Concentration in Prayer
- :Jameel Kermalli
Concentration in Prayer
Praise is to Allah (SWT), The Lord of The Universe!
In His Name, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful!
Concentration in Prayer was written over a few years and significant research went into completing this project. The main goal of this book is to educate The Muslims of the importance of The Five Daily Prayer and to explain HOW to create, develop and maintain concentration in Prayer. This is an important aspect of Prayer since Allah (SWT) only requires our undiminished attention during Prayer.
This book on Prayer requires active reading and active participation. Interested readers will find wealth of information, research and exercises one can effectively employ to reap the fruits of the Prayer. It is envisaged that the reader, in particular the youth and leaders of tomorrow, will look up to this book and apply its recommendations on a daily basis. It is definitely not a once-read book! Charts and diagrams have been provided to aid the reader in understanding the nature of this book.
Even though the book quotes many sources, it is sometimes unable to provide specific citing and references because the collection of the traditions in this book began a few years ago. Suffice it to say that the traditions quoted are authentic and form reliable sources. With the help and assistance of learned scholars, the like of my father – Yusuf Kermalli, Ma’alim Muhsin Alidina, Ma’alim Mohamed Raza Dungersi, and a few close friends, this project was recently completed. Once again, I would also like to thank my parents who have provided their unlimited love and support in the production of this book. And finally, my wife and two lovely children that God has blessed me with, for their patience and confidence throughout the write-up and production of this book.
The Chapter of al-Fatiha is requested for the benefit of the soul of my mother and the souls of all believers who have already made their journey into the next world.
This book discusses the importance of The Five Daily Prayer and it’s status with Allah (SWT). The work also discusses strategies you can employ to develop and maintain a high level of attention and concentration whilst communicating with Allah (SWT), Who demands that His servants be most attentive in their Prayer, more than any other worship. He, The Creator and Designer of The Universe, remarks to that individual, who says his Prayer with least attention, alertness of mind and concentration:
O’ Liar! Do you want to deceive Me? I swear by My Splendor and Majesty that I will deprive you the pleasure of your invocations and enjoyment of personal communications with Me.
Jameel Kermalli has done painstaking research and has shared his findings with us in a lucid, readable manner.
Jameel Kermalli is a graduate of the University of Southampton, U.K., with a Bachelors of Science (Hons.) degree in Psychology, majoring in Health Psychology. He is also a Board Certified Psychotherapist and a Board Certified Biofeedback Practitioner, specializing in EEG Biofeedback. His Doctorate is in Naturopathic Medicine and his areas of specialty include Homeopathic, Nutritional and Herbal Medicines. Jameel is also a Board Certified Nutritional Consultant.
He graduated on top of his class from al-Hussaini Madressa in Dar es Salaam and is a teacher in Islamic studies.
He has his own private practice in Long Island, New York.
Jameel is also part of the team that has developed The Hajj Board Game, the first of its kind, due for release very soon. The Hajj Board Game, resembling monopoly, summarizes The Pilgrimage to The House of Allah, combining education, relaxation and mystery. The Game is suitable for adults and youths, those going to Hajj, those having gone to Hajj and those who have not yet been blessed to undertake this sacred journey. It comes complete with 2 dices with 1 spot, 2 spots and blank, a timer; 4 playing items, 90 A cards, 90 B cards, 90 C cards, 90 D cards, 90 multiple choice cards, and 90 pick up and beware cards.
Jameel is also the author of a highly researched book, The Truth About Islam - A Contemporary Approach Towards Understanding Islamic beliefs and Practices, which is under preparation. This book is a scientific work relating to the Concept of Energy in The Universe, its Intelligence, and how Islamic beliefs and practices accord totally with known scientific and modern discoveries.
Imam al-Sadiq (AS) narrates that it is written in The Torah:
“O’Son of Man, if you empty yourself, i.e. disengage yourself from all other pre-occupations to make yourself available for My worship, I will fill your heart with richness and I will not abandon you to what you seek and long for. And it will be upon Me to close the door of poverty upon you and to fill your heart with awe for Me.
And if you don’t empty yourself for My worship, I will fill your heart with preoccupation with the world. I will not close upon you the door of poverty and will abandon you to what you seek.”
(al-Kulayni (RA), Usul al-Kafi,2, "Kitab al-'Iman wa1-Kufr', "Bab al-‘Ibadah",Tradition number 1)
Importance Of Prayer
Prayer is the most effective way of spiritual migration towards Allah (SWT) and attaining the exalted position of His nearness. When al-Sadiq (AS) was asked what was the best deed that brings human beings close to Allah (SWT) and is also liked by Him? He replied:
After enlightenment of God’s Essence, I do not know anything better than The Prayer. The most esteemed and favorite deed before Allah (SWT) is Prayer. Prayer is the last dying will of all Prophets (AS).
How good it is that a human being takes a bath or performs ablution, then retires into a secluded corner where he is not seen by anyone, and has the honor of performing genuflection and prostration. When a servant bows himself down into prostration and prolongs it, then Shaytan says, ‘O’, Woe Upon Me! This servant has obeyed Allah (SWT), while I transgressed, and he has offered prostration that I refused’.
In Falah al-Sail Page 23, Chapter 2, On the Description of The Prayer, on the authority of al-Sayyid ‘Ali ibn Tawus (RA), al-Sadiq (AS) said:
The Prayer will not be complete except for the one who has full purity and a mature completeness, and is away from temptation and deviation. He knows Allah (SWT) and so stands before Him, submits to Him and persists. He thus, stands between despair and hope, between patience and worry, as if the promises to him have been fulfilled, and the threats upon him have transpired, lowering his fame and manifesting his aim.
He sacrifices for Allah (SWT) his soul, treads upon the road to Him as his goal willingly. He severs the relations of interest for the sake of The One to Whom he bounds and comes, and from Whom he seeks help. Should he achieve all these, The Prayer would be of the ordered type and of the informed about, and it is the very Prayer which forbids evil and vice.
In Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Book of The Prayer, Muhammad, son of Ya’qub (RA), quotes al-Sajjad (AS) as having said:
As regards the rights of The Prayer, you are to know that it is a visit to Allah (SWT) and that in it you are standing before Him. If you realized that, you would deserve to be, through it, in the position of a slave who is humble, desirous, horrified, frightened, hopeful, distressed, and imploring. He is also glorifying the state of The One in front of Whom he stands with complete stillness, solemnity, submission of the limbs, humility, well supplicating to Him for himself, requesting Him to free his neck, which is encircled by his faults and consumed by his sins. And there is no power except by Allah (SWT).
