A Blessed Hifdh Journey: Interview with Sr. Julie
Alhamdulillah, All Praise is due to Allah; MuslimahSource recently had a chance to interview sister Julie, a sister living in Canada who recently completed the memorization of the Qur’an. We hope this interview can serve as an inspiration for sisters and brothers out there who hope to memorize the Book of Allah. It’s a blessing to hear the personal hifdh story of a sister in a time when we don’t hear of as many female memorizers of the Qur’an as male memorizers of the Qur’an. May Allah ta’ala bless all those who aim to make the Qur’an an intimate companion in their life, ameen.
1. Assalamu alaikum sister Julie! It’s great to have you with us. Julie is a sister living in Canada who recently completed the memorisation of the Qur’an. Please tell us how long it took you to memorise the Qur’an?
I memorised the Qur’an in two steps. First, I memorised approximately one third of the Qur’an on my own over a period of several years. During this time, I was memorising on a ‘casual’ basis, generally learning approximately three new lines per day, such that it would take me a few months to complete a juz’.
By the time I had finished one third of the Qur’an on my own, I was eager to finish the rest of my hifdh at a faster pace. I decided to make a formal schedule with a teacher to complete the remaining two thirds of the Qur’an. At this point, I began to memorise at least one page a day, and then increased the number of pages per day as my memorisation progressed until I was doing four pages per day towards the end of my hifdh. Once I began working with a teacher, it took approximately nine months to finish the remaining two thirds in order to complete the Qur’an.
2. How did you maintain discipline to memorize the entire Book of Allah? What was your schedule like? Did you have other major commitments while memorizing (such as school, work, family) and if so, how did you maintain a balance?
It is a given that correct and sincere intention is a must. Du’a every step of the way is also essential. Beyond these spiritual aspects, in order to memorise the Qur’an consistently, memorisation must be a priority in your life. That means rearranging other aspects of your schedule to make sure that you have the time needed to memorise, i.e. fitting other activities around memorisation rather than trying to fit memorisation around other activities, as much as possible. If all of these aspects are in place, the discipline to maintain a rigorous schedule to stay on track with hifdh will come naturally.
When memorising as an adult, it is generally a given that you will have many obligations – family, work/studies and other commitments – that you need to fulfill. I memorised the initial one third while in university full time, and the remaining two thirds while working part time, with other general commitments and obligations on top of that. However, with a little bit of thought and creativity, it is generally possible to schedule these obligations in a way that will not conflict with memorisation time. As for optional social commitments, it may be necessary to cut back on the amount of time spent on these ‘extras’, while making sure to still keep a little bit of social or leisure time to take a short break from time to time. Admittedly, there are times when it is hard to keep a balance, but your firm intention, commitment and du’a will help you overcome any difficulties insha’Allah.
It is also best to find a hifdh method that suits your lifestyle and learning style. While working with a teacher, I would memorise on my own and then recite to the teacher on the phone, which provided a certain amount of flexibility. However, some people prefer attending an actual hifdh school, or making other types of arrangements. Hifdh can be done in different styles and set-ups that are all acceptable, and finding the method most suitable for you will also help with maintaining balance and staying on track.
3. What role did your knowledge of the Arabic knowledge of lack thereof impact your Hifdh journey? Is there a basic level of Arabic that you think is beneficial for those who would like to memorize the Qur’an?
I know enough Arabic that I can understand in general what I’m reciting, even though there are certain words that I’m not familiar with. I found this helpful for hifdh since it gave meaning to what I was reciting, and allowed me to make connections between words or verses based on the meaning rather than simple memorisation of sounds.
However, Arabic knowledge, or lack thereof, should not be a barrier to hifdh. Knowing Arabic, as well as not knowing Arabic, each have advantages and disadvantages. For example, while knowing Arabic can help make connections based on meaning, caution also needs to be taken not to accidentally insert words or phrases that ’sound’ right based on meaning but aren’t actually there, which is a common mistake amongst Arabic speakers. People who do not understand any Arabic do not have to worry about falling into this error. It is well known that people of all levels of Arabic, as well as people do not know any Arabic, can all memorise the Qur’an. Take advantage of the ‘perks’ that come with whatever level of Arabic you are at, and don’t let this be a reason to delay memorising.
4. Did you face any hardships along the way and how did you overcome them?
Alhamdulilah, other than the challenge of maintaining an intensive hifdh schedule despite other obligations as mentioned above, nothing out of the ordinary came up.
