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Asalamu Alaikum. First of all, many thanks to Muslims of Calgary website for providing this service to answer muslims concerns. The problem that I am facing is not being able to concentrate on prayers (salat). Can you give me any suggestion, what should I do to be able to concentrate on prayers. Thanks much.
Prayer helps people to avoid profanity and sins and to uproot evil from their souls. Prayers must be performed with complete khushu` (concentration) and recited with sincerity to Almighty Allah. However, if someone does not have khushu`during their prayers, their prayers would not be invalidated although their reward would be reduced. Hence, Muslims should try to avoid any distractions as much as they can during their prayers and should focus their concentration.
Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltut, the late Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar (may Allah have mercy upon him) stated the following:
Almighty Allah ordains Muslims to perform prayer and urges them to do this with complete concentration and true sincerity. In the Qur'an, Allah Most High says, [Be guardians of your prayers, and of the midmost prayer, and stand up with devotion to Allah] (Al-Baqarah 2:238). The midmost prayer is usually described by scholars as the most praiseworthy of being performed with khushu`.
Besides, Almighty Allah relates the believers' true success (in their relation with Him) to the humbleness and concentration they show in prayer, as He Almighty says: [Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers] (Al-Mu'minun 23:1-2).
Prayer helps people to avoid profanity and sins and to uproot evil from their souls. Prayers must be performed with complete khushu` (concentration) and recited with sincerity to Almighty Allah.
Allah Almighty Does Not Overburden People
Almighty Allah knows the nature and inmost thoughts of His creation, and thus He is aware that it is not always easy for people to concentrate their attention on something. Hence, He Most High considers that it is sufficient for a prayer to be valid that its conditions and obligatory acts are performed as they should be done for Allah's sake. One's face should be turned towards the direction of prayer and one should say humbly, ''Allah is the Greatest." Then Almighty Allah urges Muslims to resist the thoughts and distractions that divert them from experiencing the spiritual pleasure that they find when they concentrate with their heart and soul on their prayer.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made it clear that the distractions that divert one from submitting oneself thoroughly to Almighty Allah during prayer are due to the Satan's insinuations that confuse one during prayer, and also due to one's lacking perseverance in resisting these insinuations.
He (peace and blessings be upon him) clearly described the imagery of the state of Satan on hearing the Adhan (call to prayer) and his role in distracting Muslims from their prayers as follows. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying,
When the Adhan is pronounced, Satan takes to his heels and passes wind with noise during his flight in order not to hear the Adhan. When the Adhan is completed he comes back and again takes to his heels when the Iqama (call to commence prayer) is called and after its completion he returns till he whispers into the heart of the person (to divert his attention from prayer) and makes him remember things which he does not recall to his mind before the prayer and that causes him to forget how many rak`ahs he has prayed. If anyone of you has such a thing (forgetting the number of rak`ahs he has prayed) he should perform two prostrations (of forgetfulness) while sitting.
Muslims' Role in Resisting Distraction During Prayer
According to the above hadith, the distracting thoughts that occur during prayer are satanic insinuations that Muslims should resist in their prayers as well as in their lives. The hadith indicates also that it is out of Allah's mercy to people that He considers the difficulty of their situation on resisting distraction during prayer and thus still regards it as valid.
Hence, when Muslims stand before Almighty Allah in prayer, they should remember that Satan is present and ready to distract them from their prayers. In this case, Muslims should remember Almighty Allah and humbly contemplate the meanings of the Qur'an and the exaltations and glorifications they say during the different stages of prayer.
If Muslims train themselves to do this time after time, they will be able to avoid these satanic distractions. But if they cannot do this, they will deviate from the spiritual pleasure of the prayer and turn it to a mechanical exercise that does not uplift their souls or affect their feelings.
It is worth mentioning also that it is a natural characteristic in humans that they cannot focus their attention on more than one thing at a time, and that if people's senses are directed towards certain points in the place, one's concentration will focus thereon, without being distracted elsewhere. Therefore, scholars who have tried hard to resist distraction during prayer and proved successful in this regard advise that when in prayer, Muslims should look at the place of prostration while standing in prayer, the upper part of their feet while bowing, and the tips of their nose while prostrating. They should try to concentrate on these places and contemplate the meanings of the exaltations and Qur'anic verses they are reciting.
Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), issues the following Fatwa on How to Maintain Concentration in Prayer:
We all should try to pay attention to our prayers and we should try to improve our prayers and to make them beautiful. The whole purpose of prayer is to remember Allah and to feel in His presence. In a famous hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "The ihsan (right and beautiful action) is to worship Allah as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you…" (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
The following things will help you, Insha’ Allah, keep your concentration while praying:
1. Intention should be in the heart. That is the real place of intention. Intend that you are praying to Allah Almighty and only for His sake. Focus on the nature of the prayer you are making. Is it an obligatory prayer or a supererogatory one? Are you praying Fajr, Zuhr, `Asr, Maghrib or `Isha’ and any other prayer? How many prayer units or rak`hs you intend to pray and whether you are praying alone or with the congregation? The clearer you are in your intention, the better will be your attention and concentration.
2. Perform your prayers on their appointed times without delay.
3. Perform your prayer according to the sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
4. Stand upright. Keep your eyes open and look at the place of your prostration or sujud while your are standing. In bowing or ruku` look at your feet, in sujud towards the floor and in the sitting position at your lap or your hands.
5. Do not play with your hands and do not rub your face, body or clothes. Be as quiet and still as possible.
6. Think yourself in the Presence of Allah and Allah is facing you.
7. Do not rush your prayers (i.e., to perform your prayers in haste). Rather, you ought to perform every part of your prayer with care and in a relaxed manner.
8. Recite the words carefully. Pay attention to what you are saying. You should learn the meaning of various supplications or du`a’s in prayer.
9. Implore Allah earnestly to help you in your prayers and to accept your prayers. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to say, "Allahumma a`inni `ala dhikrika wa shukrika wa husn `ibadatika (O Allah help me in remembering You, in thanking You and in worshipping You in the best way).”
10. Finally, remember that haram food, haram income and sins take away the joy and concentration in prayer. Keep yourself pure and clean as much as you can.”
May Allah guide you to the Straight Path, and direct you to that which pleases Him, Amen.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Question Date: 2010-02-11
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