It is said that “Two rakats of Salaat performed with contemplation is better then staying up entire night in prayers with inattentive heart”
Messenger of Allah (SA) said that:“My delight has been placed in the salat”.Furu’ ul Kafi, vol 5, p. 321
Imam as Sadiq (AS), it is said: “Whoever performed the obligatory salats at the beginning of their times and observed their restrictions, the angel would raise them, white and pure, to heaven, and the salat would say (to the performer): “May Allah preserve you as you preserved me and entrusted me to a generous angel’. But whoever performed them after their times, with no excuse, and did not observe their restrictions, the angel would raise them, black and dark, while the salat shouting at the performer: “You have lost me, may Allah lose you, and may He not care for you as you did not care for me’.”
(Wasail ush-Shi’ah, vol. 3, p. 90. Kitabus-Salat, chs. On “Times” ch. 3, hadith, 17)
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’.
Imam al-Sadiq (a) 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.
(Al-Kulayni (RA), Usul al-Kafi, 2, “Kitab al-‘Iman wa1-Kufr’, “Bab al-‘Ibadah”, Tradition number 1)
STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPING CONCENTRATION IN PRAYER
“Successful, indeed, are the believers who are submissive in their salats,”
Surah al-Mu’minun: 1
By Imam as Sadiq (AS) as is stated in Misbahush- shari’ah (the Torch of the Islamic Law). He said: “Let your heart be your tongue’s qiblah, and do not move it except by the heart’s order”
The Messenger of Allah (SA) informed Abu Dharr: “Oh Abu Dharr, two rak’ats of salat in contemplation are better than spending the whole night with an inattentive (or forgetful) heart.” Biharul Anwar, vol. 74, p. 82, Book of “Ar-Raudah” ch. on “The Prophet’s Admonitions”, hadith 2, quoted from Makarimul Akhlaq, p. 465.
Imam 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. 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. 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)
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.
In the Thawab al- A’mal, al-Saduq quotes with his chain of transmitters from al-Sadiq (AS):
One who offers two units (rak’ats) of 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)
REMEMBRANCE OF DEATH
The Prophet of Allah (s) has said: The most intelligent among you is the one who remembers his death most.
Great Scholars have advised you to keep busy reminding yourself of death as a way to fear Allah (SWT) and maintain vigilance in your daily Prayer and communication with Allah (SWT). The idea is to develop piety and fear in you and to convince your soul the importance of Prayer.
Frequent remembrance of death decreases one’s desires. (Imam ‘Ali (AS)
It is recommended that a worshipper should think of death before every Prayer. He should imagine that the moment of death has arrived, and that the Prayer is his last one to his Lord and the last few moments to ask for forgiveness and win Divine Mercy.
MODERATION IN EATING
al-Ridha (AS) says:
You should know that a human body is like fertile land. If moderation is exercised in the matter of its development, i.e. necessary quantity of water is provided to it, which should neither be so excessive as to drown it and change into swamp and bog, nor so scanty that it should remain thirsty and dry, such land yields much produce. However, the land will become barren if not properly looked after.
Because any individual’s mind is filled with thoughts at all times, he is supposed to arrest them, and put a stop on them during Prayer.
In al-Kafi, on the authority of al-Baqir (AS), it is stated that he has said:
When doubts in the Prayer become too frequent, do not give heed to them, and regard the Prayer to be correct. It is hoped that this state would leave you, as Shaytan causes it.
(Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Page 359, Tradition 8)
CHECKING AND INSPECTION
Keep track of the level of your attention and concentration in Prayer. If it is the right level, give thanks; if wrong, ask for forgiveness.
Self-conditioning, contemplation and self-examination are essential pre-requisites for a seeker of truth who is battling with his self. Self-conditioning or stipulation means binding oneself with the resolution not to do anything against God’s commands.
O’ Ahmad! How sweet and beautiful are the hunger, silence and seclusion? Wisdom, heart’s tranquility, nearness to Me, continuous grief, righteous talks, thriftiness, indifference at the time of ease, and hardships, are the characteristics acquired by My servant as a result of hunger, silence, and seclusion. (Hadith al-Qudsi)
WORLD AND ITS PLEASURES
One of the greatest obstacle to attaining the state of perfect communion with Allah (SWT) is unwavering attachment to worldly allurements namely, wealth and property, power and position. One’s attraction to these things causes the worshipper’s attention to these transient things. Therefore, you must cut-off these attractions at all cost, and at all times, so that the heart’s presence and attention towards Allah (SWT) becomes easier during 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.
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.
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.
BEING TRUTHFUL WITH GOD
One should be truthful with God while reciting the verses of Quran and other utterances during prayers. One should ponder before uttering each and every word as to whatever he is saying is coming out from his heart or is just verbal action from his tongue.
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, you will not be able to offer prayers properly with full attention.
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).
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.
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)
One needs 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.
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.
SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND ACCEPTING LIMITATONS
After every Prayer you should seek forgiveness, as this will indirectly increase your attention and concentration during Prayer and bring you nearer to Him. While reciting this invocation, you should sincerely repent to Allah (SWT) that the Prayer you just finished was not up to the required standards and pray to be forgiven for it by The Merciful Lord.
Let it be known that, there is no worship
superior than silence…
It has been recorded that,
Silence is part of wisdom. It is a sign of every virtue. It is the way of the devotees of Allah (SWT), because Allah (SWT) likes it. It is the style of The Prophets (AS), and the habit of the chosen people. (al-Sadiq (AS)
THE VALUE OF PRAYER
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,
Prayers teaches punctuality – “surely prayers is time ordinance for believer “
Prayers prevents falsehood
Prayers teaches patient during grief and difficult times
Prayers prevents discrimination and Unites people
Prayers is key to paradise as well as best deed
Prayers is medicine against Pride
Prayers promote Modesty
Prayers is a process of self-purification & Enforces Taharat (cleanliness)
Prayers keep one away from indecencies and prohibitions
Prayers instill hope and removes sins
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)
Verily my Salaat, my efforts, my life, my death and are only for God, the Lord of Worlds.
(Surah An’am Ayah 162)
May God bless us with toufiq to offer Salaat in such a manner that His friends (Awliya Allah) have instructed us to pray and derive same spiritual pleasures and practical benefits in the life of this world and hereafter that God has kept for his sincere servants. Amen
May Allah bless you all for your attention.