The Reality Of Prayer
Saying your Prayer on time is a highly recommended act, and none other than Allah (SWT) reminds us of this obligation:
And when he (the worshipper) knows that it is time of Prayer and he does not pray, he is indeed careless about Me.
In Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, vol. 3, Page 90, al-Sadiq (AS) is reported to have said:
Whoever performed the obligatory Prayer at the beginning of their times and observed their restrictions, the angels would raise them white and pure into heaven. The Prayer would say (to the performer): ‘May Allah (SWT) preserve you as you preserved me and entrusted me to a generous angel’.
But whoever performed them after the appointed times with no excuse, and did not observe their restrictions, the angels would raise them, black and dark. The Prayer would shout at the performer: ‘You have lost me, may Allah (SWT) lose you, and may He not care for you as you did not care for me’.
Prayer has several built in properties that make the worshipper far better than the angels and makes life worth living. Only when the true reality of Prayer is understood then one is awestruck by its daily performance. In explaining the true nature of Prayer, al-Ridha (AS) comments:
The reason for Prayer is that it is the acknowledgment of The Lordship of Allah (SWT) and negating all kinds of partners and plurality for Him. Prayer is standing before The Omnipotent, with humility, humbleness and confession (of sins), and begging forgiveness of the previous sins. Prayer is placing the face on dust five times a day as (a sign of) recognition and confession of His Greatness.
Prayer is for remembering Him and keeping away from arrogance and negligence. Prayer leads to humility, submission and humbleness towards Allah (SWT), and the enthusiasm for the desire to material and spiritual progress (both in this world and the hereafter).
Moreover, Prayer enables a person to constantly engage in remembering Allah (SWT), both day and night, so as not to forget one’s Lord, Master and Creator, since forgetting will cause rebellion. Man, while offering Prayer, stays in the presence of His Lord and in the state of His remembrance, and this very condition constrains and stops him from sins and many kinds of corruption.
In order for you to be part of manifestation of the authority of Allah (SWT) on this earth, you must pledge complete submission, bondage and servitude to The Lord of the Worlds. You must manifest all this in your behavior, in general, by remembering Allah (SWT) at all times and seeking His Will and specifically, by performing the ritual acts of worship e.g. giving alms, fast, etc.
Scholars have noted that if a man does not fulfill the conditions of this act of Prayer, he defies Allah (SWT) becoming a rebel and a devil. For man to climb higher in the realm of existence, he must lower himself to Allah (SWT). The more he lowers himself to Allah (SWT), the higher he reaches in the realm of existence.
It has been the practice of Allah (SWT) to conceal important grace to mankind, and Prayer is no exception. S. V. Mir Ahmad ‘Ali (RA), in his Commentary of The Qur’an, narrates seven values that have been kept concealed by Allah (SWT), The Most High:
According to some reports, The Night of Power (Qadr) is concealed in the year as a whole. This is because man may ever seek His grace every night as much as he possibly can. Similarly, one of these several nights in the months of Sha’ban and Ramadhan are said be The Night of Qadr, The Night of Grandeur.
The Greatest Name of Allah (SWT), with which one could have everything he desires, is concealed in several names, so that one may remember and recite all the Divine Names of The Lord.
The Prayer al-Wusta or the Middle one of the prescribed Daily Prayer is kept concealed in The Five Daily Prayer so that one may offer every one of them with eagerness to earn its special reward.
In one particular hour of Friday, every week, it is said, the prayer is heard without fail. However, the hour is not disclosed particularly so that one may engage in Prayer the whole day as much as he can.
God’s pleasure is concealed in Prayer so that one may always worship The Lord.
The displeasure of The Lord is mentioned to be in sinning in general so that man may abstain from all kinds of sinning.
The most honorable with Allah (SWT) is the most pious, so that one may acquire piety for himself and seek the friendship of the most honorable ones with The Lord; love the pious and the righteous one, hate impiety, and stay away from disobedience.
The Prophet (S) in his last remaining hours of life further advised his followers to take Prayer seriously, and pray according to what has been prescribed upon them.
The Value Of Prayer
Allah (SWT) manifests Himself to His perfect friends in a kind manner, and the attraction of love becomes their guide. As the tradition says that The Prophet of Allah (S) used to be waiting for the time of the Prayer, his longing ever increasing, until at last he would say to Bilal (The Prophet’s Caller to Prayer): ‘Relieve us, O’ Bilal’.
(al-Mahajjat al-Bayda fi Tahdhib al-Ahya vol. 1, Page 377)
In advising Abu Dhar (RA), The Prophet (S) says:
O’ Abu Dhar! Allah (SWT), Glorious is His Praise, has made the pleasure of my eye in (daily) Prayer, and has made me love Prayer like food is made lovable to the hungry and water to the thirsty. And surely, while the hungry one, when he eats is satiated, and the thirsty one, when he drinks he is quenched; I am not satiated from Prayer.
O’ Abu Dhar! Anyone who voluntarily prays 12 units of Prayer, other than the obligatory, he has earned the right to a House in Paradise.
O’ Abu Dhar! Surely, so long as you are in Prayer, you are knocking on the door of The Great King, and whoever knocks long on the door of The King it will be opened for him.
O’ Abu Dhar! There is no believer that stands in Prayer but falls on him goodness onto what is between him and The Throne. And, an angel is appointed for him that calls out, ‘O’ Son of Adam (AS), if you knew what there is for you in Prayer and whom you are calling, you would not turn away’.
O’ Abu Dhar! Be like him, who in a deserted place (though alone), calls Adhan and Iqamah (Call for Prayer) and says his Prayer. So your Lord says to the angels, ‘Look at My servant! He is praying and no one sees him but Me?’ Then descend 70,000 Angels and pray behind him and seek forgiveness for him until the next day. And a man who stands in the midst of night and prays alone, prostrates, and falls asleep while prostrating, Allah (SWT) says, ‘Look at My servant! His soul is with me and his body is in prostration; and (be like) a man who is in a war and all his companions flee, but he stays firm fighting until he is killed’.
O’ Abu Dhar! No man puts his forehead (in prostration) in any place on earth but that place bears witness of that for him on The Day of Judgment. There is no place that a group of people visit but that it starts either sending salutation on them, or cursing them.
O’ Abu Dhar! Do you know the reason behind revelation of the verse: ‘Be patient, exhort others to be patient, establish Prayer, and fear Allah that you may be successful?’ I said, ‘I don’t know - May my father and mother be sacrificed for you’. The Prophet (S) said, ‘For waiting for the next Prayer after every Prayer’.
