Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Having a good memory is a very valuable asset for any person, but it is especially important to a student of Quran and knowledge. The brain is like a strainer – a lot of the information which we are bombarded with every day are strained out of it, and only very small amount of solid information is retained and stored in for long-term use. Therefore, what we need to do to improve our memory power is to target that small amount which the brain is capable of retaining, and either increase that capacity, or make sure whatever we retain is important info and not junk. Keeping that in mind, let us look at some ways in which memory can be improved.
- Purify your intentions: Before trying to put anything in our long term memory, we need to first ask ourselves why we’re doing this. Are we studying to get good grades? So that we can get a good job? Earn a lot of money? Do I memorize the Quran so that people call me a huffaz? Or do we seek knowledge in order to please Allah (swt)? If and only if our intention is the latter, then there will be so much barakah in our efforts that our memory power will improve by the mercy of Allah. It doesn’t matter whether you are studying to become a doctor, or an Islamic scholar. You can become a doctor, or even a taxi driver, for the sake of Allah. It all depends on your intentions.
- Make lots and lots of dua: There is nothing which works faster and better than dua. Allah has opened this door wide open for us 24/7, we just need to ask. So keep asking with the dua in the Quran:
رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا
My Lord, increase me in knowledge. [20:114]
- Develop humility: I came across this quote in a book:
“Knowledge wars against the lofty youth
Just as the flood attacks the high place.”
Knowledge is like rain coming down from the sky. It does fall on the tall mountains, but the mountains can’t retain it. It channels through them and finds its way to the humble valley. Knowledge is like the fruits of a tree – the more fruits on a branch, the lower it will come.
- Stay away from sins
Imam Shafi’ wanted to improve his (already great) memory. So he went to Imam Waqee’ and asked him for advice. ‘He advised me to abstain from sins; for, verily, knowledge is a light from Allah; and this light of Allah is not awarded to sinners.’
- Keep your brain as much clutter-free as possible: One of the staunchest enemies of a healthy memory capacity is stress. De-clutter your life in order to get rid of stress. Keep your house, your office, your desk tidy. A neat and clean environment has a great impact on the brain. Bring discipline in everything you do. Make study schedules and work schedules, and do everything in an orderly and methodical fashion.
- Use all your senses: Have you smelled a scent which reminded you of some event long forgotten? Have you felt dejavu visiting a certain place after a very long time, with memories racing back to your brain from that certain time period? Each of our senses can contribute towards storing information in memory, and the more senses we use, the stronger the association.
- Exercise your brain cells: Just as physical exercise improves your muscles, mental exercise improves the brain. When you start learning a certain subject or an activity, your brain makes new cells and connections for the brain area related to that activity. So keep your brain in shape by practicing more and more.
- Give your brain resting time: Our brains have amazing elasticity, but still there is a limit to the amount of strain it can take at a time. Space out your activities and give your brains time to relax at regular intervals (say every half an hour. You’ll know what works best for you.) Also have enough sleep every night, as it is very crucial to energize your brains for the following day.
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