Assalamu’alaikum & Marhaba!
Layaan began taking an interest in memorizing the Qur’an a few months ago. I think it is important to start memorization early as long as we can keep the child connected between what they are learning and their daily life. Warning – I tried to keep this post short, but I failed!
For my non-Muslim readers, the Qur’an is the divine revelation sent to our Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him). We believe it is the final revelation that completes all the others sent to the Prophets before. Committing the Qur’an to memory by Muslims has been a long standing tradition dating back to the time of our Prophet (peace be upon him) until the present without any alteration since. To learn more about the Qur’an, here is a short video.
Tip #1 – Purify Intentions
Everything we do should begin with a pure intention. This means taking the time out and truly assessing your purpose and what you want for your child. Ask yourself or write down a list of the reasons why you want your child to memorize the Qur’an. Revisit it often so as to renew your intentions constantly.
When your child is ready and understands, ask them to make a list of intentions with you with simple pictures or symbols. It would be a great way to help introduce the rewards and blessings associated with reciting, learning, and acting upon the beautiful verses. Hang it up somewhere to come back to often.
Tip #2 – Du’a
Every action we take, big or small, should begin and end with a prayer, du’a. Make du’a often for your children, keeping in mind the hadith which says a parent’s prayer is always accepted.
“It was narrated in a saheeh report that our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are three prayers that are not rejected: the prayer of a father for his child, the prayer of the fasting person and the prayer of the traveller.” Narrated by al-Bayhaqi; see Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2032; al-Saheehah, 1797.” (From IslamQA).
Encourage your child to say a du’a before they begin. You can choose from these easy prayers. Additionally, you can model how to make du’a and eventually ask your child to add to it from their heart. After you finish with the day’s lesson, make du’a together for blessings and rewards.
Tip #3 – Plant the Seeds
We want our children to love the Qur’an, not for it to be a chore they are forced to complete. The best way is to plant the seeds from an early age that will motivate your child. Start by discussing how beautiful it is, modeling by reciting and memorizing in their presence, and playing the recordings constantly. Surround them with the Qur’an.
One major motivation is seeing other children their own age or a little older doing it, too. Take your child to a Qur’an competition if you live in a Muslim country. Watch videos of other children reciting the Qur’an online together. My daughter really enjoys watching a girl named Maryam on YouTube to recite along with.
Tip #4 – Check for Readiness
I know the feeling all too well when you see other children doing new things the same age as your own and you begin to compare. I do not know many moms that are completely immune to this. As a result, you begin to pressure your child to “catch up” when they may not be ready or even interested. The memorization of the Qur’an is not a race nor a competition. Take your time. Again, this comes back to pure intentions.
First, as is the case with anything new your child does, check for readiness. I remember inviting my daughter to recite with me a number of times since she first started speaking. She would run away or repeat after me in silly ways. If I saw frustration or a lack of interest, I backed off and would just say, “Okay, sweetie. We will try again some other time. We have to sit quietly and focus when we recite the Qur’an.”
The key is to not give up, but also not to pester. Layaan surprised me one day when she sat down with focus and determination to learn.
Tip #5 – Be Enthusiastic
I want Layaan to understand that the Qur’an is important and requires our full attention, but I also want her to feel excited and sincerely love it. Since we do it before bed, I remind Layaan during her bath that it is nice to smell good and be clean before reciting Qur’an, because Allah (swt) will be happy with her and the Angels will come, as well. We also use this time to practice how to make wudu’.
I let her pick from my nicest hijabs and wrap it around her. If I was in the US, I would order these cute little hijabs for little girls. For boys, you can get a nice Kufi or thowb.
Tip #6 – Slow and Steady
Take it slow. It took me a few days to understand how much Layaan was comfortable with. We started with Surah Al Fatiha. Although it is usually recommended to memorize in the morning, I noticed she preferred to do it right before bed. Usually, we only spend about 15-20 minutes, more than that and she starts to lose focus.
I broke one ayah down into parts, having her repeat each part three times. It can take a few days or sometimes a week for her to grasp it. Then, we move onto combining the small parts into larger phrases or the entire ayah, depending on its length. I do not set a goal of memorizing a certain amount per week or month. The goal is to move at the pace of the child.
Tip #7 – Connect to Daily Life
I have seen many memorize the Qur’an as children but abandoned it as adults. The shared pattern in many cases was their lack of understanding which eventually lead to a void between what they memorized and their way of life. Without the connection, their effort to memorize amounted to nothing.
