[Part 2] Quran is a Treasure – Preserve it in Your Heart

Quran-550x412Advice #4: Slow and Steady, Wins the Race!

The fourth step is taken once you’ve started and are flowing smoothly with your daily memorization. You are following your plan with utmost energy and motivation and feel productive and inspired to keep going. Now you need effective strategies to keep you going at a steady pace without finding yourself at a dead end.

1- Make sure that you connect the first part of the Surah to its end before moving on to another.  You may find that the beginning of the Surah flows smoother for you because you spent more time and energy on it, while the end of the Surah does not get as much attention and repetition. This is your first red signal. Stop and revise it as many times as you need (ten times minimum) to strengthen the memorization.

2- Recite with understanding! Start reading Tafseer of at least five verses per day. This way, the meaning of the verses will engrave into your mind and heart. Beginners are recommended to start with a Tafseer that explains the verses clearly like Tafsir Ibn Kathir (summarized version) or Tafsir Al Jalalayn.

It is reported from Al-Fudayl that Prophet (sa) said: “The Quran was sent down to be acted upon but people have taken just reciting it as enough of a deed. He was asked, “How is it acted upon?” He replied, “They should treat as Halal what it makes Halal and treat as Haram what it makes Haram, they should take on its commandments and stay away from what it forbids and they should stop to ponder it’s amazing knowledge and wisdom.”

3- Become comfortable with the patterns of the verses, i.e. Mutashabihat. There are many repeated verses in the Quran. It is helpful to designate a notebook for tracking down the similar verses as you go. You can even use Microsoft Word and format your notes with the highlight, colours, italic, bold and underline options. Be creative! It’s worth it.

Allah (swt) says,

اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ

“Allah has sent down the best statement, a Book (this Quran), its parts resembling each other in goodness and truth, oft-repeated. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it (when they recite it or hear it). Then their skin and their heart soften to the remembrance of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah. He Guides therewith whom He pleases and whomever Allah sends astray, for him there is no guide.” (Az-Zumar 39:23)

Renew Your Intention Every Time

Finally, don’t forget to renew your intention again. At this point, spend time alone to rethink about your decision and block out any praise that you may be receiving. The signs of a boastful show-off are that he is lazy when alone, energetic when with people, increases his work when praised, and decreases his work when insulted and ignored. Pray hard, concentrate in your prayers, use the golden moments in Sujood to come closer to Allah (swt) and seek His help in attaining your goal of understanding and memorizing His Book.

Advice #5: Dua and Action are the Keys

Now that you have a plan and effective strategies have become your habits, focus on Dua and your deeds. These steps will help you maintain your new commitment to the Quran in the long run Insha’Allah:

1- Stop sinning: Sins are the number one barriers between knowledge and a Muslim’s heart. Allah’s (swt) superior speech will never settle in a heart that is sinful and barred by desire and doubt. It is narrated that Abdullah ibn Masud that Prophet (sa) said:

إني لأحسب الرجل ينسى العلم بالخطيئة يعملها

“I believe that a man forgets his knowledge because of a sin that he has committed.”

Forgetting the Quran and being unable to memorize it is one of the biggest disasters that may befall a Muslim in his life; Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ

“And whatever of disaster befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned (of sins).” (Ash-Shuara)

It is important to remember that our bodies have been made from soil and the food for our bodies comes from the soil it was made of. Our souls, however, have been sent from Heaven and the food for our souls is the Quran which was sent down from the Heavens to quench our souls and relieve us from misguidance and darkness. A heart that is bolted and shackled by chains of disobedience and sin will be unable to see the light of guidance that is found in the Quran.

Ibn Taymiyyah said:

و كما أن لله ملائكة موكلة بالسحاب و المطر فله ملائكة موكلة بالهدى و العلم و هذا رزق القلوب و قوتها و هذا رزق الأجساد و قوتها

“Just as Allah (swt) has angels responsible for the clouds and rain, He too has angels responsible for guidance and knowledge. This is the sustenance and provision for hearts and that is the sustenance and provision for bodies.”

