In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- We are not allowed to point to Allah as if He were located in any palpable direction.
3- But if a person didn’t know this prohibition and did it un-willfully, he/she is excused, for Allah does not take us to task for our inadvertent slips and trespasses.
Answering your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Islam teaches us to treat the Word of Allah with utmost reverence. Once you are certain that you are not violating this principle, there is nothing wrong for you to repeat the surahs (chapters) of the Qur’an in your mind while doing different things.
It is not clear to me what sort of activities you were engaged in while reading the surahs.
“Do they not know that it is Allah Who accepts the repentance of His servants and receives (approves) their charity, and that Allah is the Relenting, the Compassionate?” (At-Tawbah 9:104)
The Prophet’s interdict against looking towards sky while praying is because of Islam’s concept of Allah’s transcendence. We are not allowed to point to Allah as if He were located in any palpable direction.
That is why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has prohibited such an act. But if a person didn’t know this prohibition and did it un-willfully, he/she is excused, for Allah does not take us to task for our inadvertent slips and trespasses.
In Prayer, we are ordered to look to the place where we place our forehead.
This is because of the fact that such a posture is most conducive to a feeling of true humility while standing before the Lord of the worlds. It should also help us to be more focused in Prayer.
As for the bad thoughts that invade your mind, you simply dispel them by seeking refuge in Allah as soon as they occur, and never stop to dwell on them.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that there is nothing that Satan detests more than the sight of a worshiper rapt in Prayer; hence he is at his hardest in taking one’s mind away from Prayer by whispering vile thoughts.
But never despair of Allah’s mercy. You can fight the Deceiver by seeking refuge in the Lord. Every time such thoughts intrude your mind, turn them away by saying:
a`udhu billaahi mina ash-shaytaani ar-rajeem
(I seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the accursed).
Remember: Satan uses all kinds of ruses to make you give up praying. Instilling in your mind excessive fear of Allah’s punishment is one of such ruses.
You must fight it by reminding yourself of His boundless mercy. Almighty Allah says, “Say: O My servants who have wronged against their souls! Do not despair of Allah’s mercy! For Allah forgives all sins; for He is indeed Forgiving, Compassionate.” (Az-Zumar 39:53)
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.