For this reason, it is imperative that our children understand the purpose and see the real world application of the Qur’an. Even at this age, I think there are plenty of ways to make connections. When your child is thirsty and hungry, while they satisfy their cravings remind them of the verses which speaks about the provision of food and water. Thank Allah (swt) together. This requires a deeper understanding of the Qur’an by the parents themselves, as well.
Tip #8 – Different Learning Styles
Throughout my classes while studying education, professors reiterated time and time again the importance of catering to different learning styles. Not only does each child learn in their own manner, using varied learning styles activates more parts of our brain which results in increased neuron activity and strengthens our learning capabilities. It is widely known amongst Muslims that many children who undertake the task of memorizing the Qur’an, come out of it a little more advanced and even gifted.
Try to activate all five senses. For this age, I think it is best to use a laminated print-out of an enlarged copy of the Surah with each ayah on its own line. Leave space in between so that you can place your finger above, and your child can follow along with their finger below. The children cannot read it by now, but this helps activate tactile learning styles by giving them something to touch and kinesthetic by being able to move along with their fingers and eyes.
Listening to the Qur’an and watching other children or adults recite will help reinforce their auditory and visual learning (YouTube, a trip to the masjid, audio players, etc). Another wonderful idea I picked up from an elementary school Qur’an teacher was to use sign language or gestures to depict the meaning of the ayah. For Surah Al Fatiha it was quite easy to motion a straight path versus a crooked one, and so on. Lastly, there are many great Qur’an apps. One that Layaan loves allows her to record her recitation and replay it back, gives them stars for each ayah and Surah, etc.Tip #9 – Road to Understanding
Understanding, pondering, and reflecting upon the beautiful verses of our Lord will be a journey of a lifetime. We can attempt to provide our children with a very simplified explanation. As they learn an ayah think about the ways you can explain the meaning, vocabulary words they may already know, introduce a new word or two, and find a way to connect it to your life. This can not only be beneficial for them but to you, as well.
One of the ideas I have for Layaan to include in our Qur’an studies is printing out images that either represent key words or a general idea the ayah expresses. I think children are underestimated quite a bit, and that I, myself, will be surprised by the discussion that will come out of it, Insha’Allah.
Tip #10 – Encourage, Celebrate, and Reward
Make sure to use words of encouragement while your children recite correctly and especially when they make mistakes. Try your best not to say, “No, that’s wrong,” or “It’s not like that, it’s like this,” etc. When your child makes a mistake, patiently wait for them to finish and just repeat the ayah or the specific part correctly. If your reaction is negative or tense, children of this age especially will become easily frustrated and upset. What matters is the effort they are making. Remind yourself and them that those who struggle to recite the Qur’an get an even bigger reward than those who do it easily.
Nothing beats Layaan’s excitement and happiness after she completes a Surah. I think she recited Surah al Fatiha almost ten times a day for us after she memorized it. She is very proud of her achievements, loves to revise them, and loves to recite for her grandparents and aunts and uncles. Kids at this age are so easy to please, our undivided attention, smiles, takbeers, and happiness are all they care for.
Every now and then, it would be great to get them a gift or maybe throw a little celebration for what they have achieved. I do not recommend doing something for every ayah or every Surah. You do not want their memorization tied to an expectation of a tangible prize for every little thing. I do not like to say if you do this, I will get you so and so. I have done it a couple of times, and Layaan never forgets to make me pay.
Nonetheless, I think it is good to celebrate their achievements, especially if a Surah or ayah was particularly difficult, and they still kept trying and working towards mastering it. Maybe you can throw a small party after they finish memorizing ten chapters, or promise them a trip with a few friends to the ice cream store. Just keep in mind to find ways to stay balanced and humble.
May Allah (swt) place a sincere and pure love in our children’s hearts for the Qur’an. May He (swt) make it easy for them to memorize and understand. May He (swt) guide them and make the Qur’an an integral part of their life keeping them steadfast on the right path and attainment of the highest levels of Jannah. Ameen.
Please share any other tips, comments, and concerns you may have. Please also be advised this article is for pre-school aged children, not for children on the path to become a hafidh or hadifha (one who memorizes the entire Qur’an). From experienced parents I have spoken to, that journey is best begun after the age of five. Please forgive me for any mistakes, and please do correct me. I pray this is of benefit to all of you, Insha’Allah.