Shaykh Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Māniʿ (d. 1385) said:
“There is no doubt amongst the intellectuals that knowledge is not acquired except by memorisation. However, memorisation has a number of means:
- The greatest of them is having taqwā (fear) of Allāh.
- Good intention.
- Persistent study.
- Disdaining social intercourse with the foolish and idle.
Allāh’s mercy be upon the one who said:
شَكَوْتُ إِلَى وَكِيْعٍ سُوْءَ حِفْظِي
فَأَرْشَدَنِي إِلَى تَرْكِ الْمَعَاصِي
وَقَالَ اعْلَمْ بِأَنَّ الْعِلْمَ نُورٌ
وَنُوْرُ اللهِ لَا يُهْدَى لِعَاصِي
“I complained to Wakīʿ of my poor memory,
he directed me to abandoning sins,
and said: “Know that knowledge is a light;
and the light of Allāh is not given to the disobedient.””
Imām Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl al-Bukhārī was asked about the remedy for memorisation. He said:
لَا أَعْلَمُ شَيْئاً أَنْفَعَ لِلْحِفْظِ مِنْ نَهْمَةِ الرَّجُلِ، وَمُدَاوَمَةِ النَّظَرِ.
“I do not know of anything more beneficial for memorisation than a man’s burning desire and persistent study.”
The notable scholars – Allāh have mercy upon them – continued to encourage memorisation and acquiring understanding of what is memorised due to their knowledge of the benefits therein, to the extent, some of them said, and he is al-Khalīl b. Aḥmad the teacher of Sībawayh:
لَيْسَ بِعِلْمٍ مَا حَوَى الْقِمَطْرُ
مَا الْعِلْمُ إِلَّا مَا حَوَاهُ الصَّدْرُ
“Knowledge is not what is contained in book containers,
knowledge is but what is stored in the chests.”
الْعِلْمُ فِي الْقَلْبِ لَيْسَ فِي الْكُتُبِ
فَلَا تَكُنْ مُغْرَماً بِاللَّهْوِ وَاللَّعِبِ
فَاحْفَظْهُ وَافْهَمْهُ وَاعْمَلْ كَيْ تَفُوْزَ بِهِ
فَالْعِلْمُ لَا يُجْتَبَى إِلَّا مَعَ التَّعَبِ
“Knowledge is what is in the heart and not in the books,
so do not be infatuated with distraction and play,
memorise it, understand it and act so you may succeed with it,
knowledge is not acquired except with exhaustion.”
A Bedouin said:
حَرْفٌ فِي تَأْمُورِكَ خَيْرٌ مِنْ عَشرِ فِي كُتُبِكَ.
“One word in your heart is better than ten in your book.””
al-Māniʿ, Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, Irshād al-Ṭullāb Ilā Faḍilat al-ʿIlm wa al-ʿAmal wa al-Ādāb, ed. by ʿAlī b. Ḥasan b. ʿAlī b. ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd al-Ḥalabī al-Atharī, Dār al-Rayyān, Dubai, 1413/1999, pp. 29-31.