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6 Important Lessons I Learned From Memorizing the Quran

by in Soul on 1st May, 2024

It has been nearly two and a half years since I first set off on a fateful two-hour drive to meet my Qur’an teacher, with tears in my eyes and a heart bursting with emotion. After weeks of dua and asking around, at the point when I was beginning to wonder if I should give up and return to online classes, I was connected with my Qur’an teacher by a friend visiting from out of town who happened to overhear my conversation.

When I first set out that morning, I thought memorization was some far-away goal, only to return home that afternoon with my first memorization assignment. Within a few weeks, I nervously looked on as my teacher excitedly wrote out some calculations and set a goal for me to finish memorizing the Qur’an within 2.5 years, “or less with the help of Allah (SWT)!”

I did not feel ready or worthy of memorizing the Qur’an. I have come to realize that I was not alone in that feeling. Like many Muslim women, I felt like I had to achieve a certain level of piety in order to begin. I was fortunate to be exposed to the stories of other women who have memorized the Qur’an through Dr. Saadia Mian’s book, The Crowning Venture. In a class I attended that was taught by her, she guided us through an exercise to examine and counter our limiting beliefs – and recognize that they ultimately come from Shaytan. My current teacher often tells me “Allah would not have put you on this path if He did not want you to memorize the Qur’an.” And so I decided to set aside those limiting beliefs and trust in Allah (SWT). In His Divine timing and wisdom, He had sent me to this specific teacher at this specific time for a reason, and He (SWT) would make the path clear, even if I could not see it myself.

We have passed the 2.5 year mark and I have yet to finish even half of the Qur’an. But as my teacher always says, “The most important thing is that you never stop, even if you only memorize half a page a week.” I do not regret how long it is taking me to memorize, because I have learned so much more than simply how to recite the Qur’an and commit the words to memory. Memorizing the Qur’an has been a deeply moving journey, full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and many many beautiful gifts.

These are six of the biggest lessons I have learned while memorizing the Qur’an:

1. Your relationship with the Qur’an is a litmus test for the state of your spiritual heart

I complained to Waki’ about my poor memory: “Give up your sins!” was his advice to me; “For knowledge is a light from Divinity, and the Light of God is veiled by iniquity!” (Imam al-Shafi’i)

While I sometimes struggle to progress in my memorization because of a divine lesson, sometimes that struggle is a reflection of my relationship with Allah (SWT). For example, if I am prioritizing the dunya too much, I find that time slips by quickly and it is difficult for me to make time for the Qur’an. On the other hand, when I take time out of my day to engage in more dhikr or to be of service to people, I find that I have more time with the Qur’an, even if logically it seems like I should have less time in my day. The greatest example of it that many of us can relate to is during Ramadan, the month of the Qur’an, when Allah (SWT) opens doors to us and makes it easier for us to engage with His Words.

If you are reading this and you are currently in a place where you feel distant from the Qur’an, don’t let this be a reason for despair! Having this awareness of yourself and your spiritual state is a gift and an invitation from Allah (SWT) to course-correct and return to Him and to His Book. And if you have been distant from the Qur’an for a long while, take it slowly and give yourself grace. I am currently memorizing the Qur’an with the help of Allah (SWT), but my journey started many years ago when I set an ambitious (at the time) goal of reading just one ayah a day.

“And We have certainly made the Qur’an easy to remember. So is there anyone who will be mindful?” (Surah Al-Qamar 54:17)

2. It’s not about how quickly you can reach the finish line

“We have revealed the Qur’an in parts that you may recite it to people slowly and with deliberation; and (for that reason) We have revealed it gradually..” (Surah Al-Isra’ 17:106)

A lot of the hifdh advice that I have come across online focuses on memorizing the Qu’ran in a certain amount of time, taking a very systematic approach. While my own Qur’an teacher did set a very specific and measurable goal for me, I quickly came to understand that she only intended for me to have something to aim for. Not once has she made me feel bad that it is taking longer than expected for me to memorize the Qur’an. Instead, she has encouraged me over and over again to be grateful for whatever Allah (SWT) has allowed  me to memorize each week and to reflect on the deeper meanings behind the ayat I am memorizing.

Abu Abdur Rahman reported: “The companions would learn to recite ten verses from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). They would not take another ten verses until they understood the knowledge and deeds they contained. They would say, “We learned sacred knowledge and action together.”” (Musnad Aḥmad 23482)

This brings me to the most important thing to remember when it comes to memorizing the Qur’an: each letter you memorize is a gift from Allah (SWT) and it is Him alone who determines when you are to receive that gift.

“Do not rush your tongue trying to memorize ˹a revelation of˺ the Qur’an. It is certainly upon Us to have you commit it to memory and to recite it.” (Surah Al-Qiyamah 75:16-17)

Whether you memorize the Qur’an in a month or over 23 years, it is about Allah’s (SWT) divine timing for you and not about your own skills and memory. When it comes to memorizing the Qur’an, it is all about the process and the journey, because there is no real finish line. When you open the door of hifdh, you enter into a relationship that extends from this life into the next.

