To Memorize Or Not To Memorize -Khadiza Binte Mostafiz
Many of us daydream about being a hafidhul Quran. How wonderful would it be if we could understand every single word the imam is reciting during taraweeh prayers in Ramadan! I envy the people that cry out during salah, the words of the Lord echoes in their heart where most of us are probably thinking if the imam continues with this long recitation any longer, our poor legs will soon crumble. It is because we do not understand it. Sure, it sounds beautiful and enchanting but there’s no depth in it. It is as if we are listening, but actually, we are not listening. The recitation is entering into one ear and leaving our body through the other. When the Khateeb says in the friday khutba, “My dear brother and sisters, please memorize the words of Allah! Memorize the word of your Lord! He is speaking to YOU! Memorize it by heart and learn to understand what the Almighty is trying to say”, we freak out. We totally freak out! Most of us are like, “whaaaaat??? Memorize the Quran!? Man, that’s like the hardest thing in the whole planet, and I’m so busy 24/7. I don’t have time. And even if I do memorize it, I’m gonna forget it in no time. What’s the point in that? If I forget it then I’ll be punished. I try to read Quran, like once a week, with translation, and when I feel like it, I also read the tafseer. Isn’t that enough?” Seriously, we should be ashamed of ourselves. Allah said in the Quran, surah Qamar, verse 17:
“And We have certainly made the Quran easy to remember. So is there anyone who will be mindful?”
Allah said that he made the Quran easy, and you are saying that it’s hard? Do you think the Almighty is lying? And now you will put up a barrier called EXCUSE that, “No No ! There’s no way Allah is lying. It’s just hard for me. I’m not that smart, and I’m old now. It would have been easy if I was younger.” Just stop it. Most of the companions of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were all old men when the Quran was revealed, and they all perfectly memorized it. If you think that it was way easier for them because it was revealed in their own native language, you are wrong. They could memorize it because their heart accepted it. You can’t memorize it because your heart didn’t accept. Allah promised that he would make the Quran easy to remember, easy to understand for anyone who actually wishes for it to happen.
In our community, there are two kinds of extreme groups. One thinks that, before understanding it, you just need to memorize the Quran. Memorize and memorize. You’ll get the fame, people will love you. You will win lots of competitions. You will lead the taraweeh and enchant the people with your recitation. People will look at you and say, “Ma shaa Allah! Tabaraka wa ta’ala! He is a hafidhul Quran! He memorized the whole Quran by heart.” And so on. But honesty, this is actually wrong. What’s the point when you know all the verses but don’t understand a single verse out of those thousands of verses you memorized. Sure, it is a glorious deed to memorize it by heart but you do need to understand it! And here comes the next extreme group, they think that it is better to spend time reading the Quran with translations than to memorize it without knowing its meaning. This group is also not on the right path. What we need to do is to be in the middle. We must memorize verses of the Quran and while we are at it, we must also learn its meaning. Tell me, how do you memorize a surah of the Quran? You recite and repeat one verse ten times maybe twenty times, for some it takes even more time. When you are repeating it, of course you are getting gigantic amounts of rewards; your heart is also reflecting upon that one verse ten to twenty times. Memorizing the Qur’an and learning to understand it is a remarkable ibadah which makes the man closer to Allah swt. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “A person who recites the Quran and has memorized it, will be with noble scribes. The likeness of the one who reads it and tries hard to memorize it even though it is difficult for him, he will have two rewards.” This is an authentic hadith of Sahih Bukhari. Another hadith of Tirmidhi where prophet Muhammad pbuh said, “It will be said to the one who memorized the Quran, ‘Recite and ascend and recite just as you would recite in the world, for your abode (in Jannah) will be the last verse you recite.” Subhan Allah!
Many people refrain themselves from memorizing the Qur’an because they fear that they will be sinful if they forget the memorized verses. This is absolutely baseless. It is human nature to forget, Allah swt made us that way. We won’t be held accountable for anything we wholeheartedly tried to do but unfortunately forgot. It is okay. A person asked the famous Islamic scholar, Sheikh Assim Al Hakim, what is more sinful, not memorizing the Qur’an fearing that one would forget it or to memorize and forgetting it even after trying hard to remember it. And Sheikh’s answer was obvious, the first person will definitely be held accountable, and he is sinful. The second person will be rewarded by Allah for memorizing Allah’s words and for trying to keep it memorized but still unfortunately failed, as humans were made forgetful by Allah swt.
There are some among us who think that they are too busy with life and have no chances to study and memorize the Qur’an; so they plan to make their son or daughter a hafidhul Quran. There’s a famous hadith in Sunan Abu Dawood where prophet Muhammad pbuh said, “The one who recites the Quran and acts upon it, on the Day of Qiyamah, his parents will be made to wear a crown whose light is better than the light of the sun had it been in the dwellings of the world, so what do you think (of the reward) of the person himself.” From this hadith, we can understand that it is a very admirable plan to make one’s children a student of the Quran. But why do we neglect the last part of the hadith? We wish for our children to study the Quran, but why don’t we do it ourselves? We want our children to bring us that magnificent crown in the hereafter, but why don’t we want the same for our parents? Truly we are hypocrites and blind when it comes to ourselves.