Prayer And The Day Of Judgment
On The Day of Judgment, before one is even permitted to present the good deeds that he has performed in this world, the first question asked will relate to Prayer and only then will he be allowed to proceed. The Prophet (S) has made this clear by saying:
All good deeds depend on Prayer. Prayer is the cornerstone of Islam. If Prayer is accepted then the good deeds will be accepted. If Prayer is not accepted, then the good works will not be accepted.
This proclamation becomes clear when we examine Shaykh al-Qummi (RA)’s comments in his Manazil al-Akhirat, that there will be approximately 60 stations over The Bridge on The Day of Judgment. Each one of us will have to answer questions satisfactorily at each of those stations. Only after one is finished with one station, is he going to proceed to the next one. Each station is named and the first station, according to Shaykh al-Qummi (RA), is Prayer.
Therefore, the first station in The Bridge involves Questioning on Prayer and how you fulfilled this obligation. If, in any case, you don’t fulfill the requirements at that station, then unless you get intercession of The Infallible Prophet and Imams (AS) or by your own actions, you would fall down into the bellies of Hell without establishing the remainder of your good deeds in this world. Undoubtedly, the first thing Allah (SWT) will ask on The Day of Judgment is Prayer, and this comes to us from all The Prophets and Imams (AS).
The Blessings Of Prayer
Muhammad, son of Ya’qub, quoting al-Sadiq (AS), says:
When you recite the Adhan and the Iqamah, two rows of angels will perform the Prayer behind you; but if you said the Iqamah (only), one row of angels would perform the Prayer behind you.
(Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Page. 303)
There are many other traditions to the same effect, some of which say that the length of each row is as the distance between the east and the west.
al-Baqir (AS) has quoted The Prophet of Allah (S) as saying:
When a believing servant stands for the Prayer, Allah (SWT) looks at him until he finishes. Allah’s Mercy shadows over his head, the angels surround him from all sides up to the horizon of the heaven, and Allah (SWT) assigns an angel to stand at his head, saying: ‘0’ Worshipper! If you know who is looking at you, and to whom you are supplicating, you will look nowhere else, nor will you leave your position.’
(Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Chapter 2, Tradition 22)
He further said:
Whoever performs 2 units of Prayer without paying attention to any worldly matter, Allah (SWT) will forgive him his sins.
(Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Chapter 2, Tradition 13)
Considerable importance has been attached to Prayer, and no words can describe the amount of reward Allah (SWT) grants to this individual, who is only fulfilling an obligation. The Aimmah (AS) have said:
Prayer is what angels love,
Prayer is the practice of The Prophets (AS),
Prayer is the light of understanding,
Prayer is what makes faith strong,
Prayer is what makes actions accepted,
Prayer increases sustenance,
Prayer keeps you away from illness,
Prayer is what Shaytan hates,
Prayer is a weapon to confront your enemies,
Prayer is what will assist you with The Angel of Death (AS),
Prayer is the light in your grave,
Prayer is an answer to Munkar and Nakeer (AS), and
Prayer is what will help you in the grave till The Judgment Day.
Treating Prayer Lightly
Some wives of The Prophet of Allah (S) have said that:
The Prophet of Allah (SWT) used to talk to us and we used to talk to him. But when the time for the Prayer arrived he appeared as if he did not know us and we did not know him, as his attention was fully directed to Allah (SWT).
(Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Chapter 2, Tradition 17)
Ibn Tawus (RA) says, in Falah al-Sail, that when al-Husayn (AS) used to perform the wudhu, his face changed color and his joints trembled. Asked about the reason, The Imam said:
When one is going to stand before The Owner of The Throne, his color ought to turn pale and his joints to tremble.
The same narrator also states Al-Hasan, son of ‘Ali (AS) used to experience a similar condition before and during Prayer. (Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 77, Page 346.)
Unfortunately, many of us treat Prayer as another kind of daily entry in our logbook. Some of us not only treat the timely performance of Prayer lightly, but others do not even offer this obligation, which is a duty that carries immense weight. To those who treat Prayer lightly, The Prophet (S) says:
The one who takes Prayer lightly is not of me. No! By Allah (SWT)! Such a person will not reach The Pond of al-Kawthar.
According to The Prophet (S), one who wastes his Prayer will be raised with Qarun and Haman, so that it will be right for Allah (SWT) to put him in Hell together with the hypocrites.
al-Sadiq (AS) said to Zurarah (RA):
Don’t be negligent in regard to your Prayers.Verily, The Prophet (May Peace Be Upon Him And is Progeny) said on his deathbed:
One who makes light of his Prayers does not belong to me, or the one who takes intoxicating drinks. And, by God! He will not reach me at The Pond (of al-Kawthar).
(Furu’ al-Kafi, iii, 269)
al-Kulayni (RA) further reports with his trustworthy narrators, from Abu Basir, that al-Kadhim (AS) said:
At the time of his death my father said to me, ‘My son, the one who makes light of Prayerwill not receive our intercession’.
(Furu` al-Kafi, iii, 270)
al-Khomeini (RA) has the following advice to those people who treat the performance of The Five Daily Prayer lightly and of no concern:
A devout person should be observant of the times of his worship under every circumstance. Of course, he should observe the timings of Prayer, which is the most important of the acts of worship, and carry it out in the most meritorious part of its time, refraining from engaging in any other work during those times.
In the same way as he assigns a certain time to making an earning and for study and debate, he should do the same in respect of these acts of worship. During this time, he must be free from other pre-occupations, so that he can achieve concentration of the heart. This makes up the quintessence and kernel of worship.
But should he, like this author, offer his Prayers out of compulsion and consider the performance of the worship of The Lord as a superfluous matter, he would, of course, delay it as long as it can be delayed. And when he offers it, he offers the Prayer in a perfunctory manner, considering it as an impediment in the way of what he imagines to be important tasks. However, such worship has not only no spiritual brilliance, it deserves divine wrath, and such a person is one who makes light of Prayerand neglects it as something trivial.
I seek refuge in God from making light of Prayerand not giving it its due importance.
(al-Tawhid, Quarterly Islamic Journal. 27th Hadith – Prayer and Concentration)
Genesis Of The Prescribed Prayer
al-Majlisi (RA) writes a long narration in his book Hayaat al-Quloob (Part Two), about one of the incidents that took place during Me’raj:
At Bayt al-Ma’moor, The Prophet (S) beheld The Ka’bah directly under him, so that if he had dropped anything from his hand, it would have fallen on its roof. The Prophet (S) says:
I heard a voice saying, ‘This is the sacred place, and you are the ordained Prophet, imparting honor to the temple. Whatever exists on earth has its similitude in Paradise’.
