“Shaykh Moheb, I can’t do this!” I vented to my Qur’an teacher. He had put me on a strict daily Qur’an schedule that included review, memorization and reading. I simply could not find the time to maintain it; I was completing my Master’s degree, conducting research, and working. I could not keep up.
The Shaykh, in his wisdom, listened to my distress and responded by sharing a different method with me in which I could memorize and review simultaneously without feeling overwhelmed.
I have tried numerous methods throughout my years of memorizing. Sometimes I would stop memorizing for months at a time and only focus on review (although this always failed when I didn’t have a teacher who could help me stay on track because I ended up wasting precious months without review or memorization). Sometimes, I would work on reviewing portions of what I had already memorized while continuing my memorization. This method, however, was tedious and would often result in my forgetting what I had reviewed as soon as I moved onto reviewing something new. Shaykh Moheb offered a different strategy—the most effective strategy I have experienced so far.
For anyone inquiring about how to maintain their previously memorized portions in the middle of their busy schedules and other commitments, here is a recommended schedule based on ShaykhMoheb’s advice:
- Count how many pages or parts (ajza, sg. juz) of Qur’an you’ve already memorized.
- Set a specific amount you will read everyday only from what you’ve memorized.
- For example, if you have memorized half of juz `amma (the 30th chapter of the Qur’an), read 2 pages of it everyday. Every 5 days, you’ll begin from the first 2 pages again.
- If you’ve memorized more, like 3 juz, then make sure to begin by reading half a juz (10 pages) a day.
- As you maintain your daily reading (wird) you’ll be reviewing all of what you have memorized within the span of a week. Slowly, you’ll realize that your memorization of those chapters is getting stronger and remaining fresh. You’ll find yourself able to recall an ayah (verse) from a surah (chapter) with more ease and speed.
- Add more slowly as you increase in your memorization
- For example, once you complete memorizing all of juz `amma, begin reading 4 pages of it everyday. Every 5 days, you should complete reading all of juz `amma and then starting over again.
- If you had 3 juz memorized and then finished memorizing another and now have 4 all together, increase the 10 pages by another 3 and begin to read 13 a day. When you complete the memorization of your 5th juz, you should be reading 16 a day. Finally, once you finish memorizing 6 juz, you should be reading a juz a day. By 18 juz, you should be at 3 juz daily. By 24, you should be at 4. Don’t worry – because you’re building up to it, it’ll go by very quickly. It just takes practice
- Continue reading to understand how to review the Qur’an once you’re finished with memorizing all of it.
The idea is to finish everything you’ve memorized from the Qur’an every week. If everything you have memorized amounts to less than 5 juz, then you should finish reading everything you’ve memorized within a 5 day period. Anything above 5 juz, you should finish in 6 days. This leaves only one day left in the week – make it a Friday and read Surat-Al-Kahf and allow this day to be for anything you have to makeup reading from the week.
I know that reading significant portions of the Qur’an everyday sounds difficult and incredibly overwhelming. I had once heard an Imam say that reading a juz a day should take no longer than half an hour. I was shocked. A half hour! It would take me a couple of hours to get through a juz. That’s why I could barely, if ever, even complete one reading of the Qur’an during Ramadan, the month of the Qur’an!
However, once I had memorized a few portions of the Qur’an, I realized the difference between him and me: he was a native Arabic speaker and fluently read Arabic. He had also already memorized the whole Qur’an.
I’m not Arab and reading Arabic was something new; I would stumble over words, make mistakes and get bored and frustrated. It would take me forever. But once it was something I memorized, it became easier to read. The more I listened to the same portion, the more fluid its words were in my brain. The more I practiced, the easier it became. The one juz that used to take me hours can now easily be read in less than 20 minutes. And those much more experienced than my rookie self have shared that it only gets easier and faster with further practice and dedication. The point: ANYONE can get to reading seemingly enormous amounts in very little time. It simply takes practice, consistency and…practice!
