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“How many words of ours are raised to Allah, which we would never accept to be presented before Him? “

Shaykh Salah Al Maghamsi, may Allah swt preserve him

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Dominate Your Hifdh Revision (Article)

During a conversation I had with one of my past teachers, he made a bold yet revealing claim.

He said that if you revised your Qur’an four hours a day you will gain mastery. I thought it made sense, but others may need more time or, others may not even have that kind of time. He simply said:

“I guarantee you, anyone that wants to should take out 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours of the night. Insha’Allah they will have strengthened their Qur’an.”

With Ramadan around the corner, many Huffadh get back into a revision routine. Others make plans, but nothing comes to fruition. I’ve had many people asking me to write about revision so here are some methods to help you.

How To Dominate Your Hifdh Revision:

Common Methods for Revising the Qur’an

 

The Four Hour Routine

Back to what the teacher said. There’s a reason those you hear about having mastery over something spend a good portion of the day on that thing. Asking almost every master Huffadh I encountered, how much time per day they spent mastering memorisation. They never gave an answer like: “I memorised twelve to twenty hours a day.” Nothing as time consuming as that. In fact, there are some people who completely dedicate time to the Qur’an but they are rare gems. The typical answer I got was “I dedicated a minimum of four hours of my time towards Qur’an.” These four hours weren’t all in one. They’d divide the time up throughout the day. Either two sessions at two hours or a session of two hours and two one hour sessions.

It isn’t a necessity to have four hours though. I know plenty of people who memorised the Qur’an having only one hour every day to spare. Others had two hours or three. Likewise for revision.

 

What is revision?

Revision is not repetition. Let me repeat, revision is not repetition. Revision is mastering. Often too many people revise just because they know they have to repeat things. So they don’t sort out mistakes whilst they do it. They just repeat. Revision is about removing mistakes not repeating them. If you’re repeating them you’re not revising, you’re trying to revise. This is important because after one memorises they not only have to retain what they’ve memorised but aim to perfect it. Perfect it in recitation and in recollection. And eventually moving onto understanding and implementation.

 

So how do you revise?

The Daily Prayers & Night Prayers

A Hafidh or a current memorizer can make a simple plan of covering revision through prayer. Far too often everyone recites the same Suwar in prayers: the last Juz or certain portions. They don’t see the opportunity they have for revision.

I remember my dad used to tell me all the time, “You should revise in your prayers, it is the best way to keep it strong.”

And you know what?

He’s right. I realised this really late. I never did it until the day I began to do I felt two things:

1. I felt as though I was actually praying

2. I felt an amazing sensation.

The biggest part of it? You get to know exactly how strong your Qur’an is. I remember once being at the Jumu’ah prayer and I decided to read as much as I could in the prayers. I took my phone out and made some calculations. I love to do that for some reason.

So according to what we follow as a norm, for the five prayers there are 48 Rak’at (unit/cycle/portion) in total. We know that there are 30 Parts (Ajza’), 114 Chapters (Suwar) and 6236 verses (Ayat) of the Qur’an. According to the sub-continental Mushaf there are around 540 to 558 paragraphs (Ruku’) with four quarters for every Juz (Rub’, Nisf, Thuluth and Kamil). The Mushaf also creates a division of seven Manzil – this according to the Sunnah of a complete reading every seven days (this is also a revision method). According to the ‘Uthmani Arab script, there is a Hizb system of division. Every Juz is spiltinto two halves (two Ahzab or groups) with each half having a quarter system. So each juz will have eight-quarter divisions called a Maqra‘. Meaning each Hizb (group) is subdivided into four quarters, making 240 quarters within a group of 60 Ahzab. According what Mushaf you use, the number of pages per Juz will differ – commonly between 18-20-30.

I use the former so I looked at the number to work out a comfortable revision routine. If there are 48 Rak’at you have to take out the Fara’id due to the congregational prayers. So that’s leaving you with 31 Rak’at per day for the 5 prayers. Now the way you revise using the prayers depends on how well you know your Qur’an in the first place. If you know things really well you can easily recite a quarter or less per Rak’ah. If you don’t maybe a page per Rak’ah.

That Friday I decided to start reading a page per Rak’ah per Juz as an experiment. So for Jumu’ah there would be twelve Rak’at. So I’d do the first page from each of the first 12 Juz. This means that every day I could easily complete revision of a single page per Juz, leaving one Rak’ah to read it all together. That means you will complete an entire Qur’an every month just through the five daily prayers. That’s fairly easy?

