Here's my Qur'an story summarized with my tips.
First of all, Alhamdulilah ... Alhamdulilah.. Allaah has blessed me with this great Amaanah (trust) and this great gift.. Alhamdulilah.. And I ask Him humbly to allow me two things: to revise the Qur'an, and to inspire others. May Allaah bless you with this great gift. It can be done. All you need is determination and Du'a. You don't even need all the time in the world.
It was a crash-memorization camp, and Alhamdulilah/Maashaa'Allaah I finished in about 2 months and a half. Alhamdulilah I was on vacation for part of my memorization journey, but for the majority I was busy, still going to school (the hospital, 5 days a week). Still having to see patients, still getting in trouble with doctors for slacking off. Although I wasn't studying, time really was not on my side- but I realized that's not what's most important. Many girls in the actual camp finished in 2 months, and the first girl finished in one month. It really is possible!
I was supposed to finish in 2 months exactly- 10 pages a day. Most days I could do this, but on days I couldn't I would make it up the next day if possible.. which is fine- still worth it. Still, make your goal big.. Reach for the moon and you will land among the stars!
Here is a general idea:
Here are my humble tips:
- Seek Allaah's help. Make Du'a. When you reach Juzz 7.. or 14.. or anything.. and you start to lose motivation- turn to Him. They are His words and He alone can teach you them.
- Get a portion done in the morning, especially if you are busy. The days where I could manage at least 1-2 pages before noon, made the 10 pages much easier. If I started after noon, it would take longer.
- Cancel Stuff. Say No more often. You have to cut back on some things you are used to. Its just the way it works. Even if you do have time to do other things, you don't have the energy. Too much non-Qur'an things really takes you away from the mood. If your friends start to get annoyed by how much you are saying no recently- then you are doing it right.
- Find Recitation Coach(es). I couldn't stay with the camp the whole time- so I would recite to my mom, sister, and friends. Try to stick to a couple people but have more than one person. If you need to recite and the person is busy you will get discouraged- so try to have a back-up. I used to even recite on the phone sometimes!
- Memorize and recite DAILY. No days off. None. Even if you memorize only page and your goal is to memorize 10. It has to become a habit. Plus, you start one page... then the next page looks easy.. then the next one goes fast..
- Big chunks are easier! I used to think memorizing one page a time is faster- but actually.. memorizing 4-6 pages at a time makes it go faster. Its like your brain gets into "memorization" mode-and whats you recite to someone else its hard to get back into "memorization" mode to start again. So if you are doing 10 pages, try to memorize 6.. recite them to your "coach", then the 4 pages will be easy inshAllaah. Even memorizing all 10 is not that hard!
- Don't tell too many people at first. Because it gets kind of stressful when they keep asking where you reached, how many pages you've done, etc. Tell your "coaches" and tell your close friends for motivation and to not lose sight of the goal.
- Free your Mind-more than your time! It's not about how many hours you have a day as much as how much you need to reduce mental clutter. I can get much more done in 2 hours relaxed than in 6 when I am worrying about something. The Qur'an does not enter with chaos. So before you start, make your to-do lists and put them aside, get essential things done, free yourself from worries and commitments. If anything worries you while you are memorizing, remember Shaytaan doesn't want you to focus and that the Qur'an will take care of your worries.
- When you are sleepy-do one more. I don't even know why. I guess its just about pushing yourself. But I always felt Barakeh when I did 1-2 more pages at night when I was getting sleepy rather than giving up.
- Motivate yourself with baby steps. Its daunting to be in Surat Al-Baqarah and be dreaming of Surat Al-Naas. Just keep imagining how happy you will be to be in the next Surah or next few Juzz. When I was in the 13th I would be like: Yaa Rabb.. I want to reach 15...the middle. Then in 15- Yaa Rabb, I want to reach 20th Juzz.. the majority. Then in the 20th.. Yaa Rabb- till the 25th so almost nothing is left.. Then, Yaa Rabb- I have to finish!!
- Use one Mushaaf. Don't switch around. I used mine every single day. And I used a pencil to mark around words and underline verses. And post-it notes for the next Juzz so I would get excited to reach it. Try to get a standard size Qur'an- too small is hard to memorize from. Too big is hard to hold. Avoid electronic Mushafs- they personally give me headaches and I find take more time. Plus you can't write on them.
- Phone- silent. Far away. I muted almost all notifications.
- Find your memorization-style. My best memorization technique is sign- language! I look hilarious when I recite something I know well. I memorize it all with hand gestures. It really helped me. I also sometimes would write them out, or write out the beginning of each verse. Walking also helped because it gave me energy-but only for a few pages at a time. Listening to verses is nice-especially if you have trouble reading- but is time-consuming. But please do this if you can't read it well because the worst thing you can do is memorize something wrong the first time.
- Divide page into halves or thirds-then glue together. Do one verse, repeat a couple times. Do the next verse, then repeat it with the one before it. Divide the page in halves or thirds depending on how many Aayahs a page, then try them together at the end.
- When reviewing a large amount, review the BEGINNING of each verse. When you keep repeating an Aayah, chances are if you can start it you can finish it. So don't waste your attention re-reading the whole page. Just test if you know the beginning of each Aayah.
- Stay away from sins... but when you mess up- repent and keep going. Shaytaan will tell you: there's no point to memorize- you are a sinner. Or will remind you of a sin so that you feel that you can't memorize. Seek refuge from Allaah and keep going. If we were perfect, we wouldn't need a Holy Book from Allaah teaching us how to live our life. You won't be perfect by the end. This is us trying to come closer to Allaah as humans. Seek refuge from the Shaytaan, say Bismillah- and just keep memorizing.
- Take breaks after reciting to someone- not after memorizing. I don't know if this just worked for me- but I always found it more efficient. And don't make them long. 10 minutes are a good refresher. More than that and you will lose the "memorization- mode"
- Find a partner. Or a group! Make it a challenge for those around you. Even away from the camp I was motivated thinking of the girls sitting memorizing at the camp working towards my same goal.
- Try to stay focused. When you take too long on one page because of distractions or daydreaming- it takes extra extra long. Stay focused, finish the page, then take your break.
- Not all Aayahs are the same. Some Aayahs are harder, you will have to find new ways to memorize them or repeat them more. That's fine.
- Set time goals. I used to always have a max goal of half an hour per page. More than that- and I knew I was doing something wrong or not focusing. Sometimes it takes less- which is great! Just don't lose track of time.
- Make connections. Sometimes I would relate one word with one word in the next Aayah. It really helps. For example.. an Aayah that has my friends name, and the next Aayah would remind me of another friend. So I would connect those two words to tie the two Aayahs together..
- Look up tough words. Sometimes understanding that ONE hard word in the Aayah- makes you understand the ENTIRE Aayah which helps you understand the page and really helps you memorize. Too much Tafseer while memorizing makes it harder- you start to understand it but forget the actual words.
- Tarteel later.. (Tarteel: slow, beautified recitation) I suggest that you don't keep repeating each Aayah with full tarteel when memorizing- it takes too long if you are aiming for a short time-frame and sometimes you memorize the "sound" and not the actual words. When I would memorize I would repeat them relatively quickly- to not lose energy or focus. (When you are done memorizing- enjoy your tarteel.)
- Once you finish, start planning your revision strategy. It is not a once and for all thing, and revising is essential! Especially if you finish it in a short time period.
Aayahs with stories are the easiest! Enjoy them!
A few Notes:
For all those who asked, I do speak and read Arabic, and I have been Alhamdulilah learning Tajweed and Arabic for years. For those who do not speak Arabic or know Tajweed it would be best if you spent some time learning those first so you can memorize it correctly the first time.
Also, I know from all my role models who memorized the Qur'an before me that you must memorize it several times. I realize that I have a lot of revision to do, and May Allaah forgive us for our shortcomings, but we really do have to start somewhere..
Hope this helps.. I ask of whoever is reading this to please keep me in your Du'aas..
May Allaah bless you with memorizing the Qur'an and practicing its meanings.. And May the light of the Qur'an illuminate your path always.
And Allaah Knows Best...