5. How did you feel once you were done?
It actually felt quite normal! Perhaps due to the particular circumstances when I finished– a time when many deadlines and events were all happening at once – it took a little while for it to sink in that I had actually completed hifdh! It is also necessary to keep in mind that ‘finishing’ hifdh does not mean that you are done in a strict sense – there is still intensive review ahead to solidify and maintain the hifdh.
6. For sisters, the issue of monthly periods / menses sometimes causes delays in memorization depending on the scholarly opinion the sister chooses to follow. How did you deal with memorization in this time and do you have advice for sisters on this matter?
As someone who follows the opinion that it is completely permissible for a woman to recite Qur’an during this time, this was not an issue. Sisters who follow a more restrictive opinion on the matter may wish to consult a person of knowledge regarding the exceptions allowed under the stricter opinion so that it minimally impacts her hifdh (e.g. even under the stricter opinion exceptions have been made for the woman who fears that she will forget part of her memorisation).
7. How do you feel with the Qur’an literally in your heart now? Does it change your perception of your role in the world/ummah now? How can you use your hifdh as a tool towards your future goals?
It is a huge blessing to have the Qur’an memorised, and that is something that a hafidh/hafidha should always be conscious of. Since huffadh are generally looked up to, having the Qur’an memorised forces you into a leadership/role model position regarding the Qur’an in the eyes of other Muslims. Of course, hifdh is ultimately a step towards the primary goal of every Muslim which is attaining the pleasure of Allah and entering jannah. Of the immediate practical benefits, it is extremely useful for anyone involved in learning or teaching the Islamic sciences.
8. What advice can you give sisters who would like to seek more knowledge of the Qur’an and Islam?
Usually the only thing holding people back is their own hesitation or fear of taking the first step. If you are looking to do hifdh, or to study the Qur’an or Islam in any way, make the right intention and go for it! There are so many options in many local communities and online to seek knowledge, you just need to seek them out and begin.
9. Does having the Qur’an memorized serve as a motivation to emulate the character of the Qur’an more and more? Do you ever feel like random ayaat pop up in your mind as you go through your day? We’d love to understand the psychology of a haafidha!
When you have the Qur’an memorised and recite it often, it is only natural that you will want to implement it in your life. There’s a hadith in sahih Muslim that states that the Qur’an is either a witness for you or against you in the hereafter – there’s no third option. This is something that I’m particularly conscious of as a hafidha as there’s possibility for huge reward if you live by what you’ve memorised and what you’re reciting, but also that the Qur’an could testify against you if you fail to do that. Of course, we are all responsible for living by the Qur’an whether or not we have it memorised, but perhaps it is easier to be conscious of that responsibility when you have it memorised and/or recite the Qur’an often.
Sometimes random verses do pop into your mind! When someone listens to something often or recites it regularly, it is only natural that the person will think of it during the day. For many people, that ‘thing’ that is often music. For the hafidh/hafidha, or any person highly attached to the Qur’an, the Qur’an takes that place.
10. What did you think of the recent Qur’an burning controversies, and were your thoughts influenced by the fact that you had finished memorizing the Qur’an this year?
The most someone can do is burn a ‘copy’ of the Qur’an. The Qur’an is preserved in innumerable written and electronic copies, as well as non-written form by huffadh all across the world. While the act by a few small fringe groups is no doubt something that should be denounced, our response should be rational and kept in its proper perspective. We should be conscious of the fact that most mainstream non-Muslims also denounce this act, and we should also reflect on Allah’s blessings upon us in allowing us to preserve the Qur’an in so many ways.
11. MashaAllah, now that you are done, what does your typical revision schedule look like? How important is revision in maintaining Hifdh?
Revision is absolutely essential in maintaining hifdh. A review schedule will vary from person to person, as well as over time as the person’s hifdh becomes stronger. As I am only on my first review since finishing, my schedule varies quite a bit depending on the section that I am reviewing - if the memorisation for a section is particularly strong, the review goes quickly, but if it is a section where the memorisation is weaker, then it is necessary to spend more time on that part. Just like there is not only one ‘typical’ method or set-up to do hifdh, similarly you will find different styles and schedules for review.
12. Any last thoughts you can share that would benefit us?
As the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “The best among you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it to others” (Bukhari). This should provide motivation for any Muslim working on hifdh, as well as to learn and teach all different aspects of the Book of Allah.
Source: Muslimah Source