My friend and I memorize using the page-by-page method (see HD 14 for more details), and she advised me with the following, but it works for other methods of memorizing as well.
I used to recite the page about 15 times before committing it to memory. Then I would recite it about 5 more times without looking at the page. This would total ~20 reps. If I came back to the page a day later, I could recite it by heart after 15 minutes of review. This made me realize that I needed 15 more minutes of Memorization time. Then my friend mentioned that she was advised to do more reps when memorizing. She told me to do 50/100 reps of a page. It is a goal I am slowly working towards inshaAllah, so here is how it is going so far:
Now I do at least 26 reps for almost every page. It’s only 6 more reps, but it has made so much of a difference. When I come back to it days later, it is easy to recall to memory. On top of this, I don’t move my eyes from the page for many of these reps, especially the beginning ones [before I can recite it without looking] and the ones at the end [after I can recite it without looking]. Sometimes, out of habit, I begin to move my eyes away and fill in the blanks from my memory, but staring at the page while reciting has been better so far because this way, you will commit a picture of the page to memory, as well. Before this, I always had a vague picture of what the page looked like, but now with the constant looking, it has not only made the picture clearer but the picture lasts for a long time. I came back to a page once, (maybe after a week without review), and without looking at it I was able to recite almost the entire thing without mistakes because I remembered what the page looked like. Whenever my tongue was approaching the end of an ayah, my mind would show me the first few words of the next ayah.
In short, just increase the reps (whatever else you need to do can most likely wait 15 minutes). It is better to let the ayaat become ingrained in the beginning, rather than letting them sit on top of your minds like a piece of paper that is blown away by the slightest of winds.
Pinning it down in the beginning will provide the following benefits:
1. Confidence. It will increase you in confidence and make it easier for you to memorize subsequent pages. When your mind knows that everything you have memorized before is very murky, this lowers your morale.
2. Review Time. It will save you time on review.
3. Salah. It will make it easier for you to recite these ayaat in Salah. I have a theory that many memorizers of Qur’an still recite the same few verses or short surahs in their salawaat, because they don’t feel confident enough to recite anything else, although they may have many ajzaa’ of the Qur’an memorized. If we don’t benefit from Qur’an in our Salah, where else are we expecting to benefit from it?
4. Sincerity. It will make you feel better about your hifdh in general because the murky memorization does seem to have some insincerity associated with it, waAllahu Alam. But think about it, isn’t there something wrong with jumping to the next page when you know full well that you have almost forgotten the page before that? Let’s not turn Hifdh into a simple numbers game.
“Looking at the page”
This simply means keeping your eyes fixed on the page and on every word while you are reciting it aloud and doing your reps. It also helps to use a pen or your finger to point. If this is what you already do, keep it up. I didn’t – I used to purposely look away [often] to see if I could fill in the blanks. Even though I could, I never really got a solid picture of the page. Shaykh Fahd al Kendari (see HD 12 Traveler with Qur’an) recommends the following:
After you have memorized the page, recite it 15 more times while staring at the page. It will become glued to your mind and you’ll never forget it inshaAllah.
Also, by keeping your gaze fixed on the page and/or following along with a pointer, you are incorporating more senses (hearing and seeing), and this is supposed to be better for learning.
“All the reps in one sitting?”
I hardly ever memorize a page in ‘one sitting’ if this means that I sit and don’t get up. I memorize with the Pomodoro technique (see HD 14), so I recite for 15 minutes, take a break, and then recite again and so on. I may do my complete reps over a day or two, or more depending on how pressed I am for time and other factors. Even when I’ve done it all within a day, however, I did get up during the process and take a break when I felt like I needed it. Then I went back to doing the reps until I memorized the page.
Another technique that is really helpful is reciting the page 10 times shortly before bed. I noticed that when I do this, it is super easy to memorize that page the next day alhamdulillah.
In 2012, my friend Habibah graduated and received her Bachelors. She had applied to a program at Med-school but had not been accepted.
I began to see her throughout the summer and into the next semester, when I was still attending school, and she would tell me about an intense depression that she was feeling. She felt hopeless and could not imagine things getting better. Her sadness was visible, her presence carried heaviness, and it became rare to see her smiling.
