Concentration in prayers and worship


Here are a few thoughts from His Eminence Ayatullah Behjat (One of the great Alims and Mystics of our time) on the issue of concentration during prayers.

Sheikh Muhsin Gharavian was once granted audience in the presence of Ayatullah al-Udhma Shaikh Muhammad Taqi Behjat (may the Almighty prolong his blessed presence amongst us) and asked him:

"O Scholar! Despite our advanced age we haven't have yet experienced the pleasure of worship especially the sweetness of communication with God in salaat. According to your opinion what should we do to experience even a little pleasure of what our Infallible Imams have promised us?"

His eminence nodded his head and said: (Dear son) "Actually this is a universal problem. All of us are plagued with this ailment."

The Sheikh was not satisfied with the answer and requested him for more concrete advice: "Our status differs from that which you have achieved, you've attained the heights of spirituality while we are the beginners! what should we do?"

His Eminence said: "May be I also wish I could acquire your status!"

Not contented with the self-effacing answer, he requested for more clarification. His Eminence replied: "In order to acquire the necessary concentration in Salaah one should observe

a) certain pre-requisites before Salaah and
b) certain discipline during Salaah.

a) before Salaah one should observe Taqwa (God consciousness) and one should abstain from all sins that lead to darkening of the God-given purity of heart. SINS POLLUTE THE PURITY OF THE HEART and therefore reduce the luminosity of the heart.

b) during Salaah one should erect a "high security wire" around one's heart such that no unwanted trespasser (distracting devilish thoughts) is allowed inside the holy sanctuary of the heart. One's thoughts should be intensely directed towards God and none other than Him should be allowed in. And if one's thoughts start straying, immediately the moment one comes to know, one should guide these towards the right direction.

Once His Eminence was asked as to how to increase concentration in one's daily prayers?

Initially His Eminence put his face down and then raised his head and responded:
"The oil in the lamp seems to be low!" meaning that the Ma'refat (awareness) of the All- Magnificent One is not enough (as to experience the sweetness of spiritual communication) and therefore needs to be enriched and one's Imaan (faith) is weak and hence needs to be strengthened.

Ustad Khusro Shaahi quotes:
"Once His Eminence was asked how can we create in ourselves concentration during prayers?"

His Eminence replied:
"One of the factors which help create concentration is by exercising control over our physical senses (ie EYES, EARS, TONGUE etc) throughout the day since concentration can only be created through proper preliminary requirements which include the close monitoring of the physical senses."

On one occasion His Eminence Ayatullah al-Udhma Behjat was asked:
"What should we do in order to obtain the state of total obedience to God's commands especially His command that states in Sura Muminoon, Verses 1-2
- "Indeed successful are the Believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers" How can a believer acquire this lofty state of humility?"

His Eminence replied:
"At the beginning of prayers one should sincerely seek intercession of the Awaited Imam of the time (May the Almighty hasten his re-appearance and include us from his helpers) and perform the prayers in its required manner."

And finally when His Eminence Ayatullah Al-Udhma Behjat was asked:
"How does one achieve a presence of mind in Salaat and obtain control over one's thoughts and feelings?"

His Eminence wrote back in reply:
"In His Name, the Exalted the moment when you acquire attention (towards your Lord) do not allow it to disappear."

Translated by : Mrs. S. Murtaza Alidina.
Contributed by : Tahir Ridha