Archive for May 15th, 2011
For anyone experiencing difficulties in memorizing Qur’an, Ahadith, or any text, this is a nice piece Masha Allah. Also make sure to memorize well so that you don’t have to re-memorize in the future.
Methods of Memorization in Mauritania
by: Abu Umar Abdul ‘Aziz
How to memorize?
In brief, we wish to outline the Mauritanian method of memorization so that we can all take advantage of its strong points.
The method of memorization in Mauritania is divided into three categories:
1. Memorization of the Qur’an
2. Memorization of texts
3. Group review as an aid to memorization
Because the Mauritanian method of memorization of the Qur’an and texts are largely the same, we will mention them both in one category.
Getting started, here are a few points:
• Memorization is usually easy. The real challenge is the repetition and review.
• The goal that we have is to place all memorized texts, be they from the Book of Allah or other texts, into our long-term memory. Basically, that means that we are attempting to memorize everything and recall it just as we recall Surah al-Fatihah.
• In Mauritania and North Africa in general, they memorize off of a small wooden tablet called a lawhah. This lawhah is both held like a book and viewed, or it is propped up against something-standing upright. Allah knows why, but if you try memorizing in a similar manner, it will become easier for you. Perhaps it is the tan-brown color of the board that is relaxing to the eyes as opposed to the sharp color of white paper. Allah knows best.
• Try getting some brown/tan colored drawing paper and writing whatever you are to memorize. Prop this up or tape to the wall where it is level with your head- for some reason, writing it with your hand helps in memorizing it.
• I know this may be controversial to some, but in order to memorize in this method, you will need to have with you a Misbah’ [Dhikr beads] in order to count your repetitions. Most of the scholars hold the opinion that the Misbah is not an innovation in the religion and is allowed to use-even though using the hand is preferred for Dhikr. In this memorization, you are using the Misbah as a tool to count and nothing more. So, if you hold the opinion that the Misbah is not good, in sha Allah there is no harm because it is nothing more than beads used to count. If you are afraid of being attacked by people for carrying Dhikr beads around, then why not just go out and purchase a mechanical counter [like the ones that bean counters use]?
After getting your supplies [wooden board or tan paper, ink pen, and Dhikr beads (or bean counter)] you are ready.
How to do it
1. Write the page [or two or three or four-if it is Qur’an] on the board or tan paper in legible writing. If you are memorizing a text such as Imam Nawawi’s Forty Hadith collection, or a small text on Fiqh or grammar, you should only memorize one Hadith at a time or-as with texts that are often in poetry form-only write four lines per day. [Note: For memorizing Qur’an in this method, you must read what is written to one who knows the Qur’an. It is not uncommon to mistakenly write something and start off reading it incorrectly]
2. Proceed to read the text out loud while looking at the board or paper just as you would with a book. Read and read until you can read it without looking at all.
3. After memorizing the text, proceed to repeat what you memorized 300 times-using the Misbah to count with. If you are memorizing the Qur’an, repeat it 500 times. As you are reading this, I can imagine that you are probably shaking your head thinking that maybe what I wrote was a typo. It is not a typo- in Mauritania they repeat each page of Qur’an 500 (five-hundred) times in their memorization. With the Qur’an, it is possible to lower that two 150. However, as was mentioned before, this will mean that you will have to review more to ensure that you don’t lose what you memorized. With other texts, 300 times is the maximum number of repetitions. I remember once memorizing Lamiyatul Af’al in the science of Sarf [morphology] and I thought that I was supposed to repeat each line of that poem 500 times! After spending days and days with that misunderstanding, I could hear myself reading the lines in my dreams, not to mention having that strange feeling you get when you say one word hundreds of times without stopping!
4. Occasionally, read the text while looking at the board or paper to insure that you have not left off anything.
5. Go easy on yourself. You don’t have to read the text 300 times in one sitting! Take it easy and break the task into manageable parts. Try repeating it with the Misbah 100 times and then take a break. Continue like this until you complete 300 repetitions. Based on my own experience, I would say that it will take you about an accumulated 3 hours to repeat on part of a text 300 times and a total accumulated time of 4 ½ hours to read one page of Qur’an 500 times [with the average quick reading time of one minute for one page of Qur’an].
6. After completing 300 repetitions [or whatever high number you choose] take a break. You are done…at least for today. J
7. Now on day two you will memorize new material and that means 300 more repetitions. With that however, you still have not finished from yesterday. After memorizing and repeating the new material, proceed to repeat yesterday’s material 150 times from memory.
