“Verily, we revealed the reminder (Qur’an) and we are its guardian.” (15:9)
Narrated ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him): that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever recites the Qur’an and memorises it, making lawful what it makes lawful, and unlawful what it makes unlawful, Allah will admit him to Paradise due to it, and grant him intercession for ten of his family members who were to be consigned to the Fire.” (Tirmidhi as weak)
Alhumdu Lillah, it is through the sheer grace and mercy of Allah, al-Kareem, we find so many people memorising the Qur’an in the UK. In a small country like England there must be thousands of Huffadh, Ma Sha Allah – Tabarak Allah – Fa Lillahil Hamd. Where I live, in Blackburn, there must be approximately 1,000+ Huffadh (male and female) in the whole town – Alhumdu Lillah. We should not take this lightly, rather, we must thank Allah profusely for this blessing of the Qur’an and secondly the blessing of memorising/hifdh. There are countries in the world that don’t have 100 Huffadh in the whole country, let alone 1,000! Most of these efforts have been in the last ¼ century. If we look 25 years ago, there were very few places that offered Hifdh classes and the class sizes were very small (less than a dozen boys). Back in the 70s and 80s places like Bradford and Dewsbury only had one Hifdh class in the whole town, and there were a few classes in Lancashire, as well as one in Bolton.
This is all down to the miracle of the Qur’an and this proves the Qur’an is a miraculous book.
If we were to give these boys and girls who are memorising the Qur’an a book in English, any book of any genre and they were told to memorise it, would they be able to? Just like they learn a page a day from the Qur’an, they should be able to learn a page each day from another book. And this should be easier, as it is in their own language! But, we seldom find such children! This shows memorising the Quran is not based entirely on the child’s memory. It is merit of the Qur’an being a miraculous book. This is a special favour bestowed upon this Ummah as previous nations were not able to memorise their holy scriptures en masse, thus we will not find a person who has memorised the Bible in its entirety, nor the Torah.
“And We have indeed made the Qur’ân easy to understand and remember.” (al-Najm 54:17)
So whoever strives to memorise it and recite it regularly, it will be made easy for him, and whoever turns away from it, will lose it. “According to reports from the Banu Israil themselves, the ruler of Rome, Anitos Apifonis got every single copy of the Tawrah and burnt it until not a single copy was left. The same happened to the Bible so the original transcriptions became extinct as a result of the attacks of Titus of Rome…” (An approach to the Qur’anic sciences).
Nowadays, we have a wholesale of Huffadh and a greater bulk on the production line wanting to become a Hafidh. This all seems good and well on the surface. But, we must remember a Hafidh is a soul chosen by Allah SWT to protect his book, like the verse mentions:
“Verily, we revealed the reminder (Qur’an) and we are its guardian.” (15:9)
Let us bear in mind, becoming a Hafidh is not Fardh Ayn (obligatory on everyone). The Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them) were not all Hafidh, some only knew a few verses or a Surah. Great Imams like the Master of Hadith, Imam Bukhari (Allah have mercy upon him) was not a Hafidh, some of the greatest scholars in later times like the esteemed Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (Allah have mercy upon him), the honourable Shaykh Yunus Saheb (Allah have mercy upon him) were not Hafidh of the Qur’an. If these scholars who had ‘photographic’ memory were not Hafidh of the Qur’an, why do some parents force their children to memorise the Qur’an. Parents need to have a balance with their approach towards Hifdh, otherwise this can have negative consequences later on in life. Becoming a Hafidh has great rewards, no doubt. But if your child is not cut out for it, please do not force them and ‘suffocate’ them to do Hifdh. Consequently, such children may end up completing their Hifdh, but rarely keep up with their revision thereafter. Becoming a Hafidh is part 1, retaining your Qur’an is part 2 – the harder part. Memorising and retention are both as important as each other. It is better your child learns the last ten Surahs voluntarily and remembers them, rather than forcing him/her to memorise the full Qur’an and he/she later forgets it. They will then be committing a major sin.
