While performing prayer, there are always things that come to my mind involuntarily, I think about something; does this invalidate my prayer?

The Details of the Question

If thinking something during prayer invalidates it, what should I do?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is not appropriate to have waswasa (delusions) about this issue. Your prayers are still valid.

Let us have a look around us: let mountains, stones, plants, animals, the moon, the sun and stars cross your imagination one by one. All of them are physical beings; yet how different they are from each other!

And then let us think of the realm of rays, gravity and the attraction of the sun which we cannot see. And take notice of the fact that they are all very different from each other, too.

And let us continue with this:

Satan must be different from human beings as much as fire is different from earth. The Jinn must be as different from angels as darkness is different from light.

There are two species of beings which are tested by Allah: Human beings and the jinn.

There are believers and unbelievers amongst both of them. There are both good and evil individuals amongst both of them. Both species have got righteous ones and seditious ones. Here is the evilest member, who rebelled against Allah, of the Jinn: Satan.

Human body was created from earth, and the spirit is being hosted in that body. The jinn, on the other hand, were directly created from fire. Indeed, this difference of creation was the very reason of the first and the greatest test which Satan failed; and he was expelled from the presence of Allah and was cursed because he refused to prostrate before Adam claiming that he was superior to human beings as he was created from fire.

As Satan is from the Jinn species, his lifespan is naturally longer than that of human beings. In addition, this rebellious jinni was given a long lifespan as he wanted and indeed as a punishment, and he was permitted to pester human beings until the Day of Judgment.

Allah could have tested human beings only through their lower-selves and the worldly life too, without Satan, and given them their deserved bliss or deserved punishment. The fact that Satan is employed in this process is indeed a punishment given to Satan because more is added to his sins with every single person he leads to evil deeds and it causes his punishment to grow so severe that one cannot comprehend. Eventually, he became exposed to the most advanced level of the name of al-Qahhar.

There are evil spirits from the jinn which do not have physical bodies as certainly as there are evil souls from human beings which have physical bodies yet serve as demons.” (Lem'alar (The Flashes), p.82).

You see someone who is trying to instill some false thoughts into people. When he talks, he  looks directly in his addressee’s eyes, not at his arms or feet. He tries to get into his souls through his eyes and to instill some ideas in him. If you remove the physical bodies of these two people in your imagination, two different souls will appear. And one of them wants to deceive the other.

In this case, it should not seem irrational that Satan tries to pervert human spirit and lead him astray.

We see some people denying the existence of Satan. According to the author of the Nur Collection, it is “the greatest trick of Satan”. The only ground for this denial is that Satan cannot be seen with human eyes.

Now, let us ask that person:

With which organ of yours do you deny the existence of Satan? That is, is it your hands that deny him, or your ears, or your body or your legs?

He will find the question nonsense and will answer “with none of them”. It is my mind which cannot accept his existence. Then, what does not accept the existence of Satan is that person’s mind. Something invisible is denying the existence of another invisible thing and its evidence is that “it is invisible.”

The mind thinks with words, yet all works of the heart happen without words. One loves a flower or a scent without “words.” He does them without words. However, when he wants to explain that love to others, he uses words.

Satan talks without words to the human heart, which loves, fears and believes without words, and instills some suggestions into it like whispers. That whispering of Satan is called “delusion.” Talking of delusion, I would like to mention some tactics Satan uses to deceive people:

Satan’s first aim is to make people unbelievers. If he fails at it, he steps back and tries to prevent them from worshipping. He struggles to keep Allah’s servants away from this honorable duty. He whispers evils into their hearts and they become disturbed thinking that these evil ideas come from their hearts.

This time, Satan starts another trick: Satan says, “You cannot worship Allah with such a complicated heart (such complicated feelings)”. If one believes this delusion, Satan wins. However, everyone admits that nobody can find the peace, which he could not find in worshipping, by giving up worshipping. One who quits worshipping and obeying Allah gradually grows away from divinity. The only solution is continuing worshipping.

