Abū Masʿūd Aḥmad ibn al-Furāt al-Rāzī,
Used to repeat every ḥadīth 500 times. A man once said to him; ‘I [continuously] forget the narrations that I have memorised!’ ‘Upon you is to revise every single narration 500 times.’ said Abū Masʿūd. “Who is able to do that!’ [complained] the man. Abū Masʿūd replied; “And that is why you people [are not able] to memorise”.1
Abū Bakr al-Abharī al-Mālikī said,
“I read IbnʿAbd al-Ḥākīm’s Mukhtaṣar 500 times, al-Asadīyah 75 times, al-Muwaṭṭá and al-Mabsūṭa 30 times and Ibn al-Barqī’s Mukhtaṣar 70 times.”2
Ibn Kathīr said,
“Abū Bakr al-Anṣārī would recount any issue from a lesson that was asked without having to revise or review the issue. This was possibly due to the fact that in the early stages of his pursuit in seeking knowledge he would repeat every lesson 400 times..”3
Yaḥyá ibn Maʿīn said,
“We wont know a ḥadīth [by heart] unless we write it down or listen to it 50 times.”4
Abū Isḥāq al-Shīrāzī said:
“I used to repeat every issue of qiyās 1000 times, once I finished, I would do the same with the next issue. I would likewise repeat every lesson 1000 times.”5
used to repeat his lesson 50 times.”6
“I read ar-Risāla 500 times and I would find a new benefit every time I read it.” 7
Abū Ishāq ash-Shirāzī:
used to repeat a lesson 100 times and f he was eating resins, he would [only] revise a lesson 70 times.”8
al-Ḥaṣan ibn Abī Bakr an-Naysābūrī said;
“The jurist does not put something to memory until he repeats [the issue] 50 times.”9
“al-Ḥaṣan narrated that a jurist repeated a lesson in his house so much so that an old woman in the house said to him: ‘Oh God, [even] I have memorised it.” So he asked her to repeat it and so she did. After a few days, he said to her: ‘Old woman, repeat that lesson’ “I have not memorised it.’ she replied, he said: ”I repeat the lesson lest i’m inflicted with what has afflicted you.10
The Mauritanian Method of Memorisation;
The most effective way is the method of the Mauritanians;
1. Write or read the text to someone until you are able to read it perfectly.
2. Read the text 300 times from memory, whilst occasionally referring back to check if you have accidentally missed anything.
3. Return back to the text and read it 200 times as per point number 2, this time it is not necessarily to read upon someone.
4. Finally, read the text again from memory 200 times.
1. Read the text that you had memorised previously 150 times from memory before starting a new text.
2. Apply the same method as day one on the new text.
1. Read the day 1’s text 50 times from memory.
2. Read day 2’s text 150 times from memory before starting a new text.
1. Read day 2’s text 50 times from memory.
2. Read day 3’s text 150 times from memory before starting a new text.
And nothing can be attained expect by the will and power of Allah.
Matters that Aid Memorisation and Things That Weaken it;
Shaykh Muqbil bin Hādī al-Wādiʿī said;
– Acting upon what has been memorised. Wakī’ said; “Whoever wishes to memorises ḥadīth then let him act upon it.” [as-Suyuṭī, at-Tadbīr (1/588)]
– Mindfulness of Allah ﷻ [taqwa] – Allah ﷻ said ‘Be mindful of Allah and He will teach you’ [Q 2:282]
– Abstaining from [eating] citrusy food.
– Eating raisins
– Bitter frankincense, on the condition that too much isn’t consumed since it will cause insinuating whispers which will oppose the purpose, since insinuating whispers complicates issues and causes loss of information.
– Ginger, on the condition that too much isn’t consumed since it will increase blood temperature, cause mood swings and increase black bile.
– Sitting with students of knowledge who are strong memorisers.
– Allocating an appropriate time and place [to memorise]. al-Khaṭīb mentioned in ‘al-Faqīh wal Mutafaqhī‘ the inappropriateness of memorising whilst sitting near watercourses or next to trees with scenery that would distract a person and make him look at it.
– Staying away from problems.
– Maintaining good health
– Abstaining from sin.
That which weakens it;
– Sleeping alot.
– Sleeping after Fajr.
– Eating too much.
– Citrus fruits.11
1. adh-Dhahabī, Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad, Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb (1/58).
2. al-Qāḍī Iyāḍ, Abū al-Faḍl, Taqrīb al-Masālik (1/427).
3. Ibn Kathīr, Ismāʻīl ibn ʻUmar , al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah (12/227).
4. Ibn ʻAsākir, ʻAlī ibn al-Ḥasan, Tārīkh ad-Dimashq (14/65)
5. Subkī, Tāj al-Dīn, Ṭabaqāt al-Shāfi ʼIyah al-Kubrā (4/115)
6. adh-Dhahabī, Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad, Siyar Aʻlām an-Nubalāʼ (23/115)
7. an-Nawawī, Yaḥyá ibn Saraf, Tahdhīb al-Asmā (1/59)
8. al-Jawzī, Abū al-Faraj ʻAbd al-Raḥmān, al-Ḥath ‘alaḤifz al-‘Ilm (p.43)
9. al-Jawzī, Abū al-Faraj ʻAbd al-Raḥmān, al-Ḥath ‘alaḤifz al-‘Ilm (p.43)
10. al-Jawzī, Abū al-Faraj ʻAbd al-Raḥmān, al-Ḥath ‘ala Ḥifẓ al-‘Ilm (p.44)
11. al-Wasābī, Nur ad-Dīn, al-Fatāwa al-Ḥadīthiyah (p.164)