh grant blessing!

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