Roadmap for the Student of Qur’an | Part 4: Practical techniques for Hifdh continued…


In our last post (Part 3), we described the recipes for proper review in order to firmly cement your memorisation and avoid a lot of time being wasted. In this post we will In shaa Allaah go into detail about how to actually do your New Memorisation Portion (NMP) and other matters.

[Click here for previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]

We mentioned in part 1 of this hifdh series about how the memory works. There were some important principles such as the fact that the strength of your memory depends upon the strength of the connections between your brain cells, and these connections become stronger the more you use (activate) them i.e. the more you ‘review’ the information or portion you are memorising.

memory stagesIn the Review Recipes from our last post (part 3) you will have noticed there are set time frames for breaks. The mechanism behind these ‘breaks’ is that they are in tune with the way your brain works and processes information. After learning or memorising something new, the brain needs around 10 minutes to process and ‘settle’ the information. Once this is done, it is crucial to revise the memorised portion off by heart i.e. use the connections that were newly made. Doing this revision off by heart forces the brain to use the connections that were newly developed and to strengthen them. Doing these revisions off by heart is very important for the correct mental attitude when one is memorising too, as it gives your brain the subconscious message that you need this information available off by heart without relying on the mushaf.

headRemember that the brain has amazing abilities and is fully capable of memorising huge amounts of information without ever ‘filling up’. The way the memory itself works is that memories are ‘generated’ in the brain, and so they are not ‘stored’ as such. This means that the amount one can memorise is limitless SubhaanAllaah. The brain is also your slave, it will do as you command and believe it to do, so you need to ‘trust’ in your brain and let it do what Allah created it for. [You can read more about this in our post The Mental Attitude and the Strength of your Hifdh]

The New Memorisation Portion

This is where the fun begins 🙂 Let’s memorise 1 page in 30 minutes In shaa Allaah:

Your brain links two concepts at a time, and it takes between 4-6 seconds for each ‘link’ to get made. So for e.g. you have items A, B, C & D, to link these together you would first link A+B, then B+C, then C+D. This would give you a ‘chain’ or ‘pathway’ in the brain cell connection pathways: A+B+C+D. The more familiar you are already with the ‘items’ or concepts you want to memorise, the easier and quicker they will be to memorise. To actually ‘link’ two things together you need concentration. This is the key. Repetition or thinking about what you are memorising are just ways of forcing yourself to concentrate on what you want to memorise.

indexNow let’s take a page from your Mushaf. The Madinah Mushaf has 15 lines per page which we can divide into 5 which gives 3 lines. Each ‘3 lines’ has about 20-30 words, which means that we will be making around 20-30 connections per 3 lines. 20 to 30 x 6 seconds = 120 to 180 seconds (i.e. 2 to 3 minutes). This is if you generally understand Arabic, but if not you will need to read a translation and give extra time for links between the translation and the words too. You will also make links between each 3 lines.

The links that are getting made in your brain will happen at a subconcious level, but the key for this is the state of mind that you are in. You should be in a relaxed playful mood along with full concentration and focus for optimum results. Since the memorisation connections are happening at a subconscious level it may take some practice to get a ‘feel’ of actually having memorised something and being able to ‘tell’ if you will be able to recall it or not.

So back to our page, if we designate around 5 minutes maximum per each 3 lines, this will take us 25 minutes to finish all 5 sections of 3 lines. This will leave 5 minutes to string together the 5 sections with each other, and in total this will be our 30 minutes.

bearFew points to bear in mind:

  • Get a clock or watch ready so you can keep an eye on the number of minutes you spend per section of the page.
    • Don’t be too strict about the timing, so for e.g. if you feel you’re done with one 3-line section in less than 5 minutes go ahead to the next (but make sure you spend at least 3 minutes on each section), and likewise if you feel a particular 3-line section needs a bit more than 5 minutes, relax and do it.
    • Do not stress about the timing/clock, the reason why we are using it is to keep our brains on track otherwise they tend to wander very quickly (how many times have you sat there memorising or learning something and your brain wanders off into some long-lost thoughts??)
  • Sit up straight with your back supported if possible, & relax and breath deeply while you memorise. Be comfortable.
  • Try to hold your Mushaf at eye-level.
  • You will be reciting aloud while you concentrate on what you recite: so notice what the words look like as well as their sound and meaning, including the meaning of the whole sentence/s or ayah/s.
  • Don’t end abruptly at the end of each 3-line section, but overlap into the next 1 or 2 words of the next section too.
  • Make sure you have read our post about Review Recipes as you will need to implement these from the first 10 minutes after you finish!