8. On day three, you will memorize new material and that means 300 more repetitions. Don’t forget though, you still have to repeat yesterdays [day 2] text 150 times and the day before that [day 1] text 50-75 times.
9. On day four, you will memorize new material and that means 300 more repetitions. Don’t forget though, you still have to repeat yesterday’s [day 3] material 150 times and the material from the day before [day 2] 50-75 times and the material from day one 10 times.
Sounds like a lot? Of course it is! That is all the fun!
With this program, you will need less time to review what you have memorized because it will have entered into your long-term memory. Even though you know it well, it is advisable to read everything that you have memorized [from texts] 5-10 times from beginning to end just to make sure that you can connect ever part together as one unit.
The same is said with regard to memorization of the Qur’an. You should always review from front to back on a consistent basis.
Traditionally, a student would either memorize and repeat his lesson for that day and then proceed to sit with the Shaykh who would then go on to explain the lines that he memorized. The student would only learn the meaning of those 4 or 5 lines and depart once more to memorize. Memorize what you ask? He would then go out, write the brief explanation of the lines he memorized on the other side of the lawhah [or in our case, on another sheet of tan paper] and memorize that as well.
At this point, the student understands the lines that he memorized, be it in Fiqh or grammar. Now, he will read the explanation and put it into his own words,explaining the meanings of what he memorized and what it entails of finer points. On day two, the student will repeat those first lines from day one 150 times. After each tenth reading, this student would then read, in his own words, the meaning of the lines he read-as if he was teaching some one else. This will continue every day for all material, be it from day one, two, three, or four and beyond.
After one engages in this time consuming program for more than two weeks or so, he will have the following:
Day 1: 300 reps
Day 2: 300+150+explanation 15 times
Day 3: 300+150+75+explanations for material of day one and two- totaling 23 times
Day 4: 300+150+75+10+explanations for material of day one, two, and three- totaling 33 times.
Day 5: Continues as day four along with reading everything at once a few times to ensure proper connection etc.
With this method, you will memorize with strength in sha Allah. One thing to keep in mind also is that you are not bound to the numbers mentioned above. If you don’t have the time to sit for hours upon hours, at least repeat your material 50 times on day one and then 25 on day two and 10 on day three and so on and so fourth. A little is better than reading it a few times thinking that you memorized it, only to stumble the next day as if you did nothing at all.
Group review as an aid to memorization
Last but not least, I would like to mention a bit about the group reviews in Mauritania and how we can implement that in our communities.
The group reviews are nothing more than a memorization mini study group. In Mauritania, a student will link up with a handful of other students that are studying the same book and all will do their part in the group study. The way this is done is by starting with one person [perhaps the most senior]. He will read four to ten lines that everyone has already memorized and studied. After reading them from memory, he will then start from the first line, read it and explain it’s meaning in his own words. He will read each line in this manner, reading and explaining until he reaches the end of the selected amount. After he is finished, the student next to him will read and explain in the exact same manner. This will continue until everyone in the circle has read and explained to the others. From the technique, there are numerous benefits. From them:
• It is like hearing the lesson 5, 6, or 7 times, or as many students are there. This helps the meaning of the lesson stick.
• One gets to hear it explained by others who might express a concept better and thus the student benefits more and more.
• One might have a faulty way of explaining a concept; in that case, the senior student or anyone else in the circle will correct him as soon as he says in.
• One reads this in a group setting and thus works at getting over the nervousness of public speaking [to a smaller extent].
These gatherings can take place every day, or every few days according to the need. One thing to keep in mind with this method is that you are not giving a full fledged, 45-minute or one-hour lesson when you read and explain. The most it would take is 15 minutes per-person according to the subject matter.
One way this program can be implemented in our communities is by us gathering a group of serious dedicated individuals who want to learn. All of them agree to memorize in this method [even if adapted somewhat] and either learn the meanings of what is memorized through a Shaykh or teacher, or through the cassette tapes of scholars who have explained that book. If everyone goes at the same pace and all are either attending the classes of the Shaykh or teacher or are listening to the tapes, they may then gather together and hold small study sessions.
This is an attempt to learn the basics with strength and mastery. The goal behind this should not be out quoting another person and bombarding them with opinions in the subject that is being learned about. The focus as we mentioned should be on the main meaning of the text that is being read and repetition repetition repetition.