“The one who turns away from My message, he shall have a straitened life, and We shall raise him blind on the Day of Judgement.” (Surah Tahaa)
The purpose of this article is not to be negative and put parents off making their children a Hafidh. It is just an eye opener and a gentle reminder. We frequently hear the virtues of a Hafidh, but rarely get to hear the other side which are the warnings of forgetting the Qur’an. For now, let us remember:
- not every child has to become a Hafidh
- the virtues of a Hafidh are great, but the warning for those who forget the Qur’an are also severe
- becoming a Hafidh does not guarantee you Jannah, you must act upon the Qur’an and carry out other obligations such as Salah, Fasting, Akhlaq, etc
- memorising the Qur’an isn’t a medal, which you complete and wear around your neck. It has implications. We must repeat and revise the Qur’an until our death
- a Hafidh isn’t like someone who has obtained a degree or achieved a certificate and has no further obligations. The Hafidh has a duty thereafter to i) behave like a Hafidh according to the Sunnah ii) try and understand the Qur’an, especially what is Halal and Haram
Narrated Samurah bin Jundab (Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (ﷺ) said in his narration of a dream that he saw, “He whose head was being crushed with a stone was one who learnt the Qur’an but never acted on it, and slept ignoring the compulsory prayers.” (Bukhari)
My aim is to create a balance, that alongside all the virtues of Tahfeedh/Hifdh, there are also the punishments for forgetting the Qur’an. Which doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘whole’ Qur’an, it can be a Surah or even just a verse. Many people learn Surah Yaseen or the whole Amma para in childhood, then later in life tend to forget it.
From Anas bin Malik (Allah be pleased with him): that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The rewards for my Ummah were displayed before me, even (the reward for) the dust that a man comes out of the Masjid with. The sins of my Ummah were displayed before me, and I have not seen a sin worse than a Surah or Ayah of the Qur’an which a man learned and then forgot.” (Tirmidhi)
“And We have indeed made the Qur’ân easy to understand and remember.” (al-Najm 54:17)
So whoever strives to memorise it and recite it regularly, it will be made easy for him, and whoever turns away from it, will lose it.
Imam Ibn ul-Munadi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Mutashabih al-Qur’an (p. 52): “The Salaf were always afraid of forgetting Qur’an after they had memorised it, because this was a shortcoming.”
Imam Suyooti (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Itqaan (1/106): “Forgetting it is a major sin.” As was stated by Imam Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) in al-Rawdah and others, because of the Hadith “I was shown the sins of my Ummah…”
The second issue is that of a teacher, finding a “good teacher”. The Qur’an cannot be learnt without a teacher. Even the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) learnt from angel Jibreel AS. Similarly, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) taught the Qur’an and listened to it from his Companions (Allah be pleased with them). A good teacher will not only correct one’s recitation but also teach the correct Tajweed and proninciation.
From my own experience of teaching children who have left other Madrasahs or Maktabs that run from home, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on sabaq/the new lesson. Little or no emphasis is being put on their revision/dawr. Along with that some classes are overloaded with students, having 15-20 students in a Hifdh class is far too much. Especially when the time is only 2 hours per day or 2 and half hours. This is extremely unfair on the children as they do not receive the attention they need/deserve. Not to mention the fees which are extortionate, £10 or £15 per week for such less teaching time! Anyone can do the maths and see that Madrasahs unfortunately, are turning into a business. Teachers are too focused on ‘quantity’, rather than ‘quality’, there is ample proof of this.
For the family (who have a child/ren memorising Qur’an), a Hifdh family needs to prioritise and they need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They need to realize that memorising the Qur’an isn’t an honour bestowed on just anyone. When one commits to this, they need to put their heart and soul and mind into it, and everything else is secondary! Yes, you’re the type of parents, if the Oxford Dictionary had a definition for you, it would read thus,
“a mum or dad whose social, emotional, physical and psychological decisions are governed by what Para their children are memorising”
Every Muslim parent wants success for their child- in this world and the next and to keep them focused on the Straight Path. One of the surest ways to raise one’s child firmly on the Deen, is to create a connection with the Qur’an – the book of Allah – which has been explicitly sent down as a guidance for mankind. For this connection to take place, one needs to create an affinity for this book to inspire feelings of attachment. Understanding the Qur’an, and exploring its depth will all come later, but as long as parents are able to create an association between the child and the Qur’an, the most important job of all is done.
Some tips for parents In Sha Allah:
- First and foremost see if your child has the ability to memorise the Qur’an by testing his current Surahs and Duas etc.
- Inculcate the love of the Qur’an into your children by giving them Qur’an CDs or buying them a Qur’an cube, play short Surahs as they are easier to memorise. Play these daily in the morning or at night, whilst in the car or even on YouTube at home.
- Start early –“learning when young is like engraving on stone.” From the time your children are small (or even when your baby is in the womb), recite the Qur’an to them in a beautiful voice. Let the sound of your Qira’ah be one that creates an instant memory of the love that they have for him. What would be even better is to recite the Quran after Fajr, so that when your child opens his/her eyes in the morning, the very first sound he/she hears is that of the Words of Allah.
- Set goals and rewards. Treat him/her with positive reinforcements like a snack bar or chocolate or playtime outside, when they complete a Surah/Para. Constantly remind them of the reward and that their efforts are not being wasted. As your child becomes better at reciting the Quran, encourage him to memorise portions of the text such as the short Surahs, and some importance ones like Surah Yaseen, Surah Al-Mulk and so on. Tell them the importance of these various Surahs as well so that the child adds to his bond with the Quran.
- Set a timetable at home, working with school time and school work. As well as Madrasah time and Madrasah lessons. Keep two small sessions rather than one long one. E.g. after Fajr and after school.
- If you like, you can create a healthy competition between your children. Do not “compare” your children though, because each child is unique. What is best is to set different goals for each depending on their capabilities and see who reaches their goal first.
- Model What You Want Your Children to Emulate: Children learn most from their parents actions than their commands. Engage yourself with the Qur’an, try to memorise parts of it yourself and you will notice that your children will take more interest in picking up the Quran themselves. Actions speak louder than word.
- Provide the right environment. It is hard for the Qur’an to exist in the heart when the mind is occupied with music, televisions, cartoons etc. It is the job of the parent to create an environment conducive to learning the Qur’an by keeping their children away from negative influences, and providing them the opportunity to go regularly to the Masjid, meeting good Muslims and pious people and attending gatherings where they can learn about the Deen. A hifdh family is different than a normal family!They should have a secluded place to go to and memorise that is quiet. You just can’t memorise properly with distractions, so turn off all your devices (like mobile phones)
- To pace is better than to race. Some children can learn three pages every day. Others struggle with three lines. Every child is different. Pace your child according to his level. Do not put a timeline on when the hifdh needs to finish. Even if it is a lifelong task, remember quality is better than quantity. Let your children learn with love in their hearts rather than stress.
- Last but not least, be patient and do not get angry when your children make mistakes. Every child is different, and you must not create despondency in them by becoming exasperated. Make Dua to Allah SWT to help you children and to keep them on the path of learning throughout their lives. Pray Tahajjud and give Sadaqah on behalf of them.
NB: One addition, particularly for mothers is to feed your child some memory boosting food, such as raw honey, Zamzam water, olive oil, dates and almonds. More of these can be found here . Please avoid “junk” food or anything that has a lack of vitamins and minerals, contains high cholesterol, white sugar, carbonated beverages, processed carbohydrates and over eating in general. Children should get sufficient sleep and a good amount of exercise. Exercise causes more oxygen to transfer to your brain. A lack of exercise leads to laziness, weight gain, and internal health issues, and will thus affect memorisation and other mental faculties.
“The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Tips for teachers In Sha Allah:
- Having a pure intention: Whether it is memorising the Qur’an or doing anything else for the sake of Allah SWT, the single most important thing needed for the success of that goal is to have the right intention. One must secure one’s intention purely for the sake of Allah SWT, for even if the person does not achieve success in this world, his success is guaranteed in the hereafter. Do not make your Madrasah/Class a money making business. Remind your students as well to have a firm intention for Allah SWT.
- “And recite the Qur’an (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style.”(73:4)
Ali (Allah be pleased with him) commented on this verse saying, “Tarteel is Tajweed of the letters and recognising the places of Waqf (stopping). Before teaching the children Hifdh, please ensure their Tajweed is rectified and their pronunciation is correct.
