The spirit of salah is intention, devotion, and contemplation. Without contemplation, invocation is of no avail since this will be futile utterance. By the same token, all other acts of salah will not bring forth their desired fruits. The act of standing connotes service, and prostration implies humility and glorification, which will never be attained without attention. Allah Most High says, [It is not their meat or their blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him.] (Al-Hajj 22: 37)
It is now clear that what counts most in the Sight of Allah Most High is the state of the heart, by which one submits to the commands of Allah. One is required to be alert and mindful in salah, although Allah may pardon a lapse of negligence as long as consciousness dominates the Prayer.
Nevertheless, the following three are the yardstick of any acceptable salah:
- Consciousness. It means to show indifference to all worldly interests and have absolute consciousness of Allah Most High. To have such consciousness, you must have decisive intention and put your heart to it. Your consciousness, in fact, differs according to your strength of belief in the Hereafter and scorn of this world. Therefore, if you miss consciousness in salah, you should know that the root cause of this is weakness of faith, and so you should exert yourself to strengthen and bolster it.
- Reflection on the words. This is the second step after consciousness, which may be present without grasping the meaning of the words. You should direct your attention to grasp the meaning by refraining from thinking of other matters.
- Glorification and fear of Allah Most High, which emanate from realizing the majesty and magnificence of Allah, and looking down upon yourself, which would result in humility and consciousness. Hope is also an important factor in salah. When you offer salah, you should hope for the reward of Allah and fear the punishment due to your imperfection.
The following will help you keep your concentration while praying, insha’ Allah:
- Have the intention in your heart.
- Seek Allah’s help to maintain your concentration in Prayers.
- Perform the Prayers at their due times.
- Perform the Prayers in the way shown by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
- Reflect on the recitation and invocations.
- Avoid sins.