Memory and Memorising have a great importance and status in Islamic Scholarship. From memorising Qur’an to memorising volumes of Hadeeth (with their long chains of narrations) to memorising poetry, syntax and ‘mutoun’, scholars of Islam excelled in this skill. Their competence was measured against their memory first, and then later by their understanding and interpretation or ‘fiqh’.
Potential scholars were identified immediately by their superiority in memorisation.
Madrassahs across history were the ‘pre-school’ stage for scholars, where they perfected memorisation of the Qur’an and fluency and knowledge of the Arabic language.
Many of those noble scholars did not speak Arabic as a mother tongue but rather acquired or learned it at a very young age. Examples of those scholars are Imam Bukhari (the collector of the most sacred body of knowledge after the Qur’an) who was from Uzbekistan and Imam Abu Haneefah, who came from Afghani origins.
Those mighty scholars were inspired to memorise Islamic texts by the sayings of the Prophet peace be upon him.
Aisha may Allah be pleased with her reported that the prophet peace be upon him said:
الماهر بالقرآن مع السفرة الكرام البررة، والذي يقرأ القرآن ويتتعتع فيه وهو عليه شاق له أجران
“The one who is proficient in the Qur’an will be with the honourable and obedient scribes (angels) and he who recites the Qur’an and finds it difficult to recite, doing his best to recite it in the best way possible, will have a double reward.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
رحم الله امرءا سمع مني حديثا فحفظه حتى يبلغه غيره فرب حامل فقه إلى من هو أفقه منه ورب حامل فقه ليس بفقيه
“May Allah have mercy on the one who hears a Hadeeth from us, so he memorizes it until he conveys it to someone else. Perhaps he carries Fiqh to one who is more understanding than him, and perhaps the one who carries the Fiqh is not a Faqih.” [Sahih Ibn Habban, no. 67]
Unfortunately, contemporary Madrassahs -especially in the West- have lost their leading role in facilitating memorisation of the Qur’an.
But we should seek to regain this magnificent legacy in shaa Allah, for the sake of Allah and then for the sake of raising scholars who know Islam properly from its true sources.
The following series of articles will be dedicated to the topic of memorisation and will include the following topics in shaa Allah:
1- How the Memory works
2- How to Teach with Memory in Mind
3- Importance of Learning – Forgetting – Revising
4- Memorisation Techniques
5- Technology tools that aid memorisation