Imam Al Shafi (ra) recited verses of poetry beautifully describing his teacher’s explanation of why sins prevent knowledge,

شكوت إلى وكيع سوء حفظي           فأرشدني إلى ترك المعاصي

و قال إن العلم نور                      و نور الله لا يؤتى لعاصي

I complained to Waki about the weakness of my memory.

He told me to abandon sin.

And said that knowledge is light.

And Allah’s (swt) light is not given to the sinner.

2- Search for the practical aspects of all the verses you memorized: Any heedful Muslim will agree that the main cause of the Ummah’s state in today’s age and time is our abandonment of the Quran and its teachings. We are merely floating in the oceans without diving in and discovering the gems and treasures that Allah (swt) has hidden in its depths. Reciting the Quran without pondering upon its meanings and without any practical application of its teachings is not the ultimate purpose, although a recitor is to be rewarded. Remember that the Companions (rta) would not exceed their study of the Quran to more than five to ten verses until they had studied them in detail and understood the practical implications. Read the verses and ask yourself, “What is Allah (swt) commanding me to do? What is he prohibiting me from? How can I apply this verse in every day of my life?”

3- Make the Quran your companion and guidebook: Make it your number one source of comfort and peace. Make a list of do’s and don’ts based on the Quran. Study the qualities that Allah (swt) loves in His slaves and try to develop them to the best of your ability: patience, love, mercy, humility. Study the qualities that He hates and abandon them: boastfulness, hard heartedness, heedlessness and idle talk. The next time you are at your wits’ end, confused and lost, let your first action be reaching out for the Quran and seeking tranquillity in the remembrance of Allah (swt).

Remember also that once a person has knowledge of an issue, he is bound by this knowledge to act upon it. This is a matter overlooked; however it is quite significant. Never forget that the Quran will be a proof for you or against you.

4- Good companionship: From the greatest blessings of Allah (swt) to His slaves is a good friend. It is incumbent upon a serious student of the Quran to pray for and find a friend who will be a help and source of encouragement. Beware of people who engage in idle chatter and sins of the tongue; these people will claim they do not have spare moments for studying the Quran but will converse for hours about useless matters of the world. Worse off than these people are those who mock the verses of Allah (swt) and turn away from reminders. Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ ۚ وَإِمَّا يُنسِيَنَّكَ الشَّيْطَانُ فَلَا تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ الذِّكْرَىٰ مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

“And when you see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitan causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not in the company of those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.).” (Al-Anam)

I cannot put stress on the positive influence a pious friend can possess and the evil consequences of accompanying heedless people. It’s a lifelong companionship that you should aim for and rest assured that a relationship that is strengthened by the Quran will never lead to wrongdoing by the help of Allah (swt).

وَيَوْمَ يَعَضُّ الظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي اتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ الرَّسُولِ سَبِيلًا

يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا

لَّقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي ۗ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنسَانِ خَذُولًا

“And the Day when the wrong-doer will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Quran) after it had come to me. And Shaitan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al-Furqan)

It is reported that Yunus ibn ‘Ubayd Prophet (sa) said:

I do not know anything rarer than a good Dirham (Halal income) whose owner spends it on something right or a brother in Islam in whose company one finds peace. And they are only getting rarer.

5- Learn Arabic: The more Quran you memorize, the more you start to understand the Arabic language. There should be a continuity and connection between your study of the Quran and Arabic. Not only that, but understanding Arabic is a very crucial part of memorizing the Quran because it will prevent you from making grammatical mistakes. Scholars of Quran have stressed that since understanding the Quran is obligatory and understanding Arabic is a medium through which the Quran is understood, it automatically becomes obligatory to understand Arabic.

ما لا يتم الواجب إلا به فهو واجب

6- Dua: It is possible that a Hafidh of the Quran reaches great heights due to the sincerity of his supplications to Allah (swt), even if he does not complete the memorization. A sincere Dua is the ladder by which a person reaches unattainable heights; the Messenger of Allah (swt) said:

من سأل الله الشهادة بصدق بلغه الله منازل الشهداء و إن مات على فراشه

“Whoever sincerely prays to Allah (swt) for martyrdom, Allah (swt) will give him the rank of the martyrs even if he died on his bed.” (Muslim)

This Hadeeth states that on the Day of Judgement, there will be people who will be resurrected as martyrs, even though he never participated in the battlefield. The reason for this will be the sincerity of his intention. If that’s the case for the high ranks of the martyrs, then what can we imagine for the Huffaadh of the Quran?

 

Quran is a Treasure – Preserve it in Your Heart

إن له لحلاوة.. و إن عليه لطلاوة.. و إن أعلاه لمثمر.. و إن أسفله لمغدق.. و إنه ليعلو و لا يعلي عليهQuran-550x412

[Indeed, it has sweetness and indeed it is adorned with beauty and charm. Surely, its first part is fruitful and its last part is abundant.

It conquers all speech and remains unconquered! It shatters and destroys all that has come before it!]

Those were the timeless words of Al-Waleed ibn Al-Mugheerah when he was asked by the Mushrikeen of Quraish to describe the speech of Allah (swt).

روى ابن ماجة وأحمد  عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ رضي الله عنه قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ( إِنَّ لِلَّهِ أَهْلِينَ مِنْ النَّاسِ ) قَالُوا : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، مَنْ هُمْ ؟

(قال: أهل القرآن هم أهل الله و خاصته)

The Messenger of Allah (swt) said: “The people of the Quran are the people of Allah (swt) and His special servants.” (An-Nisa, Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim)

There are more than a billion Muslims in the world. Only a few million can read the Quran fluently. From those million, only a few people are destined to memorize the Quran. These are the people of Allah (swt) and His special servants!

This is a series of advice, incentives, methods and secrets to memorizing the Quran and becoming the best of the best, InshaAllah.

Advice #1: Sincere Intentions

The first step to fulfilling your goal of memorizing the Quran is sincerity. Ibn ‘Abbas (rta)  said: “Indeed, a person shall memorize according to his sincerity.” Meaning the sincerity of your intention will determine the strength and amount you memorize.

Actually, this is not just the first step. You need to refresh your intention at every step.

It is reported from Ali (rta) that Prophet (sa) said: “The one who shows off has three characteristics: He is lazy when by himself, he is lively and energetic when with others and he increases in his actions when he is praised and decreases in them when he is criticized.”

1- Dua, Dua, Dua – ask Allah (swt) to purify your heart from hypocrisy and boastfulness   and to protect you from the evils of your soul and its treachery.

2- Do not be deceived by praise. Nobody knows you better than you know your own self. If they praise, they only praise the blessings of Allah (swt) that they see on you; while you are the one who truly knows the reality of your heart and Allah (swt) knows you better than you know yourself. Remember, pride was Shaitan’s downfall.

Abu Bakr (rta) would make a prayer every time he would be praised:

اللهم اجعلني خيراً مما يظنون  ولا تؤاخذني بما يقولون واغفر لي ما لا يعلمون

“O Allah (swt), make me better than what they think and do not hold me accountable for what they say and forgive me for what they do not know.”

3- Beware of secret sins. “Nothing is more disgusting than a sinful reciter.”

4- Re-read and revise the Ahadeeth that talk about the punishment for the one who memorizes the Quran in order to be praised. Prophet (sa) said:

إن الله تبارك و تعالى إذا كان يوم القيامة ينزل إلى العباد ليقضي بينهم و كل أمة جاثية فأول من يدعى رجل جمع القرآن و رجل يقتل في سبيل الله و رجل كثير المال فيقول الله للقارئ: ألم أعلمك ما أنزلت على رسولي؟ قال: بلى يا رب. قال: فماذا عملت فيما علمت؟ قال: كنت أقوم به آناء الليل و آناء النهار. فيقول له: كذبت و تقول له الملائكة: كذبت. و يقول الله: بل أردت أن يقال أن فلاناً قارئ فقد قيل ذاك ثم أمر به فسحب على وجهه حتى ألقي في النار

“The first amongst mankind to be judged on the Day of Judgement is a man who studied knowledge and taught it and who used to recite the Quran. He will be brought and Allah (swt) will make known to him His favours and he will recognize them.