3. Don’t have an age limit for your class, as there is no real age when to start Hifdh and it is never too late- In Sha Allah. Some teachers do recommend age 7, others recommend 11. My personal opinion, some children are seen to mature before others. Sometimes children of the same age are worlds apart in their understanding and receptiveness. Sometimes a child who is brilliant in school might have a harder time with the Qur’an. Judge your student for who is he is before embarking him on the journey to learn the Qur’an.
4. Ensure your students have a specific copy of the Qur’an from which he/she reads all the time. A visual image of the page leaves an imprint in the mind, making it easier to recall later.
5. Encourage students to read melodiously and beautify their recitation as much as they can. It is pleasing to one’s ears, provides an incentive to continue with the memorisation. It helps make one’s memorisation firm and strong because any mistake will ‘sound’ incorrect as it will distort the harmony of the rhythm one is used to. A Miswak is instrumental in this, it cleans the teeth but also clears the throat. Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said: “Verily, your mouths are the pathways of the Qur’an, therefore cleanse your mouth with the Miswak thoroughly.” (Ibn Majah)
6. Keep rewards charts/stickers for the children, praise them regularly for their good efforts. Gently correcting them when they falter. Avoid negativity. Never use a loud voice, harsh words or insults when it comes to instructing or motivating your students.
7. “And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah . Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing.” [ 7: 200] Shaytan will always try and stop this meritorious deed. Remind your students of the virtues of the Qur’an which can be found here
8. The Ustadh should always remain in a state of Wudhu, reminding the children to keep their Wudhu too as long as possible. Encourage them with these Hadith. “Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers, etc.).” [2: 222] The Prophet (ﷺ) used to remain in a state of cleanliness and Wudhu. This is one of the best ways to keep Shaytan from influencing us and whispering evil thoughts. Allah SWT loves those who keep themselves clean and it is only His love and protection that can help us defeat our greatest enemy.
9. I was reading online that a particular Ustadh in another country whose Hifdh class students were known to be the best in the town. Why? Every month he would gather the students one night and make them lead in Tahajjud, they would read their Qur’an what they had memorised that month. This might be hard, but not impossible! If not for Tahajjud, maybe one weekend in the daytime make them lead in Nafl Salah. This will boost their confidence and also train them for Taraweeh, which is the litmus test for every Hafidh.
10. And finally, the last point but probably the most important, there is absolutely no excuse or justification for physical beating or abuse when it comes to teaching. This was never seen in the life of the Prophet (ﷺ) nor the illustrious companions (Allah be pleased with them). I know of many adults who either left Islam or abandoned the Qur’an at an older age because of the harshness that was associated with it at a younger age, due to culture and not religion.
NB: Teach the students Adab/etiquettes. How to hold the Qur’an with respect, not to make drawings in their Qur’an and always carry the Qur’an in their right hand. It is very sad to see, more often than not, children walking home with their Qur’ans in their left hands, which is such a basic etiquette generally forgotten by Ustadhs to teach them.
I will conclude with some advice for those who are either fully Hafidh or have memorised a portion of the Qur’an but are struggling to revise and refresh it.
It was narrated that ‘Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him) said: the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “It is not right for any one of you to say, ‘I have forgotten such and such.’ On the contrary, he has been made to forget. Try to review the Qur’an, for it is more likely to escape from men’s hearts than camels (let loose).” (Bukhari, 5032).
I read these lines of poetry written by Imam Shafi’ee (Allah be pleased with him) when he complained to his teacher about a weak memory and they have stayed with me since:
I complained to Wakee‘ RH about my poor memory:
Give up your sins, was his advice to me;
For knowledge is a light from divinity,
And the Light of God is veiled by iniquity.
If one strives hard to review the Qur’an regularly, there will be no sin on him even if he does forget some of it, for Allah sees the effort. The blame is on those who neglect the Qur’an and fail to review it and read it regularly.
Is it better then to not learn at all, rather than forget? Let’s put it this way: the blessings of memorising the words of Allah and the barakah it brings to the life of a Muslim cannot be beaten! My advice would be to memorise as much as you can even if it is an Ayah and review it every day, for the Qur’an will be a great companion to have in the grave and on the Day of Judgement.
Allah knows best.
Ismail ibn Nazir Satia
1 Muharram 1439