First of all, we’d like to state that there is a great merit in memorizing the Qur’an and teaching it. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says in this regard: “The best amongst you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari).
Also Abdullah bin `Amr ibn al-`As quotes Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, as saying: “It will be said to the one who had memorized the Qur’an [and acted upon it]: ‘Recite the Qur’an (ascending the levels of Paradise thereby) and do so slowly and melodiously just as you used to recite slowly and melodiously in the world since your abode will be at the place where you finish reciting your last verse.” You see now that one earns tremendous reward in committing the Qur’an to heart, acting upon it and conveying its message to others.
As regard your question, first of all, it’s important to tell you that certain rules and methods should be applied in memorizing the Qur’an so as to get the expected fruits. Thus, we would like to present some of these rules which will assist you in memorizing the Qur’an, may Allah benefit all of us by them. In doing so, we will first shed some light on two perquisites for the act of memorizing the Qur’an and then elaborate on some practical steps to be followed.
A- Two Perquisites for the Act of Memorizing the Qur’an:
1- Having Pure Intention:
Whether in memorizing 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 memorize Qur’an and preserve it must be secured for Allah, the Sublime and Exalted, 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 memorize it. Therefore, there is no reward for one who recites the Qur’an or memorizes it for people’s sake: to show off and to be heard of.
2- Having a Truthful and Firm Resolution to Memorize it:
A person should have such an intent when commencing the task of memorizing the Qur’an, in the midst of it and even after it when one needs to return to what one has memorized in order to preserve it in his memory. Without this firm resolution a person will treat the whole matter lightly, will become tired easily and will not even be able to achieve his goal.
One of the ways a person develops a firm intent is to know the excellence of the Qur’an and to aspire after the reward mentioned above, and yearn drawing close to Allah through that act of worship.
B- Practical Steps for Memorizing the Qur’an:
1- Correcting Pronunciation and Recitation:
The first step in memorizing the Qur’an is to correct the pronunciation. This cannot be fulfilled unless one listens to a good and precise reciter or memorizer of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an cannot be learned without a teacher. Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, was the most eloquent of all the Arabs. Yet, he learnt the Qur’an from Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) orally. Also the Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, used to recite the Qur’an to Jibreel once in every year – in Ramadan. And in the year that he died, he recited it to him twice.
Likewise, Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, taught the Qur’an to his Companions orally; and he heard it from them, after they had learned it from him, time and again.
Therefore, one is required to learn the Qur’an from a good reciter, to correct one’s recitation on a first basis. Also, one should not rely solely on oneself in learning the recitation of the Qur’an, even if one is knowledgeable of the Arabic language and its principles. This is so because in the Qur’an there are many verses that occur in a way uncommon in the rules of the Arabic language.
2- Adhering to a daily Limit for Memorizing the Qur’an:
One must set a daily limit for some verses of Surahs (Chapters) of the Qur’an that one wishes to memorize. This limit should be reasonable and possible to fulfill. It varies in its amount from one person to another.
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.
3- Continual Recitation and Revision:
Once one has corrected one’s recitation and set one’s daily limit, one should begin his memorization process by continual recitation and repetition of one’s daily portion.
The memorizer must occupy himself with this through the hours of the day and night. He should recite it:
-in the Fard (obligatory) as well the Nafl (optional) prayers,
-while sitting in the Masjid (mosque) awaiting the Jama’ah (congregational) prayer,
-for a few minutes after the Jama’ah prayer,
-before going to sleep,
-while waiting for anything (bus, dentist, etc.),
-while riding a bus, car, etc.
In this way, it is possible for a person to practice his memorization even when occupied with other matters, because one is not restricted to just one specific time for memorizing the Qur’an. And with approach of night one will find that one’s set limit is memorized and firmly established in one’s mind. And if something unusual happens to occupy the memorizer during the day, preventing him from completing the set limit, one should not move onto the next portion of the Qur’an on the following day. Rather, one should continue with what one had started the day before, until the memorization is perfected.
4- Reciting in a Melodic Tone:
During memorization, one should recite the Qur’an in a melodic tone, beautifying the reading as much as possible. It is important the one reads melodically because of the following reasons:
a) Melodic recitation conforms with the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who used to recite the Qur’an in a melodious and tranquil manner.
b) It conforms with the Prophet’s command when he said, “Whoever does not chant the Qur’an (recite it melodiously) is not of us.”
c) It is pleasing to one’s ears, providing incentive to continue with the memorization.
d) 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 in one’s recitation becomes disordered. The reciter’s tongue will not comply with him in making a mistake when he is unmindful.
5- Using the Same Copy of the Qur’an (Mushaf):
A memorizer of Qur’an should have a specific Mushaf (copy of the Qur’an) from which he reads all the time. A person memorizes using vision as he does using hearing. The script and form of the verses, and their places in the Mushaf leave an imprint in the mind when they are recited and looked at frequently.
6- Understanding Is the Way to Memorizing the Qur’an:
An important thing that greatly aids the process of memorizing the Qur’an is to understand the meaning of the verses one is memorizing, and know how they are linked to each other. Thus the memorizer should read the Tafsir (explanation) of the verses that he desires to memorize, and should bring their meanings to mind while he is reciting them. This makes it easy easier for him to remember them.
Knowing the meaning of the verses is extremely important for memorizing the Qur’an, and to increase the rewards of reciting the Qur’an. However, one should not merely rely on this for memorization. Rather, as explained earlier, the repetition of these verses should be the foundation. He should repeat them many times, until the tongue can recite them easily – even if the mind drifts away from the meaning. As for the one who relies upon the meaning alone, he will forget often, and his recitation will be disrupted as soon as his mind wanders, which is a common occurrence with lengthy readings.
7- Linking the Verses:
As one completes memorizing a full Surah, one should perfect it by connecting its verses together, both in meaning and in the flow of his tongue easily through them.
One should be able to recite the verses without having to think or go through trouble remembering them. Reciting these verses should become as easy for him as the flow of water. He should be able to recite them without hesitation, even if his mind wanders away from their meaning.
When the verses are well linked and perfected, one should be able recite them almost as easily as one recites Surat al-Fatihah. This only occurs through repeating these verses frequently and reciting them often.
Thus, a memorizer should firmly establish a Surah that he is memorizing in his mind, with its verses well linked together. He should not move to another Surah until he has fulfilled this in a very good way.
8- Reciting to Others:
A memorizer should not rely on memorizing individually. Rather, he should test his memorization by reciting the verses to a companion who knows them by heart, or who can follow from the Mushaf. It would be most recommended that this companion be a precise memorizer himself – he would then be able to alert him to possible subtle errors, as well as prompting him when he forgets or makes mistakes.
It is very common for one to make mistakes in memorizing a Surah, without realizing it – even when one looks at the Mushaf. Reading often races the eyesight; and one may overlook one’s mistakes while reading from the Mushaf. Reciting the Qur’an to a knowing companion is a means of avoiding these errors and keeping one’s mind constantly alert.
9- Constant Review of What Has Been Memorized:
Qur’an is different from any other material that one memorizes, whether poetry or prose. It quickly evaporates from one’s mind. Allah’s , peace and blessings be upon him, said: “By Him in whose Hand is my soul, it (the Qur’an) is more likely to escape than tied camels.” No sooner would a memorizer leave what he finished memorizing, even for a short while, than it starts slipping away from him – he quickly forgets it! Thus, it is necessary for one to follow up to what one has memorized in a constant and careful manner. In this regard, the Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Verily, the example of a possessor (in memory) of the Qur’an is like a possessor of tied camels. If he watches over them carefully, he would keep them; if he lets them break loose, they would run away from him.”
This means that a Hafiz (memoriser) of the Qur’an should have an allocated portion that he constantly reads every day. This portion should not be less than one thirtieth, and should not exceed ten parts (of thirty) of the whole Qur’an, because Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “It would be difficult for anyone who recites the (full) Qur’an in less then three nights to comprehend it.”
Only with this constant revision, and consistent watch, one would retain what one has memorized of the Qur’an and protect it from slipping away.
10- Watching for Analogous Sections of the Qur’an:
Various parts of the Qur’an resemble each other in meaning, wording, or repetition of verses. The Qur’an consists of more than six thousand verses. 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 verses that resemble each other in wording. The excellence of one’s memorization depends on this watchfulness in this regard.