Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “When anyone of you stands for the prayers, Satan comes and puts him in doubts till he forgets how many rak’at he has prayed. So if this happens to anyone of you, he should perform two prostrations of Sahu [forgetfulness] while sitting.” Sahih al-Bukhari 1232,
When it came to salah, often times I found myself losing focus. The most random thoughts would pop into my head including when my next lab report was due, random scenes from Bravo reality shows, and even thoughts about what I wanted to eat after finishing my prayer. There would even be times where I would have to start my prayers all over because I would not remember what rak’at I was on. This really bothered me because instead of feeling a sense of calmness after prayers, I would feel more stressed, frustrated, and even worried that my prayers would not count.
Because of this, I would search online and email scholars to find different strategies to help me maintain focus. The answer that I constantly received was that in order for me to focus, I needed to understand what I was reciting. I speak Farsi and because prayers are in Arabic, I did not understand what I recited most of the time.
Although it is essential to learn the meaning of the Qur’an, does this mean that I will not be able to maintain constant focus until I completely comprehend the meaning of what I recite? Does this mean that people who do understand Arabic are always focused when they pray? The answer is simply no: we just have to work hard to find a method that works best for us.
I began trying to think of my own methods, and recently, I found that one method that helps me clear my mind and stay focused is just taking a second during prayer to close my eyes and to imagine that I am praying right in front of the Kaaba. After doing so, I feel stress free. Now, it is just me and my Creator. Another method that might sound silly but also helps me stay focused is imagining my salah is part of a competition, like a Quran competition. In order to win, I need to have the best prostration, recitation, and focus.
Most of the time, these methods do help me maintain focus. However, there are still times where I still lose focus, and I learned to accept it. It is a reminder to me that I need to constantly strive to perfect my salah, whether it is understanding the meaning of verses, memorizing new verses, or working to maintain focus. I pray that Allah (swt) helps us achieve this state of focus. Please feel free to comment below on methods that work for you so that we may all benefit insha’Allah.