My Lord then commanded me to open my hand, and take of the water flowing from the right pillar of The Empyrean, which I did; and for this reason it became meritorious to take up water for ablution with the right hand.
A voice then commanded, ‘Wash your face with this water that you may be pure to behold The Light of My Majesty and Glory. Then wash your hands, for you will take My Word. Then draw your wet hands over your head and your feet, which signifies that I will draw The Hand of Mercy over your head, and send down My Blessings on you. Drawing the hand over the foot will elevate you up through several regions where no foot has ever trodden, nor will it ever after you’.
The Most High then commanded, ‘Turn towards The Black Stone which is before you and extol Me according to the number of curtains by saying ALLAHU AKBAR!’ On account, seven repetitions of this phrase have been recommended for Prayer, because there were seven curtains.
He (S) passed the seven heavens and seven curtains of exaltation and glory, and arrived near the place of communion with The Merciful Lord of Glory. Prayer is The Celestial Ascent of The Believer. When the perfect believer thus ascends, and recites the seven Takbeers, the curtains of darkness, which on account of errors of worldly inclination come between him and The Most High, are removed, and he approaches The Lord of The lords.
The Lord then commanded The Prophet (S), ‘Now you have arrived at this place of communion with Me, pronounce My Name’. Accordingly The Prophet (S) said, ‘In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful’, and thus this phrase became established as the beginning to each chapter.
Being commanded to offer praise, he said, ‘Thanks to Allah (SWT), The Lord of The Universe’, and proceeded in this manner till he recited the whole Chapter ‘Praise be to Allah (SWT), The Lord of all creations’.
A voice then commanded him to recite The Chapter of Divine Unity, saying, ‘That Chapter is a description of My Praise and Attributes. What likeness can exist between Me and My creations?’
After I had recited this Chapter, ‘Say! Allah is One; He is Perfect; He neither begets, nor is begotten; and there is none like Him’, the voice said, ‘Bow before My exaltation, and put your hands on your knees and look toward My Empyrean’.
On doing this, Light from The Glory of God overpowered me, and I fell into a swoon, and by divine inspiration, I said, ‘Praise and Thanks to The God of The Glory’. In purity I named the Lord of exaltation, and I am employed in His Praise.
After repeating this I soon recovered, and the tremor of my spirit subsided, when by divine inspiration, I had seven times pronounced the ascription of praise. It was then ordained that this expression of praise should, in the performance of Prayer, be recited in the bending position.
Allah (SWT) then commanded me to raise my head and stand erect, I heard the voices of the angels uttering praises and ascribing unity and thanksgiving to God. I said, ‘Allah (SWT) hears everyone that utters His Praises’.
I looked up and saw a light more intense than that which had caused me to swoon before, and my fear was greater than in the former instance. Out of awe, I fell into prostration before The King, The Lord of The Glory, and placed my face in the dust of humility, and on account of the exaltation, I witnessed, seven times repeated by divine inspiration, ‘Glory and praise to The Exalted Allah’. At each repetition of this ascription, my terror diminished, till I recovered from the state of the overwhelming awe, and attained to perfect knowledge of Allah (SWT).
I then raised my head from prostration, and sat till I recovered from the amazement into which I had fallen. By divine inspiration, I again looked upward, and saw a light more overpowering than I had witnessed before, and again fell involuntarily in prostration before The Lord, and repeated seven times, ‘Glory and praise to Allah’. Thereafter, I was more worthy of beholding the divine lights.
I again raised my head, and sat for a while, and looked toward the angels.
For this reason, al-Majlisi (RA) says, two prostration in (a unit of) Prayer were established, and sitting a short time after them became meritorious.
The Prophet (S) continues,
I then arose and stood in the attitude of a servant before my Lord, when He commanded me to recite again The Chapter of Praise, and afterwards The Chapter of Power (Qadr). I again bent with my hands on my knees, and then prostrated myself with my head on the ground. As I was about to rise, The Most High commanded, ‘Mention My favors to you and pronounce My Name’.
By divine inspiration I said, ‘In The Name of Allah, and by Him, There is no God but Allah, and all perfect names belong to Allah’.
When I had repeated the two testimonies, He commanded, ‘Pronounce blessings on yourself and on your Family’. I prayed, ‘O Allah! Have mercy on me and on my Family’, which was answered with blessings from The Most High.
On looking around, I beheld the angels and spirits of The Prophets arrayed in ranks behind me, and The Most High Commanded me to salute them and I said, ‘Peace be upon you and The Mercy and Blessings of Allah’. The Most High then addressed me saying, ‘I am your Peace, Mercy, and Blessing, and of the Imams after you’.
The Presence Of Heart In Prayer
al-Sadiq (AS) has said:
Dear to me is the believer from among you who attends to God with his heart at the time of Prayer and does not pre-occupy his heart with any mundane matter. For, whenever a devotee turns with his heart to God, The Exalted, during Prayer, God heeds him and turns towards him the hearts of the faithful who regard him with affection, following God’s love of him.
(al-Hurr al-‘Amili, Wasa'ilush-Shi'ah, iv, 686)
The Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (AS) says:
If the worshipper knew to what extent His (Allah’s) Mercy surrounded him during Prayer, he would never raise his head from the state of prostration.
According to a number of traditions, the Prayer has been called - a believer’s heavenly journey that protects him from moral indecencies. Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini says in his book Self Building that, ‘it is a pure sparkling stream of spirituality that whosoever enters it five times a day will purify his soul from all sorts of pollution and contamination’. Likewise, a Prayer offered without heart’s presence, although satisfies the performance of compulsory religious obligation, nevertheless, does not help in elevating the worshipper towards higher spiritual realms.
In another tradition, he said:
A Prayer, half of it may be accepted, or one-third, or a quarter, or one-fifth, or even one-tenth. Another Prayer may be folded like an old dress, and be thrown back at the face of its owner. No part of the Prayer is yours except that part which you perform with an attentive heart.
(Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 81, Page 260, Chapter 16, Tradition 59)
A similar tradition is narrated by al-Kulayni (RA) in al-Kafi, 3, page 363. al-Baqir and al-Sadiq (AS) have further said:
Nothing of your Prayer is yours except that which you did with an attentive heart. So, if one performed it completely erroneously, or neglected its disciplines, it would be folded and thrown back at its owner’s face.
