In Love with the Word
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In Love with the Word

In Love with the Word

This is the uncut version of an article I wrote with my brother about Memorisers of the Qur’an. It was really interesting from a mothers point of view to interview 4 Huffadh (memorisers) who live in the UK and see how they reached where they did. It was really useful for me and gave me an insight into ‘what it takes’ to complete Hifdh. I think the aim was to raise the profile of Hifdh ul-Qur’an and make people think about Huffadh as high achievers. Because often people think that you cannot excel in dunya (academically/careerwise) and memorise the Qur’an, when really, memorising the Qur’an increases your aptitude to excel.
The edited version of this article appeared in the Muslim lifestyle magazine – emel issue 7. I do not agree with all of the content and views expressed in emel magazine, but I like to enjoin and encourage all people towards good which is why I wrote this article.
In Love with the Word
Contemporary Companions of the Qur’an
Heralded by Muslim scholars as one of the miracles of the Qur’an, the ease with which the Qur’an is memorised by young and old is an undeniable reality. Yet it never ceases to intrigue us when we actually meet a Hafiz of Qur’an – someone who has committed the entire Qur’an to memory, verbatim. So who are the Memorisers of today? And what doors has the Qur’an opened for them? Fatima and Omair Barkatulla discovered how this generation of memorisers set their sights high and achieved all round success.

As Ramadan approaches, thousands of Huffaz (memorisers of the Qur’an) around the world will be brushing up on what they have memorised, ready for the 30 nights of leading the Ummah in prayer and completing the recital of the whole Qur’an. In the Month of the Qur’an, the Angel Jibreel would visit the Prophet (pbuh) every night to rehearse the Qur’an with him and he rehearsed it twice in the year of his death. The Prophet (pbuh) in turn would have his close Companions memorise it and write it down.

The oral tradition has always been the primary method of transmitting the Qur’an. Each generation of Muslims learns the Qur’an from the generation before it. Every year thousands of students, are awarded Ijaazas (certifications) from eminent schools of recitation. Each Ijaaza containing a long list of names…a continuous, direct and unbroken chain of narrators, from the present day back to the age of the famous Qaris (reciters), who studied under the second generation of Muslims, who studied under the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh), who learnt the Qur’an directly from the Prophet (pbuh), who was taught by the Angel Jibreel who was taught by Allah, Glory be to Him. This in essence implies the fact that the correct transmission of the Qur’an is guaranteed and documented; every single person whose name is present in a certificate was awarded it by his Shaykh signifying that the Shaykh is satisfied that the student has perfected the recitation of the particular Qiraa’a (reading variation) that the certificate was awarded in. There are ten Qiraa’aat (reading variations) in all and certifications are awarded in all ten. Can any other religious book claim such a rigorous proof of preservation?

The method of articulating every letter of the Qur’an has been meticulously preserved through the science of Tajweed and the practical example of scholars of every generation. This is not to be taken for granted, because knowledge of the verbalization of other ancient Semitic languages was lost. Scholars of Ancient Hebrew have had to borrow information from Arabic to piece together how it may have originally sounded! As knowledge in the Muslim World branched out into its various disciplines, Muslim Scholars began to write summaries of the different areas of knowledge in the form of long, easy to remember poems for children to memorise and be able to recall rapidly. Arabic Grammar, Morphology and even principles of Islamic Law were rendered into poetic form, making them easier to commit to memory. Students would then study them in detail.

The Qur’an is the only book committed to memory in full or in part by millions of people. This is no exaggeration, because after all every single praying Muslim has memorised some part of the Book of Allah. Often, the number of Huffaz in any country has unofficially been an indication of the Islamic vibrancy of that place, or lack thereof! The 6th Century scholar Ibn al-Jawzee said in his book (The Encouragement of Memorising Knowledge): “Allah has made our Ummah unique by the fact that it can memorise the Qur’an and knowledge. Those who were before us used to read their scriptures from parchments, and were not capable of memorising them…So how can we thank the One who has blessed us to such an extent that a seventy-year old man from amongst us can easily recite the entire Qur’an from memory?”