If you can’t do that do a paragraph approach or a couple of verses. Then before retiring to sleep read over it all. Then you have the option of additional prayers such as Tahajjud, Awwabin, prayer of Wudu’, the mosque, and other Nawafil. There is a lot of scope and opportunities missed. You’ve memorised the Qur’an for a reason – it’s time to use it.

 

How do you track mistakes?

Well, when I did it sometimes whilst on a page I noticed I had to repeat certain things several times in the Rak’ah until I got it right. At other times, I just couldn’t. I had to stop there and move into the Ruku’. After the units, I’d look into my phone on the Mushaf to see where I went wrong or on my actual Mushaf copy and make a note of the error. Start the same portion again in the next units and carrying on to the next portion. It’s up to you how you do it, but another way could be to record yourself and then listen to it afterwards maybe at night. You could even only revise in the 12 Raka’at of the Fara’id by leading a congregational prayer having a Hafidh behind to listen. Figuring out a system for tracking mistakes is crucial.

 

7-8 Pages Daily + Listening = The 90 Day Plan

This is a method that many people adopt but it can vary. So for every three months you’d complete a Qur’an. If consistent of course. You’d turn out four complete readings every year.

What do you do is you’re alone?

You first listen to the Juz throughout the day or you listen to the Juz when you’re going to revise. After listening and following it’s your turn. You repeat the Juz from memory but you record yourself. The next day you listen to the recording throughout the day to re-enforce it. All the while you need to track your mistakes. The next revision session arrives, now you listen to the next Juz. Repeat the process.

Of course, you can do it any way you like. You cut out the listening and record yourself and only listen to that, but the advantage of listening to a proficient reciter has more benefit. If you have someone who can listen to you then you don’t have to record yourself. They can listen and mark your mistakes.

 

What if I know all my Qur’an well but I have certain portions that are tough and weaker than others?

Listening to the tougher parts works. In fact listening to them more than you recite them. When you listen to something frequently, it’s absorbed by parts of your brain linked to memory, and it’s a very fast and effective way of memorising.

 

Bulk revision at Fajr or after

This is another popular method. People use the free time they have in the early hours for revision and so they don’t need to think about it throughout the day. It’s bulk for a reason. Get much as much revision as you can done but the revision has to be qualitative. It doesn’t matter how much you do as an exact figure. You just keep going within a certain time frame. You could revise a quarter, a half, a Juz, two, three or five Ajza’ – it doesn’t matter.

 

Once a month

You make a khatam once a month by revising one Juz a day. That Juz can be revised in one sitting or it can spilt into 2, 4 or 8 sessions throughout a day.

 

Read out aloud, pointing and looking inside and then read from memory

This is another method I came across. It uses more senses which can help you remember something even better. By using your sense of touch (pointing), visual, and auditory senses you can a good chance of memorising better. What you do here is simple. Pick an amount you wish to memorise and start reading out aloud, not looking anywhere else, having your finger on each line and you go along. Then recite it from memory. Each time you get stuck or make a mistake that can you noted down or the one listening to you can do that.

 

Reading 3 Juz daily by looking and one Juz by heart

This is a very interesting method I came across only recently. It can be done before you sleep and/or after Fajr. You can even combine audio with it. You basically do 3 Juz by looking – this doesn’t mean you simply read it so quick and your done. No skim reading. Read it properly. Then do one of them by heart or another by heart. Here is an example:

Day 1 – Juz 1, 2 and 3 by looking. Juz 1 by heart.
Day 2 – Juz 2, 3 and 4 by looking. Juz 2 by heart.
Day 3 – Juz 3, 4 and 5 by looking. Juz 3 by heart.
Day 4 – Juz 4, 5, and 6 by looking. Juz 4 by heart.
Day 5 – Juz 5, 6, and 7 by looking. Juz 5 by heart.
Day 6 – Juz 6, 7 and 8 by looking. Juz 6 by heart.
Day 7 – Juz 7, 8 and 9 by looking. Juz 7 by heart.
Day 8 – Juz 8, 9 and 10 by looking. Juz 8 by heart.
Day 9 – Juz 9, 10 and 11 by looking. Juz 9 by heart.
Day 10 – Juz 10, 11 and 12 by looking. Juz 10 by heart.

This is a sound method. It ensures you get a good cycle of repetition.

