Praise be to Allaah.
Important rules for memorizing the Holy Qur’aan.
Sincerity. It is essential to have a pure and sincere intention and a proper aim. One should learn the Qur’aan and pay attention to it for the sake of Allaah and attaining Paradise and earning the pleasure of Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “So worship Allaah (Alone) by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allaah’s sake only. Surely, the religion (i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allaah only” [al-Zumar 39:2-3]. According to a hadeeth qudsi, Allaah says: “I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for the sake of someone else as well as for My sake will have that action rejected by Me to the one whom he associated with Me.” So there will be no reward for the one who reads and memorizes Qur’aan for the sake of showing off or gaining a good reputation.
Correct pronunciation and reading. This can only be learned by listening to someone who reads well or has memorized properly. The Qur’aan can only be learned from a teacher. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) learnt it orally from Jibreel, and the Sahaabah learned it orally from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Then it was passed down orally from the Sahaabah to succeeding generations of this Ummah.
Deciding the amount to be memorized each time. The one who wants to learn the Qur’aam should decide how much he wants to memorize each time. After he has set out his objective and learned the correct pronunciation, he has to keep on repeating it over and over. This repetition should be with the proper intonation so as to avoid getting bored and so that he can memorize it properly. The intonation makes a person enjoy listening to it, helps him to memorize it and makes the tongue get used to that intonation, so that he will spot mistakes immediately, as the rhythm will be interrupted. This is in addition to the fact that the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “He is not one of us who does not recite the Qur’aan with a rhythmic intonation.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari).
Not going beyond what one has decided to learn in one day until one has memorized it perfectly. The haafiz should never move on to a new portion until he has perfectly memorized the prvious portion , so that it will stick in his mind. One thing that will help the student to memorize it is to preoccupy himself with it night and day, by reciting it in the prayers where Qur’aan is to be recited silently, and if he is leading others in prayer, by reciting it out loud. He can also recite it during his naafil prayers, and whilst waiting for (congregational) prayers. In this way it will become easy for him to memorize Qur’aan. Everyone can do this, even if he is busy with other things.
Adhering to one style of writing in the Mus-haf you use for memorizing. One thing that will help in memorizing Qur’aan is to have one's own copy of the Mus-haf (i.e., choosing a specific edition) and never changing it. This is because people learn as much by looking as by listening, so the pattern of the verses and where they appear on the pages of the Mus-haf stays in the mind as one reads and looks at the Mus-haf. So if a person changes the Mus-haf from which he is learning, or he learns from various Masaahif where the relative positions of the aayaat may vary, he will get confused and it will be difficult for him to memorize.
Understanding is the key to memorization. One of the things which is of the greatest help in memorizing is understanding the verses one is learning and knowing how they are connected to one another. This means that the haafiz has to read the tafseer of some of the aayahs and soorahs which he is memorizing and he has to focus his mind when he is reading. This will help him to remember the verses. But when he is committing the verses to memory, he should rely on understanding; what he has to do is rely on repetition so that it will be easy for him to memorize them.
Not moving on until one has learned a soorah well. After having memorized one soorah, the haafiz should not move on to another soorah until he has memorized the first soorah perfectly from beginning to end and he can recite it fluently without having to think too hard about it. Remembering it should be easy, and he should not move on to another soorah until he is sure that he has memorized the first one.
Continually reciting to someone else. The haafiz should not rely upon training by himself; he has to recite what he has memorized to another haafiz, or to someone else who can follow his recitation in the Mus-haf. This other person should be someone who knows how to recite Qur’aan properly, so that he can point out any mistakes or omissions in pronunciation or reading. It often happens that an individual may memorize a soorah incorrectly by himself, and he does not realize this even when he looks at the Mus-haf. So the person who wants to memorize a soorah looks in the Mus-haf and does not see where he is making a mistake in his recitation. So reciting to another person is an excellent means of correcting one’s mistakes.
Continually following up. When it comes to memorization, the Qur’aan is different from any other material such as poetry or prose, in that it may be quickly forgotten. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, it tries harder to run away than a hobbled camel” (Agreed upon). One only has to leave it for a little while and it escapes one’s mind and is quickly forgotten. So one has to keep reviewing it and always work hard at retaining what one has memorized of the Qur’aan. Concerning this, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The one who has memorized Qur’aan is like the owner of a hobbled camel. If he pays attention to it and takes care of it, he will keep it, but if he lets it go, he will lose it” (Agreed upon). This means that the one who has memorized the Qur’aan has to recite it regularly as part of his wird [regular dhikr]. At least he should recite one of the thirty juz’ and at most he should recite ten juz’ each day, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever reads the whole Qur’aan in less than three days does not understand it” (Agreed upon). By continually reciting it in this fashion he will retain what he has memorized.
Paying attention to the parts of the Qur’aan which resemble one another. The parts of the Qur’aan resemble one another in their meanings and wording. Allaah says: (interpretation of the meaning): “Allaah has sent down the Best Statement, a Book (this Qur’aan), its parts resembling each other (in goodness and truth) (and) 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 Allaah” [al-Zumar 39:23]. So the good reader of Qur’aan has to pay particular attention to those parts which resemble one another, i.e., the parts where the wording is similar, as this will help him to memorize it properly.
Making the most of the best years. The one who is truly blessed is the one whom Allaah enables to make the most of the best years for memorizing, which come approximately between the ages of five and twenty-three. During these years, a person is able to memorize things very well. Before the age of five, he is not able to do that, and after the age of twenty-three his ability to memorize declines whilst his ability to understand increases. So young people of these ages should make the most of it and memorize the Book of Allaah, because they are at the age when they will be able to learn it quickly and will be slow to forget it, unlike when they get older. He spoke the truth who said, “Learning by heart when one is young is like engraving something on stone; learning something when one is old is like engraving something on water.”
It is our duty towards the Book of Allaah that we should memorize it properly, accept and follow its guidance, and make it the constitution of our lives, the light of our hearts, the comfort of our souls. Hopefully these rules will form a good foundation for those who sincerely want to memorize the Book of Allaah properly. And Allaah knows best. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid