Sunday, 29 March 2009

Teaching Children to Memorise the Qur’an

Allah revealed in the Qur’an;

"Allah has favoured the believers by sending them a messenger from among themselves,
to recite His verses to them, and teach them the book."

The Prophet (saws) stated;

"The best of you is he who has learnt the Qur’an and then taught it." (Bukhari)

As we can see, (or should I say read), Qur’an recitation as related by Allah and the Prophet (saws) is very important in Islam. We should illustrate this importance within our home educational routine. The following are some steps that will help facilitate the memorising process.

Before One Begins to memorise

Whether memorising the Qur’an or doing anything for Allah, a most important obligation is to purify the intention and correct the goal. Thus, one’s concern to memorise Qur’an and preserve it must be secured for Allah, for gaining His paradise and attaining His pleasure and for acquiring the great rewards that are reserved for those who recite the Qur’an and memorise it. Reiterate to your children the significance of intention and do not restrict its importance to just Qur’anic memorization.

Being aware that the Qur’an is in fact easy to memorise for the one who desires to do so due to the saying of Allah;

"And we have made the Qur’an easy for remembrance (and understanding),
so there is one that will receive admonition?"
[Qur'an 54:22]

Practical Steps for memorising

Correcting Pronunciation and Recitation

The next step in memorising the Qur’an is to correct the pronunciation. This cannot be fulfilled unless one listens to a good precise reciter or someone who has memorised of the Qur’an. If you are not a good reciter then find someone in your community that is insha'Allah. If you are unable to find anyone then utilize Qur’anic tapes by reputable reciters Insha’Allah. Utilize this opportunity to increase your own memorization Insha’Allah.

The Prophet (saws) learned the Qur’an from Jibreel orally. Also the Messenger (saws) used to recite the Qur’an to Jibreel once in every year - in Ramadan. And in the year that he died, he recited it twice.

Likewise, the Messenger (saws) taught the Qur’an to his Companions orally; and he heard it from them, after the had learned it from him, time and again.

One must set a daily limit for the amount of Qur’an that one wishes to memorise. This limit should be reasonable and possible to fulfil. This teaches goal attainment and also a feeling of completion and daily achievement. Help your children set realistic goals Insha’Allah.

One should resist the temptation to move to a new portion of the Qur’an before perfecting the memorization of the current portion that agrees with the set limit. This is a disciplinary measure that helps one concentrate on one thing at a time, reducing interruption, and enabling one to firmly establish one’s current portion in one’s mind.

Continual Recitation and Review

Once one has corrected their recitation and set their daily limit, one should begin their memorization process by continual recitation and repetition of his daily portion. This will ensure that the portion will be retained within the long-term memory instead of the short-term memory where it can be easily forgotten.

The recitation can be reaffirmed;

In the fard (obligatory) as well as the nafl (optional) prayers

While sitting in the Masjid awaiting the jama’ah prayer

Before going to sleep

While waiting for anything (bus, dentist, etc.)

While riding the bus, car, etc.

In this way, it is possible for a person to practice their memorization even when occupied with other matters, because they are not restricted to just one specific time for memorising the Qur’an. By the end of the day, one will find that their set limit is memorised and firmly established in their mind. Make this repetition enjoyable for the children and not a chore. They should enjoy reciting the Qur’an and not view it as a chore Insha’Allah.

Reciting in a Melodic Tone

It is important that one reads melodically. This is important for the following reasons;

Melodic recitation conforms to the Sunnah of the Prophet (saws) who used to recite the Qur’an in a melodious and tranquil manner. The Prophet (saws) stated, "Whoever does not chant the Qur’an (recite it melodiously) is not of us." (Bukhari)

It is pleasing to one’s ears, providing incentive to continue with the memorization.

It helps make one’s memorization firm and strong. The tongue will always return to a specific tone of voice, and would thus detect a mistake whenever the balance or harmony on one’s recitation becomes disordered.

Using the Same Copy of the Qur’an

A memoriser of Qur’an should have a specific mushaf (copy of the Qur’an) from which they read all the time. Give each child their own Qur’an for memorization Insha’Allah.

A person memorises using vision as they do using hearing. The script and form of the ayat, and their places in the mushaf leave an imprint in the mind when they are recited and looked at frequently. The positions of the ayat would be different in different types of mushafs, and the script may be different also. This confuses the memory and makes memorising more difficult.

Understanding is the Way to memorising

An important thing that greatly aids the process of memorising Qur’an is to understand the meaning of the ayat one is memorising, and know how they are linked to each other.

Thus the memoriser should read the tafsir (explanation) of the ayat that they desire to memorise, and should bring their meanings to mind while they are reciting them. This makes it easier for them to remember. Try to establish a daily routine of reading tafsir with your children insha’Allah. Have the readings relate to the ayaat they are currently memorising.

As one completes memorising a full surah (chapter of the Qur’an), they should perfect it by connecting its ayaat together, both in meaning and in the flow of their tongue.

When the ayaat are well linked and perfected, one should be able to recite them almost as easily as they recite al-Fatihah. This only occurs through repeating these ayats frequently and reciting them often.

Reciting to Others

A memoriser should not rely on memorising individually. Rather, they should test their memorization by reciting the ayat to a companion who knows them by heart, or who can follow from the mushaf. It is very common for one to make mistakes in memorising a surah, without realizing it - even when one looks at the mushaf. Reading often races the eyesight; and one may overlook their mistakes while reading from the mushaf. Reciting Qur’an to a knowing companion is a means of avoiding these errors and keeping their mind constantly alert. You as a parent can be this companion, a member in the community, or even a sibling if they are knowledgeable enough to recognize errors.

Constant review of What has Been memorised

The Qur’an is different than any other material that one memorises, whether poetry or prose. It quickly evaporates from one’s mind. Allah’s Messenger (saws) said;

"Guard the Qur’an (in your memory); for by Him in whose Hand is my soul, it slips away faster than tied camels." (Bukhari and Muslim)

No sooner would the Prophet (saws) leave, and they would forget what they had finished memorising, even after a short while, it started slipping away from them - they quickly forget it! Thus, it is necessary for one to follow up on what they have memorised in a constant and careful manner. In this regard, the Messenger (saws) said;

"Verily, the example of a possessor (in memory) of Qur’an is like a possessor of tied camels. If he watches over them carefully, he would keep them, if he lets them loose, they would run away from him." (Bukhari and Muslim)

We must ensure that our children watch over the camels carefully and have an allocated portion of the Qur’an that they constantly read each day. Only with this constant revision, and constant watch, they would retain what they memorised from the Qur’an and protect it from slipping away.

Watching for Analogous Sections of the Qur’an

Various parts of the Qur’an resemble each other in meaning, wording or repetition of ayat. Allah states;

"Allah has sent down the most beautiful of speech, a Book, (parts of it) resembling (others), often repeated. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it. Then their skins and their hearts soften to the remembrance of Allah." [Qur'an 39:23]

The Qur’an consists of more than six thousand ayat. Of those approximately two thousand carry some sort of resemblance to others. The resemblance varies from total coincidence, to a difference in one letter, a word or two, or more.

Thus a good reciter of the Qur’an should direct special attention to the ayat that resemble each other in wording. The excellence of one’s memorization depends on this watchfulness in this regard.

Taking Advantage of the Golden Hours of the Day

The best time of the day to memorise Qur’an is the last part of the night that precedes the fajr (dawn) prayer, or the early morning hours that follows it. At this time, the body is rested and fresh, the mind is clear and sound, the worldly attractions are few and remote, and the blessings abundant.

Taking Advantage of the Golden years of memorising

Successful is he indeed who takes advantage of the best years of memorization, which are approximately from the age of five to twenty-three - these are the golden years of memorising.

We must encourage our children to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity Insha’Allah.

This article was adapted from A Guide for Memorising the Noble Qur’an. English Translation and Compilation by Amjad ibn Muhammad Rafiq. Edited and Supplemented by Muhammad al-Jibali.

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