First thing: Qur’an memorisation is not for lazy people.
An ustadh who was a hafidh (memoriser of the Qur’an) was once asked by our fellow brother, “What is the easy way of memorising the Qur’an?” The ustadh smiled to the asking brother and said, “There is NO easy way of memorising the Qur’an.”
Long Time No See..?
So the huffadh (pl. of hafidh) would tell you that Qur’an memorising is not for lazy people. And by experience I could also confirm this. I became slack in my repeat exercises, and slowly the ayats (verses) which I have remembered left my head. The many surahs (chapters) that I once memorised (some as usrah assignments), became only distantly familiar but couldn’t be recited by memory at all as I became lazy. You don’t do repeat exercises, you will lose your memorised ayats. It is as simple as that.
And this problem had started to bug our kids as well. Children can – surprisingly – memorise a lot. Since our kids are not attending any tahfidh (Qur’an memorisation school – they are essentially homeschooled) it is up to us the parents to plan and oversee their Qur’an programme (including Qur’an memorisation). We thought our eldest daughter Maryam have memorised a lot, but one day I did a thorough review with her and was surprised to find out that she actually could not recite well a lot of those surahs (which she had initially memorised). She forgot. Due to the fact we did not put up an effective programme for her to maintain her memorisation.
So here we had a group of homeschooling kids struggling to maintain their memorisation. And we also had one lazy father who had lost many surahs, once memorised.
So what should we do?
To cut the story short, yours truly did some research, including asking a few huffadh for guidance, and put up a simple Qur’an memorising programme for the kids (and for himself as well). It has been a few months, and it seems to work alhamdulillah. So this is what I wish to share in this post.
I (and probably you also) had surahs which I remember well and those which are not-so-well. Logic tells us that we want to repeat rigorously those which are not-so-well until they stick well in our head. And experience will tell us also that those which we remember well, they still have to be repeated, otherwise we will eventually lose them.
So using an Excel spreadsheet I divide the surahs into three categories:
Cat 1 – Those which I remember well (I call them the ‘Good Ones’)
Cat 2 – Those which I have memorised but still can’t recite well by memory (I call them the ‘Not-So-Good Ones’)
Cat 3 – And those which I am in the process of memorising (I call them the ‘New Ones’)
(Note: I took ideas from this blog entry ‘How To Memorize The Qur’an And Not Forget It!‘ which has been very useful.)
For Cat 1, I will have to repeat them on a regular basis. I see you ask, how regular? From the few huffadh whom I consulted, basically there is no fixed duration. It depends on the individuals, and how well you can recite them. I summarise that many people would repeat all his memorised verses in a cycle ranging from one week, to 10 days, to even twice in a month. So rather than fixing a duration, I tend to go for some flexibility. If you don’t remember many surahs, you may want to repeat more frequently (also remember: the more frequent you repeat, the more you read every day, thus the more reward in sha Allah). For example, Hasan has memorised (i.e. in Cat 1) 30 short surahs, and I assign him a 5-day cycle in which he has to repeat all surahs. Maryam currently remembers about 50 surahs (including average-length ones) so a 7-day cycle seems to be about right for her.
For Cat 2, basically you just have to repeat them as frequent as you can. I use the suggestion from the blog above to repeat them every day, for at least 25 days. No magic number here, but it seems to work. After these days you seem to get a fairly good grasp on the surah, and you can move it to Cat 1.
New ayats which you are starting to memorise, park them under Cat 3. It’s totally up to you (and your capability) on how many new ayats you want to memorise in a day. Take note that if you have many not-so-good memorised surahs (i.e. Cat 2), you may want to focus on them rather than start memorising new ones.
Using Excel make dated plans or schedules, and print them out for reference at home. I even save a copy on the cloud so I can still refer to it even when I’m out of home (outstation in the nowhere zone of Sipitang, for example).
This is how our typical memorisation plan looks like:
We use the ‘Notes’ field to note down anything useful, for example which new ayats have been memorised on that day.
Updating The Plan
Next, I have to update the schedules. I update when I want to move a surah from Cat 3 to Cat 2 after I have completed memorising the surah. Or when moving a surah from Cat 2 to Cat 1 as I have perfected its memorisation. The idea is you want to add more and more surah into Cat 1 (and hopefully not removing them!).
Seems like some work (I told you it’s not for lazy people), but believe me it is much easier when you have a programme by which you can see progress. Another thing, my kids LOVE the tabled plans, they diligently refer to them, update them with pencil ticks (indicating they’ve completed the task for the day), and even remind a sibling should he/she does not complete his/her assignment for the day. And when the people around you recite the Qur’an you’d get that extra motivational push to do the same.
So the lazy father gets his old ayats back in memory, and the kids also look forward to adding new memorised surahs in their ‘Good Ones’ category. We have just implemented this programme for about three months now, and Maryam has increased her number of Cat 1 surahs from 44 to 52. Hannah’s well-memorised surahs have increased from 24 to 33. Alhamdulillah, it worked for us.
(No I won’t tell you MY number of surahs)
So if you are like I was, who have lost memory of old ayats (read: become lazy) and doesn’t have a programme to implement, you may want to try this. And use it for the family also.
Those who memorise the Qur’an have a special position in Islam, as the Prophet (s) had shown to the Companions who were huffadh. So we hope to raise our family to emulate these special people by memorising the Qur’an, in sha Allah.
May Allah make it easy for you, and to Allah belongs all praises.
PS 1: If you want a copy of the Excel file that we use for this programme, leave your contacts in the comment boxes below. The suggestions in this post are not copyrighted, I’d be happy if more people benefit from them.
PS 2: You want to take note that this is purely a programme to maintain the memorisation of the Qur’an, not to improve the reading or tajweed. Therefore, if your kids are still learning to recite with the proper tajweed, you still have to do proper recitation lesson for them. For example, Hasan (7 y.o.) and Hannah (9 y.o.) would each read (not memorise) at least a page from the mushaf with me (or with their mother) every day, on top of this memorisation programme.