Allah reiterates to us in the Qur’an four times how easy He has made it to memorise: “And truly We have made the Qur’an easy to remember, so is there anyone that will remember?”(54:22) Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, in commenting on this verse in his translation of the Qur’an says: “It is a fact that the Koran is marvellously easy for believers to commit to memory. Thousands of people in the East know the whole Book by heart. The translator (Pickthall is referring to himself here), who finds great difficulty in remembering well-known English quotations accurately, can remember page after page of the Koran in Arabic with perfect accuracy.”

The Prophet (pbuh) would encourage us to memorise the Qur’an because it would intercede for us on the Day of Judgement and be a proof for or against us. And those who find Qur’an recitation a struggle are not to be disheartened because the Prophet (pbuh) encouraged us: “The one who recites the Qur’an proficiently will be with the honourable and obedient scribes (of the angels) and he who recites the Qur’an while he finds it difficult, will have two rewards.”(Muslim)

Parents have always had a role in encouraging their children to memorise the Qur’an as any Hafiz will confirm. For this, they are recognised and their reward is great, as the Prophet (pbuh) said to us: “Whoever recites the Qur’an and learns it and acts according to it will be given a crown of light to wear on the Day of Judgement whose light will be like the sun. His parents will be clothed with two garments that never existed in this worldly life. So they will say, ‘What has caused us to be clothed (in these garments)?’ It will be said, ‘ Your child taking hold of the Qur’an (memorising it) has caused this.’”(Al-Haakim)

Here in the UK, things are changing. In the past after-school Madrasas were the only way for children to memorise Qur’an unless they could do so at home. Immigrant teachers, employing a very strict and archaic disciplining style, bordering on the abusive, often supervised these schools. Today there are Muslim schools and Mosques which have special programmes and teachers to aid those students who have the desire and dedication to memorise the whole Qur’an. These Hifz classes emphasise self-motivation and love of the Qur’an and its Sciences.

Our interviewees are top achievers, driven by self-motivation and discipline, with very supportive parents and families behind them. Having set their sights high with regards to the Qur’an, our interviewees set their sights high in all other spheres of life. Traditionally in Muslim societies, children (or even adults) often take one or more years out of their wider school curriculum in order to memorise the Qur’an full-time. Our interviewees didn’t have that option. Moreover the task of memorising the Qur’an is not something that can be left once completed; there is lifelong revision to be done in order to retain it.

So did our interviewees have a special aptitude to memorise the Qur’an? Or is it the Qur’an that broadened their faculties and made them into what they are today? They would all concur that it is the barakah or blessing of the Qur’an that has opened doors for them and acted as a ‘performance enhancer’ with nothing exceptional on their part.

Dr. Usama Hassan
Age: 32
Qualifications: PhD in Artificial Intelligence (Imperial College, University of London), MA in Theoretical Physics (Cambridge), MSc in Neural Networks (King’s College London).
Occupation: University Lecturer and voluntary Imam at Masjid al-Tawhid, Leyton, London

