One of the most annoying sounds in the mosque or any place where you just want peace and quiet to focus is the irritating tone of yet another phone ringing, and someone reading this article perhaps shares the same sentiments as me (or feels like a guilty culprit!).
Salah is an opportunity to re-focus in the haphazard chaos which is life at times and in light of this I don’t think we need more disturbances whilst trying to attain what is known as kushu (tranquillity, humility) in prayer; yet many Muslims are distracted today by both mental notes racing around their mind when they get to salah but also other physical distractions.
In this article we’ll look at how you can quit some of the common distractions before you start salah so that you can enjoy a real sense of focus next time you pray; first here’s a list of some common distractors:
– Your phone/gadgets eg. email, BBM
– Incomplete tasks
– Other people
How do we quit these distractions?
1. Start preparing for disconnection
The moment you start making wudhu is the starting point for refocusing on the act of performing salah, this is more than a physical cleansing and rather is a tool to prepare us spiritually for the great act of salah where we can reconnect with our Lord and disconnect from the worldly distractions. Research shows also how the actions performed in salah can have stress-reducing implications due to the disconnection from every day worries and anxieties when we enter salah which is perhaps why the Companions and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) would describe the prayer as relief. Watch the recent TEDX Talk by ProductiveMuslim on more spiritual effects.
2. Switch off/silence all gadgets
One of the main reasons many of us are mentally distracted and lack focus in salah is because we’re so conected to the gadgets at our disposal, whether it’s our iPhone or iPad – they all bring an array of information to the brain! This step of switching off or silencing your phone/laptop etc is really important, and I’d suggest you don’t look at it in between the completion of rakahs otherwise you know what you’ll be thinking about – that email you just read rather than the verses of Allah!
3. Find a quiet spot
Physically the surrounding we are in can affect our sense of focus therefore to create a distraction-free zone you need to find a quiet spot when at work or in the home where you know you will not have other noises to distract you. It can also help to put up a ‘please do not disturb’ sign if you’re at work using a room that is not usually for prayer/contemplation. If you’re praying in congregation, do your best not to fidget as it can distract the person next to you!
4. Ask others to politely ‘be quiet’
Even in the mosque or usual settings where we go to pray, there tends to be alot of talk and chatting that can take away one’s focus in prayer. Here it’s important for others’ to be reminded gently that if the volume of their conversations is affecting worshippers, they should politely ‘be quiet’.
5. Dump your thoughts
The final task to undertake before you start salah in a distraction-free environment is to ‘dump your thoughts’ – it’s often the mental tasks and whispers of Shaytan about all these other things we have to do which mean we escape our chance of experiencing tranquillity. If you have lots of thoughts that conveniently come to mind before salah – just write it all down on a piece of paper. Once you’ve dumped your thoughts, hopefully your mind will feel lighter and you’ll be ready to focus on the Words of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala) and reflect..