How Quran memorisation helps 'train the brain'

Learning large chunks of text helps children to develop their working memory, says a child psychologist


Summer Quran class at Al Bateen Centre For Quran Memorization.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Reporter: Haneen Dajani
Section:  NA
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In Islam, the benefits of Quran memorisation are reaped in the form of divine rewards, but physically, the practice can increase IQ and boost brain health.

Memorising a large quantity of text at an early age enhances a person’s working memory and learning skills, according to Dr Haneen Jarrar, a child psychologist at Camali Clinic.

“If a child memorises anything or works their brain in that way, it helps in something called the working memory,” said Dr Jarrar.

There are two types of memory: short-term and long-term, she said.

“If I give you a phone number right now and you save it, you use your short-term memory. You store it in long-term memory when you feel you will need it for the long-term.

“When we do IQ testing, one of the things we look at is the working memory; it tells us how fast a person can learn.”

Working memory is a part of short-term memory. It is where information is retained long enough for it to be used again — so it usually has a time limit on it.

When given new information, the more the working memory can retain, the more an individual can learn, said Dr Jarrar.

Working memory is improved by memorising almost anything. Which is why “those who are prone to have Alzheimer’s later on in life are encouraged to do crossword puzzles,” said Dr Jarrar.

She said memorising a lot of information at a young age helps to train the brain to retain information effectively, even in old age when memory could start to falter.

She cited her grandmother as an example.

“She tried really hard to keep memorising the Quran. She is 80 now and it really helps with her memory; it helps with the functioning of the brain cognitively,” she said.

“From a religious point of view, if you memorise the Quran at a young age it will be much easier for you at an older age, and you are more likely to retain the information.”

The brain is like a muscle — the more it is exercised, the stronger it becomes. It also trains the brain to remember more, even if not actively trying to memorise information.

Dr Jarrar said that, on a spiritual level, the Quran also helps people to live their lives positively.

“So benefits your psychologically — you will be a well-rounded happy person, and cognitively it will help your memory and you will learn faster and it will help with the working memory.”