AS MY EYES scrolled through my Instagram feed, this quote had me fixated. It prodded my conscious thought into the caves of deep reflection. How simple yet profound a name is.
A simple label carrying tremendous potential, a name is a simple mark of birth, upon which the journey of personal exploration rides. A name is a simple social introduction, but one that can initiate the unraveling of extraordinary friendships and love connections. A name is a standard of shared identity which can come to represent historical world movements and achievements.
Is my true identity not found with Allah? Are the best and most fulfilling relationships not had with Allah? Does the power for ultimate positive change not lie with Allah? How then, can the very heart created by Him not have engraved within it by memory His most perfect and beautiful Names? As I reflected on the number of years that had passed with this desire not achieved, I asked myself: “If not now, then when?”
So, as I re-posted, and shared this quote with those I love, I simultaneously shared with the Most Loving a secret commitment: a promise that I would journey to study and memorize His noble Names. This spiritual voyage through the divine waters of literary perfection would entail more than a simple memorization by tongue. It would require the struggle for a sound heart, a patient mind and a resolute soul. But how enthralling the path of discovery is, especially when learning more about the one you have come to love and grow fond of. It is a journey of love, exploration and a path towards the greatest and most worthy of acquaintances.
Alḥamdulillâh, the winds of baraka blew in my favor and the tide carried me directly to the shores of my destination in less than three weeks. No radical lifestyle change or challenging commitment was necessary. Rather, it took a few simple practical techniques that were smartly adopted. Here are the three simple techniques that I adopted in my endeavor to memorize Allah’s 99 Names:
1) Melody; Download a video of Allah’s 99 Names chanted in a subtle melody to listen to and memorize from. There are many such videos available on YouTube.
Scientific studies show that words associated with melody and patterns of sound are recalled better. Furthermore, history has shown how oral traditions from all cultures since the earliest of times have adopted such techniques to keep their traditions and historical tales alive through generations.
2) Clusters; The vast majority of Allah’s Names relate to one or more other Names; whether they be seemingly similar to one another in meaning (e.g. the Merciful, the Kind) or come from the same root word (e.g. the Forgiving, the Forgiver) or even in their appearing parallel to one another in meaning (e.g. the Abaser, the Exalter).
Memorizing them in such clusters makes them easier to recall. Most melodies that have been created of the recitation of Allah’s Names have already arranged the Names in this way, so it is only necessary to ensure that you understand at least the basic translation of the Names to memorize them in this way.
3) Repetition; Listening, reciting and writing the Names of Allah repetitively are key to completing your memorization of them. Our brains are constantly taking in information, even subconsciously, so constantly listening to the Names of Allah via headphones throughout the day will greatly help. You can do so whilst commuting, sitting at your workstation and even as you sleep at night, as your subconscious brain stays fully active and functioning.
Whenever possible, take a look at the Names whilst listening to them so as to visually reinforce what you are memorizing. Dedicate just five minutes a day, whether that be during a lunch break or on your journeys to work, where you can grab a pen and paper and by heart write out the Names you have so far memorized with their meanings, always scoring your answers. Again, this visually reinforces what you have memorized and allows you to identify any common mistakes that you can focus on correcting. What’s more, you can also mark your progression as you go along.
Lastly, dedicate another five minutes of your day, perhaps after a prayer or before sleeping, to repeatedly recite aloud all the Names you have memorized to date. This ensures that the auditory information taken in is orally reinforced.
How extraordinary is it that something so seemingly ‘random,’ like the post I read, can turn out to be a significant milestone in one’s life when accompanied with the courage of a simple decision. I pray that with a simple decision of your own, this seemingly ‘random’ article can set you a sailing on an equally phenomenal journey of your own towards Allah.
Now when they ask me whom I love, I can indeed give them the 99 Names now etched into my heart. Alḥamdulillâh, duʿa’ has never quite been the same since.