In a friends meeting, I was talking with a young friend who was exposed to that trick of Satan’s. He said “Whenever I start performing a prayer, I think of evil things. When I stop praying, they go away.” And he was looking for a solution. First of all, I offered him the following perfect recipe of the author of Nur Collection:

Those abominable words are not the words of your heart because your heart is affected and grieved by them.” (The Words, p.275).

Then I continued my talk as follows:

If you saw a man slapping his own face and crying, would you not say “Why is this man crying although he is slapping himself in person? Or is there an invisible hand which is making his hand slap his face?” Your situation resembles it.

According to the recipe of the author of Nur Collection; your crying shows that those words do not belong to your heart. You will see, for instance, when you go to a casino, that those words will stop. That means, the one who says those words is someone who is an enemy of prayer and friend of gambling.

And why should Satan give delusions to someone who gambles?... If he does, that person may remember that gambling is haram and it is something which Satan would never favor. Leaving him alone as he is, is the best option for Satan.

Then I read him the following paragraph from Nur Collection:

And that kind of delusions can neither harm the Divine Truth, nor your heart. Yes, if one looks through a dirty observation port at the Sun and the stars in the sky, or the roses and flowers in Heaven, the dirtiness of the observation port makes neither the beholder nor what is looked at dirty. And it does not cause any evil effects.” (Mesnevi-i Nuriye, 96).

Again, I asked a person in such situation the following question:

Have you ever read an Islamic Catechism book?

“Yes”he replied. I asked my second question:

Is “delusion” listed amongst the things which invalidate prayers?

He answered my question with surprised smile on his face.

I said: “Then, continue your prayers.” “Whatever may cross your mind while praying, when you hear the call “Rise up for prayer! Rise up for Salvation!” you should hurry to prayer with the consciousness that Allah is calling you to His presence. Some abominable things may cross your mind at that time. However, whatever they may be, you will have obeyed that order by going to the mosque for the prayer. If you do not perform your prayer because abominable things cross your mind, you will have rebelled and such an excuse cannot save you from being guilty. What matters is following the order and hurrying to perform the prayer. Having the ideal peace in our hearts during prayers is another matter.”

An assessment and a consoling statement on the issue from Nur Collection are as follows:

As distortion and negative currents are at their zenith nowadays, God-consciousness (taqwa) is the most effective weapon against the distortion. One who performs fard worships and does not commit major sins finds salvation. With such major sins, good deeds are sincerely less likely to succeed. And a little amount of good deeds is regarded as many under such difficult circumstances.(Appendix of Kastamonu, 148)

The expression of “nowadays” is explained in the same letter as follows:

“As human beings face a hundred sins in every moment in today’s social lifestyle, of course, they are considered to have performed a hundred good deeds if they are God-conscious and if they tend to refrain from those sins.”

When these two assessments are considered together, a battlefield is animated in our imagination. Bullets are pouring like rain from every corner and we are searching for peace in this violent atmosphere. It is obvious that we cannot find it. However, we are not supposed to join the enemy side just because we cannot find peace.

So, sins resemble bullets and arrows. And the social life of this age resembles a battlefield. A person who is attacked by hundreds of enemies from every corner can hardly succeed in performing prayers peacefully and sincerely. However, this hardship earns him a special value; keeping guard in wartime and in battlefield and keeping guard in peacetime in towns are not the same. The statement “And a few good deeds are indeed regarded as many under such difficult circumstances” consoles and gives us the good news.

There is some other good news in the same letter: “One will have performed hundreds of wajib worships by avoiding hundreds of sins, as avoiding one sin is wajib.”

People who were not exposed to even one percent of these sins could not perform those wajib prayers a few centuries ago. Instead, they advanced in performing good deeds and increased the amount of their nafilah (supererogatory) prayers. However, it is now difficult to perform good deeds. The statement “One who performs fard worships and refrains from major sins finds salvation” is a description of the awe of this age, besides being good news.

Let us deal with our own lower-selves and try to keep them away from Satan instead of wasting our time judging the age. As the ones who succeed in it increase in number, the age will also have to comply with those blissful people.


Alaaddin Başar, Ph.D.

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