Tips On Memorizing the Qur’an: Magic Lawh

When I was in Egypt, I was told that you are not counted Hafiz until you can both recite and write out the whole Qur’an (which is more challenging than you would think as not every word pronounced the same is written the same). Never thought of doing this before though… I think I may give this a go!
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by MARC on Feb 22, 2010 • 5:40 PM

I am often asked by Muslims on how they can better learn and memorize the Book of Allah. I know that even in the best of situations, memorization of the Qur’an can be a daunting task, whether one is a convert or born Muslim. There are a number of factors that make this a high road to climb:
  1. Time: modern life can make it a challenge to find the time to consistently sit down and read Qur’an.
  2. Study Methods: not everyone is born a great student. Like other areas of knowledge, one can learn to be more efficient at memorizing the Qur’an by learning good study skills.
  3. Language: there is no doubt that lack of the Arabic language can make the process more difficult but one should not be discouraged. Many people learn the Qur’an without knowing what all the words mean. While under optimal conditions, the two would go hand-in-hand, this short article will assume that one is not a master of the language.

There is little I can do for points one or three, but I can offer some tips regarding point number two: technique. Here, I will introduce a time-tested technique, not only for myself, but one used throughout the Muslim world for students of Qur’anic memorization. I call it the Magic Lawh.

Butch Ware from the University of Michigan with a lawh

Butch Ware from the University of Michigan with a lawh

As seen in the picture to the left (Professor Butch Ware of the University of Michigan), the writing board, or lawh [لوح] as it is know in the Arabic language, is a flat writing board this is still used in traditional Qur’anic schools, especially in West Africa. The lawhis written upon, most often with a reed pen, where students the verses of the Qur’an, a few ayāt at a time. Little by little, some times as few as 5 verses, students write, recite, wipe, and commit to memory, the Holy Qur’an. This technique, coupled with recitation, creates a double-reinforcement that greatly enhances a student’s ability to memorize the Qur’an accurately as well as quickly.  For the modern student, the Magic Lawh helps to develop retention and listening skills by writing from either memory, listening or both.

Several years back when I was teaching Qur’an at the Islamic Center in Ann Arbor, I began to think of techniques on how I could better instruct the young students in their memorization. While running an errand at an office supply store I chanced upon a section that had a white board and dry erase markers. I immediately made the connection that the white board could perform the role and function of the lawh, while the dry erase markers made it possible to write, wipe, and memorize, over and over again, just as students do with theirlawh in traditional madāris.

To put theory into practice I purchased the set straight away [a small hand-holdable white board] and put it to the test. Amazingly, I found I was able to memorize one to two pages a day, whereas before it would have taken me significantly longer to do so. I was even able to find fine-point dry erase markers to make the writing more akin to a real pen instead of a chunky marker. I realize that my experience may be an extreme example of the potential of the Magic Lawh system, but I do believe that it has the capacity and potential to help students of The Book increase their memorization.

If you are serious about memorizing the Qur’an, I cannot emphasize how beneficial the Magic Lawh system has been for me. I pray it is as useful for you as well.

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