 

One Juz a month by looking then one by heart

Similar to the last but you only do one. It might look like this:

Day 1 – Juz 2 by looking. Juz 1 by heart.
Day 2 – Juz 3 by looking. Juz 2 by heart.
Day 3 – Juz 4 by looking. Juz 3 by heart.
Day 4 – Juz 5 by looking. Juz 4 by heart.
Day 5 – Juz 6 by looking. Juz 5 by heart.
Day 6 – Juz 7 by looking. Juz 6 by heart.
Day 7 – Juz 8 by looking. Juz 7 by heart.
Day 8 – Juz 9 by looking. Juz 8 by heart.
Day 9 – Juz 10 by looking. Juz 9 by heart.
Day 10 – Juz 11 by looking. Juz 10 by heart.

 

A Page a Day Per Juz

This is a method that I mentioned previously but it’s effective for those that don’t have much time. You revise a page per Juz every day. You can create various plans for this, it’s very flexible. Here is an example:

Day 1 – 1st page of Juz 1-30
Day 2 – 2nd page of Juz 1-30
Day 3 – 3rd page of Juz 1-30
Day 4 – 4th page of Juz 1-30
Day 5 – 5th page of Juz 1-30
Day 6 – 6th page of Juz 1-30
Day 7 – 7th page of Juz 1-30
Day 8 – 8th page of Juz 1-30
Day 9 – 9th page of Juz 1-30
Day 10 – 10th page of Juz 1-30

and so on till day 30. You’d do a Qur’an every month.

You can change it of course. You can do a couple of Juz a day or a couple of pages per day, for example:

Day 1 – 1st page of Juz 1-5
Day 2 – 2nd page of Juz 1-5
Day 3 – 3rd page of Juz 1-5

or

Day 1 – 2 pages of Juz 1-5
Day 2 – next 2 pages of Juz 1-5
Day 3 – next 2 pages of Juz 1-5.

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Hifdh Challenge from Misk Academy

Hifdh Challenge #2:
Those who used Tablets to memorize, had to ERASE their lesson of the day and didn’t have access to a Mushaf afterwards. They made sure to commit that lesson to memory before erasing.
CHALLENGE: don’t close the book until it’s committed. Once you close the book, no look-backs allowed.

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We get plenty of messages telling us not to conform. To be true to ourselves, otherwise we lose ourselves. No one is telling us that the opposite is true, too. In our desperate attempts to stand out, be different and unique, we also end up losing the essence of who we are.

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Imam Shaf’iee on Focus in Pursuing the Right Path of Learning

Grasping onto the Handhold that never breaks...

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 الحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله وسلم على رسول الله وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن اهتدى بهديه إلى يوم الدين

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Imam Shafa’ee (R) said:

“ما فسد النَّاس إلا لما تركوا لسان العرب، واتبعوا لسان أرسطو “

“People did not become ignorant nor differed except after their abandonment of the Arabic language and their inclination to the language of Aristotle!”

[Sharh Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah 1/100; quoted by Imam Dhahabi in as-Siyar A’lam al-Nubala 10/74 and al-Suyuti in Sawn al-Mantiq p.15.]

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HD 23: Why Cramming Doesn’t Work

Bismillah walhamdulillah

 

This weeks homework:

Memorize 4 new pages – Done

Review all of Surat An Noor – Done

Review all of Surat Al An’aam – Dun, dun, dun…

 

It’s almost 11:30PM. Class is tomorrow. I’ve been reviewing Surat al An’aam all day (with many breaks), and I have 7 pages left. The surah is 22 pages long, and I left basically all of it for today. Bad idea. I forgot the law of diminishing returns. After about 3 or 4 hours of review, I seemed to have reached my threshold for the day. I didn’t realize this though, so I kept reviewing more pages. Then I realized that I was making silly mistakes and the amount of review that was good enough for the first few pages was nowhere near as ‘enough’ for these later pages. I think my brain was tired. On top of that, I was trying to control the anxiety that I felt in my chest. Argh. I really hope the few hours I have in the morning are enough to polish off the surah inshaAllah. I really want to show my teacher that I can take on more per week, and maybe even come to her more than once a week (which would only make sense to do after she increases my workload). But this is what happens when there are so many days in between classes. Motivation dips and comes back up when class is near. Okay, so now for points to remember for next time.

1. Don’t cram – Start the homework asap and divide it so that you are doing equal amounts every day. The last day or last few hours before class should be devoted to a comprehensive review of all of that week’s homework. It shouldn’t be a time for starting homework.

2. Don’t overestimate your ability – I thought this surah would be easy for me. Well, it would be a lot easier if I started earlier, but I’m not at the level where I can start and finish it all today.

3. Quality – It’s better to start earlier not only for the sake of higher-quality review, but also so you can actually spend quality time with the surah. Last week, I didn’t cram as badly for surat al a’raaf and I enjoyed taking my time with it. I had fun finding the mutashaabihaat (within the Qur’an and within the surah) and noting down their differences with my post-its in the margins. I took my time praying with the ayaat, and reconnecting with the ones that I had a special relationship with.

4. Divide and spread – Even if you have time in your schedule (like I have a complete day off right before my class on Thursdays), it’s a bad idea to cram because your brain can only handle so much in one go. It’s easier for you to do less, over a longer amount of time. If you do an entire surah in one day, you might remember it for the exam but you’ll forget it soon after because you didn’t pin it down. Pinning it down puts it in your long-term memory.

5. Review old mistakes – Give yourself time to review the mistakes you made the last time you were tested in this surah, otherwise you will definitely make many of the same mistakes again.

6. Re-memorizing to fix hardened mistakes – I need extra time connecting pages because it has recently occurred to me that I didn’t do this properly when memorizing! I can connect the first five or six pages of a surah really well, but from there, I start having to either think really hard, or draw pictures in my mind about the meaning. I can’t afford to do that, I need to do a bunch of reps to connect the pages of all of the surahs.

7. Time to clean – I mark up my Qur’an A LOT. I never noticed how much I do that until today. I translate words and underline and circle tashkeel mistakes. My teacher adds to the markings by catching more mistakes and pointing out tajweed errors. The markings were overwhelming and before I knew it, I put the review in the backseat and started paying more attention to what I could erase. It was that whole ‘clean my room spotless before I start studying for my Final Exams because the two are very related’ phenomenon. (This feeling of being overwhelmed only happened because I was already nervous!)

8. Taking breaks – while this usually helps, it didn’t do much for me today. I took many breaks, some intentional and some unintentional (random, unexpected nap anyone?) but they were becoming less and less productive. In an effort to do something ‘different’ (see Pomodoro Technique), I ended up just finding things that were wasting my time. The only break my brain wanted was a full-night’s rest.

9. Insincerity – reviewing poorly is a sign of insincerity in hifdh. If I am reviewing just to get by on my exams from my teacher, then that won’t take as much. If, however, I am reviewing for the sake of Allah, then I will review with ihsaan and eventually be able to recite without a mushaf, and that is a different realm of review altogether.

Well, these basically all have to do with not cramming, but that’s a pretty important message so I’m okay with that. There’s probably more but I can’t think of anything more, and I want to sleep so I can wake up early for the rest of the review.

 

 

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HD 22: What Ihsaan Looks Like

Bismillah alhamdulillah

My teacher has five children, alhamdulillah. Her concern over them is great, especially in regards to their hifdh of Qur’an. She brought them here from Egypt, and their quality of memorization has gone downhill from there. Keep in mind, them on their ‘bad’ days is probably you and I on our ‘good’ days, but hey. She tried finding them a teacher here, but because these Western teachers are used to Western students, they were basically not qualified to work with Ua’s born and bred Egyptian children. (Ever notice how many qurra of the Qur’an are from Egypt?) So they recite to a shaykh over skype, and let me tell you: if that shaykh could reach through the computer and give them a light beating every once in a while, I think he would…

So the other day, during one of my classes with her, Ua asks me to grab her phone from behind me, and she shows me this video.

Video

 

My mouth literally fell open. “Take all of my kids and give me one of these!” Ua said to me.

I have been watching this video repeatedly since that session, to gain inspiration from Qari Najm Ath-Thaaqib, may Allah swt preserve him. This is what perfection, excellence, ihsaan looks like. I’ll also confess that in trying a new Visualization technique (learned from book about success), I have started visualizing that I am Qari Najm Ath-Thaaqib. Sounds weird I know. But it might work, the results have yet to come in.

 

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Khushoo: Cut Those Ties

❝The way to cure your [concentration during prayer] is to forcibly repel your soul to what you’re reading throughout the prayer and busying yourself with that, opposed to other things. This starts with preparing prior to beginning the prayer by completing anything that would busy you, diligently trying to clear your heart, reminding yourself of the afterlife, and the severity of standing in front of Allah and Him staring at you. And if that doesn’t subside your thoughts, then know, what you think about is what’s important to you and what you desire; therefore analyze those desires and cut those ties.❞

— Ahmed ibn Qudaamah Al-Maqdisi (d. 689 AH)

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HD 21: Depending on Your State


Bismillah walhamdulillah

While I will leave the specifics for another time, inshaAllah, it will suffice for now to say: For months, I was a “bad student.” I don’t like to use such black-and-white terms, but I met every description of the infamous bad student that many of us have heard of. I began missing classes, something I never did before. When I did attend, I came unprepared. Either I did not complete my memorization for that week, or I did not complete the muraaji’ah (review), or I completed the review, but I did not review it well enough to pass the weekly exam. Funny thing about Qur’an Homework – you can never hide the fact that you didn’t do it. And I am so painfully aware of this that sometimes, I would make mistakes out of nervousness that I would get caught making mistakes! (How’s that for a brain-twist.)

My teacher (let’s call her Ua) didn’t know what to do with me. So she would yell for a bit, and then she would offer me something to drink. May Allah swt preserve and bless her, she loves me so much and I don’t know why sometimes. But my poor performance continued. It was to the point that my behavior begged the question, Why do I keep going back to class? In a previous post, I mentioned that I never felt like quitting on hifdh. I have, since then, felt what it is like to toy with the possibility of quitting. It feels terrible.

It continued for months, and my teacher was watching the entire time. As she was observing me, however, I was also observing her. During the months that I was in a low period, Ua’s behavior towards me was also changing. Her expectations towards me were changing, even though she seemed to fight it. So while she didn’t like it, she wondered some weeks if I would come or not. My heart sunk the day that I rang her doorbell, only to hear her yell, “Who?!” She wasn’t expecting me. And even though she would be angry about it, she wasn’t surprised when I didn’t come with my homework or when I tripped through a surah that I obviously reviewed the day before. She began to give me less homework and would fight with me if I tried to ask for more. She also stopped teaching me tajweed rules as a class on the side, and the day I asked for a tajweed rule was the day when she refused and called me a “bad student.” But it was true.

Fast forward to today. Alhamdulillah, again for reasons I will not go into right now, things have begun to look up. I am completing my homework and passing my exams in Qur’an. I am attending regularly, and my efforts in Qur’an are slowly beginning to improve and show in my performance. And all praise and credit belongs to Allah swt.

My teacher was noticing the difference, and even remarked that, “I think you woke up.”

Well, it’s more of a process. I am waking up, walhamdulillah.

So all of this history made today all the more special. I didn’t have a perfect week. I didn’t review or memorize perfectly, and I made a few mistakes. But it was no where near as bad as before, and because she was comparing it to months of poor performance, she was impressed with me. I could tell. What happened from there? Her mood was lighter, and she was smiling more. She was asking me about mutashaabihaat (verses that are similar to each other) more. And that’s important because asking about mutashaabihaat is more difficult than just testing my recitation in other parts of the surah. This meant that she was expecting me to answer harder questions and to get them right. When I messed up, she was forgiving. And when I struggled through the last two pages (and clearly did not review them well) she said that she would test me on them next time. Two pages? Out of a twenty-one page surah. If she wanted she could have told me to review on my own, or she could have scolded me for it and let it go. But it was important to her that she test me on it, because she felt that that was important to me. When she gave me new pages to memorize, she took her time and slowly went through the ayaat with me, pausing at every difficult word or ayah. She would recite it, and I would repeat after her, and three pages took well over a half an hour (my estimation) because of how much care she was giving to details. Why?

It’s not because Ua cared more today, but because she believed I cared more.

Our teachers can only work with the concern and enthusiasm with which we approach them. If we show them that we want it, they will make sacrifices just so we can have it. SubhanAllah. Let them see that you want it! May Allah swt preserve our teachers and bless them and their families in their time and knowledge.

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About Fame, A Personal Life, and Responsibility by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan

Bismillah walahmdulillah

A well-written, honest piece about what it’s like to have spotlight, and how to keep a clear perspective through all of it. I really appreciated this article. I think anyone who has had a taste of fame and has seen the effects it had on them will be able to relate. It’s also for those of us who don’t know how to find a balance in the way we look at people (all good or all bad). I’ve personally experienced both of these things. I won’t say more; the article will speak to everyone differently. Check it out:

 

http://muslimmatters.org/2014/07/31/about-fame-a-personal-life-and-responsibility/

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