(Wasa’ilush-Shi’ah, Volume 4, Page 687, Chapter 3, Tradition 1)
al-Sadiq (AS) warns us that:
When a servant stands to offer Prayer, Allah (SWT) pays attention to him and does not shift His attention until the servant deviates from His remembrance for the third time. When this happens, Allah (SWT) too turns His attention away from the worshipper.
Therefore, the heart’s presence is a must in every single act in Prayer and that is the only way to achieve the merits hidden in this great obligation. It is narrated in Bihar al-Anwar that in the above instances, if the worshipper returns his attention and struggles not to lose his concentration, then his past sins are erased and he shall be granted such blessings that his reward cannot be counted. Allah (SWT) says:
Pay attention to Me, because I and the Angels are paying attention to you (in your Prayer).
According to al-Khomeini (RA), ‘the reality of invocation and remembrance is the invocation of the heart, without which the invocation of the tongue will be futile and worthless. This is referred to in a number of traditions’.
In his book Self Building, al-Amini relates:
In as much as heart’s presence is important and worthwhile, in the same proportion, its attainment is extremely difficult. No sooner a person starts his Prayer, Shaytan whispers in his heart pulling him from one side to another, and continuously engaging him into all sorts of thoughts and memories.
The heart engages itself into accounting, planning, reviewing past and future problems, solving academic problems, very often recollecting during Prayer, and topics, which were forgotten by him completely. And when he returns to himself, he discovers his Prayer are over.
Attention is like a muscle. Initially, when you try and hold your attention on something, it may feel that you are using more and more energy and it is fatiguing. That perception is sound, as you have to use energy to maintain attention. However, the more you flex your attention the stronger it becomes, and easier to hold.
From the moment you are born your mind functions every second, minute, hour, and day of your life. It is active day and night, extensively while awake, less so while you’re asleep, but it is continually working. It is therefore, apparent that the train of thought would continue while you are saying your Prayer unless you make changes to the way you function in Prayer.
Setting The Prayer Scene And Burning Incense
The place you say your Prayer should be special. Every item that can distract you from your Prayer should be taken care of. The room should be the one that you don’t use regularly, and should be neat and clean, a comfortable temperature, and dark. With comfortable temperature, you do not have to worry or entertain thoughts that may distract you when the room is hot or cold. Human skin is filled with thermal receptors that will constantly remind you of any discomfort to your body.
If the room you use to say your Prayer is slightly dark, the sense of darkness brings into us fear and awe, increasing one’s concentration by further limiting eyesight. The lesser the items you are able to see during Prayer, the better it is. The walls should be free from pictures and other objects that might attract your attention or stimulate a memory or thought.
You are also advised to select an isolated place free from noise and disturbance. You should not have direct access to a telephone, as its ring would only create thoughts in your mind as to the urgency of the call. Also, you should be away from any kind of smell from the kitchen to allow you to focus more on the task at hand, rather than salivating and thinking about food during Prayer. Finally, you should appreciate and respect your communication with Allah (SWT) by closing doors (not locking them) of the room you pray in, so as not to hear other family members conversing and kids screaming at each other.
You should burn incense to perfume your Prayer room. It is a greatly recommended act and carries significant weight in research and science. There is significant evidence on the practical applications of burning incense, as this is one major way to relax one’s nerves and emotions, and through deep breathing and meditation, a high inner state of purity is attained. Aroma therapists are experts in this field and the oils they use to apply on the skin or burn to release fumes can significantly reduce stress in the brain, lower muscle activity, decrease the train of thoughts, thereby increasing concentration in Prayer.
According to researchers, the aromatic properties of pure, natural essential oils are a catalyst for change in the human mind and body. Essential oil aromas stimulate the part of the brain that affects emotion. The shape of an essential oil molecule is like a key that opens lock-like structure in the olfactory nerve receptors in our nostrils. Impression of the aroma is sent directly and immediately to the limbic system where memories are stored and pleasure and emotion is perceived. When stimulated, the limbic system releases chemicals that affect the central nervous system. Serotonin counteracts anxiety, endorphins reduce pain, and so forth.
Inhaling essential oils can also help one attain a pleasurable emotional balance. A balanced emotional state in turn can have a therapeutic effect on physical problems, particularly those that are stress-related.
Therefore, increasing your level of concentration, through relaxation with essential oils, using direct inhalation or diffusion is highly recommended. Direct inhalation is beneficial when immediate relief is needed. For instance, to relieve stressful thoughts, anxiety or lethargy before Prayer, drip 2-5 drops of Chamomile onto a handkerchief, hold it under your nose and breathe deeply. Because of their volatile nature, essential oils will readily diffuse into the air. An aroma therapy lamp, a ceramic vessel equipped with a small basin to hold a mixture of water and essential oil is a good way to diffuse scent. The basin is warmed from underneath by a candle or light bulb. Diffusing relaxing oils like Chamomile, Rose or Sandalwood can significantly reduce over-load in the brain, thus allowing you to be attentive in your Prayer.
Wudhu as A Way To Increase Your Attention
Wudhu (formal/minor ablution) is one of the most effective ways to prepare the scene for your daily Prayer. It has powers to re-organize your thoughts before Prayer and assist you in offering your Prayer with confidence and not to be swerved by Shaytan, The Accursed.
Performing wudhu slowly and contemplating on the words in the invocation recommended during every wash would help you a great deal to think about your life, death and the Creator whom you will be standing in front of soon. This way, you employ wudhu as a strategy to re-organize thoughts and prepare for Prayer. There should be no interval of talking and discussing worldly matters between the performance of wudhu and your Prayer. If there is an interval, you ought to recite invocations. This way the link of concentration is established between Wudhu and Prayer. True, the more time you engage in meditation and the conception of having only one thought before your Prayer, the more chances you have to say your Prayer without any distraction.
The Invocation Of Wudhu
At the beginning of Wudhu, you start in the Name of Allah (SWT) and praise Him for making the water a pure element.
At the time of washing your hands, you request Allah (SWT) to place you among those who seek His forgiveness and those who are pure.
At the time of rinsing the mouth, you invoke to Allah (SWT) to teach you the correct way to answer the questions on The Day of Judgment when you shall meet His Divine Presence.
At the time of rinsing the nose, you request Allah (SWT) not to deprive you from the smell of Paradise and to place you among those who smell its fragrance.
At the time of washing the face, you ask Allah (SWT) to brighten your face on that Day when He will disgrace and darken the faces of a great number of people.