This is the method of memorization that I was blessed to learn. I am sure that there are variations of this technique in Mauritania that differ slightly. And Allah knows best.
I hope and pray to Allah the Most High that this was of benefit to you and that you read it, implement it even if in a small way, and that you make Dua’ for me.
Wa Sallallahu ala Nabiyyina Muhammad wa ala aalihi was Ashabihi Ajma’in
Posted: 11 May 2011 09:01 PM PDT
Imam ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (died 1350 CE), may Allah have mercy on him, is one of the scholars that nearly every Muslim knows or has heard of. His quotes and sayings on the heart, the nature of desires, and worshiping Allahsubhanahu wa ta’ala (Glorified is He) are posted everywhere. He is known as the “heart doctor” for specializing in the diseases of the hearts and their cures.
It is agreed upon by the scholars that when a scholar is accepted by the people and beloved to them that,insha’Allah (God willingly), he was sincere in his work and Allah (swt) accepted it from him. The Prophet ﷺ (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “A man will do something only for the sake of Allah and, for that he will be beloved to the people.” [Muslim] We hope that ibn al-Qayyim is from these Muslims, and that our love for him is a sign of Allah’s love and acceptance of him.
The scholar of Qur’anic tafseer (commentary on the Qur’an), Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him), described him by saying, “He was attached to occupying himself with knowledge, day and night. He would pray and recite the Qur’an much and was of excellent character, and showed great affection and friendship.”
He has a great compilation of books; however only a few are translated into English. For those who speak or know Arabic, you can testify to the fact that his writings are very eloquent, deep, and poetry-like. Although his translated books and quotes are still moving in English, nothing can come close to the original Arabic.
Without further ado, here is a short compilation of a few of my favorite gems taken from various books by this great Imam(may Allah’s mercy be upon him and may He accept his deeds and grant him the highest gardens of Paradise):
He is Allah, Yet you do not Love Him?
From the most amazing of matters is that you know Him, yet you do not love Him.
You hear his caller (the Prophet ﷺ) yet you delay in responding to him.
You know the prestige of working for Him, yet you work for those other than Him.
You know the gravity of His Anger, yet you challenge Him.
You taste the harsh reality of disobeying Him, yet you do not seek and long for the delight of obeying Him.
You feel the tightness in your heart when you engage in conversations about other than Him, yet you do not long for the opening of your chest through His Remembrance and having an intimate discourse with Him.
You taste the bitterness of your heart’s attachment to other than Him, yet you do not flee to Him and to the joy of returning to Him.
And it is even more amazing that you know you will never have anyone other than Him, and that you are the most destitute of things to Him, yet you crave and ache for what will take you far away from Him.
Reasons behind Disobedience
The foundation of sins, the small of them and the great, is three:
- Shirk, associating partners with Allah (swt), which is the heart’s attachment to other than Allah (swt).
- Dhulm, oppression and injustice, which is from obeying the furious rage in the hearts.
- Fawahish, indecency and illicit acts, which is from the strong desires and lusts.
The height of Shirk is to worship others besides Allah (swt). The height of rage is killing. The height of lusts is fornicating. This is why Allah (swt) has combined these three in one ayah (verse),
“And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty.” (Qur’an, 25:68)
These sins lead to each other. Associating partners with Allah (shirk) leads to oppression and injustice (dhulm) and immorality (fawahish), just as sincerity (ikhlas) and Oneness of Allah (tawheed) wipes them out. Allah (swt) says,
“…And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.”(Qur’an, 12:24)
‘Evil’ (in this ayah) refers to attachment to other than Allah (swt), and ‘immorality’ refers to fornication.
Likewise, oppression and injustice leads to associating partners with Allah and immorality. Associating partners with Allah is the most unjust of injustices just as worshiping Allah Alone is the most just of justice. So justice accompanies the Oneness of Allah and oppression accompanies associating partners with Allah.
As for justice accompanying tawheed, it is proved in the ayah:
“Allah witnesses that there is no deity except Him, and [so do] the angels and those of knowledge – [that He is] maintaining [creation] in justice.” (Qur’an, 3:18)
And as for oppression accompanying associating partners with Allah, it is proved in the ayah:
“…Indeed, association [with him] is great injustice.” (Qur’an, 31:13)
Likewise, immorality leads to associating partners with Allah (swt) and injustice, because when the intention (to commit immorality) is strong, it will lead to oppression and relying upon magic and Satan.