Reciting the Qur’an always brings joy to my heart, and did so even as a child. I was about five when I started. My elder siblings and I had read the whole Qur’an and had memorised al-Fatihah and so went on to first memorise Juz Amma (the last part of the Qur’an) and then start from Surah Baqarah at the ‘beginning’ and proceed from there. All of this was under the constant supervision and instruction of our dear mother, may Allah bless her always. To me, it was the natural thing to do, and fun. Mostly I got through it through encouragement, but there was also coercion in the sense that once I’d passed a certain stage, non-completion would have been failure.
Early on, my mother gave me an Arabic newspaper cutting with a photograph of a seven-year-old Hafiz; he was also called Usama. She encouraged me to “be like him.” I remember feeling like a failure for a long time when I passed the age of seven without completing my Hifz! We would have a party after I had completed several parts, which allowed close family friends to also share in the happiness. I was fortunate to go on to complete Hifz-ul-Qur’an at the age of eleven.
In the Indian subcontinent, almonds are regarded as good for memorisation. My mum used to soak a number of almonds daily so that we could eat them (without the skin) in the morning before school. My siblings used to eat three almonds a day; I had seven per day since I was doing the full Hifz! I once recited Surat al-Saff to my grandfather and made a few mistakes, upon which he advised, “Eat more almonds!”
Memorising Qur’an means avoiding ostentation and keeping ones intentions pure. That’s why I don’t like using the title of Hafiz or Doctor as an official title. As a friend commented to me, “It is like giving yourself the title of ‘namazi’ – one who prays regularly!” On the other hand, one can tell others, with the intention of giving them an idea of the depth of Islamic scholarship and to indicate the miracle of the Qur’an and of God-given human capacity in general.
It was widely understood in the early years of Islam that the real Hafiz is the Hafiz-ul-hudud: one who preserves the limits set by Allah; not the Hafiz-ul-Qur’an, one who merely preserves the letters, the latter being relatively easy when compared to the former. Therefore, if you stay within the halal and avoid the haram and have good character, you are a real Hafiz, even if you don’t know one Surah. On the other hand, if you engage in the haram and are careless about the halal and are ill mannered, you are not a Hafiz at all, even if you’ve memorised all Ten Recitations.
The Qur’an is “mubarak,” (blessed) in every possible way. I never had problems with studies at the top schools and university, and was always top of the class. After eight years at UK universities, I spent five years in UK industry working on cutting-edge artificial-intelligence applications. Now I’m in my second year as a lecturer. I’ve been blessed to travel to many breathtaking places and meet many amazing people. Alhamdulillah, any “achievements” are from the barakah of the Qur’an; all failures are due to my sins.
I felt the constant barakah of the Qur’an in my studies and later career. For example, I represented the UK at the 1983 Qur’an Recitation Competition held in Makkah, along with another brother. I benefited from two weeks in the company of hundreds of huffaz from around the world; the journeys from the hotel to the Haram were amazing: a busload of huffaz reciting Qur’an as individuals and pairs. The highlight of the trip was the opportunity to enter the Ka’bah and pray two rak’at there, an unforgettable experience, obviously!
One of my latest projects is a result of the barakah of just one verse of the Qur’an: I was Intrigued by the mention of Sirius in Surat al-Najm, and took up stargazing as a hobby, which has resulted in my slide presentation entitled, “Qur’anic Astronomy” that I’ve given at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge amongst other places. It has also resulted in our ongoing collaboration (on behalf of the MCB) with the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.
When non-Muslims find out about my Hifz they are almost always speechless. The only exception to this was one of my physics teachers, who jokingly said that it was a waste of time and memory. May Allah guide us and her: the poor dear didn’t know what she was saying. I casually mentioned our Hifz training to a group of charming Anglican priests once and they began mentioning how something similar should be introduced into Christian education. I think the main reason for this reaction is that the oral tradition has not survived in the West the way it has in Eastern cultures. The whole issue has very practical implications also: at our university recently, some staff were convinced that the Eastern students were cheating in exams because they all produced pages and pages of identical output. I convinced them that there was no cheating involved, since rote-memorisation is very common in the East; I illustrated this with the example of Hifz-ul-Qur’an.
If you really want to memorise Qur’an you can. There is an elderly lady revert to Islam I know of in her 70s or 80s who has memorised the Qur’an with Shaykh Tijani in Leicester, driving weekly down the M1 to attend a class with him. More female memorisers of Qur’an would help revive female Islamic scholarship. Hafizaat who are also mothers will produce more huffaz children in sha’ Allah, both boys and girls. A baby from a womb that resonates with recitation, suckled to the sounds of the Qur’an, will drink the purest milk, the Word of Allah. There are recorded cases of very young huffaz nurtured in this way.
One ayah that you learn and repeat until its meaning penetrates your heart and changes your life for the better, is better than any amount of material possessions.

