Focus and Prayer: Michelle’s Story

By Michelle of Muslim Gap

The Prophet Muhammad (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, oftentimes I find myself losing focus. The most random thoughts pop into my head–  the due date for my next lab report, random scenes from Bravo reality shows, what I wanted to eat after finishing my prayer. Sometimes when I would have to start my prayers all over because I could not remember what rak’at I was on. Instead of feeling calm after prayers, I would feel more stressed, frustrated, and even worried that my prayers would not count. 

To try to address this, I searched online and emailed scholars to find different focus strategies. The answer that I constantly received was that in order for me to focus, I needed to understand what I was reciting. Because Arabic is the primary language of prayers, I did not always understand what I recited as a Farsi speaker.

Although learning the meaning of the Quran is essential, will I continue to lose focus until I completely comprehend the meaning of what I recite? When people who understand the Arabic language pray, are they always able to focus completely? Honestly, I believe each person should work hard to find a method that works best for them.

I’ve been searching for methods that are best for me, and recently, I found it helpful to take a second during prayer to close my eyes and imagine that I am praying right in front of the Kaaba. Now, it is just me and my Creator. Every prayer is another opportunity for prostration, recitation, and focus.

Most of the time, these methods do help me maintain focus. However, there are still times when 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.

On the Author

Michelle is an Afghan-American, speaking English, Farsi, and a little Arabic. Having attained a psychobiology (with a minor in Islamic Studies) Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a Master’s in Healthcare Systems Engineering from LMU, she now works as a Software Application Specialist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She loves Hollywood and Bollywood, and her favorite actors are River Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Shia Labeouf, and Shah Rukh Khan. During her free time, she loves hiking and eating– her favorite foods are Pizza and Mantu (Afghani Dumplings). You can find her on all social media platforms: @michelleschafieh.

On The Muslim Gap 

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