Why would you memorise the Qur’ān?

The reason is a personal one, all about self-improvement and growth. The why is all about Allāh and your return to Him.

Some of us are clear on our why but others will struggle to find themselves. They see others and want to be part of it. They find sources of inspiration and feel a spark. They may struggle in a battle with the elders – they wanted me to do it but I never wanted it.

Yes, you should personally want it but stick to the Qur’ān, look at shifting your mindset to think more long term and for your own betterment. How do I use what I have of the Qur’ān? How do I improve things with this newfound relationship? If my parents told me to do it, why did they? They want to want benefit too.

The Qur’ān is a living reality. Hifz ul Qur’ān cannot be compared to other forms of memorisation. It’s beyond them. This is why people say there is no point in memorising. How far from the truth!

A lot of us chase titles, positions, trophies, badges, certificates, and rewards for other things and even for Qur’ān but why don’t we seek depth in what truly matters for your own life and hereafter?

We need to start thinking beyond the ‘memorisation cloud’ and align our objectives to the Qur’ān itself.

Answering the why

When you ask people why they’re memorising the Qur’ān or why they did so, you wil hear things like:

– My mum or dad wanted me to do it;
– I did it for Allāh;
– I wanted to gain the rewards for memorisation like the crown, the promise of ten, and other things.

If I asked some of them whether they would have memorised if the case were different, I’d get a resounding no. No matter how worrying that might be, you can’t say the same for many hundreds of people. Many sacrifice everything to memorise and have clear intentions.

This is the matter I want to touch on today: ‘mindset’.

There is a great truth that I have got to mention. We become agitated and impatient for the finishing line and look at “memorisation” as a race. Qur’ān memorisation is not about the process of memorisation. It’s about being an enabler and a means to other things. It’s a project with a start date but without an end.

At times, parents can get carried away with the desire for their children to memorise the Qur’ān. Their thoughts get clouded by the great rewards in the hereafter and much more. I don’t mean this in a bad sense. I mean to say, the passion and desire can become overbearing for a child. Anyone would love to have a crown placed on their head on the Day of Judgment but, there’s a bigger picture to think about. Not for our sake but for the sake of the memoriser.

What is it that people are missing?

There are two mindsets

There are two types of mindsets you can adopt. I call these:

(a) The Memorisation Box Mindset
(b) The Memorisation Journey Mindset

The Memorisation Box Mindset

This is looking at memorisation within the context of the Qur’ān. The things mentioned above are examples. People concentrate on memorisation, the process, technique, and completion. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that and is important to the journey, it’s a focus on the mechanics but ignoring the dynamics. It’s a memorisation race mindset. You become stuck inside this box. You can’t move.

Frankly, it is a battle to move out of it.

You might change your mindset yourself but others around you might not. Your parents or your teachers may still have the same mindset. So you find yourself continually bombarded with questions and statements like:

– “How much have you memorised now?”
– “Why is memorisation taking you long for?”
– “You should be finishing within x number of years – what’s the matter?”
– “You should eat y and z, and recite a and b to boost your memory.”

Some of you may be thinking at this point, “Hey wait a minute Qāri’, isn’t the work you do all about the memorisation box mindset?”

The content of what I advocate is that you should memorise the Qur’ān with productivity, love, and connection. This is why I concentrate not just on methods but on holistic practical advice. What I don’t do is advocate a sole concentration on memorisation. This is important. I want you to see the whole picture.

It’s the memorisation journey that I explore.

The Memorisation Journey Mindset

This is what you need to aim for.

This is looking at memorisation in the context of Islām. In the context of Dīn: your transactional life with Allāh. It’s about looking at memorisation as a journey of life as opposed to a journey to finish memorisation. And when that’s done, you’re done.

A shift from saying:

“What is my purpose in becoming a Hāfidh?”

to

“What are my objectives for memorising in Islām, Dīn, and life?”

This will work wonders for you.

Becoming a Hāfidh is one thing, and memorising the Qur’ān as a Muslim is another. If you make becoming “Hāfidh” the end-goal of your mission there’s nothing wrong with that. It was my mission and it is likely to be or had been yours too. The thing is that it needs more depth. It needs context, it needs a step-by-step goal-orientated journey.

For example, if it were a blanket statement: “I want to become a Hāfidh in x number of days” what happens if you fail? You’ll make anew or you’ll think you’re a failure (maybe not).

If you said instead, “I’m going to start memorising the Qur’ān because as a Muslim I believe that I have to do such and such a thing. And my first goal is to memorise the 30th chapter which I can then use to such and such a thing.” Like this, you’re more likely to progress with better focus. You make small goals along the way that slowly build-up to the finishing line.

Remember, memorisation is not a race or a marathon but it is a journey for life!

What are some of the objectives of memorising the Qur’ān under this mindset?

