How Can I Deal With Doubts About the Sincerity of My Prayers?

Answered by Ustadha Rahma Ahmed

Question: Assalamu’alaykum

I often find myself feeling stressed about my prayer because of its importance and knowing about the greatness of Allah and how it links to prayer.

I get annoyed when I pray because I don’t believe it’s sincere, that I’m doing it for the sake of Allah, and because I don’t have khushu in it.

It’s very annoying and I feel helpless. Can you help?

Answer:Wa alaykum as salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I pray this reaches you in the best state of faith and health.

Reality and importance of the prayer

Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an,“Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours” (4:103).

Thus, the prayer is of utmost importance, as you rightly say.

It is a mean of communicating with one’s Creator, and of drawing close to Him.

Indeed, it is one of the main pillars of this religion.

The holy Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Prayer is the best of affairs”.

Therefore, one should strive to perfect one’s prayer – inwardly, and outwardly.

This is done by seeking sacred knowledge, and applying it to the best of one’s ability.

Be aware of Shaytan

Because of the great rank and beauty of the prayer, Shaytan and his followers want to deprive us of its benefits.

Even before one enters the prayer, they whisper thoughts that are evil and dark.

The scholars have recommended certain actions before the prayer to decrease these whisperings. For example, Imam Ghazali (may Allah be well-pleased with him) recommended reading Surat an-Nas before entering into the prayer.

Ultimately, one should simply ignore these impulses, and they will be of no harm. However, adopting the thoughts as your own by continuing to think about them will affect you long after the prayer is done. This may leave you in a state of despair.

Hope is in Allah

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an, “O, My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning]: do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful” (39:53).

Ibn Ata’illah (may Allah be well-pleased with him) said, “One of the signs of relying on one’s deeds is loss of hope when a misstep occurs” [Hikam].

Those who rely on Allah never lose hope, whereas those who rely on themselves eventually slip and plummet.

Try not to rely on your own deeds, but on the mercy of your Lord. He is the One who bestows sincerity and acceptance.

Where responsibility lies

Your obligation is to pray when Allah Most High has commanded you to pray.

Try your best to beautify your prayers with the sunna recommended acts.

When you have done what you can, rely on Allah Most High. Turn to Him for help.

The Qur’an repeatedly mentions reliance on Allah, stating, “Place your reliance in the Living God, the Undying” (25: 58) and “Whoever places his reliance on Allah then He is his sufficiency” (65: 3).

May Allah Most High accept all of our deeds and show us mercy.

Umm Fatima

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani