Are you someone that often forgets the number of rakats (units) they have prayed when performing salat?
Do you giggle or struggle really hard to refrain from laughing whenever you remember or hear someone say something funny whilst peforming salat?
Do you move around or fidget a lot when praying?
Do you struggle to find a real connection with God when praying?
Do you get distracted by the slightest movement (e.g the sound of the door opening, the crossing of an ant on the floor, the flapping of wings on the roof) when performing salat?
If you’ve answered yes to one (or more) of the above, then you’ve arrived at the right place and In Sha Allah, the quality of your salat will improve significantly after you’re done reading this post and you make the firm decision to incorporate some of the tips I have to share.
You see for a long time I struggled with attaining khushu (humbleness and complete submission) in my prayers. I’ll confess to you the challenge of attaining khushu is something you will be faced with every time you have to stand in front of your Creator to pray. The good news is that the challenge can be very easy for some and extremely difficult for others. The question remains, which group of individuals would you like to be a part of? If you’d like to be among the former group then the following tips would prove to be useful to you.
The first step in improving the quality of your salat lies in identifying your weaknesses or simply acknowledging the fact that your salat is flawed in a way that can be corrected, and you intend with all seriousness to improve it for the better.
I, for example knew there was a defect in my salat because I didn’t always feel a sense of relief, or a spiritual boost or a sense of accomplishment after I performed salat; other than the fact that I knew I had successfully completed one of my obligatory prayers. But was I really successful? I feared very much Allah’s words in the Quran where He mentioned in suratul Al Maa’un:
” Woe to those who pray but are heedless of their prayer.”
Al-Quran (107: 4-5)
This was a very serious matter for me and sometimes the doubt I had in my mind, will cause me to redo my whole salat; just for Allah to see the effort (if anything at all) that I’m putting in trying to please Him and to also clear my conscience that I performed my salat to the best of my abilities. It is important to know that everything in the end goes back to your intention; do you care or do you not care that you perform your salat well?
If you care alhamdulilah, if you don’t care then remember that an invalid salat is as good as you not praying at all. One of the major things that distinguishes our faith from others is our salat.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The covenant that stands between us and them is prayer; whoever gives it up is a disbeliever.”
Musnad Ahmad (22428); Al-Tirmidhhi (2621)
More importantly, salat is one of the five pillars of Islam; if you cannot get that right then can you really call yourself a Muslim? I shall now begin by sharing some of the things I do to help attain khushu in salat; amongst other suggestions that have been found by others to be helpful.
- Constantly being in a state of wudhu or redoing your wudhu before every salat (and having full concentration when performing wudhu).
I cannot stress the benefits of this or how much it has impacted my prayer. I pray Allah forgives us because many of us actually pray without having a valid wudhu. Does the water really touch the roots of our hair and nails? Do we ensure that the water reaches our elbows and ankles? Do we gargle the water or just rinse our mouth with it? We all know that salat without wudhu is invalid.
So going back to the very basics, your first job is to ensure you perform wudhu correctly before you bother about performing salat correctly. Right now I will presume we all know the benefits of wudhu (for those who don’t I might save this for another post In Aha Allah) but we absolutely cannot compromise our wudhu. What I’ve come to learn is that if you are conscious of every step you take when performing your wudhu, you will be equally conscious of every step you take when performing your salah. Trust me.
In summary, wudhu cleanses you of your minor daily sins and gets rid of other impurities. Flowing from this, there is a relief Allah makes you feel after performing wudhu, and this is having some burden or sins (you know nothing about) being lifted away from you before you proceed to stand in front of your Rabb.
Also, remember when you perform ablution you are in a state that is beloved to Allah and just imagine worshiping Him in the manner He has instructed and not to mention He loves. So tell me in such instance what will stand in between the dua you make to your Lord and Allah answering it? Absolutely nothing. I implore that every single one of us put in more effort when performing wudhu and we also try to renew it every time before performing salat.
- Do not delay or postpone relieving yourself (YES, BREAK YOUR ABLUTION)
This might sound funny to most of you but I believe it is something a lot of us are guilty of. Many of us in the name of ‘not breaking our ablution’ (and remaining in a pure state) but more so out of laziness, postpone relieving ourselves until after we have prayed. So usually what happens is that immediately after the last salama and before the Imam can even get up, you see people bolting for the restroom door.
Many of us fail to think about how this act affects our concentration in salat. If you decide to postpone relieving yourself, all you’ll be able to think about whilst praying is that I need to use the toilet or I need to fart, hang in there or recite faster! Instead of concentrating in your prayer, you are concentrating on your bowel movements. Guys just do the right thing by relieving yourself in time and make the ‘tough’ decision to re-do your wudhu. This will definitely help you to concentrate better in your salat.
- Stretching before praying.
This is something I recently started doing and honestly I wonder why I never started much earlier. Salat is like an exercise, especially during the month of Ramadan; you stand for a long time in prayer, all the bending. If your body is in bad shape you will feel some bodily discomfort when praying, which could distract you. Stretching allows you to stand for a long time without feeling pains and prevents muscle pulls from happening. I recommend you take a minute to stretch your arms and legs, to roll your neck back and forth and to stretch your back. This will allow the blood to flow through your body with ease and you feel a lot more energized and awake to pray. This is highly recommended for the tahajjud, fajr and Isha prayer because during these times your body is still very much alseep or starting to feel tired.
- Choosing the best environment to pray.
Everyone of us that has had the chance to pray inside a mosque, can testify that there is nothing like praying in congregation at the mosque. The spirituality level is always soaring off the roof but the reality is that most of us do not pray in the mosque (except on Fridays during jummah). The truth is that most of us pray at home, in empty rooms at uni or in some chocked up place in the office and if you’re lucky in the prayer room of your office.
Without a doubt the mosque is the best place to pray and has the barest minimum of distraction. It’s the house of God and there is just a high level of spirituality you get whenever you enter a mosque to pray. Everyone is charged up and the spiritual current is flowing from one body to the next and everybody’s mind, body and soul is submitted into doing one thing: to worship Allah. How beautiful is it when everyone’s mind is in sync and says together ‘ameen’. If you can try to pray more or develop the habit of praying in the mosque you’ll be doing yourself a great favour. Most Nigerian Muslim families have a mosque at home, if that is the case with you, whenever you are at home make use of the mosque and avoid praying in your room.
Not many people are aware of this but every inhabited place has an aura. When you are in your room there’s some aura/energy that’s given off; a place to relax, sleep, to be lazy and chill. Your mindset shifts to accommodate that aura that is being giving off; it’s a struggle to do any other thing. Likewise you’ll find that a mosque gives off a certain aura/energy; one of spirituality, sincerity, awe, purity, and worship. Accordingly, if you pray in a mosque your mindset will make the necessary shift to accommodate that energy and get you in the proper zone to pray.
Guys beware of the aura of the place you’re praying at. When you are in your office you are conscious of the environment you are praying at. you don’t feel completely free praying there cause it doesn’t really feel like the right place but you are making use of what you have. The aura that is given off in your office is one of professionalism, discomfort, hastiness; cause you feel pressed for time to get back to work e.t.c
Also, ever heard the saying cleanliness is close to godliness? God loves that which is clean and pure. So at the barest minimum ensure that wherever it is you pray; be it the mosque, your bedroom, the office, the place must always be clean. How many people wash their praying mat or replace it from time to time? Have you considered that if it is always laid out flat in your bedroom or it is returned in a dusty closet, dust can always accumulate in the fibers of the rug and it would tickle your nose or it will start to smell? You do not want to be distracted by any of that; so make sure the environment of where you pray is always clean.
- Limit your distractions.
In terms of managing distractions where I pray, personally I always imagine i’m in a big white room when I pray. The walls of the room are pristine white; no windows or doors or paintings to distract me…it’s just me in the room with my praying mat with the sound knowledge and sense that Allah is closely watching me. With that I am mentally set…no door or windows in the room for thoughts to slip in.
Additionally, if you are in a place where there are people doing other things, you can kindly request for them to keep the volume down, and if you are alone switch off the tv, switch off your mobile phone or temporarily switch off all notifications so you won’t be distracted by a call or any new message that enters.
- Beautify yourself for the Most Beautiful
This is also something I found very helpful to concentrate better in prayer. The effort I put into making sure I dress and smell good before praying to Allah, helps me to be a lot more submissive to Allah in prayer. How you may ask? I make myself vulnerable and humbled by my presence in front of Allah. Have you ever admired a food you prepared and dished it out prettily on a plate? How does it make you feel? Now Allah gets billions of Muslims visiting him everyday; 5 times a day at the very least. You are talking about 6 billion dishes He made here. Is there a chance that I might slip out of Allah’s sight? That’s impossible. Allah told us in the Quran that nothing slips by His sight or knowledge. Although I know Allah can see me, I want to stand out from the rest of his creations. How do you stand out? Allah is overly aware of every effort and thought that is made for His cause. That beautiful hijab or jilbab you bought for Him He knows. That perfume you sprayed for Him He knows. That brushing you did before performing wudhu He knows. That yearning for Him to see and hear you and the high importance you have placed in that salat/in meeting Him, He knows! He sees it all. Absolutely nothing misses Him. Subhanallah.
