Posted by: Dawud Israel | March 5, 2011

The Hafiz’s Annotated Quran

I had this idea that I’m working on. I realized that many of us in the West don’t read much of the Quran’s meaning. Yes, we know of different English translations, but maybe its because there are so many different options that we tend to ignore them? Or because there are different interpretations of Islam that are inserted into the Quran translations that it becomes more confusing…

My idea was to create my own annotated Quran as an aid, especially to help my memorization of the Quran. I don’t need to translate it since I have a translation I LOVE already so what I decided to do is add  helpful notes in the margins to it that I may come across in my learnings.

Here’s a list of things I would add in the side of the verses:

-explanations and tafsirs from scholars in speeches (with reference), from tafsir books, articles, thereby creating a collated tafsir
-number of times I’ve repeated a surah or verses for memorization
-the number of rakahs I’ve recited it in prayer (to meet a bare minimum number for my memorization)
-meanings of words or phrases (etymology, notes from Ajrumiyya, Arabic classes, etc.)
-verses that can be used for dawah to Muslims and non-Muslims (“Say: …”)
-verses that have a significance in fiqh and aqeedah
-verses that are in the Sunnah as a dhikr and sufi relevance (verses that people have noted have certain effects or good to remember to keep your nafs in check)
-contemplation on the verse and jotting down my reflections on a verse
-circumstances of the surah/verse being revealed (asbab al-nuzul)
-verses that explain other verses
-words and phrases that crosses over between Quran and hadith (ex: baqiyat salihat)
-hadiths that relate to particular verses
-each verse comes almost as if out of the previous one, as if they wrap around each other or are embedded to each other, so connecting the verses and searching for ways in which they may be connected
-noting down the language, and contemplating on why a certain term was used
-neglected verses relevant to the social condition of Muslims today
-rhetorical questions the Quran asks and then pondering why
-metaphors used in the Quran and asking myself, “Why would the Creator of the Universe use this metaphor in particular?” (see the third video below for more on this)
-quotations and verses of poetry that explain something of the verse

So whenever I read from my Quran I will always be reviewing all the things I learned since it will all be in the margins. It’s a nice, organic way to personalize the Quran and come closer to it, and come closer to Allah. I think it would be nice one day to then take this Hafiz Annotated Quran and maybe get it published for others to use? Or even better, to pass it down as a family heirloom.


Tafsir Maariful Quran
Tafsir ibn Kathir
Word by Word Quran/Grammar of Quran
QuranJam: Sharing your reflections on Quranic verses
Learning 80% of Quranic words

Here are some relevant talks that are examples of things I would take note of in the margins of my Quran next to the specific verses…

This talk is about the difficulty and effort in ascertaining and understanding the meaning of certain Arabic words of the Quran.

This talk is about a mistranslation in many English Qurans and how knowledge of grammar plays a crucial part of understanding language.

In this talk, you get an introduction to alam al-mithal and the metaphors of the Quran and their meanings.

Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting re-writing the Quran or justifying your own ideas via the Quran. All I’m suggesting is a learning aid for your own spiritual development. Its a way that helps you make most of your reading of the Quran. It would be good to have scholars you consult too as well in your learning as well.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa ilayk, ameen.


  1. Amazing! I have been thinking of doing this a lot recently, its a brilliant idea, and the appeal to me is that it would help create a bond or personal relationship with the Quran. I was at a lecture a few weeks ago and was sat behind some Malaysian sisters. The speaker was Dr. Tariq Ramadan, and as he was quoting verses, they were highlighting things in their mushafs and taking notes in it. I was really inspired by it! They had bits highlighted and in had notes in different parts, such well worn copies too, ma sha Allah.
    If its okay, can I just ask which translation it is that you love? I

  2. I just wanted to add, thanks for the links and video refs!

  3. Assalamualaikum
    I loved your personalizing the Quran idea, i do that too. but a little different way, i have started recently a blog, i write about my thoughts and try to relate to the Quran and hadith and so much. I really enjoy writing with my small writing skills, and i love to relate with some incidents happening in my life and surrounding to the story of the Quran and sometimes get feelings of predictions too. I look for every opportunities to see our prophet as a human being first then also look as a leader. for that purpose i love to listen lectures and read history about him from historians’ perspectives, some one who are not Muslim.

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