Where to look during prayer

Author: Edited by Adil Salahi ARABNEWS

Worship should always be performed in the way and the manner that God likes and the Prophet (peace be upon him) has shown and explained. Prayer, or salat, is the most important form of Islamic worship. It includes readings from the Qur’an, movements from one position to another, glorification of God and supplication. It must always follow the pattern shown to us by the Prophet. He says: “Pray as you have seen me pray.”

While it is his companions that saw him offering his prayers, and joined him in congregational prayers, we have learned the way to pray through a long succession of generations of Muslims, maintaining the same way and following the Prophet’s example. Anyone who prays in a different way does not fulfill the Islamic duty.

Sometimes we do something in a particular fashion because we think it is better that way. This applies to anything other than religion, which must follow the guidance provided by the Prophet. Providing such guidance was his role and he accomplished it in the best possible way. Following his example is the practical manifestation of the second part of the declaration: La Ilaha Illa Allah, Muhammad Rasool Allah, which means, “there is no deity other than God, Muhammad is God’s messenger.”

In fulfilling his role, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was keen to correct any mistake he might have noticed one or more of his companions doing. One of these mistakes was to look up to the sky during prayer, particularly during supplication. Some of his companions thought that this was better, imagining that this is indicated by the Qur’anic verse that says: “And in the sky is your sustenance and all that you are promised.” (51: 22) This, however, gives no hint that looking up to the sky makes one’s supplication quicker to answer. It is God who answers prayer, and God is not bound by time, space or any other dimension. The Prophet advised his companions that looking up to the sky during prayer is wrong.

Some of them, however, might have forgotten or thought little of the matter. Therefore, he said the following Hadith, issuing a strong warning, quoted by Anas ibn Malik: “What is the matter with certain people: they lift their eyes to the sky during prayer?” He continued speaking strongly against this practice until he said: “They shall desist or their sights might be taken away.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).


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