Presence of Heart in Prayer

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

I feel that my ibadah is not good enough. Specifically this feeling is not because I am making fiqh mistakes but that there is not enough Khusoo in them. Is this feeling good or bad? How does one purify one’s ibadah? How do we purify our intentions?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

It is a given fact that our worship is not perfect. This is among the wisdoms of the sunna of saying Astaghfirullah (‘I seek the forgiveness of Allah’) three times right after praying: one realizes one’s shortcomings in fulfilling the rights of Allah.

At the same time, Allah has told us that, “Allah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear.” [Qur’an, end of Baqara]

Among the things scholars mention about presence of heart in prayer are:

The way of having presence of heart during prayer is to realize that presence of heart with Allah is something sought during every moment in one’s life, and that the means to it is doing dhikr as much as one possibly can. Not to churn up the reward alone, but in order to be thankful of Allah, in order to express one’s love of Allah, in order to attain unto closeness with Allah, and in order to strive to fulfill the duties of slavehood to Allah Most High. Keep a small sibha with you and keep making dhikr, such as “La Ilaha Illa Allah” or “Allahumma Salli `ala Sayyidina Muhammadin wa Aalihi wa Sallim…”

This, coupled with avoiding the haram, outwardly and inwardly, are keys to presence of heart with Allah.

Also, don’t just “jump” into prayer: focus your heart on Allah before starting for a moment, and then start. Before starting, make a quick heart-felt dua that Allah grant you love, thankfulness, sincerity…

Allah has promised us in the Qur’an:

029.069         As for those who strive in Us, We surely guide them to Our paths, and lo! Allah is with the good.

Muhtar Holland’s translation of Imam Ghazali’s Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship is excellent.

Faraz Rabbani