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Revamping your prayers – Part 2
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 10 - 02 - 2017

By reflecting on when the prayer was made obligatory to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we can come to appreciate the essence of our five daily, obligatory prayers. The prayer was ordained by Allah directly to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he was in the Heavens on the Israa night journey. This emphasizes the importance of the prayer. It also symbolizes that, when we pray, our minds and spirits should be elevated, should draw nearer to our Lord, and should rise above all the worries and pleasures of this world and should focus solely on this act of worship.
In last week's article we mentioned that khushoo during prayer means tranquility and having humility and submission to Allah.
We can gradually train our minds to concentrate and develop more khushoo during the prayers, and here's how.
The first step is obvious; choose a place to pray that is free of distractions and is quiet and peaceful. Do not pray in a room where the TV is on or where other people are talking. Switch your phone off when you pray.
Properly prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for the prayer. If you live or work in a place where you cannot hear the adhan from the masjid, download an adhan app on your phone. Repeat the words of the adhan; Allah is great, Allah is great. Give yourself a moment to clear your mind from what you were occupied with, and enter the prayer with the thought that you are praying to the Lord of all the worlds.
Perform ablution slowly, properly, and with deliberation. Ablution is not merely an act of washing, it is also following the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and in it is great reward. When performing ablution, you are also washing away your sins.
Once you have completed the ablution, say this supplication: "O Allah, make me among those who turn to You in repentance, and make me among those who are purified."
Do not rush through your prayer; move at a slow and steady pace.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "The worst type of thief is the one who steals from his prayer." His companions asked, "O Messenger of Allah, how can a person steal from his prayer?" He said, "By not doing rukoo and sujood properly."
Think about the verses of the Qur'an being recited during the prayer and reflect upon them. Do not hurriedly mumble the verses of the Qur'an. Be aware that when you read Surah Al-Fatiha, you are actually having a conversation with Allah, and after each verse you recite Allah responds to you.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that when the servant in prayer says, {All praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds}, Allah says, "My servant has praised Me." When he says, {The All-Merciful, the Most Merciful}, Allah says, "My servant has exalted Me." When he says, {Master of the Day of Judgment}, Allah says, "My servant has glorified Me." When he says, {You Alone we worship and Your aid alone do we seek}, Allah says, "This is between Me and My servant and My servant shall have what he requested." When he says, {Guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those whom You have favored, not [the path] of those who have earned [Your] anger, nor of those who have gone astray}, Allah says, "This is for My servant and My servant shall have what he asked for."
How beautiful is this conversation with Allah?
Focus on the Qur'an that is being read in the prayer, whether you are praying alone or at the masjid behind the imam. Interact with the verses of the Qur'an.
For example, when you hear verses that mention the greatness of Allah and the magnificent signs in the universe, you can whisper, "Glory be to Allah." If you hear verses that describe thebounties in Paradise, ask Allah to make you among the people of Paradise. When you hear verses that describe the punishment of Hellfire, seek refuge in Allah from the Hellfire.
To avoid boredom in the prayer, vary among the verses of the Qur'an that you recite. Do not pick the same, shortest chapters of the Qur'an to read in every prayer.
Never miss the opportunity to make duaa (supplication) during prostration in the prayer. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "The servant is nearest to his Lord during prostration, so increase your supplications therein."
Looking at the place of prostration on the floor may help you keep your mind focused in prayer.
When you stand up to pray, envision that you are standing in front of the Lord of the worlds. If you imagine that Allah is watching over you as you pray, you are less likely to fidget or look at your watch or plan your weekend or daydream in your prayer.
Exercise ihsan, which means excellence or perfection, in your prayer. Ihsan in our faith means that you worship Allah as if you see Him even though you do not see Him because he truly sees you.
Another piece of advice that may help you achieve a higher level of khushoo or humility and concentration in your prayer is this: pray as if this is the last prayer you will ever perform in your life. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "When you stand to pray, then pray as if it were a farewell prayer."

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