Allah (swt) has connected fornication and associating partners with Him in the ayah,
“The fornicator does not marry except a [female] fornicator or polytheist, and none marries her except a fornicator or a polytheist, and that has been made unlawful to the believers.” (Qur’an, 24:3)
These three deeds (associating partners with Allah, injustice and immorality) gravitate towards each other, and one necessitates the other. This is why whenever the heart is weakest in tawheed and greater in associating with Allah, it is at its most immoral state and it is attached to committing these deeds and their results.
The analogy of this is contained in the series of ayat,
“So whatever thing you have been given – it is but [for] enjoyment of the worldly life. But what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who have believed and upon their Lord rely.” (Qur’an, 42:36)
Allah (swt) tells us here that He has prepared something better than this worldly life for those who believe and rely upon Him – this is referring to tawheed. Then He says,
“And those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, and when they are angry, they forgive.” (Qur’an, 42:37).
These people avoid immoralities, which means they stay away from strong desires and lusts. Furthermore, they forgive even when they have a furious rage in their hearts. Allah (swt) connects tawheed to chastity and justice, which is the combination of all that is good.
The Deceived Ones
Among those deceived people may be one who thinks that his good deeds are more than his sins, because he does not pay attention to his bad deeds or check on his sins, but if he does a good deed he remembers it and relies on it.
This is like the one who seeks Allah’s forgiveness with his tongue (that is, by words only), and glorifies Allah by saying “subhan Allah” (Glory be to Allah) one hundred times a day, then he backbites about the Muslims and slanders their honor, and speaks all day long about things that are not pleasing to Allah. This person is always thinking about the virtues of his saying “subhan Allah” (Glory be to Allah) and saying “la ilaha ila Allah” (There is no deity worthy of worship except for Allah) but he pays no attention to what has been reported concerning those who backbite, tell lies, and slander others, or commit other sins of the tongue. They are completely deceived.
Allah (swt) says in surah Muddaththir:
“Then what is [the matter] with them that they are, from the reminder, turning away, as if they were alarmed donkeys, fleeing from a lion?” (Qur’an, 74:49-51)
Allah (swt) compares them in their turning away from the Qur’an to a donkey that sees a lion and runs away from it out of fright. This is of the most amazing analogies and similitudes – these people in their ignorance to the Messenger that Allah ﷺ has sent are like donkeys – because it does not comprehend anything – when it hears the sound of a lion, it flees with the greatest of fleeing. This is a humiliation for them. They flee from the guidance that holds their happiness and success like the donkey flees from that will destroy and kill it.
Falling into the Forbidden
A slave does not fall into the haram except in two ways:
- Lack of knowledge. This leads to having bad thoughts of Allah. He thinks that if he obeys Allah, Allah will not provide him with something permissible that is better than the forbidden.
- Lack of perception. The slave is aware of the narration, “whoever leaves something for Allah, He will replace it with something better”, but his desires overpower his patience and his lusts overpower his rationality.
Ways Satan comes to a Servant
Every possessor of intellect is aware that Shaytan comes to him in three ways:
- Extravagance. This leads to the slave always wanting more, and indulgence. He thinks it to be a good blessing, while in fact it is the sign that Shaytan has entered his heart.
- Lack of caution. This leads to the slave giving into all the desires of his nafs – from eating, to sleeping, to whatever it wants. When the slave is aware that this is one of Shaytan’s tactics, then he will not be able to infiltrate him.
- Heedlessness. The one who remembers Allah is safe in the citadel of dhikr (rememberance), but when the gate of the citadel is opened, Shaytan enters and overtakes him causing dhikr to become difficult for him or making it difficult to remove oneself from this state.
Doors of Hell-Fire
The people will enter hell-fire through three doors:
- The door of doubt, from having doubts in the Deen (religion) of Allah.
- The door of desires, from putting desires ahead of the obedience and pleasure of Allah.
- The door of anger, from hatred and enmity to the creation.
There are three foundations to sins:
- Arrogance, which led to the end of Satan.
- Greediness, which took Adam alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him) out of Jannah (paradise).
- Envy, which let to one of the son’s of Adam (as) killing his brother.
So whoever is saved from the evil of these three, then he has been saved from all evil – as disbelieving in Allah (swt) is from arrogance, as sinning is from greediness, and injustice and enmity is from envy.
“O you who are patient! Bear a little more, just a little more remains.”
[Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah]