With Ramadan many Muslims are thinking of ways to make the most of the blessed month. Whether by reciting more Qur’an or making that extra effort to wake up an hour earlier before Fajr for the night prayer, everyone wants to earn their share of blessing and reward during this month. No doubt that the key to a Ramadan is an early start. For six months the Salaf would pray to Allah to accept their fasts and spent the latter six months asking Him to allow them to live to witness Ramadan. In other words, Ramadan was always on their minds. Such was the certainty and zeal of those who knew the true value of each day of this month.
However, it is not too late yet! The month of Sha’ban gives you a chance to prepare and renew your covenant with Allah , starting with His Words, His book. One of the Salaf said:
“Sha’ban is the month of the Qurra’ (reciters of the Qur’an). He who maintains his daily portion of the Qur’an before Ramadan, will InshaAllah, be able to maintain it after Ramadan.”
Also, one of the righteous was asked about the one who abandons the Qur’an and resumes its recitation, only to find it burdensome and difficult to continue beyond a few pages. He answered by explaining that the only way this feeling can be overcome is by continuing the recitation of the Qur’an. The questioner left and came back to him and said, “How strange! I recited two arbaa’ of the Qur’an before the feeling left me and was replaced with the urge of wanting to continue the recitation.” The righteous man responded, “This is the state of the Qur’an with the negligent, for the Qur’an in itself is a cure for that which is in the hearts. And the more one neglects the Qur’an, the more Raan (stains) accumulate on his heart. The verses of the Qur’an begin to cleanse and clear the heart from the stains, and this is the most difficult and hated stage for the nafs, however, if one continues to fight the urge, the Qur’an will do its part in preparing the heart to receive the light of the Qur’an leaving the believer as Allah described him
Thus, recitation of the Qur’an during the month of Sha’ban removesthe rust of the past months until the heart is lit and ready to take in the guidance and taqwa in Ramadan. Likewise, before embarking on memorization of the Qur’an in Ramadan one must build himself gradually up to it by:
STEP 1 – PREPARATION
A. PURIFYING INTENTIONS
Think! Why am I memorizing the Qur’an? A great way to reinforce your intention is by knowing the virtues of memorizing the Qur’an. (You can read more here: Reward for Memorizing the Qur’an)
But Remember, the ultimate reward lies in Pleasing Allah !
Al-Hasan al-Basree, , said: “Whoever learns something in the name of Allah, seeking that, which is with Him, he will win. And whoever learns something for other than Allah, he will not reach the goal, nor will his acquired knowledge bring him closer to Allaah.” (Related by Ibn al Jawze)
A powerful tool that is too often disregarded. Make dua that Allah opens your heart and cleanses it from the rust that has accumulated on it the past few months. Prophet of Allah used to say:
Allahumma allimni ma Yanfa’uni wanfa’nibi maallamtani wazidni ‘ilma
“O Allah, grant me benefit in what You have taught me, teach me what will benefit me, and increase my knowledge. .” (Tirmidhi and IbnMajah transmitted it, Tirmidhi saying this is a tradition whose isnad is gharib)
Also, On the authority of Zayd ibn Arqam that the Messenger of Allah used to say:
Allahumma inni au’odhobika min ‘ilmin la yanfa’ waminqalbin la yakhsha’ waminnafsin la tashba’ wa min da’watin la yustajabu laha
“O Allah I seek refuge in You from knowledge which does not benefit, from a heart that does not feel humble, from a soul that does not feel contended and from an invocation that is not answered. (Muslim.Eng. Vol. 4, # 6568 and others.)
As per the advice of the righteous man, make use of the month of Sha’ban – prepare yourself for memorization in the month of Ramadan by reciting the Qur’an as frequently as possible. Try this for the first two weeks of the month of Sha’ban.
STEP 2 – PLAN
So far we discussed the steps to pave the way for memorization. Now it’s time to plan out how one will go on about memorizing throughout Ramadan. This too is a preparatory step to be undertaken at least two weeks before Ramadan.
A. SELECT SURAH/VERSES
It is important to know what one will memorize beforehand so select a portion first. It is not an effective approach to simply jump into the memorization.
Download the MP3 of the portion you seek to memorize and listen to it repetitively. It doesn’t matter when or where, in fact, do so even in your sleep!
Research into sleep learning as an aid to increase and reinforce traditional daytime learning conducted by Dr. William H. Johnson concluded “… that hearing material during sleep can facilitate learning the same material in the waking state.”
