How to concentrate in a prayer (salah)?
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Question:

I was born a Muslim, but only recently began to performe salah. And it is very difficult for me to concentrate in prayer, often bad or stupid thoughts come to my mind. Can I continue to pray in this state? Should I continue to pray, despite such thoughts or I should learn to focus in prayer, and then keep it? I'm afraid that prayer in such state will be a hypocrisy.

Answer:

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuh!

Masha Allah! I am happy to learn that you are now performing your Salaah. I make Dua to Allah to keep you steadfast on your Salaah and accept it from you. Ameen.

There is no need to be worried about the thoughts that come to you during prayer. This is bound to happen and is a sign that you are praying your Salaah properly. Continue with your Salaah. The notion of leaving out Salaah in order to learn how to focus first is a deception of Shaitaan to leave out the prayer.

As it is mentioned in the Hadith, when a person prays Salaah, Shaitaan approaches him and injects various thoughts in his mind. To draw the Musalli’s (the person praying) attention away from Allah, Shaitaan will put such thoughts in the person’s mind that he does not even think of out of Salaah.  The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said:

إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلاَةِ أَدْبَرَ الشَّيْطَانُ، وَلَهُ ضُرَاطٌ، حَتَّى لاَ يَسْمَعَ التَّأْذِينَ، فَإِذَا قَضَى النِّدَاءَ أَقْبَلَ، حَتَّى إِذَا ثُوِّبَ بِالصَّلاَةِ أَدْبَرَ، حَتَّى إِذَا قَضَى التَّثْوِيبَ أَقْبَلَ، حَتَّى يَخْطِرَ بَيْنَ المَرْءِ وَنَفْسِهِ، يَقُولُ: اذْكُرْ كَذَا، اذْكُرْ كَذَا، لِمَا لَمْ يَكُنْ يَذْكُرُ حَتَّى يَظَلَّ الرَّجُلُ لاَ يَدْرِي كَمْ صَلَّى

“When the Azaan is called for Salaah, Shaitaan turns his back and flees letting out wind so that he does not hear the Azaan. When the Azaan is over, he comes forth again until the Iqamah is called. When the Iqamah is over, he comes forth again and then injects a person with different thoughts. He whispers to the person (who is praying Salaah): “remember this and remember that” He makes a person think about things that he did not think of previously. Until the person is left so confused that he does not remember how many Rakaats he has prayed” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith #: 608, Narrated by Abu Hurayrah)

From the above Hadith it is clear that when praying Salaah, a person will always be plagued with stray thoughts.

The way to overcome this is to ignore these thoughts and continue concentrating in Salaah. When the thought comes, casually ignore it and go back to concentrating. Do not fight the thoughts; they will just come back stronger. Merely ignore them and concentrate and ponder that Allah is watching you, he is aware of what you are reciting, he is watching how you execute the postures of Salaah, he is seeing you standing in worship before Him, He is seeing you bowing in Ruku before Him, He is seeing you go down in prostration out of humility and respect for Him, He is hearing you glorify and praise him when you are reciting the Tasbeeh in Ruku and Sujood and He is listening attentively to you reciting the Qur’an in Qiyaam. Keep these thoughts in mind and develop them further and you will enjoy your Salaah and strengthen your connection with Allah.

And Allah Knows Best.

Wassalaam.

Mufti Suhail Tarmahomed

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