Ramadan: Distractions, and overcoming them (1)

All praise and thanks be to God for allowing us to witness and participate in another Ramadan, and may He accept our fasts, our charity, and our worship, Ameen.

And all praise and thanks be to God for chaining the devils in this beautiful month, and giving us the opportunity to examine ourselves and our behaviors, and to see the errors that we make and know that they’re all from us alone, from our habits and the conditions of our hearts, and may He guide us to recognize a few things about ourselves, and to work on changing them.If the devils are chained up, they’re not whispering at me during my prayer and distracting me from worship. And since they’re chained, they’re not whispering to me about anything in my daily life. So any of the distractions in Salat, and any of the distractions during the day, where I forget some of the few parts of the Sunnah that I know and try to practice or where I let little piddly worldly things distract me from remembrance or cause a slip of the tongue or a stray thought, all that comes only from me: I can’t blame Satan or any of his little buddies: they’re chained.

And here, near the end of Ramadan, about to enter the last 10 nights, it’s more important than ever to try to perfect our Salat and our actions, and to purify our hearts.

In prayer, concentration—khushoo—is vitally important, indeed, some argue that Salat is invalid without it. It’s hard to argue: if Salat becomes just empty calisthenics, devoid of feeling or focus, it can hardly be called worship. Worship of the limbs, maybe, but not the heart or mind.

Googling around some for “khushoo in salat” brings loads of results, so I’m not the only one, and I most definitely need to work on it. Of all the ones I looked at, though, Sheikh Yaser Birjas has an excellent lecture on Khushoo. It’s a bit long—an hour or so—but well worth it.


Here’s a quick summary of Sheikh Yaser’s tips for increasing Khushoo in Salat.

Before Salat:

  1. Come Early, whether at home or in the masjid
  2. Repeat after the Muadhin
  3. Prepare for Salat ahead of time
  4. Make a full, thorough wudu
  5. Select a place with no distractions
  6. Dress nicely for Salat, especially for Fajr
  7. Pray Nafl when you enter, pray more after the Adhan
  8. Read some Quran, especially the bits you will recite in Salat
  9. Make dua and dhikr
  10. Don’t chit chat too much before Salat
  11. Don’t look around in the masjid, just focus on the coming event
  12. Try to pray in the front row (see 1.)
  13. Straighten your lines
  14. Contemplate the greatness of Allah
  15. Remember stories of the Pious Predecessors and how they prayed
  16. Remember the excellence of Khushoo in Salat
  17. If you’re hungry or in need of the toilet, go and take care of it
  18. If you feel sleepy, go have a nap
  19. Race for the first line
  20. Try to pray as close as possible to the Imam
  21. Remember Death. Pray as if this is the last time you’ll pray

During Salat:

  1. Contemplate the words… Allahu Akbar! Allah is Greater (than everything)
  2. Consider the status of Ihsan in Salah: pray as if you can see Allah, and if you can’t see Him, know that He sees you
  3. Fold your hands and look down
  4. Observe the etiquettes of Salat
  5. Bring tranquility and peace to your Salat, slow down, take your time, pray longer surahs, recite slowly and beautifully
  6. Dua just beginning the Salat
  7. Contemplate the Ayat you recite, and if you don’t know Arabic, at least focus on your pronunciation
  8. Beautify the Quran with your voice
  9. Remember that Allah divided the Salat between Him and you
  10. Focus on the spot of Prostration
  11. Adhkar and personal duas in sujood
  12. Never look up when you come up from rukoo
  13. Don’t get distracted by the prayer rug or carpet
  14. Dua in Sujood. The closest we can get to Allah azza wa jall in this life is in sujood

After Salat:

  1. Don’t move right away
  2. Do the tasbih
  3. Dhikr & Dua
  4. Review your Salat. How did you do?
  5. Pray a Nafl to make up any errors, InshaAllah.

If you’re still distracted:

  • Close your eyes if you need to. It’s not the Sunnah, and it’s disliked according to some, but it’s sometimes helpful (for me anyway).
  • If you continue getting the whispers, say “Audhu Billahi min ash Shaitanhir rajeem” and spit to your left three times.
  • If you chase two rabbits, both will escape: focus on Salat alone, focus on worshipping Allah alone, without any partners.
  • Never let Salat become a habit. It’s ritualized, but not an empty ritual.

Jazak Allahu Khair, Sheikh Yasir!

I planned to focus on removing distractions in Salat and in our daily lives, but this has gotten long enough, I think… so we’ll stretch this out over a couple of days.

May Allah help us to let go of the silly things that go on in our lives and focus on worshiping Him alone, Ameen.

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