3. It is not about your worthiness

Then We granted the Book to those We have chosen from Our servants. Some of them wrong themselves, some follow a middle course, and some are foremost in good deeds by Allah’s Will. That is ˹truly˺ the greatest bounty!” (Surah Fatir 35:32)

Although I initially felt that I was not worthy of memorizing the Qur’an, and sometimes still do, I have learned since then that this mindset is a tool of Shaytan to prevent us from doing something pleasing to Allah (SWT). Even as I was writing this article, doubts entered my mind and I questioned if I have any right to be writing this article when I have forgotten so much of what I have memorized. But in writing this article, the Quran has pulled me back like a magnet. Whether I am worthy or not, I needed to write this. Worthy or not, we all need the Quran.

And hold firmly together to the rope of Allah and do not be divided.” (Surah Ali ‘Imran 3:103)

If Allah (SWT) has facilitated the memorization of the Qur’an for you or even put the tiniest seedling of inclination towards the Qur’an, grab it like it’s a lifeline. My teacher likes to compare it to a magnet that pulls you back to the straight path, which is why she has a personal policy of accepting any student who comes her way, no matter where she is at in her journey towards Allah (SWT). The Qur’an will anchor you and pull you back when you stray, better than any friend. Don’t wait to start your journey with the Qur’an until you feel that you are “good enough.” And once you start, don’t stop for any reason, even if you are moving at a snail’s pace and even if you keep sinning. 

4. The Qur’an will teach you

If you worry about forgetting what you memorize and think that it will be better for you to not memorize at all rather than memorize and forget, then you need only look to these verses from Surah Al-A’la:

We will have you recite ˹the Qur’an, O  Prophet,˺ so you will not forget ˹any of it, unless Allah wills otherwise. He surely knows what is open and what is hidden..” (Surah Al-A’la 87:6-7)

When you start memorizing the Qur’an, your entire life becomes a hands-on workshop for the Qur’an itself. In one way or another, each ayah will manifest itself in your life or the lives of those around you, until you have no doubt about the relevance of each and every word for all people and all times.

I have seen this happen in my own life and have heard similar experiences from my teachers and others who have memorized the Qur’an. So, if you ever think that a verse doesn’t apply to you or to our current times, rest assured that Allah (SWT) will show you that it does, in due time.

The Qur’an will also teach you in more subtle ways. Whenever I struggle with a particular ayah, my teacher advises me to pay attention to it and reflect, just as her teachers taught her. Countless times I have gotten stuck on an ayah or a page, only to realize that I needed to learn something specific from it or that Allah (SWT) was saving the memorization of that verse for a  moment when I would need to be comforted by it. A most recent example of this is my memorization of Surah Al-Baqarah and now Surah Ali ‘Imran over the last several months. I had been lamenting my slow progress, but each week I have been gifted with verses that line up perfectly with what is happening in Palestine, providing me with comfort and direction.

5. You could read an ayah a thousand times and still have the experience of hearing it or understanding it for the very first time

“This is the blessed Book that We have revealed to you, (O Muhammad), that people with understanding may reflect over its verses and those with understanding derive a lesson.” (Surah Sad 38:29)

Many of us have had the experience of suddenly understanding a familiar verse or chapter in a new way. Over time I have learnt that this happens no matter how much time you spend with the Qur’an and no matter how well you have memorized and studied it. After all, how could we reflect on the Book of Allah (SWT) and derive lessons if its meanings were finite?

“Tell them, ‘If the ocean became ink for writing the words of my Lord, surely the ocean would be exhausted before the words of my Lord came to an end—even if We were to add another ocean to it.’” (Surah Al-Kahf 18:109)

There are connections throughout the Qur’an that become more and more apparent as you memorize and spend more time with Allah (SWT)’s Book. The Qur’an explains itself. When I recently completed my memorization of Surah Al-Baqarah, it suddenly dawned on me how Surah An-Nasr – a surah I memorized as a child – connects to ayah 214 of Surah Al-Baqarah. In this ayah, Allah (SWT) tells us a story where the believers and their Messenger experience such hardship that they call out “When will Allah’s help come?” and Allah (SWT) responds telling them (and us) that His help is near (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:214). Skipping ahead to Surah An-Nasr, Allah (SWT) provides us with instructions of what to do when His help does come:

“Then glorify the praises of your Lord and seek His forgiveness, for certainly He is ever Accepting of Repentance.” (Surah An-Nasr 110:1-3). 

Reflecting on this connection, especially in our current times, it occurred to me that Allah (SWT)’s help and victory can also come through His remembrance and seeking His forgiveness.  

6. The Qur’an is the answer to your du’a

If you have been making du’a for something, or praying istikhara about a decision you must take, make sure that you are spending time reading and contemplating the Qur’an. There have been many times when I have made a specific du’a and then read an ayah within a day or two that felt like it was revealed specifically for me in that specific circumstance.

We sent down the Book to you which makes everything clear, and serves as a guidance and mercy and glad tidings to those who have submitted to Allah.” (Surah Al-Nahl 16:89)

If you need guidance, the Qur’an will point you in the right direction. If you have doubts, the Qur’an will give you clarity. If you are grieving, the Qur’an will comfort and soothe you. If you are worried, the Qur’an will remind you that He is in charge. If you are looking for a sign, the Qur’an is brimming with every sign you could possibly need.


Abu Amina Elias – Daily Hadith Online

Hasan, U. (2009). Imam Al-Shafi’i’s Poetry (from Diwan al-Imam al-Shafi’i)

Farah El-Jayyousi

Farah El-Jayyousi

Farah is a 30 year old poet, artist, hifdh student, and expert at colouring outside of the lines. She takes her inspiration from books, nature, art, and Islam. She currently lives in the US with her parents and a cat called Beo.