An Advice Helping Students of Knowledge to Memorise

An Advice Helping Students of Knowledge to Memorise

Know that a learner needs to constantly study for it is a mistake to excessively repeat what he studied day and night because this will assuredly make him become bored or become sick.

I narrated that Abū Bakr Ibn Al Anbārī was sick and on his deathbed a doctor came to examine him. After he examined him, he said to Abū Bakr, ‘You were doing what nobody else does! Then he left and said, ‘there is no hope for a cure for him’. People asked Abū Bakr about what he used to do. He replied, I used to revise ten thousand pages every week.’

It is not right to burden the heart with memorising too many forms of knowledge (ilm), because the heart is an organ after all.

It is similar to the physical strength of people, some of them are able to carry a hundred pounds and others may not be able to carry twenty. The hearts are just the same, so a person ought to be mindful of the level of his strength and capacity because if he exerts all his power all at once, then he will miss out on other things.

It is similar to how gluttony drives a person to eat a few more bites and that becomes a reason preventing him from eating other meals! The correct behaviour is that a person spends some time memorising the portions he wants according to his ability and then to revise what he memorised twice in the day and twice in the night. The rest of the time he should look after the comfort of his strength.

Consistency is a significant principle in memorisation because many people stop revising the things they memorised and so they end up forgetting what they know, and then spend long periods of time attempting to regain it.

Furthermore, memorisation should be practiced at particular ages i.e. the young age is the best period for memorisation and the best time of day to revise is before dawn and at midday.

Daytimes are better for memorisation than night times, and times of hunger are better than times of satiation.

It is not advisable to memorise while there is greenery around, or at the beach, because these things will distract you from memorization.

Higher places are better for memorisation than lower places.

Seclusion is very important to help one memorise, while freeing oneself from worldly distractions is the principle of all principles.

It is also important to have a day for resting so that the memorised portions become established in the heart. This will aid memorisation and strengthen the body just as a freshly built wall must be left for a few days to settle, and then build over it.

Other important principles that a person should observe while memorising is to reduce the amount being memorised while ensuring he is constant in it, and to move from one subject to another only after he masters the subject he is focusing on.

If a person lacks vitality for memorisation, he should stop because challenging one’s self while knowing it is not working does not bring any result.

To balance your mood by watching your diet and fixing your worries is essential because food has a great effect on memorisation:

Al Zuhrī said, ‘Since I started memorisation, I never ate vinegar.’

Imam Abū Hanīfah was asked: ‘What helps to memorize fiqh (issues)?” He replied, “Freeing yourself from all worries and distractions.’

Hammād Ibn Salamah said, ‘By reducing anguish.’

Makhūl said, “He who cleans his clothes will have less worries, and he who smells good will enhance in intellect. And he who does both his mannerism will improve.”

I also advise the beginning student of knowledge to defer marriage as much as possible for Ahmad Ibn Hanbal married after reaching forty. This is needed to free yourself from the distractions resulting after marriage and so you will be able to focus on memorisation. If a person has the urge for marriage that he no longer can postpone it, then marry but he should not have sexual relations too often in order maintain his strength for acquiring knowledge.

A student must set priorities in memorisation because life is too precious to be wasted and knowledge is abundant.

Although all knowledge is good, it is important to have priorities because there are people who spend all their time memorising knowledge that is deemed less important than other types of knowledge.

Memorising the Qur’an is the best knowledge to start to memorise and then comes fiqh and so one.

He whom Allah has blessed with an awakened heart will be guided by his awakened heart and not need anyone to guide him. And he whose intention is to please Allah with learning knowledge will be guided to that which is best, as He said, 

“Fear Allah and He will teach you.” [Qur’an 2:282]

[Captured Thoughts by Ibn Al-Jawzi, p. 431-434]

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