As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah
This is a little something I brainstormed over the issue of ‘mental-blocks’ and laxity when it comes to Hifdh al-Qur’an. I wrote this a few years ago for a group of sisters, but thought to brush it up and share with the wider world. Mental blocks, difficulties and laxity are something that affects us all when memorizing Qur’an, so I hope insha’Allah the advice below helps everyone. Please feel free to pass this on and share with others…
Overcoming Hubut (هبوط) – A Discouraging Obstacle in Hifdh al-Qur’an
This Qur’an, as much as it is the Gift of Allah which He gives to whom He wishes, it is also the test of Allah for many of us. If we’ve made a sincere decision to memorise the Qur’an, this Book which took 23 years to come down to Earth, then we need to realize that it’s not really going to be one simple, easy, straightforward road from the moment of ‘Azm (resolve) to the day of Khatm (completion). It is the case that we might face many obstacles on the way, and one obstacle which is not always spoken about is a particular one which I call: Hubut – هبوط or Futur فتور (an Arabic term meaning ‘diminution, lack of motivation, laxity, mental blocks, laziness, weakness, slackness’ – you get the idea)
In the course of your Hifdh, watch out for the ‘Hubut’ moments. Those days when you can’t seem to memorise anything, you have a mental block & your motivation feels like it’s just faced the firing squad. Yep, you know what I’m talking about… it’s a strange phenomenon faced by everyone but for the student memorizing Qur’an these ‘down moments’ are public enemy no.1 as they can really mess you up and throw you off-course if you don’t know how to deal with them. Some students face major moments of ‘futur’ (laxity) and as a result; they abandon memorisation entirely and never reach their goal of Hifdh al-Qur’an (even though they may have memorised over half the Qur’an). Yeah, it happens.
It’s a frustrating period of time which makes a person sad, disheartened and feel like they’ll never achieve anything. So the one who used to memorise 2 pages a day is reduced to memorizing only a few verses, the one who used to wake up earlier than crows finds himself in hibernation and the one who used to make time for Hifdh despite his busy schedule can no longer be bothered with things.
So why does it happen and when does it happen?
Well, I guess that’s one for the psychologists to answer but in general, these moments can occur randomly and for different reasons. As a student of Qur’an you’ll have always been told to steer clear of sins (the wise advice of Waki’) and this is because sins bring about these moments of hubut faster and more frequently than anything else – and once you begin to suffer from it, it creates the perfect atmosphere for one to abandon and forget the Qur’an. It’s a major tool of Shaytan which he uses to mislead the slaves of Allah from engaging in good deeds (just watch him enter hubut into all your ‘ibadat). But sometimes despite a person’s attempts of avoiding sin, they may fall into the other ‘less known’ causes of hubut:
- Work overload
- Long periods of not listening to or reciting Qur’an
- Emotions running high or low/emotional instability (such as anger, over-excitement, depression, mood-swings, giddiness etc).
- Thinking too much
- Eating too much
- Sleeping too much
- Not finding a companion to work with or a teacher to assist you
- Too much empty time
- Receiving too much criticism from others
- For sisters, you may notice hubut near the times of your menstrual cycle and hence you face mental blocks either before, during or after your cycle or generally when you are hormonal.
So what do we do?
Good question, my friend!
But a better question is: ‘What would you do if you were on your way somewhere important and something blocked your road?’ Or ‘What if you were going home from university or work but as you come to the tube station, the Underground folks tell you that the Northern Line has been suspended’ (doesn’t that always happen?!) and your route home has now been affected. What do you do?
Your answers would probably include things like:
- Avoid the blockage
- Get around it or move it out of your way somehow
- Find a different route
- Wait a while for things to clear
- Don’t rely on London’s Transport!
Please Fajr… something a bit more detailed?
- First thing first: When you’ve hit your moment of ‘hubut’, it’s important that whatever happens, you do not end up stopping your Hifdh altogether. You can decrease your portion if necessary, but never halt it. Instead, to make up for things, try to increase your listening of Qur’an so have your Surah playing in your iPod, MP3, CD or cassette player, around the house, in the car, on your way to work etc. If you are familiar with your hubut and know that it’ll only last a few hours or a day, then maybe take a break from Hifdh for that time period and do something different until your laxity passes by.
- If your moment of hubut is due to something physical (e.g. you’re tired, hungry, or stressed etc) then you need to satisfy this first and overcome it. So sleep well, eat well, relax, and maybe get a massage and do some stretches.
- Stay away from anything which will lower your spirits or demotivate you – be it junk food (this is crime I say), loneliness, laziness, boredom, lack of support, friends/family who may criticize your efforts (be kind and patient with them but take a break as well) basically try to avoid whatever does not float your boat and gets you down.
- Having some organisation in your life is like having salt and vinegar in your fish and chips. Really, it does wonders to be tidy, neat and organised – and it actually leads you to become more organised and focused at mind. With Hifdh of Qur’an, you need space. That means physical space (periods of solitude to contemplate and memorise) as well as giving yourself mental ‘space’ – if you overwhelm your brain with a hundred tasks or scatter it with stick-it notes, you just won’t find the focus, motivation or time for Hifdh.
- Routines are the best! You may enjoy living in the fast lane and being spontaneous, but sometimes you need those ‘mundane’ routines in life to ground you. Think of them as ‘Thawabit‘ – anchors that hold you down whenever you feel like you’re about to fall off the road. If for example, you have a regular routine of coming home from work, showering, eating and then sitting down for half an hour to memorise half a page, then when you’re hit by hubut one day, you will naturally still be composed and find it easier to continue with that routine compared to someone who has no routine for their Hifdh. And were you to miss that daily half an hour of Hifdh, you will actually feel weird… like something is missing! (Well, it is.)
- Stay active. Have workout sessions where you physically exercise your body, and depending on how fit you are, I would recommend doing rigorous exercise at least two or three times a week – it’ll make you more alert, creates a sense of passion/ambition in you, keeps things like depression, laziness and tiredness at bay and guess what? It’s a sharp sword against hubut and futur.
- Have a deadline, always. Set one deadline for overall Hifdh (e.g. by July 2015) and have another deadline for every commencing week or month etc. Make sure you write these deadlines in different places – on your work desk, in the kitchen, as a reminder on your phone, or if you’re a typical Londoner have it written on the front of your oyster card! This way, whenever you are faced with hubut, you still have a focus and something to work towards, no matter what.
And the list goes on…
A point to note: If you look back at the pre-mentioned causes of hubut, you’ll notice a common factor… they are mainly causes which preoccupy and affect one’s heart and state of mind. Hence, to avoid hubut, avoid anything which affects the healthy state of your heart, e.g. having too much attachment to this world.
Realise that through the course of memorising Qur’an you will be undergoing a form of training whereby you attain strong characteristics of a believer insha’Allah – e.g. a firm and correct belief, patience, zuhd, gratitude, contemplation, determination, courage, humbleness, you gain good judgement, sound mind, kindness & ease in character (riqqa), and so on bi’ithnillah.
As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah,
In Surah al-Qasas, the mother of Musa (`alayhisalam) is commanded:
“… But when you fear for him, cast him into the sea…” [al-Qasas: 7]
In order for Musa to survive, he had to be thrown into the sea. However, several passages later, Allah `azza wa jall says about Pharaoh (who Musa was being saved from):
“… So We took him (Pharaoh) and his soldiers and threw them into the sea.” [al-Qasas: 40]
Incredible. The sea that was a tool for saving Musa, was the same sea that was a tool for destroying Pharaoh and his army.
In life, we can never truly know what Allah `azza wa jall will use as His Force and Power. His army is hidden among nature, among changing circumstances, among the apparent or the unknown. Many times, the things we fear might very well be the cause of our salvation, while the things we feel safe from can actually bite us. The river did not harm Musa (`alayhisalam) despite his weakness and vulnerability, and yet it did not save Pharaoh and his army despite their number and strength. Subhan’Allah, always be with Allah and He will use the forces of this world, both hidden and apparent, to help you, protect you, and save you, even if you are seen as weak. You just gotta be with Allah and believe in His power and forces.