For more information about Dr. Usama Hasan’s Qur’anic Astronomy project visit:
Sister Rifat Batool
Age: 35
Qualifications: BA Islamic Studies, PGCE
Occupation: School Teacher.

My earliest memories of Hifz, are of my sisters and I getting up for Fajr with our father. He would get us to memorise some short Surahs and then explain to us what they meant. It was later when I was 10 years old that my elder sister was joining an after school Hifz class in our part of Birmingham and I said I wanted to go along too.

It was something I wanted to do of my own accord, not something my parents had steered or pushed me into doing. My father made sure that we had a good balance of everything in life. I had all the toys other children had and had had ample opportunity for recreation and play, we travelled a lot too, so by the time I was ten I had a real zeal to learn and learn! Qur’an memorisation became like a burning passion inside me. It was what I’d been looking for and it gave me a sharper focal point to set my mind on. There’s a difference between memorising Surahs and Hifz. Memorising Surahs is just memorising some Surahs and Hifz is a programme you start with the intention of completing the whole Qur’an. You have a set amount to memorise per day.

Towards the end in particular I have very vivid memories of being awake till 2 a.m. memorising, because the amount of memorisation we had to do towards the end was two pages a day which had to be done before I went back to madrasa the following day and the only way I could get that done was if I did it at night. You can see why parents will receive so much reward for their child doing Hifz because my mum would sit with me every single night. She wouldn’t go to sleep until I’d gone to sleep and she’d give me a glass of milk with almonds in it to help me. She would massage my head and shoulders so that I would feel relaxed and not tense. I’d go to sleep at 2 a.m. and be up at 8 the following morning to get ready for school and that became a typical day.

I really felt it was a big responsibility on myself and it does draw you closer to Allah. Like Allah says in the Qur’an: “Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, you would surely have seen it humbling itself and crumble out of the fear of Allah.” (59:21) I was already a serious student but it made me more serious. Because I mean, it was 7 days a week of study, 6 of those going to the madrasa, so many hours a day…whatever else was happening, your Qur’an had to go with you and even though we had a day off for Eid, we had to have extra lessons to make up for that day. It does change and shape your personality. I had a strong feeling that there are certain things I can’t do because it’s something Allah will not be happy with. Even the children at the school with me respected me and saw that I was different to other children. My teachers didn’t know about the Hifz but they used to give me roles of responsibility.

Self-motivation is very important because as I discovered as time went on, it became tough. The method of teaching at that time was quite strict and hard. There was no love. Current Hifz classes are much better and they encourage self-motivation and it’s like: your there because you want to be there. So even though I was self-motivated others weren’t. Some children played truant and wanted to get out of there. I make du’a for my teachers for what they helped me achieve, though it did get really hard. The level of strictness was too much for a teenager growing up in this country. One day it just got too much and I got up and walked out. I went home and said to my mum “I’m not going there any more. I want to do it at home with you.” My mum had a Qur’an reading class in our home, she told me to do my lesson for that day in my bedroom. But the next day when I came home from school she said, “Get your stuff, we’re going.” I couldn’t believe it at the time, it was very hard for me, but I thank her now. She said “I can’t let you stay at home now. You don’t complete memorising 25 juz of Qur’an by heart and stay at home to do the rest.” A few months later I completed my Hifz. So she could see the end and as a thirteen year old I couldn’t.

Hifz develops photographic memory in you, which is why they encourage you to use the same mus-haf (copy of the Qur’an) throughout. You picture exactly which ayah starts where on each page. Rote learning is learning parrot fashion, but it has its benefits. It’s like when I memorised the times tables when I was very young. I could tell what six fives were although the meaning of multiplication wasn’t very clear to me at the time. Once I understood the concept that six fives means six groups of five, I could explain it and apply it easily. So rote learning has its place in learning and understanding comes with age. We see so many people realising the value of rote leaning and going back to it: the Kumon method for example is a very successful English and maths program from Japan based in part on rote learning.

But Hifz isn’t just rote learning: the Qur’an was never just a book that we read. It was always a book of meaning and guidance. If there was anything in life we faced – any issues, our father would get the Qur’an and open it up and say “refer to the Qur’an.” The Qur’an was not a separate part of life. I would read the translation as I went along. Reading the Qur’an whether you understand it or not is highly rewardable. But the reason for the great reward for Hifz-ul Qur’an is not just because you’ve memorised it, but because along with its memorisation you’re applying it to your life, and you can only apply it if you’ve understood it and that means striving to understand what the Qur’an is teaching you. Which is why I mean, we did actually know students who were studying with us serving prison sentences for drugs. Because the understanding wasn’t there at all. So it has to be twofold, you memorise and you look to see what Allah is saying to us in the Qur’an. It can’t just be about memorisation.

My eldest son is six and I haven’t pushed him into a Hifz programme, though he has memorised many of the short Surahs. Self-motivation has to be there, otherwise it can become a battle: where parents are trying to encourage the child to go and memorise and the child doesn’t want to. Hifz should be done at a time when a child is going to learn best and is not tired or there isn’t something else that they’d rather do. If they’re in the middle of a game and you tell them, “right now it’s time for you to go and do your Hifz”, over time that may grow to dislike it and it’ll be seen as the thing that takes them away from their play. But if there is some sort of a routine there, they will know that this particular time is our Hifz time. And they’ll have had ample opportunities for play and leisure, and they’ll know that Hifz is as much part of their lives as everything else is. We mustn’t let them lose their childhoods. And we have to bear in mind the society we live in; things are very different to the way things were in the days of the traditional Islamic education. The Hifz of the whole Qur’an is not for everyone. If a child starts feeling resentment in their hearts, the Qur’an will lose its significance. I feel the experience of the Qur’an should be a loving delightful experience. If you give your children a balance of everything they will love the Qur’an.

Sejad Mekic
Age: 22
Qualifications: BA Islamic Law
Occupation: Imam of Hendon Mosque

As a child in Bosnia, I remember that whenever I met anyone who had memorised the Qur’an, I was always in awe of them and really felt something special for them because their faces seemed to shine with light. Everyone I met who had the Holy Qur’an in his chest and was living the Qur’an, had excellent character and I knew that if I wanted to reach their level I would have to memorise the Qur’an too. But I needed somebody to give me the final push. One particular teacher, who had just finished his studies at Madinah University, was lecturing our class in my secondary school and out of the blue he asked “Who would like to memorise the whole Qur’an?” That was my calling and I never looked back! He would supervise us and we would follow his instructions. I was 16 years old at the time and I loved it! I remember seeing myself in a dream, going up steps leading to Paradise and it reminded me of the Hadith in which the Prophet (pbuh) said that it will be said to the Hafiz: ‘Read, ascend, and recite with slow, rhythmic chanting just as you used to recite in the worldly life. For indeed your position (in Paradise) will be at the place of the last verse that you recite’” (Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi) And it made me want to memorise as much as I could because I want to get to highest-level possible insha Allah.

Two hundred years ago in Bosnia, you would have found a Hafiz in every house. Go back further than that and there would have been even more. But when the Uthmani Empire ceased and the Austro-Hungarian Empire came, they saw how devoted people were to the Qur’an and Islam…they didn’t want Europeans to be like that so the first thing they did was tear us away from the languages we traditionally knew. So instead of Arabic, Turkish, Bosnian or Persian, which were the languages of Bosnia; German, Russian and English became the languages to learn. And then Communism destroyed whatever else was left. Bosnian Imams had been famous for being able to recite in all ten Qiraa’aat of the Qur’an, they used to walk through the streets reciting. Most of the Mosques and institutions, which had thrived in Bosnia before that, were closed down. So the next generation grew up without any Islamic education and lost that part of their identity. Now things are improving and Islamic institutions are coming back. Last year I attended the ceremony for a sister who had just finished Hifz in Bosnia. She was the first female Hafiza in her town for a hundred years!

Memorising got easier the more I did it. When I was doing my first page it took me about 45 minutes to memorise. I felt later that I could memorise a page in about seven minutes if I really concentrated. A few minutes after I had memorised it, I would revise it. I would memorise a line at a time and read the page every time I woke up, and before I went to sleep. Then at the end of the week I would go to my Muhaffiz – my teacher – and relate it to him. I think just memorising from tapes would be difficult, because when I recite Qur’an, I know that I am actually reading the page in my mind and can almost see it. The books about Hifz encourage us to look at the page a lot. It’s good to have a Qur’an with big letters and it’s good to keep the same Qur’an throughout. If you keep changing your copy of the Qur’an you just complicate your Hifz.

Though your memory gets better, it doesn’t mean you can memorise anything word for word. I feel that the Qur’an is the easiest thing to memorise and after that the words of the Prophet (pbuh). I have struggled sometimes to memorise one ruling written by a scholar but not the Qur’an. This is once of the miracles of the Qur’an – it is easy to memorise. Memorising in early age is best. The parts of Qur’an I memorised when I was very young I can recall even if you wake me up in the middle of the night…but what I memorised when I was older is easier to forget. It is like in the Arabic saying: “Knowledge in youth is like engraving on stone. And knowledge when old is like engraving on water”. The morning is the best time for me to memorise Qur’an, my mind is fresh and I feel real barakah in Fajr time. There are no pressures and I have had some relaxation, my mind is clear. My wife helps me by reminding me and helping me make time.

People often ask me how much of the Qur’an I know, but I don’t think this is a good question to ask memorisers of the Qur’an because how much you know at any one time can fluctuate and the Qur’an requires constant revision. Though it is bad to forget what you have memorised by purposefully being neglectful, this shouldn’t put people off memorising because your intention is the most important thing. Forgetting some of what you have memorised may be an inevitable thing because what about when a person becomes very elderly he might not be able to recall everything he memorised before. If you forget through some weakness or Shaitan then it is not the same as neglecting what you’ve memorised on purpose without an excuse.

The books about Hifz recommend different ways of revising, like reading the whole Qur’an every 6 days, that’s 5 ajzaa’ a day! I try to complete reading the Qur’an every 30 days by reading about 1 juz a day. Having said that, you need one day a week off, because your mind needs a rest. I have just completed a BA in Islamic Studies from the European Institute for Human Sciences in Lampeter in Wales, alhamdulillah I got the top grade – a First Class. Knowing Arabic helps me a lot with my Hifz and made it easier. The Qur’an helped me with my Arabic and my Arabic helps me with my Qur’an. I hope to start an MPhil soon insha Allah on aspects of Bosnian Islamic law.

Imam Bukhari
Qualification: MA Islamic studies, MA English Literature
Occupation: Imam of Finchley Mosque, London.

My late father, Syed Hasan Shah Bukhari -may Allah have mercy on him- was among the greatest reciters of Qur’an in Pakistan. I was brought up in a family of Qaris (reciters of the Qur’an) and we are direct descendents of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), so my father always felt that the Qur’an was of paramount importance. He taught me all ten Qiraa’aat (reading variations) of the Qur’an. I was brought up as a Qari and Qaris surrounded us. It was a very competitive situation and I wanted to be the best. We used to have recitation competitions held by the local authorities, provincially and at national level.