indexReady? Don’t spend all day trying to get ready, just go and have a few wacks at it till you get it right. Practice makes perfect 🙂

The Memorisation Steps

Read these points carefully as they contain important tips to make the most of this In shaa Allaah:

  1. Read Este’aadhah (and Basmalah if it’s the beginning of a Surah).
  2. Read aloud the first 3-line section concentrating on the sound + look + meaning etc of the words, do this 3 times looking at the Mushaf.
  3. Close your eyes or look away and try to repeat. At this point whenever you get stuck have a peek at the next bit, to give you a clue/prompt you on what’s next, then close your eyes and continue. Keep going through the whole 3-line section beginning to end like this (peeking method) until you can say it all off by heart without looking at all.
  4. Once you can say the whole 3-line section off by heart without looking at all, repeat it off by heart without looking at least 3 times, until you’re comfortable and it’s fluent on your tongue.
  5. Go onto the next 3-line section and do the same as in steps 2 to 4.
  6. Now read both sections together off by heart 2-3 times.
  7. Go onto the next (3rd) 3-line section and do steps 2 to 4.
  8. Now read the last 3-line section with this one off by heart 2-3 times, and then from the beginning (first 3-line section) till where you’re up to i.e. the whole thing, off by heart at 2-3 times.
  9. Go onto the 4th 3-line section and do steps 2-4.
  10. Read from the last 3-line section till the end of this one off by heart 2-3 times, and then from the second to last 3-line section till the end, off by heart 2 times, and then from the beginning till the end once.
  11. Go onto the last 3-line section of the page and do steps 2-4.
  12. Read from the 4th 3-line section till this 3 times, then from the 3rd 3-line section till this 2 times, then from the beginning of the page till end 2-3 times.

appleNotice the stringing back and forth between each section, this is very important to remember the whole page together, with each section correctly.

You should now be totally comfortable and fluent with reading the whole page off by heart, and this whole session will have taken you around 30 minutes (and up to 45 is fine while getting the hang of it). You can now go onto our Review Recipe Part 1, which we will list here to facilitate you:

  1. 10 minutes later
  2. 1 hour later
  3. before sleeping
  4. first thing in the morning
  5. 24 hours later (and this will continue for every 24 hours after that, for a fixed number of days depending on the overall amount one is memorising per day; See Review Recipe Part 2)

breakSo you take a break for 10 minutes, put your Mushaf away and go and do something else. Once 10 minutes are up, recite out loud the page without looking at the Mushaf at all. If you have followed through the Memorisation Steps properly, this will be very easy. If, you get stuck at anything, don’t worry this is the perfect way to ‘test’ which areas have been memorised well and which parts (links) haven’t been fixed properly yet. This is what will help give you a ‘feel’ for when you are concentrating properly during memorisation and when you are not, it will increase your sensitivity to this.

The most important thing at this point, after your 10 minutes break is to try and recite the page all off by heart, and only when you’re really stuck and can’t remember what’s next after much trying, can you open and peek at the Mushaf :). But bear in mind the places where you got stuck, or even a bit iffy and unsure before you managed to remember them. These ‘iffy-places’ are an indication that you need to fix the links now or later you may take even longer to recall these parts. So now open your Mushaf and go over those areas, concentrating and re-memorising them. This should only take a couple of minutes. Don’t leave the page though till you can say it all comfortably and fluently off by heart again.

At each stage of Review, if you ever get stuck you need to follow these points: always go over those places there and then, otherwise they will be worse later. Your getting stuck or iffy here is an indication that the links are not formed properly i.e. for whatever reason you didn’t concentrate well enough, so make sure you do now, when you go over them, and not just ‘rush through’ as is a very common mistake.


Using this way you can memorise multiple pages in a day without tiring, but bear in mind the way this will affect your Review Recipes. [See that post!]

Happy Hifdhing…

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