As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah
“… Not a leaf does fall
but by His Knowledge.” [6:59]
He is al-Shafi – the Curer.
He heals and cures the sick ones when they fall ill, and He looks after them during their physical weakness. He is al-Shafi Who has sent down for every illness its cure, and has measured out for every sickness its duration. His medicine never fails us nor misses us because He is the Creator and Curer Who knows these bodies of ours very well. He is the only One who can truly heal us, and the only One who can guide us to the persons and places in which He has placed our cure.
He is al-Khafidh – the Abaser. And He is al-Rafi’ – the Exalter.
He is al-Mu’izz – the Giver of Honour. And He is al-Mudhill – the Debaser.
He raises whom He Wills and lowers whom He wills. He hands the kingdom to whoever He wishes and seizes it from whoever He wishes. And such are the days that He gives to Mankind; days weighed upon scales that tip according to the Decree of al-Khafidh al-Rafi’, al-Mu’izz al-Mudhill. Don’t you see how civilizations rise only to fall after some time? Don’t you see how the oppressed of yesterday become the leaders of tomorrow? Don’t you see how the famous disappear into anonymity and the unknown one becomes the well-known and remembered? The Scale of Allah tips and so we see extraordinary days, incredible history, and ironic happenings. He is al-Rafi’ al-Mu’izz Who raises His humble Slaves, and He is al-Khafidh al-Mudhill Who lowers every arrogant head. He turns tables as He turns the earth, and He does so with Wisdom in a Supreme Law which cannot be surpassed.
“Say: ‘O Allah! Possessor of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honour whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. In Your Hand is all good. Verily, You are Able to do all things.’” [Aal 'Imran: 26]
الخافض الرافع المعز المذل
He is al-Ra’uf – the Kind.
Not only does His Rahmah (Mercy) surround all things, but His Ra’fah (Kindness) also has a strong presence in the life of the believer. He is al-Ra’uf Who pities the slave and shows him ways out of every difficulty. He is al-Ra’uf Who inspires the slave towards deeds which He then accepts so kindly. He is al-Ra’uf Who gives us more than we deserve and blesses us daily. His Kindness to us is many times greater than the kindness of a mother to her own child. It is what spares us from His Punishment, it is what pushes us towards seeking forgiveness, and it is what saves us when we blindly rush to things that will only ruin and destroy us.
“And indeed, Allah is to you Kind, Merciful.” [al-Hadid: 9]
He is al-Qahhar – The Irresistible and Supreme.
He is the one Whom souls recognise and stand in awe of. His Strength is overpowering and dominating; it breaks and defeats forces you can see and forces you cannot see. He is al-Qahhar who causes the backs of the oppressors to break, the necks of the Mushrikin (polytheists) to lower, and the soul of every Man and Jinn to submit at the time of death. He is al-Qahhar to Whom everything in the heavens and the earth pays heed to, prostrates to, respects and fears so deeply. The King of Kings. The AlMighty and Supreme. Nothing can break away from His Grip when He seizes and nothing can escape His Sight or Knowledge.
“He is the Irresistible, Supreme over His slaves, and He sends guardians over you, until when death approaches one of you, Our Messengers take his soul, and they never neglect their duty.” [al-An'am: 61]
He is al-Mubdi’ – the Initiator.
He initiated the creation and began it from nothing. He originated the heavens and the earth when they were non-existent. He is al-Mubdi’ who initiates new things in your life, and creates new circumstances – some as a blessing, some as a test, and some to just bring change into your life and a different direction. He creates you and creates your way and all that you will meet therein.
But just as He is al-Mubdi’, He is also al-Mu’eed – the One who repeats. As He created the first time, He will repeat it. As He constructed existence once, He will repeat it. But also, that smile He once placed on your face, He can certainly repeat that. Those days of joy He caused to take place, He can certainly bring those back. And just as He created certain things in your life, He can certainly repeat them. The Dunya encircles, and comes back on itself, history repeats and comes back on itself, all because of the Hand of al-Mu’eed… will we then be steadfast?
He is al-Raqib – the Watchful.
