Focus during Prayer

Dear brothers and sisters, we dive deeper into last week’s topic and focus today’s reminder on establishing the focus. This resonated with many people last week and so today’s reminder will serve as a lesson on how focus is established and why it is so important.

The imam spoke regarding this topic and mentioned first the ayats 4 and 5 from Sura Ma’un which is translated to say:

So woe to those who pray but who are heedless or neglectful of their prayer.

As well as ayat 238 of Sura Baqara which is translated to say:

Observe the ˹five obligatory˺ prayers—especially the middle prayer—and stand in true devotion to Allah.

And also followed up by mentioning the hadith of the Prophet SAWS in which he is translated to have said:

“The one who commits the worst theft is he who steals from his prayer.” When asked how one could steal from his prayer he replied, “By not performing his bowing and his prostration perfectly.”

Dear brothers and sisters, we can learn from these sources that the focus of prayer and the performance of it is so important for us. We must strive to bring back a sense of occasion and a sense of pride to performing salah and not just see it as a tick-box exercise that we all perform almost as an inconvenience to our day.

In fact, the rest of the day should be considered as something to be moved around the anchors that are our five daily prayers.

For many of us, this is a challenge and we first need to look at our mindset before we put into action a plan to bring our prayers back to the level of worship they need to be at.

The imam mentioned the importance of mindset and specifically of the heart by reminding us of a warning that Allah SWT send us in the Quran.

The imam referenced the 142nd ayat of Sura An-Nisa which is translated to say:

Surely the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but He outwits them. When they stand up for prayer, they do it half-heartedly only to be seen by people—hardly remembering Allah at all.

Dear brothers and sisters, we can contemplate from this ayat that the word hypocrite is being mentioned in the same ayat as those who are performing their prayers with half-heartedness or lack of heart. May Allah SWT save us from these group of people!

And so, we need to reset our hearts, our minds and then through practical actions, bring ourselves back from the abyss of praying zombie-like and instead get to a point with Salah where we yearn to return in front of Allah SWT five times a day.

And so this reminder offers some practical ways in which we can try and achieve that. Remember, if this is a problem that resonates with anyone listening today then the remedy comes from Allah SWT and the first step is to acknowledge the problem and be patient as the solution may take time to accomplish.

  1. Awareness – As mentioned last, week one of the main points worth implementing is to remind yourself of the occasion. You are stood in front of your Creator, the Creator of everything you see and know and so this should over time prompt you into rising to the occasion and remaining focused, humbled and dedicated to this act of worship.
  2. Punctuality – Try to make each prayer towards the beginning of it’s allotted time. Better still, in congregation. By leaving the prayer in the final moments before the next is due, you are already rushing to make it on time and this then jeopardizes the quality of it.
  3. Knowledge – Again, as mentioned last week, invest some time to understand what it is that you are reciting. Once understood, take your time to pray, read each ayat with a slow pace, low voice and pause between them as you contemplate what you have just recited. This may take time but will be a precious habit formed for this worship.
  4. Seek refuge in Allah – Seek refuge in Allah SWT by reciting it at the start and if needed, recite during the Salah so that your mind comes back to the prayer. Remember, it is the intention of Shaitaan to distract you from the prayer so use all tools at your disposal to rid him from your worship.
  5. Could be the Last – Remember, dear brothers and sisters, nobody knows which prayer of theirs could be their last. If you knew for sure this was to be your final salah to Allah SWT, what would you do different? And then ask yourself why is it that you aren’t maintaining or trying to achieve that level in all of your prayers?

And so dear brothers and sisters, lets start with the Jummuah prayer and begin to establish the correct heart and mindset to our prayers so that we can be included in the group of people mentioned by the Prophet SAWS when he was reported to have said:

“When the time for a prescribed prayer comes, if any Muslim observes proper ablution, humility and bowing, it will be an expiation for his past sins, so long as he has not committed a major sin; and that means for all time.” 

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