Allah (swt) will say: And what did you do about them? He will say: I studied knowledge and I taught it and I recited the Quran for Your sake. He will say: You have lied – rather, you learned knowledge to be called a scholar and you memorized to be called a recitor and so it was said and you got your reward from those whom you sought it from. Then he will be dragged by his face and thrown into the fire of Hell.”

5- Remember always that the one who memorizes the Quran to be praised and to show off has no reward for his efforts and he is indeed sinful.

In conclusion, the intention is a very important, yet overlooked and sometimes undermined step towards memorizing the Quran. It may not be the only step but it is the most difficult to control and maintain.

It is reported from Sahl bin Abdullah (ra)that Prophet (sa) said: “There is nothing which is tougher upon the soul than (achieving) sincerity of intention. How many times have I tried to remove the  love of praise from my heart except that it sprouted in a different colour (i.e. in a different form).

Advice #2: Correct Recitation

The second step in this spiritual journey is to learn the correct recitation and articulation of the Quran. The second condition (after a sincere intention) for any deed to be accepted by Allah (swt) is that it should done according to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (swt).  Someone who wants to memorize the Book of Allah (swt) must learn it from those who are knowledgeable; and it is never sufficient for him to rely on his own self.

This is one of the most amazingly unique aspects of the Quran – there has always been a one-on-one student-teacher interaction with regards to studying it. Jibrael (as) taught it to the Messenger of Allah (swt) who in turn taught it to his companions (rta)  and that’s how its reached us: pristine, complete, unchanged, unaltered and unadulterated.

There are various steps to learn the correct recitation of the Quran:

1- Use the same copy of the Quran – this will help you to get accustomed to the text, the number of verses per line and it’ll keep your comments and corrections organized (use a pencil and mark your mistakes!); use highlighters and sticky notes for help.

2- Find a teacher – somebody who is well-versed in Tajweed and can accurately point out your mistakes. It’s best to recite the Quran to a teacher before starting to memorize, so that he/she may correct any mispronunciation. Begin to learn the basic rules of Tajweed.

3- Repeat the verses – repeating the same page at least ten times will help you grasp a stronger hold of the difficult letters such as the Qaaf (القاف) and Raa’ (الراء). Bishr bin as-Sirri (ra) said, “Verily, each verse is like a date: the more you chew it, the more of its sweetness is released.” Abu Sulayman (ra) heard this and commented: “True. It is the case with one of you that if he begins one chapter of it, he wants to read it to the end.”

4- Use your senses – listening to an audio recitation of the Quran by a skilled reciter while reading the verses from your copy of the Quran is extremely beneficial.

5- Write it down – write down the verses that you find most difficult to recite; that will help you concentrate on each word separately and this has been the way of the students of knowledge.

Lastly, don’t give up! The Messenger of Allah (swt) said:

.عن عائشة عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قالمثل الذي يقرأ القرآن وهو حافظ له مع السفرة الكرام البررة ومثل الذي يقرأ وهو يتعاهده وهو عليه شديد فله أجران

“The example of the one who recites the Quran and is fluent in it is as if he is with the noble pious angels and the example of the one who recites the Quran and stammers in it has two rewards as it is difficult for him.”

Remember to renew your intention every single time you begin reciting so that you may relish the beauty of wandering in the gardens of the remembrance of Allah (swt).

‘Uthman bin ‘Affan (ra) said: “If our hearts were truly pure, we would never get enough of the Words of our Lord and I hate even if one day passes with me not looking into the Quran.”

