Let me explain what I mean:
When we think of learning hadith, it comes to mind similar to a Quran hifdh assignment, like homework, we just wanna avoid it. I think the secret to this is making the hadiths meaningful to yourself (not others, but YOU!). So attaching them to a time of need, a special holy time of year or a time of high emotion. Also has to do with our love of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam- many talk about “FOLLOW THE SUNNAH!” rather than point us to the door from which we can easily come to follow the Sunnah: Loving the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam (lots of salawat, reading poetry, etc.)
Think about it…the more you increase in loving Nabi salallahu alayhi wasalam, the more genuine your motivation to say his words, treasure them and live by them. You see those words as if they were spoken yesterday in front of you. You won’t hesitate in learning new hadith and chase after the khayr, no?
I think referencing is great, but as our communities grow with the deen and become more en-cultured with Islam- referencing will lose importance, because its like me quoting Fatiha- everyone knows it. So its unnecessary to mention “Reewahul Muslim” because everyone knows where I got it from. I think when we reached that it’ll be a sign of success.
Rather than rushing through the hadith (like how we rush through surahs!) to instead take it SLOW (the Slow Hadith Movement begins!)…we don’t rush through conversations in everyday life, so why rush through a hadith.
Which leads me to my next grand point….
How about a Telephone Game?
One bro calls another bro and says, “Fakhbirni anil Imaan? (Tell me about Imaan)” and then the other replies, “An tuminu billah, wa malaikati, wa kutubihi…” (Its to believe in Allah, His angels, His books…)
Depending on your phone-rates you could pretty much call any student who is serious enough for this and just go back and forth. Could be pretty neat. I haven’t tried it, but I could see myself doing it.
My oldest method for memorizing hadith involves taking notes from audio talks and taking special note as to “how” the speaker says the hadith: the rhythm, intonations, emphasis, every aspect of it- and make that memorable, like how people make comedic impersonations memorable- and then write the text down and review it consistently, re-playing the voice of the speaker saying it. I believe some people, like Shaykh Hamza Yusuf have a gift or a baraka in their speeches- I can memorize his words very easily, and a handful of other scholars have this as well, so you have to also look at which scholars method of delivery best suits you.
Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.