6 and a half years is quite a long time to become a Hafiz. I had many ups and downs during this period and so I went through a lot of experience.
Duration: 2 and a half years
Amount Memorized: 17 Juz.
Mode of Education: Fulltime at maddressah at MCMC, Darul Huda.
Duration: 2 years
Amount Memorized: 1 and a half Juz.
Mode of Education: Highschool in the morning and then in the afternoon, spend some time at the maddressah.
Duration: Approximately 1 and a half years
Amount Memorized: 7 Juz
Mode of Education: After this, I moved to Pakistan where I now reside. A quran teacher would come to my house and I would a recite to him. For most of this time period, I was being home-schooled so I had quite a bit of time.
Duration: 7 months
Amount Memorized: None
Mode of Education: Studying for exams, then summer vacation.
Duration: 2 months
Amount Memorized: 3 and a half Juz.
Mode of Education: During the first 6 weeks, I somehow(Allah knows best how) managed my overstressful school work and Hifz. The last two weeks, I took off from school.
The #1 Ingredient
What I learned from this long and eventful experience is that the #1 ingredient is not a good memory but DESIRE. If a person has the desire to become a hafiz, he can insha'Allah, no matter how old the person is, or how busy he is. Sorry, I'm wrong. You don't need just a desire to memorize the Quran. You need to have an obsession. You have to be obsessed with the fact that you want to become a Hafiz.
Everyone wants to become a Hafiz. Who doesn't? If I take a vote of 50 people around me, I'm sure all 50 people will say that they want to become Huffaz. Unfortunately, few people actually realize the dedication and effort that is required to become a Hafiz. Becoming a Hafiz, is like a litmus test. Only those who have a certain degree of dedication and determination will become Huffaz. So do you have what it takes to become a Hafiz?
My Personal Experience
Back in 6th grade, I was having problems in school because of this racist teacher. Back then, I used to live in New Brunswick. For those of you who know Central Jersey, you know that its a pretty bad neighborhood. I had already transferred from another school because of this. So my options were limited. Recently MCMC had opened a maddressah/school called Darul Huda. My parents decided that I should go there. After all, it was an Islamic school and I could become a Hafiz. Why not become a Hafiz? Alhumdulilah, I had a good memory as well. So I entered Darul Huda and started my journey to become a Hafiz.
I now realize that wasn't the right decision. A person doesn't need a good memory to become a Hafiz. He needs the determination. I didn't really have that atleast to sustain me in the long run. Going to Hifz school and becoming a Hafiz was just another alternative for me, one that was better than all the others. This almost halfhearted desire helped me for a couple months but then I got bored. Instead of picking up speed I started slowing down. My parents noticed this and so they decided that if I don't want to become a Hafiz, why should they force me? And so I was transferred to a secular high school.
Phase 5 lasted for only two months but during this short period I was equipped with the #1 ingredient, Desire. Now, this is where Muhammad Alshareef comes in. A week before school started, I promised my dad I would finish in Ramadan. How? I didn't know. I had Written in Stone laying around untouched and so I decided I would listen to that. About two weeks after I made my promise, Allah (SWT) willed that I listen to that CD. It changed me from inside out. I decided that I HAVE to finish the Quran in Ramadan. Forget school, grades, everything, just worry about the Quran. Nothing else. If I don't finish the Quran this Ramadan, then never, I will never finish it. Yes, I was crazy, I knew I was. But I also knew that if I didn't make myself obsessed, then I couldn't finish memorizing the Quran.
No problem. You can still become a Hafiz. My teacher, Qari Rafaqat used to say that he had such horrible memory that he used to memorize half an ayah every day. But slowly, he progressed to doing quarter juz every day. THAT'S ONE JUZ IN FOUR DAYS.
Did you know that I used to be one of the best students in my maddressah? The first 5 months I memorized 5 juz(that's outstanding for a beginner). I even have a certificate to prove it. Though I started late, I soon surpassed most of the other students. Alhumdulilah, Allah(SWT) gave me excellent memory but that didn't help me become a Hafiz. I soon lost determination and so I fell behind.
I've heard a story of this guy in his 40's who became a Hafiz. He was equipped with the desire so he did it.
Correct Intention: Parents AND Kids
The correct intention is extremely important. Not only will you not get rewarded if you don't have the right intention but becoming a Hafiz will be harder for you. So let me ask you, What is the Correct Intention? The correct intention SHOULD and SHOULD ONLY be to attain the pleasure and blessing of Allah(SWT). You see, being a Hafiz is a very special thing; the way I look at is that it's the membership into a special group of servants of Allah(SWT). To join that group, that in it of itself is a huge blessing.
Many people, both parents and kids get this goal confused. Parents sometimes make their kids go to Hifz school so that they can show off to others that my kid is a Hafiz. Other times it's just another alternative. If the child has trouble at school, they will send the kid to a Hifz school since it has an Islamic atmosphere. But most importantly parents fail to realize that the kid needs to have the right intention.
This is where it gets tough. When I first started memorizing the Quran, Alhumdulilah I did have the correct intention, i.e. to please Allah(SWT). But later on, my intention changed. It became a mixture of pleasing my parents and pleasing my teacher. During my later years, I thought of memorizing the Quran as something I had to just get over with.
After listening to Muhammad AlShareef's CD, my intention totally changed. Memorizing the Quran became easy and I realized that I was also being rewarded for my struggle.
So, before you send your kids to Hifz school or embark on the journey yourself, make sure you and your child both have the right intention.
I want to become a Hafiz, what should I do?
My personal advice is that before you actually start anything equip yourself with the desire. Search online, ask Huffaz(practicing ones, ones who have taqwa), ask scholars what are the benefits to become a Hafiz. Personally, I wouldn't recommend Written in Stone by Muhammad Alshareef at this stage. He himself says in the CD that this khutbah is for those who have already taken the first steps to memorizing the Quran.
Here are a couple resources which will help you to build up your desire:
- E-book-Causes that Aid in the Memorization of the Quran by Mahmood al-Misri (Abu `Ammaar) - I wish this book had been translated earlier so that I could benefit from it more. It's simply awesome and contains much of what I wrote and will write, insha'Allah on this topic.
- Audio Lecture-Blessings of Seeking Knowledge by Yasir Qadhi- Quran after all is knowledge
- Fajr: The best time
- Kill the Sins
- The Two Modes of Memorization
- and more, insha'Allah...