Advice #3: Chalk Out a Plan

The third most important step is to have a plan. This means you must designate an assigned portion that you intend to memorize every day. Be warned, planning is the easiest part. You must have will power and a strong sense of purpose in order to stick to it.

Do not try to aim too high and keep the planning moderate. That way, if you have extra time and end up memorizing more than planned, you’ll feel more encouraged to move forward consistently Insha’Allah.

The Messenger (sa) said:

خذوا من الأعمال ما تطيقون فإن الله لا يمل حتى تملوا و أحب الأعمال إلى الله ما داوم عليه صاحبه و إن قل

“Take from the deeds how much you can bear because Allah (swt) does not tire (of rewarding you) until you tire (of doing the deed). The most beloved of deeds to Allah (swt) are those that are done consistently by a person, even if they are small.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

The Salaf would say: “The one who does little consistently is better than the one who does a lot inconsistently.”

Follow these practical steps in order to lay out your plan and stick to it:

1- Learn about the way the Quran is divided.

  • 114 Surahs: each of the Surahs are of varying number of verses and the verses are varying in length.
  • 30 Juz’: each Juz’ is twenty to twenty one pages long
  • 60 Hizb: each Juz’ is divided into two almost equal subparts
  • You can decide to memorize according to the meaning and Tafseer of the verses, for example, Surah Yusuf has one primary topic, yet it can be divided according to the events that occurred: his dream and conversation with Yaqoob (as), being thrown into the well, the incident with the Aziz’s wife etc.
  • Additionally, scholars of the Quran have divided it this way:

i.            السبع الطوال– The Seven Long Surahs: this includes Surah Al Baqarah, Al-Imran, An- Nisa, Al-Maida, Al-Anam, Al-Araf and the seventh is either At-Taubah or Yunus.

ii.            المئون– The Hundreds: this includes almost all the Surahs that come after the previous seven and the number of verses in these Surahs reach approximately a hundred.

iii.            3-المثاني– The Repetitions: this includes all the Surahs that come after the previous and the number of verses in these Surahs reach approximately two hundred.

iv.            المفصل– The Separated Ones: this includes all the Surahs from Surah Al-Hujurat to Surah An-Nas

2- Decide which method of division is easiest for you to follow. Consider your daily routine. Make productive use of holidays, weekends and free time.

3- Start early! Prophet (sa) said:

اللهم بارك لأمتي في بكورها

“O Allah (swt)! Bless my Ummah in its early hours.” (Sahih Al Jami)

Therefore make use of the blessed hours before and after the Fajr Salah. This will also help you start the rest of your day with a sense of accomplishment.

4- Write it down everywhere! Draw out a neat little memorization plan for yourself and tick it as you go or if you are tech-savvy, use Microsoft Excel or Word.

5- Remember to include new memorization (parts you’ve memorized in the last few days), old memorization (parts you’ve memorized in the last month) and your new lesson (parts you memorized that day in particular). The new lesson you’ve memorized will stay in your short-term memory until you revise it consistently and transfer it to your long-term memory.

Finally, none of this will help you unless you have a strong determination to move forward. Do not burden yourself. Scholar of Fiqh and teacher of Imam Abu Hanifa (rta), Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman would say: “Learn three issues every day and do not increase it to anything else. Know that your heart is a part of your body and it is able to carry some things while unable to carry other things.”

6- Tea-time – If you are unable to move forward and feel stressed, give yourself a break. Relax and renew your intentions. I remember having a very fruitful month finishing one Juz’ every week and suddenly I found myself unable to memorize anything new. It would take me a whole hour to finish a page unlike the better days when I would memorize a page in thirty minutes. I made myself a revision plan and gave the memorization a break. After a few days, I had everything revised as planned, which encouraged me to get back on track, Alhamdulillah!

Remember that no matter how much you plan and organize, there will occasionally be setbacks. Do not despair; it is better to start afresh than to never get started at all!

[To be continued Insha Allah]