5 Ways to Deal with Prayer Distractions

22 February, 2021
Q I have been bothered by this thought of mine about sinning. During this year 2020, many bad things happened to the world and it affected me specially my prayers. During the past 5 months, I have been offering distracted prayers wherein i cannot convey my true intentions because I am interrupted by negative thoughts and images keep popping in my head. I feel very guilty about this and I'm asking for your advice on how can I overcome this.

Answer

Short Answer:

  • Allah won’t hold us accountable for those evil thoughts if we don’t act on them. But do try to purify your thoughts and ward off those negative thoughts about sinning by busying yourself with healthy, productive activities.
  • Read on to learn these 5 Ways to Deal with Prayer Distractions.

………….

Peace be upon you, our Dear Sister,

Thank you for sending your question. 

How to Get Rid of Negative Thoughts in Prayer

Regarding the negative thoughts that come to your mind while praying, The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) taught us how to deal with it. Uthman b. Abu al-‘As reported that he came to Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) and said:

Allah’s Messenger, the Satan intervenes between me and my prayer and my reciting of the Qur’an and he confounds me. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) said: That is the doing of  Satan who is known as Khinzab, and when you perceive its effect, seek refuge with Allah from it and spit three times to your left. I did that and Allah dispelled that from me. [Sahih Muslim]

So, do try this next time you get prayer distractions and just continue normally.

If you get distracted still that you forget parts or get confused inside the prayer, then here is what you need to do as prescribed in the hadith. It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said:

“Satan comes to anyone of you while he is praying and comes between him and his soul until he does not know whether he as added something or omitted something. If that happens, then he should prostrate twice before the Salam, then he should say the Salam.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Dhikr and Quran to Ward off The Devil and his Whispers

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In addition to that, to keep the negative thoughts away, it is highly recommended that you devotedly recite the morning and evening adhakar because they protect from the devil and his whispers.

Also, if you managed to recite Surat Al Baqarah at home that would help greatly as the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) says:

“Do not turn your houses into graveyards. Satan runs away from the house in which Surat Al-Baqarah is recited.” [Muslim]

And always seek refuge in Allah from the evil whispers saying ‘a’udhu biAllahi min asShaitan asRajeem‘ (I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed devil).

Negative thoughts are from Satan and Satan’s plots are always weak when we seek the help of Allah the All-Powerful, The Master of everything, and everyone in the heavens and the earth. 

Contemplating on the Powerful Conversation in Prayer

To help you focus on prayer, remember that when you recite Al Fatiha (The Opening Chapter) you immediately enter into a conversation between you and Allah, The King of the Universe. The Prophet [saw] explained how this conversation goes:

He [saw] said that Allah the Exalted had said:

“I have divided the prayer into two halves between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks. When the servant says: Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe, Allah the Most High says: My servant has praised Me. And when he (the servant) says: The Most Compassionate, the Merciful, Allah the Most High says: My servant has lauded Me. And when he (the servant) says: Master of the Day of judgment, He remarks: My servant has entrusted (his affairs) to Me. And when he (the worshipper) says: You alone we worship and of You alone do we ask help, He (Allah) says: This is between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for. Then, when he (the worshipper) says: Guide us to the straight path, the path of those to whom You has been Gracious not of those who have incurred Your displeasure, nor of those who have gone astray, He (Allah) says: This is for My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.” [Sahih Muslim]

The Thought of Sin & Allah’s Mercy

Regarding your question on thinking about sinning, narrated Abu Huraira, The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said,

“Allah forgives my followers those (evil deeds) their souls may whisper or suggest to them as long as they do not act (on it) or speak.” [Sahih Al Bukhari]

5 Ways to Deal with Prayer Distractions

Allah won’t hold us accountable for those evil thoughts if we don’t act on them. But do try to purify your thoughts and ward off those negative thoughts about sinning by busying yourself with healthy, productive activities.

To say goodbye to prayer distractions, make a productive plan for your day that includes:

1- Marinating your adhkar & prayers.

2- Listening to lectures that have beneficial knowledge and reminder.

3- Engaging in volunteering and helping others for the sake of Allah.

4- Being among groups of righteous companions who aid one another in doing good works.  

5- Studying the meaning of the Quran. It’s very powerful and keeps your heart and mind engaged and ward off the thoughts of sin. 

Made a Mistake? Repent and do a Good Deed to Wipe out the Bad Deed

Most importantly, if you make a mistake, then immediately repent and do a good deed to wipe out the bad deed.

And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.” (Qur’an 11:114)

Don’t give up or lose hope ever. Remember Allah says:

‘O son of adam, I forgive you as long as you pray to Me and hope for My forgiveness, whatever sins you have committed. O son of ‘Adam, I do not care if your sins reach the height of heaven, then you ask for my forgiveness, I would forgive you. O son of ‘Adam, if you come to Me with an earth load of sins, and meet Me associating nothing to Me, I would match it with an earth load of forgiveness.”‘ [At- Tirmidhi].

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

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