This is a method that I have personally used and can vouch for. Not only was the memorization easier and quicker, but it proved more solid than other verses I have not listened to as often. I was able to recall more from the Surah after a month of no revision than I normally could with other verses.
C. KNOW YOUR SURAH
One must not neglect the knowledge contained within the verses he is about to memorize. In fact, Allah reprimands those who do not ponder over His verses on multiple occasions in the Qur’an. While memorizing the Qur’an is a noble deed through which much reward is reaped, there is no greater reward than knowing and acquainting oneself with the message of their Rabb.Take the example of Abdullah ibn Umar who spent eight years memorizing the Qur’an!
Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that it took Abdullah ibn Umar eight years to learn Surat al-Baqara. (Malik’s Muwatta’)
Was it because Abdullah was any less capable than any other Sahabi in memorizing the Surah within a short amount of time? No! But it was due to the concise method of the Sahaba in memorizing, in which they took five verses at a time, not moving to the next five verses until they have learned the rulings, causes of revelation and all matters relating to the verses.
This isn’t to say that one should not memorize the Qur’an unless they understood the details behind every verse. But indeed one should strive to know what they are reciting. After all, the Qur’an is a manual teaching us how to live our lives and how beneficial would it be for our life if we memorize a manual that we do not understand?
Thus, as a third step of this preparation process, acquaint yourself with your intended portion for memorization. Even a mere translation without the tafsir details would enliven your memorization experience. Understand Qur’an
D. DIET CONTROL
Last but not least, maintain a healthy diet of the proper brain foods and decent sized portions. Here is an article on Top 6 Tips to Strengthen your Memory
Imam Ibnul Qayyim rahimahullah explains in his book “MadarijulSalikeen” under the chapter of “Things that Spoil the Heart” is excessive eating. After explaining how excessive eating makes one feel heavy and lazy to perform acts of worship, he said his famous quote
“من أكل كثيرا شرب كثيرا نام كثيرا خسر كثيرا” which translates to
“Whoever eats a lot, will drink a lot, will sleep a lot and lose out on a lot”
STEP 3 – MEMORIZE !
Now that you’ve spent a few weeks in memorization prep, you are ready to take it to the next and final step: Memorization. Nothing beats the traditional method when it comes to Islamic sciences, and especially Qur’an memorization. Here are a few tips on maximizing your memorization experience:
A. FIND A SHAYKHA
I cannot begin to stress the importance of having a Shaykh or a mentor to help you memorize correctly and encourage you along this journey. Having gone through the experience before you, they would without doubt have experienced the same lags and obstacles and will advise you accordingly. If this is not possible, then one should at least consider an online Qur’an teacher as a more effective alternative than memorizing alone.
There is an Arabic maxim that says: لكل فن رجال “There are men for every art”
Mufti Taqi Usmani says in explanation of this quote: “which means that one has to go to a master to learn. If, for example, it is a question of fiqh, we have to approach a Mufti, who knows the answers.” (Spiritual Discourses)
Similarly in hifdh one has to naturally approach a Hafidh who is well acquainted with the rules of Tajweed.
B. DU'A OF MUSA (alayhis)
Before starting the memorization of your surah, say:
Rabbishrahli Sadri, WaYassirliAmri, WahlulUqdatam mil lisaani, YafqahuQawli
Just to note, there are no duas in the authentic Sunnah specifically for memorizing. This dua, however, is one I personally use before beginning my memorization and have experienced weak memorization in instances where I did not begin with it. I also use it when I get stuck in memorizing an ayah.
Another recommendation for those who get stuck or have trouble memorizing is increasing the salutations upon the Prophet , as Imam Suhaib Web was advised by his esteemed Shaykh Muhammad Al Yusri.
C. FIXED TIME
Allot a specific timing of the day for memorization and stick to it. After fajr is preferred, but each individual’s case is different so choose the timing you are most free of distractions.
D. WRITE IT DOWN
When it comes to the actual memorization of any Surah, I prefer to stick to the traditional method of writing out the Surah. This has been recommended to me by my Shaykh Hafidhahullah and is an oft repeated advice for my hifdh companions by their teachers.
Lastly, make it a habit to stand up in Tahajjud with the portions of the Qur’an you memorize to help reinforce what you’ve memorized.
“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.”
By Layla Dawod