You’re never really alone, and you’re never really free to do as you please. The eyes of Mankind may be diverted away from you but the Eyes of Allah never sleep. He is al-Raqib Who watches His servants, each and every one of them; He watches over you and never does He lose sight of you. He watches your actions, and watches what goes on inside you. Blessed is the person who remembers al-Raqib and in turns develops within themselves what is called ‘al-muraqabah’ – to act under the watchful Eye of Allah and constantly be in a state of awareness.
As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah
“Whoever takes the Qur’an as a manhaj (way), Allah will grant him (knowledge of) all the Sciences.”
- Ibn al-Qayyim
Narrated from Jundub (ra) that he said,
“I advice you with the taqwa of Allah and I advice you with the Qur’an for truly it is a light by the dark night and a guidance by the day – act upon it in difficulty and in poverty. If a calamity befalls, sacrifice your wealth instead of your Deen (religion) and if the calamity intensifies, then sacrifice your wealth and your life instead of your Deen for surely the ruined one is he whose religion is ruined and the deprived is he who has been deprived of his Deen. Know that there is no poverty after entering Paradise and no prosperity after entering Hellfire.”
“The wisest advice that you can taken on in your life is not to be so concerned with what is said about you. Indeed, you know who you are and Allah knows best your circumstance and intention. So don’t lessen your worth by always justifying your actions, for indeed failure in life lies in one thing: Trying to please everyone.”
- ‘A’idh al-Qarni
“If you pay close attention, you’ll see that the Qur’an speaks to you on a personal level. Whatever circumstance you’re in, you will come across a verse which reflects your life at that point, and it uplifts you and guides you to the best of actions. It is a sign for you and hence it’s called an ‘Ayah’. But an ayah only reveals itself to those who seek it; those who read the Qur’an and turn to it on a regular basis…”
‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (ra) was once asked,
“Who do you think is better: a man who has few (good) deeds and few sins or a man who has many (good) deeds and many sins?” He replied, “There is nothing like being safe.”
['al-Zuhd', by Ibn al-Mubarak]
“The one who talks a lot, only waits for Fitnah (tribulation) to occur, whilst the one who is silent waits for Mercy to descend.”
- Yazid ibn Abi Habib
“Whoever has left (this world) will not return, and whoever harms you, will one day be harmed by someone else. The earth is circular and the Dunya (world) encircles, hence the slap that is given today will come back just as hard tomorrow. So do not oppress, lest you be oppressed.”
“Be ambitious in life and don’t allow something or someone to blow out that candle within you. At the end of the day, it is you who will be living out your life, it is you who will be basking in success or coping with regret, and it is you who will be looking back at life when you’re on your deathbed and concluding whether you’ve lived fully, lived sincerely, and lived well, or if you were just living for the sake of others…”
As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah
“… Not a leaf does fall,
but by His Knowledge.” [6:59]
He is al-Fattah – The Opener.
He creates a way when there seems to be no way and opens a door when there seems to be no key. He is the Judge Who decides what is best, and guides you when confusion overtakes you. Whenever you reach your dead end, don’t stand there wondering what’s happened, instead call out to the only One who can create a path from absolutely nowhere: ‘Ya Fattah, iftah ‘alayya!’ (O Opener of ways, open up my way).
He is al-Fattah, and as He opens up the skies upon the dead earth, and breaks away the darkness with the dawn, so too can He open up upon your dead heart, open your eyes to solutions, remove your obstacles, and grant you a way out.
He is al-’Aziz – The Honourable and AlMighty.
No amount of transgression can tarnish His ‘izzah (glory) and no amount of disobedience can lower His Might. He is al-’Aziz. To Him belongs ultimate ‘izzah and as such, He grants it only to those of His slaves who seek it through Him Alone, who do not seek it in other than Him, and are thus saved from the dark depths of hypocrisy.
“… And all honour, power and glory belong to Allah, His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know.” [al-Munafiqun: 8]
He is al-Sabur – the Patient.
