Assalamualaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh
This is going to be a long post but the answer is important to me.
I am someone who suffers from waswas/potential OCD. This happens a lot in salat. I am not born speaking Arabic so the verses that I recite during Salat I have learned to understand.
Recently, because my waswas/potential ocd thoughts have been getting bad, and it is difficult to concentrate during Salat, I have been able to concentrate by imagining the Prophet SAW raising his finger in Tawheed. And I often imagine this gesture during salat. I sometimes imagine a gathering with the Prophet where he talks to us about Allah/ Islam.
This is to help me concentrate on Allah SWT as it is hard for me otherwise due to the negative thoughts.
I know I should be focussing on the words but this can be hard with waswas/potential OCD thoughts.
I am someone who is extremely scared of falling out of Islam, and I am now fearful that what I am doing constitutes this. Please could you clarify this?
This is important to me.
Jazak Allahu Khayran.
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
I think your question is not related to fiqh. You should ask your physician to refer you to a specialist who can help you overcome this kind of thoughts and nagging doubts.
If you still insist on a Fiqhi answer on the issue, then I would like to state that Islam does not allow us to visualize the Prophet’s image during the prayer; that would be contrary to the spirit of Tawhid or belief in the Oneness of Allah. So, you ought to repent and seek forgiveness of Allah.
The best way for you to develop Khushu or presence of mind in prayer is to visualize that you are standing before Allah, and you are speaking to Him through Prayer.
For details on some tips to enhance concentration or mindfulness in Salah, let me cite one of my earlier answers:
“In order to gain proper concentration in prayer, it is important to keep one’s mind free of all pre-occupations with worldly affairs. Since our minds tend to dwell on the things which we are currently absorbed with, it is important to break the hold of this world upon our minds by conditioning ourselves to think consistently of Allah and the Last Day. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A true believer is one who has made all of his thoughts subservient to the bigger thought: Allah.”
Another important point to remember is that often because of our indulgence in major sins, we may be deprived of true joy in prayer – as a penalty for these sins. Such sins include displeasing one’s parents, fornication or adultery or indiscriminate mingling and mixing with members of the opposite sex, or unethical conduct and behavior in financial dealings, etc.
Therefore, as a prerequisite step towards improving our concentration in salah, we must examine our life and purge it of all the major sins according to the best of our ability. After having done so, we can follow these tips which have been gleaned from the discussions of the salaf al-salih (pious predecessors):
1. Before standing up for prayer, try to deal with all the minor urgent matters which demand your attention. If you are oppressed by hunger, eat first; if you are pressed to attend to the call of nature, relieve yourself; if you are the parent of an infant, feed him or her, or keep him or her busy.
2. Perform your ablutions well, paying due care and attention.
3. Approach the prayer with zest and passion as if it is the most important task in your life. Actually the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that we could do nothing in this world that could ever surpass salah in merit and excellence.
4. Visualize that in your prayer you are going to have a special audience with Allah, Lord of the worlds, and that you are enjoying a direct communion with Him – which, in fact, is true.
5. Think of the prayer you are performing as if it were the last prayer of your life. In fact, it could very well be the last one, since no one is given a guarantee that he would live to perform another prayer.
6. Picture the scene of the Last Day when people will be lined up into two groups, one destined for heaven, and another for hell, and ask yourself where you would be placed.
7. Focus your mind on what you are reading in your prayer.
8. If, in spite of your best efforts, your mind is still wandering, seek refuge in Allah and bring your mind back to prayer.
9. Pray to Allah and beg Him to grant you true the joy of concentrating in your prayer and protection against the wanderings of your mind.
Almighty Allah Knows best.
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