Here are a few tips to mitigate the fear of reading a certain amount daily:
- Build it up
- Even if you’ve already memorized the Qur’an but completely forgotten most of it because of a lack of review, start with a few pages a day and stay consistent with those for a few weeks. Then after a few weeks, add a few more. Plan to be reading 1 juz a day within a month. Maintain the 1 juz for a month or two and then add another, and so forth. The more you do it, the faster you’ll get at it. It just takes practice and commitment.
- Read it throughout the day
- Always keep the Qur’an handy for those “unplanned” times you can get a few pages in (i.e. in a grocery line). That will add up and you’ll finish your portion without even realizing it.
- Listen to the portion often
- If you know you won’t be able to read it for that day, listen to it as you take care of other tasks that require your physical attention but will allow for your mind to focus on Qur’an.
Finally, once you’ve completed your memorization of the Qur’an and you’ve worked up to reading a certain amount of ajza everyday, you should begin to read 5 juz a day. Reading the 5 daily will help you know the entire Qur’an with the strength that you know Surat-al-Fatiha (Chpater of the Opener, Qur’an 1). I know, 5 juz sounds crazy! Impossible! Overwhelming! Take a deep breath Realize – this is once you’re completely finished memorizing and you’ll be working up to it. When I first finished memorizing, I complained to Shaykh Moheb that 5 juz was just too much. I couldn’t handle it!
Shaykh Moheb put me in my place. “Your problem,” he shared, “is that you didn’t build up to it. You didn’t read two juz and then three juz and then four juz and then once you finished, start with five. If you had, it would be easy for you now.”
He was right. He had told me to start from the beginning, but I kept making excuses, justifying that I was busy with a million other commitments. It wasn’t until I was almost finished memorizing that I was reading 2 juz a day. It was hard and time-consuming. I’d read on the bus, during class breaks, in line for food… but within a few weeks, it became easy. As I neared the end of my hifth (memorization) and I compared the 3 juz I had to read to two, it seemed like two juz would take just fleeting moments of my day. However, now that I was finished memorizing, I resolved I would try my best because he told me that the one who reads 5 knows the entire Qur’an like they know Surat-al-Fatiha. He shared:
من يقرأ الخمس لا ينسى
“The one who reads the five does not forget.”
When I first completed my memorization and had been doing 5 juz for some time, I was disappointed that I didn’t know the entire Qur’an like surat-al- Fatiha already. But then I learned that this takes time; at minimum it could take up to an entire year if I do it regularly and possibly longer. But if I’m serious about maintaining it, eventually, I will know it like the back of my hand – and even better.
I can’t always do 5 juz a day; sometimes I simply do not have time and sometimes I get lazy. But I didn’t build up to it the way the Shaykh pushed; so for me, it still takes time. Thus, for all of you who seriously intend to build up to it, glad tidings that reading 5 a day is completely possible – it just takes planning, practice and dedication. And sometimes, there may be lapses (i.e. finals week). During these times, make sure to decrease the amount rather than leave it completely. Pick it back up as soon as you can.
You CAN do this, God willing! Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) will never fail you when you make a commitment to His Book and you’re sincere about it. We have time for reading articles (hi!), checking email, and updating our statuses on Facebook. For me, reading 5 juz a day helped me realize how much time I really do have that I thought did not exist. The point is to work up to 5 juz throughout your memorization. Work on a few pages, then half a juz, then 1, then 1.5…then 2, then 2.5…then 3, then 3.5…then 4, then 4.5…and finally 5. And yes, it will take time. But it will get easier and faster. And isn’t knowing the entire Qur’an like you know Surat-al-Fatiha worth it?
Allah (swt) is with us as long as we make a sincere and serious commitment to His Book. He (swt) is ready to assist us and help us succeed, but we need to be the ones who make the effort. The question is: Will we be of those who work to show Him that we truly want His Book etched in our hearts?
Note: Please read Part 1 for tips on how to memorize the Qur’an. Please read ‘How Can I Enjoy Listening to the Recitation of the Qur’an in Taraweeh if I Don’t Understand What is Being Recited?’ for tips on understanding the meanings of the Qur’an for those who do not understand Qur’anic Arabic.