At the time of washing the right forearm, you plead to Allah (SWT) to place the scroll of your deeds in your right hand and the certificate of permanency in Paradise in your left hand, and that He should render your accounts leniently.
At the time of washing the left arm, you ask Allah (SWT) not to place the scroll of your deeds in your left hand, nor on your back, and He should not hang it around your neck. You also seek refuge from the fierce eternal Fire of Hell.
At the time of wiping the head, you request Allah (SWT) to cover you with His Mercy, Blessings and Pardon.
Finally, at the time of wiping the feet, you ask Allah (SWT) to keep you steadfast on His Path on that Day when feet shall slip, and make your efforts like of those that will please Him.
It is reported in authentic traditions that the Infallible Imams (AS) used to tremble and sometimes even the color of their skin changed, demonstrating fear and awe for Allah (SWT) whilst performing the act of wudhu. One should try and create, as well as maintain such fear whilst performing wudhu.
Strategy 1: Understanding And Appreciating Allah (SWT)’s Presence
It is always to your benefit if you were to ponder the Existence of Allah (SWT) and His Power, Signs and Decisions related to this world and the next. Appreciating His presence is one way of bringing humility into your heart and humbling yourself in Prayer, performed with attention and concentration. It is only He Who looks at you Mercifully during your Prayer, and you ought to keep this in mind every time you say your Prayer.
Abu Ja’fer, the son of Babawayh al-Qummi (RA) says,
... Allah (SWT), Exalted is He, is One and Absolutely Unique. There is no one like Him. He is Prior; He never was, and never will be, but The Hearing and The Seeing One. The Omniscient; The Wise; The Living; The Everlasting; The Mighty; The Holy; The Knowing One; The Powerful; The Self-sufficient.
He is a Thing, but not like other things. He is Unique, Eternal Refuge; He begets not lest He may be inherited, nor is He begotten lest He may be associated with others. There is no one like Him. He has no equal or opponent, compeer or consort. Nothing can be compared with Him. He has no rival, no partner. Human eyes cannot behold Him, while He discerns the power of eyes. The thoughts of men cannot compass Him, while He is aware of them. Slumber overtakes Him not, nor sleep.
He is The Gracious and The Knowing One, The Creator of all things. There is no deity other than Him. To Him alone belongs The Power of Creation and Authority. Blessed is Allah (SWT), The Lord of the Worlds.
Therefore, piety, perseverance and appreciation of The Lord and His Mightiness are effective ingredients in developing and maintaining your attention in Prayer. This way, you can willingly humble yourself in Prayer.
A good example is from The Prophet (S) who used to treat Prayer very seriously and gave his full attention and concentration. He appreciated and knew his Creator well enough to fear His Presence and attend with full concentration when standing before Him. al-Khomeini (RA) reports a tradition that, ‘For ten years The Prophet of Allah (S) stood on his toes (in his Prayer) until his blessed feet became swollen and his face turned pale. And he would stand erect all night, until a time came when the Lord consoled him (with the following verse):
We have not sent down The Qur’an on you to cause you distress.(Qur’an - Chapter 20, Verse 2)
al-Saduq (RA) quotes the following advice from al-Sadiq (AS) that he gave to one of his trusted companions:
O’ Servant of Allah! When you offer Prayer, pray like someone who bids farewell and fears that he will never return (i.e. pray in such a manner as if it were the last Prayer of your life). Then fix your gaze on the point of your prostration. If you know that there is someone on your left or right, you take more care in offering your Prayer; then know that you stand in front of Someone Who sees you and you don’t see Him.
(al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, iv, 685)
Strategy 2: Reminding Yourself Of Allah
One of the reasons why Adhan and Iqamah have been much emphasized before Prayer is to establish a strong link between the worshipper and his Creator, before he ventures into this sacred journey of Prayer and be in direct communication with The Almighty. This way, you start reminding and convincing yourself of the presence of Allah (SWT) before you begin Prayer.
Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and (in) the difference of night and day are tokens (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding. Such as remembering Allah (SWT), standing, sitting, and reclining, considering the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and instinctively lament): Our Lord! You have not created this (world) in vain! Glory be on You! Preserve us from the doom of Fire. (Qura’n - Chapter 3, Verse 90-91)
The Great Scholar, al-Mutahhari (RA) quotes a tradition, which is referenced in the book Light Within Me:
The aim in Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah (SWT) is that the heart be always aware of al-Haqq (The Most Truthful, a Name of Allah (SWT), for its practice banishes inattention.
Liturgies are as important as water is to the living cells within your body. Take, for instance, the air you breathe day and night, upon which your existence as well as that of other living beings is dependent, nothing can remain alive without it. What a marvelous gift it is. If all the creation contrives such a thing, they cannot do that. The same applies to the other gifts that we have been favored without any hesitation from The Lord (e.g. sight, hearing, taste, and so forth), each one of which carries unlimited benefits.
He fulfills your needs in this world and the hereafter, without needing your adoration. Observance of His commands, or transgressing them does not make any difference to Him. It is for the sake of your own benefit that He has enjoined good and forbidden indecencies.
al-Khomeini (RA) comments, ‘while remembering all these, do you not see that respecting and obeying such a Benefactor is essential for you? He is The Creator and King of this vast cosmos, whose infiniteness cannot be measured or even conceived by human intellect’.
‘We, human beings, creatures crawling on one of the smallest planets miserably fail to grasp the extent of our own small world, whose sun cannot be compared with far greater suns of innumerable galaxies. Our solar system is nothing compared to other lesser solar systems, which still elude the keen eyes of great explorers and investigators of the world’.
We have been advised by the Scholars in Islam to try and remember Allah (SWT) at all times possible. This includes repeating certain phrases of worship and servitude, or it can be in the form of meditation, appreciating this world and the hereafter.
al-Taba Tabai (RA) in his book, al-Mizan Volume Two, discusses the way of living that is happier and the life that is more durable. In this narration, al-Daylami narrates in his al-Irshad that Allah (SWT), at one stage during The Ascension (on The Day of Me’raj), told The Prophet (S):
As for the happy way of living, it is that in which the person is not tired of remembering Me, does not forget My bounties, and does not ignore My rights (on him). He seeks My pleasure day and night. The ever-lasting life is realized when the person works for his spiritual benefit until the world loses its significance for him, and looks small in his eyes. The hereafter becomes great for him.