Every day we transgress His limits, we fall short of His Rights, and we forget Him. But in patience He remains and forbearance does He show, for He is al-Sabur. Don’t you see how they ascribe partners and a son to Him, how they blaspheme against Him, how they deny His very Existence, but still He keeps them alive, still He provides for them, still He gives them Signs and gives them more time.
He is al-Mu’akhir – the Delayer.
He delays certain things out of Mercy for us, but out of ignorance we become impatient. Instead of having a good opinion of Him, a deeper certainty in His Power, and more trust in His Ways, we instead become anxious, resentful, and unhappy. Our Iman (faith) then takes a dip because we’ve failed to understand. But He is al-Mu’akhir. He delays out of goodness. Does He not delay punishing the creation for their sins, so that they can come to repent?
As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah
One of al-Mutanabbi’s most peculiar lines of poetry is the one below:
ألمٌ ألَمَّ ألمْ أُلِمْ بِدَائِهِ *** إنْ انَّ آنٌ آنَ آنُ أَوَانه
If you look at it closely, you’ll see that each partial bayt is almost entirely composed of a single word… or so it seems!
This is what we get if we break it down for explanation:
ألمٌ – Pain
ألَمَّ – to hurt or surround in pain
ألمْ – not
أُلِمَّ – to know
بِدَائِهِ – its (cause of) illness
إنْ – If
انَّ – to cry or complain (of pain)
آنٌ – one who is in pain
آنَ – to arrive
آنُ – time
أَوَانه – its cure
So we get the following:
ألمٌ ألَمَّ ألمْ أُلِمَّ بِدَائِهِ *** إنْ انَّ آنٌ آنَ آنُ أَوَانه
“I have come to be surrounded by pain, the cause of which I do not know
If the one in pain cries out in agony, then the time for its cure has surely arrived.”
Phew! That was a bit of tongue-twister wasn’t it? A better suggestion of a translation is more than welcome; please write below in the comments section!
As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah
“There is no good in a ruler whose religion does not rule him, and there is no good in an intelligent one whose intellect does not lead him, and there is no good in a scholar whose knowledge does not guide him, and there is no good in a strong one whose justice does not halt him.”
“From among the various types of poverty are 4 types of poverty: poverty in religion, poverty in intellect, poverty in patience, and poverty in virtue.”
“You are more in need of benefiting from what you know, then teaching what you are ignorant of.”
“Do not trust the one whose heart has not been filled with the awareness of Allah (muraqabah); don’t trust him with (the running of) a country, or with an idea, or with an issue, or with wealth. For indeed, you do not know when whims and desires will sway him and he thus deceives you whilst claiming to be reliable and trustworthy.”
“Take delight in the Divine Decree every time you fail in trying to escape something you dislike; for the sighs of the grieving ones cannot stop the celestial bodies from moving.”
“Beware of accompanying the foolish one for he will corrupt your intellect. If you are afflicted with his companionship, then do not keep proving (your) intelligence over him, rather test your own intellect time and time again.”
“If a matter you wished for becomes too difficult for you, and you see that there is goodness in it, then race behind another good; for indeed, the khayr (good) is too numerous for its paths to be counted, and it is too noble to be attained in totality.”
“The best of teachers is time, and the best stimulus/alert is an enemy, and the worst of drugs is hypocrisy.”
“Allah created for every person two eyes but most people do not see except from one eye. And He created for every person one tongue and two ears, but most people speak using two tongues and listen with just one ear. And He created for every person two hands; one hand to help himself, and another hand to help others, but most people use only one hand. And He created for every person two legs; one leg to strive with for the world and another leg to strive with for the Hereafter, but most people use only one leg. And He created for every person one heart to carry the concerns of his short life, but he brings upon himself (other) concerns which would overburden many hearts. And He created for every person one life, but he wastes his time as if he has been granted a hundred lives. And Allah has decreed upon every person that he should die only once, but out of ignorance and wretchedness, he is happy to let himself die every day.”
“Wives are a destiny (or treasure) for husbands in this world, and no matter how much a man tries to make the best choice, his choice of wife will be from the makings of the Decree.”
- From the book: هكذا علمتني الحياة by Dr. Mustafa al-Siba’i