The Pakistani way was very strict. We were very familiar with the cane! But it disciplined us and I think that if they had been soft with us kids we would have learnt nothing. Whenever I remember my father I have fond memories. Once I finished memorising the Qur’an at the age of eleven, I wasn’t made to read Qur’an and at first I felt I could relax. But then I started missing it and I realised it was giving me a satisfaction that I craved. Then I went back to it by choice.

I took part in the national competitions and won three times. Then I was sent by the government of Pakistan to Malaysia to compete there in the International Recitation competition. There in Kuala Lumpur I competed with Qaris from 70 countries around the world, and I just couldn’t perform! My recitation had a Pakistani accent to it and wasn’t comparable to the likes of the Egyptian and International Reciters! So although I was very good in my country, outside the country I felt I was nothing. When I went back I thought to myself “I couldn’t achieve anything!” And I felt so bad I couldn’t face my father and my family. Eventually my father said to me, “If you really want to learn you have to go to Egypt”. So he took me to Al-Azhar in Cairo.

There I went in front of a panel of seven scholars who were deciding on admissions. Sheikh Mustafa Ismail – the famous teacher of Qaris and the Head of the Faculty of the Qur’an – was there. When he heard me he said “Where are you from? You can’t even read and you’ve come to us to learn the Art of Recitation!” They really didn’t like my recitation! Then they started testing me on my knowledge of the 10 Qiraa’aat. Though it was tough, I did well Alhamdulillah. They said, “very good! If you want a degree in the Qiraa’aat we’ll give it to you now, but if you want to learn the different vocal styles then forget about it. You can’t do it.” I literally started crying in front of them and said,
“I can’t go back now. Either I’m going to die here or you admit me into the class.”
Sheikh Mustafa Ismail said to the interpreter: “This guy is so keen! Admit him into the college!” So Alhamdulillah I was in. I picked it up very quickly. There were amazing vocal exercises, with high voices and low voices which we had to master. We were studying under Sheikh at-Tablawi and other Masters of recitation. Reciting is an art and we are artists. The Prophet (pbuh) encouraged us to do it when he said: “Beautify your voices with the Qur’an”. It is not totally dissimilar to singing so we should read with a melodious voice.

I went back to Malaysia eight years later in 1987, to take part in the competition again. It was a totally different experience! The Arab judges couldn’t believe I was Pakistani! That year I won the First Prize. Alhamdulillah.

All year round I revise. When a person memorises the Qur’an, lots of other faculties of the mind open up and the person becomes a perfectionist in his or her fields. I want my recitation to be flawless especially my Tarawih recitation, which I’ve been doing for 29 years now. I went on to complete two Master’s degrees: one in Islamic Studies and one in English Literature. Mastering one field gives one the confidence to take on other fields. Hifz gave me the confidence to study English Literature – a subject I didn’t have previous exposure to.

If you want to do Hifz, you need a proper teacher. I have two students who are memorising with me and they have completed 8 parts of the Qur’an. They are really motivated. As for me…I sit back with a cup of chai and give them their lesson and listen to it, help them clear up their mistakes and then they go and memorise it that night. They revise it at Fajr and then come back after school to recite it to me. I also teach the local kids to read the Qur’an. “Come on you are an Arab! This is your language!” I sometimes tell my students. They murder the recitation with their Moroccan-French accents! But actually I am an extremely gentle teacher and I play pool with the kids in the Mosque basement.

Al-Mizan School – the next generation of Memorisers
Based at East London Mosque, Al-Mizan boys’ school was established to specialise in the memorisation of the Qur’an. When it started in the year 2000, the class consisted of 18 students and was initially run on a part-time basis. This provided the foundation for it to progress in to a full-time school in January 2002. Teaching Qur’an Memorisation and the National Curriculum side by side.There are now 36 students who are memorising the Qur’an, under the guidance of Hafiz Qari Abu Tayeb (Imam of East London Masjid and one of the recitors on the Tahajjud Therapy album) and Shaykh Hafiz Hossain Ibrahim (Graduate of the University of Madinah). Two of the students have already completed memorisation of the Qur’an.