It is a shame that we can’t even afford to spend one hour to study the Qur’an. For the hafiz who has memorized the Qur’aan, praying qiyaam al-layl is easy. And the Qur’an will intercede for him on the Day of Resurrection, because the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Fasting and the Qur’an will intercede for a person on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say, ‘O Lord, I deprived him of food and desires during the day, so let me intercede for him.’ The Qur’an will say, ‘O Lord I deprived him of his sleep at night, so let me intercede for him.’ Then they will both intercede for him.” This hadith is narrated by Ahmad, al-Tabaraani and al-Haakim; classed as saheeh. Forget qiyaam al-layl we can’t even make time to memorize a single verse out of twenty-four hours.
We should strive to enlist our names in the list of the companions of Al Quran. And who said that you need to be young to be able to memorize the Qur’an? I can show you so many names of people that memorized the Qur’an although they were 50/60/70 at the time. My dear brothers and sisters that are reading this, surely you are not that old! I wonder if you heard about a 66 years old woman named Sayyeda, she is a hafidhul Qur’an. She finished memorizing the Qur’an through many many years. She used to memorize only 3 /4 verses every day. “The Qur’an is given to those who LOVE IT”, she said in an interview.
Another question is, can you memorize the Quran while being a mother of 3 kids, a man with a 7 hours long job, a medical of university student or a driver or a teacher etc. My dear brothers and sisters, whatever your occupation may be, you can surely but slowly memorize the Qur’an! It doesn’t matter if it takes five to seven years or even longer, believe me when I say that those years will bring you closer to Allah swt. And surely you will look back and say, wish I had started it sooner. So, stop daydreaming and start memorizing it. Store it in your heart. An efficient way to memorize it is by first learning it’s meaning. First, read the translation of the verse you are trying to memorize again and again. Then repeat the verse in Arabic and memorize it. To understand the verse deeply, read the short tafseer from a Qur’an app or tafseer books. You can make it easy for you by listening to the recitation of a Qaree. You can also enlist your name in an online or offline group classroom. It is really important to have a hifz partner. It makes you competitive and strengths your flow. You and your hifz partner, may it be one or three to four persons, must listen to each other memorized verses. One more thing is, don’t add too many people in your hifz group because it will make things slow. You may first start with 30th juz and work your way to long surahs. Always remember to memorize the translation as you proceed; that way, your heart will firmly grasp the Qur’an.
A big obstacle that many faces while trying to go back to the Quran or to start taking Quran studies seriously is their sins. Shaytan deludes you into thinking you are not worthy of Quran; you cannot learn the Quran, Quran is very difficult. Since you are a sinner, you won’t find the connection with the Quran that others do. Quran is only for good pious people who are not sinners like you.
These are all lies. When we look at real life we have men and women in their 60’s and 70’s memorizing Quran in their old age where they are weak. We see children as young as 5 memorizing Quran, children who cannot even understand proper grammar and make proper sentences.
We have seen Quran transform sinners into saints. We witness how Quran elevates people in this duniya and in the akhira. Allah has promised that Quran is easy in Surah Qamar. Believe Allah’s word over Shaytan’s.
Here’s what Sheikh Nouman Ali Khan said to inspire you, my dear brothers and sisters, to pick up your Quran: “What if when you’re 60 or 70 or 90 years old you’re not saying, “I wish I had memorized the Quran.” What if you’re instead saying, “After 30 years, I’ve been honored to finish memorizing the Book of Allah.” You don’t have to memorize the Quran in 1 year. You don’t have to memorize it in 5. You can work every single day to memorize it over a period of a decade or longer! Can you imagine what that’s like? For you to have memorized one verse a week while nursing your child? For you to have memorized two verses while stuck in traffic? For you to have gone from one life stage to another and yet through all of it- spent slow but consistent, persistent time with the Book of God? Do you think you’d regret even a moment of even decades of working for it? How much sweeter is that journey, how much more achingly beautiful is it to have had such a consistent relationship, such a personal connection, such an intimate conversation, with the Book that has been with you, with surahs that you connect with specific stages of your life? Make the intention, make constant duaa, find a teacher, be consistent, allow yourself to take years if that’s what your circumstances demand- but don’t give up, don’t let go, and pray that Allah makes me and you of, “The people of the Quran–they are the people of Allah and those who are closest to Him” (ibn Majah).
So, Believe in Allah’s mercy and start your journey back to Quran. Pick up your Quran and start today. Let it be your new year resolution until the day you are one of those hafidhul Qur’an, the people whom memorized and stored the Qur’an in their heart. May Allah accept us all. Ameen. n