He gives preference to My pleasure over his own desire; seeks My pleasures; thinks the right of My bounty great; keeps in mind what I have done for him (i.e. for his benefit); remembers Me day and night whenever he is tempted to commit any wrong or sin; keeps his heart clean from that I dislike; hates Shaytan and his whisperings, and does not let Shaytan establish a hold over, or a passage to his heart. When he acts like this, then I put (My) love into his heart, until I make his heart, as well as his leisure and engagement, and his thought and speech, a part of (My) favors which I have bestowed on those of (My) Creations who love Me; and I open his heart’s eye and ear, so that he hears with his heart and looks with his heart to My Majesty and Greatness; and I make the world straitened for him and make him hate it with all its pleasures; and I caution him of the world and all that it contains, as a shepherd protects his sheep from dangerous pasture lands.
When this happens, he flees from people and transfers from the house of termination to the abode of eternity, and from the house of Shaytan to The Seat of The Beneficent Allah (SWT). O’ Ahmad! I adorn him with dignity and majesty. So, this is the good way of living and the eternal life, and it is the status of those who are pleased (with Me).
So, whosoever acts for My pleasure, I give him three characteristics: I teach him gratitude, which is not polluted by ignorance, remembrance, that is unadulterated with forgetfulness, and love that takes preference over the love of creatures. Then when he loves Me, I love him and I open the eye of his heart to My Majesty. I do not keep (My) special beings hidden from him. I converse with him secretly in the dark of night and the light of day, until he ceases talking with and sitting with the creatures.
I make him hear My talk and the speech of My Angels. I make My secret known to him, which I have kept hidden from all (My) creation. I dress him in modesty, until all the creation is awed of him. He walks on the earth (and all his sins are) forgiven. I make his heart hearing and seeing, and I do not hide from him anything of The Garden or the Fire. I make known to him the terror and afflictions awaiting the people on The Day of Resurrection, and about the things I will question the rich and the poor, as well as the learned and the ignorant.
I will make him sleep (in peace) in his grave, and I will send Munkar and Nakeer (AS) to question him. He will not experience the sorrow of death, or the fright of the prelude (of the next world). Then I will erect his weighing scale for him, and will unroll his book (of deeds). I will then put his book in his right hand and he shall read it unfolded. Then I will not keep any interpreter between Me and him.
So these are the attributes of the lovers. O’ Ahmad! Make your concern one concern, make your tongue one tongue, and make your body (i.e. your person) alive that is never oblivious (of Me). Whoever is oblivious of Me, I do not care in which valley he perishes.
Strategy 3: A Relaxed And Alert State Of Mind
An alert state of mind is one of the many vital ingredients of Prayer. If you are tired and exhausted, it is better to rest and do some deep breathing and relaxation exercises before you make the commitment to stand in front of your Lord. And yes, it is preferred to pray a bit late but with attention and concentration. Of course, the delay in performing Prayer from its allocated time should only be for the length of time one has to relax and rejuvenate himself, gain energy to stand before the Almighty. As Imam ‘Ali (AS) has advised us:
Do not offer Prayer in the state of drowsiness. While offering Prayer, do not think about yourself because you are standing in front of Allah (SWT). Indeed, only that portion of the Prayer will be accepted that he has paid full attention towards Allah (SWT).
al-Saduq (RA) reports from Imam ‘Ali (AS) that he said:
None of you should ever stand for Prayerin a lazy or drowsy state, nor should you let (random) thoughts pass through your mind (in the state of Prayer). For, in that state, you stand before your Glorious and Almighty Lord. Verily, the reward a devotee derives from Prayer is equal to the extent of it that he offers with an attentive heart.
(al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, iv, 687)
In Fiqh al-Ridha it is stated:
When you want to perform the Prayer, do not go to it lazily, sleepy, hurriedly, or unmindfully. Approach it calmly, solemnly and slowly. You should display submission, imploringly and humbly to Allah (SWT). You are to show awe and signs of fear and hope, with caution and apprehension. Thus, you are to stand before Him, as an escapee and sinful slave stands at attention before his master; on the alert, with joined heels, erected trunk, not looking to right and left, reckoning as if you see Him. If you do not, He certainly does see you…
(Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Chapter 1, Tradition 7)
Imam (AS)’s posture always allowed him to relax and to be comfortable. Your posture in Prayer also has to allow you to remain alert and aware. There is a two-way relationship between slumping and distraction. Good posture means there is musculoskeletal balance. This balance helps to protect the joints in the spine from excessive stress. It also guards against injury and possible deformity. Good posture helps prevent distress and pain that lead to distraction.
As your concentration in Prayer progresses, your body metabolism will generally become slower and slower, until your heartbeat and breathing are barely perceptible. At this point, when you are totally focused in your Prayer, it is when you achieve your greatest benefit from the worship that has limitless rewards. You would seem to be at a point where mental fatigue and stress is easily released.
Upon completion of your Prayer, most often you will feel relaxed, renewed, alert, and better focused. Your senses will be more acute. You will often find yourself with a heightened sense of awareness. You will generally feel confident and secure in a positive state of mind. Happiness will be yours. This is the state of mind you should strive to achieve after completion of Prayer.
Strategy 4: Understanding What You Recite
It is clear that if you don’t strive to learn and appreciate the meanings of the verses and glorification you proclaim in your Prayer, you stand very little chance of developing and maintaining the concentration you need to focus in Prayer. Focusing on the meanings of what you recite would generally keep your mind busy and involved in Prayer.
In the Thawab al- A’mal, al-Saduq quotes with his chain of transmitters from al-Sadiq (AS):
One who offers two unitsof Prayer with the knowledge of what he says therein, he does not finish them without God forgiving him every sin that there is between him and God.
(Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, iv, 686)
Understanding every word of what you recite in Prayer is helpful in developing a tranquil mind and in allowing you to control your immediate thoughts and feelings that would distract you from your Prayer. You also need to appreciate the words and its meaning in your language of preference, recite and understand them so that your mind does not wander and remains focused on the task at hand. However, one would not think or ponder on the meanings for this is not the time for it, but only occupy his mind with the meanings of the phrases being recited.
The Prophet of Allah (S) is quoted to have said to Abu Dhar:
Two light units of Prayer offered with contemplation are better than a whole night spent in worship.
(Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 74, Page 82 and Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, iv, 686)
Allah is Great
Translation of Chapter of al-Hamd
I commence with The Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful
Special Praise be to Allah, The Sustainer of the creation
The Compassionate, The Merciful
Lord of The Day of Judgment
You alone we worship, and to You alone we pray for help
Guide us to the straight path
The path of those whom You have favored,
Not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray
Translation of Chapter of al-Ikhlas
I commence with The Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful
Say: Allah is One - The Eternal Being
Allah is He Who is independent of all beings
He begets none, nor was He begotten
And none in the creation is equal to Him
Translation of the Dhikr During Ruku (Bending) and Sajdah (Prostration)
Glory be to my High Sustainer and I praise Him
Glory be to my Great Sustainer, Most High, and I praise Him
Before Going into Prostration
Allah hears and accepts the praise of one who praises
Istighfar, Between Two Prostration
I seek forgiveness from Allah Who is my Sustainer, and I turn to Him
I stand and sit with the help and strength of Allah
Translation of Tasbihat al-Arba'ah
Glory be to Allah, and all praise is for Him and there is no one worth worshipping other than Allah, and He is Greater than any description
Translation of Tashahhud and Salam
I testify that there is none worth worshipping except the Almighty Allah, Who is One and has no partner
And I testify that Muhammad is His servant and Prophet
O Allah! Send Your blessings on Muhammad and his progeny
O Prophet! Allah's peace, blessings and grace be upon you!
Allah's peace be on us, those offering prayers - and upon all pious servants of Allah
Allah's peace, blessings and grace be on you believers!
Strategy 5: Proper Pronunciation
Arabic language is considered one of the sweetest of all the languages. So, reciting Prayer with proper Makhaarij (proper pronunciation) and Tajweed (following the rules of the Arabic Language) and learning the rules of reciting The Qur’an, would make your efforts in maintaining attention a lot easier.
Listening to your own tone of voice (and of others), and how they can sound hurtful and blunt at times is yet another alternative. You should try and work with changing your tone to a more appropriate one. Combining the rules of recitation and frequency of your whole recitation is what is required and needs to be practiced. These qualities in The Prophet (S) were what made people stop and listen to The Prophet (S) reciting The Qur’an.
If you possessed these qualities in your voice, then you would never feel tired and exhausted reciting long Chapters of The Qur’an or reading long and repeated glorification during Prayer, because you would be deeply involved in the parts of the recitation itself. This is an effective way to prolong your bending (Ruku) and prostration (Sujud), and a way to lengthen your Prayer without discomfort.
For those devoted Muslims whose mother-tongue is not Arabic and have yet to master the correct recitation of the Arabic verses involved in Prayer, they are advised to at least learn to read the compulsory parts of the Prayer correctly and with proper pronunciation. This way they are sure their Prayer is valid. This person should also try and not completely focus on his recitation, as he would lose his focus on Allah (SWT). However, there is no excuse for not learning to recite with proper Makhaarij and Tajweed.
Strategy 6: Confidence
In his book Self Building, al-Amini suggests a secluded place, removal of all obstacles, strengthening of faith, remembrance of death, and readiness as four main ways to develop and maintain one’s attention in Prayer. He also concludes that:
If one does not succeed in the very first attempt, instead of getting disappointed, he should become more determined and serious in trying again, until attaining domination over the self gradually. The mind should be cleansed thoroughly from scattered thoughts and should be motivated to pay attention towards God Almighty. If attaining such a kind of attention is not possible within a day, few weeks or even few months, he should not be disappointed because, after all, such kind of devoted attention is possible.
To have firm intention and belief that whatsoever the case, you will never be mislead in Prayer, you need to be confident and accept with full heart that Shaytan’s forces are weaker than what you have been endowed with by your loving Lord, The Most High. Allah (SWT) states in The Qur’an:
Indeed! The cunning of Shaytan is feeble. (Qur’an - Chapter 20, Verse 125)
Moreover, it is only you who will be in turmoil on The Day of Judgment when Shaytan will exclaim:
... I only invited you to evil, and you accepted on your own volition. Therefore (On this Day of Judgment), do not blame me but blame your own selves. (Qur’an - Chapter 14, Verse 22)
Self-confidence is arguably one of the most important traits you can possess. Self-confidence reflects your assessment of your own self-worth. It will play a large part in determining your level of attention and concentration in Prayer.
Building self-confidence and defeating the distracting thoughts in Prayer takes time and effort. Goal setting is probably the most effective way of building self-confidence. By setting measurable goals, achieving them, setting new goals, achieving them and so on, you prove your ability to yourself. You are able to prove to yourself that you are able to perform and achieve effectively. You can see, recognize and enjoy your achievement, and feel real self-worth in that achievement. Please refer the 30-Day Workbook for more details.
Strategy 7: Alternating Recitations
Next, you need to alternate recitations by reciting different chapters of The Qur’an, different supplications and different forms of glorification in your Prayer. This is vital because your brain will not become accustomed and habituated to what is being recited daily and switch off attention to something else.
The human brain can handle different situations at any given time, so you need to restrain this quality whilst communicating with Allah (SWT). One way of doing this is alternating recitations so you are ever mindful. Learning and memorizing new chapters of The Qur’an, learning new and different supplications and glorification is therefore highly recommended.
For example, if you always recite Suratul Qadr after Suratul Hamd in your first unit of Prayer, then you would recite Suratul Falaq instead, or any other Chapter from The Qur’an. Since this is a completely new chapter, your mind will not allow any distracting thoughts since it is occupied and focused on completing the new Chapter.
Similarly, if you recite a particular invocation in your Qunoot, spend time to learn new and different invocations and recite them in your Prayer. Also, if you are used to recite glorification in your last prostration, why not try and have these recitations in your earlier prostration as well - something different at all times. We have to be careful though, because in some instances like Tashahhud, Salaam, and some other acts in Prayer, we are not allowed to add or substitute the compulsory recitations.
An important and attractive aspect of Islamic teaching is related to cleanliness. It means to be ritually pure at all times by performing ablution (wudhu) and ghusl (major ablution) whenever necessary. The major ablution (ghusl) on Friday, for example, has been much stressed and cleans your soul from many sins. By keeping yourself clean and pure, you make it difficult for Shaytan to enter your soul. Cleanliness is a barrier preventing lustful ideas and disruptive thoughts from entering your mind during Prayer. One of the traditions of The Prophet (S), which has come down in the form of an everlasting proverb is that,Cleanliness is part of faith, and faith leads a person to Paradise.
It is, therefore, a good idea to brush your teeth, perfume yourself, and observe some kind of uniform, preferably white, and stand in-front of Allah (SWT), fresh and clean. Cleanliness is a weapon of a believer and evokes inner enlightenment.
This part of your Prayer may involve any of the following elements: always wearing a clean white dress during Prayer, applying perfume, burning incense, using a clean Prayer mat and tidy Prayer room, seeking forgiveness before Prayer, and so forth. All the above-mentioned elements create a healthier and spiritual environment fo
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