Another brother graduated from six years of Med-School. While he was attending and studying for difficult exams, he was fine. As soon as he graduated, he and his friends sat around in a depression, wondering where to go next and questioning whether or not this was all worth it.
This phenomenon is not uncommon. These are two examples, but there are many (Google it – subhanAllah it’s an actual term) and I’m sure this will resonate with others.
I thought about it and realized that there is only one thing that is lost when someone graduates or meets a milestone that they had been working towards.
Contrary to what some may think, it’s not the loss of a schedule, the routine, or even the friends, that contributes most to this depression.
It’s nothing more than a loss of purpose.
For years, they have been working towards this goal, and this was their purpose. Then one day, the goal is met and their purpose is fulfilled. It seems to be counter intuitive to say that this is when things start to go downhill for them, but upon further thought, it makes all the sense in the world.
The human being needs a purpose. Our Creator ordained it to be this way. And He was so merciful when He told us exactly for what purpose He created us. “And I did not create jinn or man except to worship Me [alone].” Surah Adh-Dhaariyaat, ayah 56.
And He swt was so merciful when He gave us a purpose that requires constant striving, for our entire lives. Even at our deaths, we hope to die with dhikr on our tongues (La ilaha illAllah) – worship.
So the Muslim who realizes his or her true purpose is secured from this type of depression that I have mentioned here. That is because, we may graduate from universities and programs and the like, but our true purpose is not yet fulfilled.
Shaykh Omar Suleiman said:
“Has anyone ever thrown stones at you?”
Those were the words of my teacher to me once when i was complaining about how tired i am traveling and teaching. The point being that truly our jobs are super easy. We fly in comfortable airplanes, stay in comfortable hotels, etc. The most we have to deal with is an annoying person or a cranky TSA agent. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam), the greatest of creation, was spit on, cursed, slandered, pelted with stones, and slept on a bed of branches.
If Allah has blessed you to be involved in Islamic work in any capacity, never show except the highest amount of gratitude and dont ever allow yourself to feel sorry for yourself. Whether you are a volunteer, organizer, speaker, etc. just be thankful that Allah is using you for good without making you go through what others who were far better than you had to withstand.
With that being said, the true soldier in my family is my wife mashaAllah tabarakAllah. She deserves all of the duas and appreciation.
“There cannot be any patience unless you’re certain that your patience is going to come to a result that you want…The reason people disobey Allah and do things their own way, is because they’re not certain that they’ll get the result that they want…if they do it the way Allah says to do it.”
You assume that people become more spiritual as they grow older because they are closer to death. In reality, it’s because they’ve figured out this dunyah.
Weak imaan exists inside of us, [it doesn't exist] in the entire universe around us. Only we change when we have weak imaan. Allah swt does not become less Great. The times do not decrease in their fitnah and tribulations. The Muslims don’t stop being oppressed and murdered. The Day of Judgement doesn’t move further away. And your time of death doesn’t, either. The world doesn’t slow down for your weak imaan and give you time to catch up. You need to wake up and run harder and faster so you can catch up.
From my Journal – February 14th 2013
It is from the Mercy of Allah swt that the world doesn’t slow down for us when we have weak imaan. Otherwise, what motivation would we have to increase. It is only when we open up our eyes to the reality of world around us that we realize our purpose once again.
“I wanna be a haafidha too!”
Inspirational Stories of Quraa and Huffadh of Qur’an
[Note: There are pictures in the pdf book, just lower your gaze and no one has to get hurt... no, but seriously ]
Safwan ibn ‘Assal al-Muradi (radhiallahu `anhu) said:
‘I came to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I came to seek knowledge.’
So he (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Welcome O’ seeker of knowledge! Indeed the Angels come to the seeker of knowledge and lower their wings for him. Then they climb each on top of the other until they reach the lower heaven, out of love for that which he seeks.’
- Hadith Hasan, reported by al-Hakim, al-Tabarani and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in his Jami’
The first thing he mentioned was how the angels are the companions of the seeker of knowledge, because the reality is: this is a path of difficulty, requiring firm aspirations and determination – and hence true companions become a rarity.