We talked to three boys from Al-Mizan School, and found that there was the desire to be able to combine memorisation of the Qur’an with a well-rounded education in our younger generation of Huffaz.
Abu Yusuf Rashid
Age: 11
Year 6 at Al-Mizan School, East London
For me, Hifz was a like a challenge that I wanted to face but I know it’s a big responsibility too. I completed memorisation of the Qur’an last year along with another student at the school. I was really excited because Sheikh Sudais (the Imam of Masjidul Haram in Makkah) came to the graduation ceremony and gave us gifts. It took two and a half years to complete the Hifz and now I revise every day. We come into school and spend the first few hours in the Hifz class and then after lunch have the National Curriculum subjects.

Imran Ahmed
Age: 8
Year 3 at Al-Mizan
I started Hifz earlier on this year. My dad is a Hafiz and I want to be one too. I don’t feel I’m missing out on any area of life. I think I can be successful in all areas insha Allah.

Murshid Habib
Age: 10
Year 5 at Al-Mizan
I’ve memorised 17 parts of the Qur’an since last year. I want to take ten members of my family to Jannah with me like the Prophet said the Hafiz would.. I hope I finish next year. I think I’m gaining something special.

Tips for memorising Qur’an

How parents can help…

* Make the Qur’an a relevant part of your everyday life.
* Motivate your child through gifts and telling them about the reward for the Hafiz.
* Let your child discover his favourite Qari whose style he may like to copy.
* Find your local Imam who will supervise a Hifz programme
* Have a good balance and routine so that Hifz is as much a part of your childs life as playing or sleeping.
* Be dedicated to the Hifz programme and whether at home or on holiday make time for Hifz.
* Start with the 30th part of the Qur’an, then the 29th, 28th, 27th and 26th before starting from Surah Baqarah because the shorter Surahs are realistic goals your child can achieve and they get longer gradually.
* Hold competitions at home encouraging children of a particular age group to memorise certain Surahs and give prizes.

If you want to memorise the Qur’an…

* Brush up on your Qur’an recitation with a teacher who knows the Tajweed rules of Qur’an.
* Get yourself a committed teacher who can help you brush up your Tajweed rules (pronunciation and rules of reciting) and supervise your Hifz by listening to you and testing you.
* Choose a copy of the Qur’an you find easy to read and keep it throughout.
* Set yourself weekly goals and stick to them.
* Recite what you have memorised in rotation in your Salah especially in night prayers.
* Make sure that you have memorised the Surahs you’ve memorised well before moving on.
* Use tapes and CD’s to help yourself be familiarised with a Surah you want to memorise or retain, the faster recitations are best for memorisation.
* Eat almonds! Many Huffaz report the benefits of almonds for the memory.
* Read the meaning of what you’re memorising, do some self-reflection and bring changes into your life.
* Be dedicated whether at home or abroad.

Some aids to Qur’an memorisation:

Mushaf at-Tajweed: A colour coded Qur’an which prompts you as you go along, to observe the correct rules of recitation.

Pocket Qur’an: Have a small but identical version of the Qur’an you memorise from to take with you when you go out.

Baba-Salam: Children will easily memorise the many Surahs recorded in this computer and can get to the exact Surah they want straight away without having to rewind or fast forward.

Qur’an on CD: you can get the recitations of the Qari whose style you like to help you.

Al-Qari software

Qur’an pocket pc


~Re-posted here with the kind permission of Sister Fatima Barkatulla, the author of the above article. To read more of Sister Fatima’s inspirational writings, visit her


No Comments
  • Muhsina
    Posted at 13:15h, 11 Nov Reply

    very very inspiring!!

    • Rayhaanah
      Posted at 15:30h, 11 Nov Reply


  • Ayesha Nicole
    Posted at 18:59h, 31 Mar Reply

    as salaam ‘alaikum . . and the actual published article, which is slightly different, may be read here:


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