1. Seeking the acceptance and pleasure of Allāh

This is without a doubt among the most supreme intentions for memorising the Qur’ān. Make this your aim. Remember these are the Words of Allāh. You might tell me you are memorising because of your parents just like I might have. Perhaps instead say, “I seek the pleasure of Allāh by fulfilling my duty to my parents.” There’s no speech greater than the Qur’ān. “The Qur’ān is more beloved to Allāh than the heavens, the Earth, and all that they contain.” – Sunan Dārimī. Your aim is ultimately this.

2. Seeking proximity with Allāh and His Messenger

The Beloved of Allāh, our master Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as narrated by ‘Umar b. Al-Khattāb (May Allāh be well pleased with him) said:

“Actions are valued according to the intentions, and every man is credited with what he intended. If someone’s emigration was to Allāh and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), his emigration was therefore to Allāh and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). And if someone’s emigration was to acquire worldly benefit or to take a woman in marriage, his emigration was to that which he emigrated.”

You may say I’m memorising because it is a dream of mine to be able to say “I have committed to memory 600+ pages containing the Words of Allāh.” You should instead say, “I seek the pleasure and acceptance of Allāh through aiming to protect His Words by Hifdh.”

One of the quickest ways to become close to Allāh is to become closer to His Words and His Beloved (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). One of the prime methods to do so is through the Qur’ān itself. So make proximity part of your mindset.

3. To enrich and further enjoy salāh

The more you memorise, the more you can experience through the salāh. Unfortunately. many Huffādh race to finish reciting just like those who haven’t memorised. They always read the same verses when leading the prayer on rotate. Why would you memorise the Qur’ān if you are just going to read certain chapters or portions all the time? There might be a genuine reason you might do it like the Ansāri mentioned in the Hadith of Anas, who used to recite Sūrah Ikhlās in every rak’āh. His reason was his love for the Sūrah because it speaks about Allāh, upon which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said he would enter into Paradise.

But your memorisation should be a means to make your prayer better. You can recite long passages and short, you can recite from different places, or you can recite the whole Qur’ān – why not.

This is something I never appreciated. My dad always told me to recite the Qur’ān as revision in the daily prayers. He always told me to stop reading the smaller suwar and recite other verses (when leading the prayer). I didn’t do it. Most people don’t do it. I learned a hard lesson. My reason for not doing so was in light of those praying behind me as well as a fear of forgetting. I could easily start reading Surah Baqarah but you have to take into account others. There could be people who can’t stand for long and others who have to leave. Most people have to realise this through experience. I am no different. Start to recite the Qur’ān as revision in the prayer. Just try it. Reciting in the prayer will make your memorisation stronger.

Remember a lot of people may only know between one to four chapters by heart, if not up to ten. Their prayers are on the same routine all the time. Pencil in your prayers as a goal.

A point related to this, and one that I find annoying is that memorisation has become about leading the Tarāwīh night prayers in Ramadān and a payday. As if memorisation is centered around it. I’ve found this to be the case in certain circles. Again this is all to do with mindset. This is wrong on so many levels. It illustrates one thing – people need to think more long term and adopt a broader mentality.

4. Increasing joy in recitation

The more you memorise, the more you should enjoy it. Through memorisation, you have lots of repetition. The more you repeat the more you should become connected, the more connected you become, you being to feel more joy and sweetness from its recitation. There are a lot of rewards too (10x a letter).

Through that repetition, you make corrections and through that, you improve your recitation. You should make the sweetness and enjoyment of the recitation of the Qur’ān a goal. Memorising with this in your mindset makes listening to the Qur’ān an enjoyment too. Don’t underestimate listening.

5. To inspire action according to the Qur’ān

The Hadith which I discussed talks about the Sāhib al Qur’ān. As pointed out the word ‘Sāhib’ can mean companion, friend, holder, keeper, or authority. Although I like to translate it as ‘reciter’, in the literal sense it is companionship. Here’s the Hadith:

‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Amr narrates that the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“It will be said [on the Day of Judgement] to the reciter* of the Qur’ān: ‘Recite and be uplifted [in your rank]! And recite in the distinct manner (Tartīl) as you used to recite in the world. For indeed your rank [in Paradise] will be according to the last verse you recite.’”
– Al-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājah, Ibn Hibbān, Al-Hakim, Bayhaqi, Ibn Abi Shaybah.

A companion holds a sense of friendship, loyalty, and most importantly – a continuum. If we took this Hadith to mean those who memorised the Qur’ān, we can’t say so as a fact. But one thing for certain is the word ‘Sāhib’. Memorisation itself is not the most spectacular thing according to this Hadith. It’s a means to an end.

Did you know that there are non-Muslims who read and memorise the Qur’ān? What would make you different? – The emphasis on practice.

This is what the Hadith is indicating by the word ‘Sāhib’. Some scholars have even said this reciter will only be able to recite those verses he or she had practised. The companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, and may Allāh be pleased with them) had this mindset. They would memorise something new until they’d put into implementation what they already had memorised. This is why this is a must in the memorisation journey mindset.

6. To become a guardian or preserver of the Qur’ān

Islām has always had an incredible oral tradition. Remember that we’re looking at goals within the context of Islām. The transmission of Islamic sciences has been through chains of authority. Hadīth went through a rigorous transmission process. Likewise, the Qur’ān is impossible to distort due to millions adhering to the same oral tradition.

Imām Muslim quotes from ‘Abdullāh ibn al-Mubārak, who states: “The Isnād (chain of authority) is a necessary part of Dīn. If there was no chain of authority then everyone would have said whatever he wanted to say.”

So remember this, no matter how much you memorise you are contributing to the preservation of the Qur’ān.

7. Memorise as preparation for further studies or teaching

Knowing the Qur’ān by heart creates a strong foundation for studying further and makes it easier. There are many traditional schools that make it a prerequisite that you are a Hāfidh before you can study under them. Many great scholars also had and have the same policy. It is well established that the first point of call in the journey to pursue sacred knowledge is to first memorise the Qur’ān.

Say you don’t intend to memorise the whole Qur’ān, you can one day take what you have memorised, understand it, and act upon it. If you wanted to memorise the whole Qur’ān but never made it there – you can use that memorisation to drive further study.

The best of you is the one who has learnt the Qur’ān and teaches it. You don’t necessarily need to have done all of it to do that.

8. To inculcate a life-long love and engagement with the Qurān

This process should already have begun before you learnt how to recite the Qur’ān. We learn, recite, and complete the Qur’ān in the mosque (or with a teacher) and then leave it to occasions. The reason is that there was no engagement. There was no love. I prefer to incorporate play and storytelling from the Qur’ān. In this way, the children grow up listening to the Qur’ān knowing so much more. They can appreciate more. They see and feel the stories. Following that they immerse themselves into the Arabic textual universe, all excited.

It seems, however, our aims are for children to despise the Qur’ān. We have engineered everything in such a way that it is void of any love, meaning, and joy. In the context of memorisation, far too often we place pressure on ourselves or our children. The pressure is often the race to completion. Despite wanting good, this results in the opposite.

When you’re memorising, you’re not doing it for the present but you’re doing it for the rest of your life and the hereafter.

Those who find themselves pressurised either (1) quit (2) want to finish immediately or (3) finish and then never come back to it. When you sell a product or service and you do a great job, the customers remember it well but they won’t boast about it. If you get on their bad side, they’ll want to tell the whole world. Likewise, when you memorise under pressure you remember those days more than the good days.

9. Making engagement with the Qur’ān easier

Engagement with the Qur’ān centers around three things: (1) recitation, (2) study, and (3) reflection.

Recitation.

Memorising makes recitation easier. As a memoriser or someone who has memorised you are bound to recite more. Revision, prayers, invites, and wherever you may be. A Hāfidh can make the simple plan of covering the revision via prayer – this is easy to do. You can cover at least a third of the Qur’ān, so why read the last 20 surah all the time?

Study/Reflection.

Thousands of Huffādh do not study the translation of the Qur’ān (if they have no understanding) even once ever.

After an amazing effort, they’ve done nothing. You have ample opportunity to do so. An opportunity far greater than those who haven’t memorised. Studying and reflecting over the Qur’ān is for all mankind. Not just for scholars. Yes, perhaps there are a small number of verses to do with law that scholars attention is most needed, but the Qur’ān is for us all to think over. Allāh commands so. We just leave matters of derivative jurisprudence to the inheritors of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Thinking along in these three stages will improve your memorisation journey.

10. Making a life-long commitment to studying Islāmic knowledge

If a child or adult has memorised the Qur’ān, they’ve proven something: they can memorise, they are good at it. That means you can memorise anything else like the core texts of the Qur’ān. So make it a goal when you memorise looking ahead whether that be texts of Tajwīd or Hadīth.

11. Gain the virtues and rewards of the Qur’ān

You read and hear about many virtues from the salvation of the self and family members, to the company of the angels, and paradise itself. Notice that practice comes first, followed by virtue. Many of us make the rewards or virtues our sole goal. It should be within the mindset but not the end. The reason to include it in your mindset is that it allows you to contemplate over the hereafter and the rewards therein. The Qur’ān will be a protection and a light in this world and the next.

12. Get as many loyalty points as you can

The Qur’ān will plea on your behalf when you need it most. It will ask Allāh for you to be crowned, to be clothed, to be accepted and pleased with, and that you be granted paradise. (Tirmidhi). Why? You made it your companion in the day and the night. You kept going with it. You didn’t leave it. You kept trying. The Qur’ān will repay your loyalty with its own loyalty. That in essence is Allāh.

That’s it from me today.

Hope this is useful.

I pray Allāh grants us all Tawfīq for all that He loves. All mistakes are from me and all that is good is from Him, Most Generous.

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