When you are in front of someone very beautiful; you want to be able to attract their attention as well because theirs certainly did. That’s a mere human being…how about Allah that is the epitome and true definition of beauty. We can never match Allah’s beauty and that is NOT the intention. His vision cannot even be grasped by the eyes of his creation…his light spreads across all the heavens, the earth and the entire universe. Just His light. I don’t know about you but there is no greater honor than having the chance to be in the presence of God 5 times every day, to be showered by his beauty, his mercy, his light, his love, his attention!
Five times a day Allah makes it mandatory for us to meet him. In those 5 times, He listen to us and attends to all our needs; at least those that we raise to him. We don’t have to book an appointment 5 months back to meet Allah, as we do when want to see the President or a Senate or a CEO for example. Also, if you get the chance to meet a potential sponsor or investor to ask for money, you don’t go looking like a homeless, dirty or smelly person. You try your best to look good and for them to see something good in you, something worthy for them to invest in. Why do we take for granted the infinite mercy and love and grandness of our Creator? We stand a better chance of having our prayers answered if we put in a little effort in how we look and worship our God. Let Him be proud of you; His humble creation. The effort and thought of this alone goes a long way in concentrating in salat.
- Pray like it is your last salat.
This is something that does very well to put me in check and stops me from praying nonsense. Always remember that in this life nothing is promised to man except death and it can come at you at any moment. Do not live in the future or the past. Always focus on the present. Focus on the moment you have; it’s the only one that always counts. Thus focus on your present salat and not the future one and perform it like it is your last and imagine that the angel of death is siting at the corner waiting for you to finish it. I bet my life that salat will be the longest prayer you will make because no one is truly ever ready to die.
Be conscious of these two things every time you want to pray: God’s presence or God’s close attention on you and the angel of death waiting by the sideline for you to finish your salat and transport your soul to Allah. God consciousness is the key to everything; knowing that everything revolves back to Him. The thought of the angel of death will prevent you from rushing your prayers and the consciousness of God watching you will send a message to your body to perform the salat the best way you can.
- Seek refuge from shaytan before praying.
Before you say the call for prayer, just take a moment to say A’udhu billahi min ash-shaytaan-ir-rajeem. Whenever you say that you send shaytan running away. Believe it when you say it and trust me the many thoughts that often distract you in prayer will be gone except you willfully decide to entertain yourself with something other than the worship of Allah.
- Mouthing the prayer and understanding the meaning of the surahs you recite in prayer.
I find that whenever I mouth/move my tongue when reciting the verses of the quran, I focus ten times more than if i were to recite silently in my mind. For my muslim ladies this something that is highly recommended and worth trying.
Also, if you are aware or understand the meaning of what you recite, you will be able to contemplate on the words of Allah and allow His message to sink in. Understanding the meaning of the surahs you recite helps you to fully concentrate in prayer. If you are focused on reciting and allowing the words of Allah to reach your heart by translating the meaning, you won’t have the luxury of being distracted by any other thing. Allah’s words will grip at your heart and grasp your full attention. It is until that happens that you’ll be able to fully attain khushu in salat.
- Remember your witnesses
Another thing I do a times to help maintain khushu in prayer, is that I remember the angels recording on my sides whenever I pray. What’s worse than performing a bad prayer? Having a witness to confirm it to your lord on the day of judgement. Do you want a witness to confirm something bad you did or something good that you did? That’s all i’ll say in this regard. You want as many witnesses on the day of judgement. Don’t forget your mouth and your hands will also speak to testify for or against you on the day of judgement. Perform your salat to the best of your ability and know Allah will be pleased with you, the angels will be pleased with you, you will find many of Allah’s creations to be merciful towards you on earth, and your two witnesses will happily testify on your behalf to confirm what’s been written in your records.
- Make plenty dua
There is nothing better than a very sincere dua that is made between a servant and his Rabb. Call out to God and speak to him about what you want; all the areas you have identified and want to improve in, seek his help, ask him to make it easier for you, pray to him to make satisfying him much easier for you. Ultimately, Allah’s guidance and help is the only thing that can save you from whatever it is you fear or need saving from. if you fear that your salat is not performed correctly, the things you can change and control do that. With regards to the things you don’t have much control over such as your thoughts, pray to him to help suppress them when you pray. Pray to God that you want to be able to achieve khushu in prayer with His assistance (which He is always ready to render); to fully submit to Him in prayer and that you fear so and so. Allah rescues people from anxiety and all sorts of difficulties and challenges and He will rescue you from yours also. There is nothing more he would love than to remove anything that blocks you from getting closer to Him.
I hope you found my tips to be beneficial even though most requires a lot of effort and mental training from your part, but do know it becomes easier and much more natural for you with every salat that passes by.
May Allah accept all our prayers and forgive and overlook our shortcomings.
Please comment down below the tip you found the most useful or any other tip you think is important that I failed to mention.
Shukran and ma salam!