All parents wish for their kids to memorize, learn and appreciate the Qur’an. Some parents hire a Qur’an teacher to come to their homes while others opt for a more rigorous lifestyle of switching between homeschooling and Qur’an memorization during the evening. Yet, others have their kids memorize some short surahs and leave the rest for another time. In this 5 part series, we examine five overlooked standards that one should think about when it comes to Qur’an memorization. This first installment focuses on “What is the goal?”
At first glance, people will think that this question is redundant. They say, “The ultimate goal is to get my kids to love the Qur’an,” or, “I want my kids to be good muslims with the memorization of the Qur’an.” I have heard parents say, “I want them to maintain their Islamic identity through Qur’an memorization,” or, even as simple as, “I want them to get good deeds and enter paradise with this great effort.” All of these statements are correct and virtuous. Hence, it goes without saying that one should not make one’s kids memorize for ostentatious reasons. But more importantly, what does Islamic tradition teach about aligning one’s goals in memorizing the Quran?
From the Sira, one finds narrations of the companions memorizing the Qur’an and coupling it with its understanding and application. Ibn Mas’ud, the famous companion who mastered not only the memorization but also the understanding of the Qur’an, remarks that, “If a man learned ten verses from the Qur’an, he wouldn’t proceed [with more memorization] until he learned its meaning and applied [what he learned from] those ten verses,” (Ibn Jarir). This narration indicates that memorization is best coupled with understanding and practice. On the other hand, one finds narrations extolling the virtues of memorizing the Qu’ran. There is another hadith stating, “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it,” (Bukhari). Another hadith states that after judgment has occurred, the angels will tell the believers, “Read and ascend and beatify [your recitation] as you used to in the world. Indeed your final station [in Paradise] is at the last verse you recite,” (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi). Here, these two narrations indicate that it is virtuous for one to learn and teach the Qur’an and that one’s final level and rank in paradise is determined by the number of verses one can recite from memory,
Therefore, one should memorize as much as one can. But one should also actively learn the meaning and apply what one has learned. If a person focuses only on memorization without understanding and application, then one is nothing more than a machine. Reversely, one should not feel compelled to completely stop memorization until one understands and applies what one has learned. The hadith, “If a man learned ten verses,” is less of an order, but more of an advice. In other words, it is considered a best practice for one to couple memorization with understanding and practice. This notion is furthered when one inspects the narration, “Read and ascend.” While one’s position is determined by the number of verses one has memorized, more importantly, it is one’s practice and devotion that brought one to the gates of paradise. Importantly, for one to reach paradise, one must act upon what one has learned. Furthermore, the hadith, “The best of you are those who learn and teach the Qur’an,” teaches two important lessons: (1) The phrase, “t’allama,” (learn) is uniquely different from memorize; (2) Parents should not just instill the importance of memorization for their kids without learning themselves.” Hence, the end goal, I believe, is for one to encourage the memorization of the Qur’an, its understanding and application, but more importantly, one should practice what one preaches. Parents should actively memorize, learn and apply the Qur’an and make this a priority for themselves and the children. No child is interested in doing what the parent doesn’t practice.