How do we keep our thoughts from wandering away from Allah while we’re praying?

BismillahirRahmanirRahim

pray

We have a question from one of our brothers. He is saying that when he’s praying, sometimes, the only time that he remembers properly having concentration, focus, remembering Allah, is at the end of the prayer. The end of the prayer, and he is feeling very bad about it, and how to make the situation to become better. How to ask for forgiveness and how to prevent it from coming, from being that way? He is asking if the prayer is counting for something?

In Tarikat, when we are following Sheykhs, when we are concentrating on the spiritual value of our actions, the sincerity will make us to understand that a lot of the actions that we are doing, either they are not worthy for service to Divine Presence or the actions that we are doing, it is in ghaflat. So we are not relying on the actions. We are not relying on our worship. We are relying on the intentions and we are relying on the syafaat of the Prophet (asws).  We are relying on the intercession and we are relying on the prayers of the Prophet, of his inheritors, of our Sheykh, to help us. Because if you enter into Tarikat, you understand now the weakness. You understand your own weakness. You understand how strong your ego is. And how your ego is going to poison everything. I’m not going to talk about, oh, that is the low step, that is the low level, we are going to move to higher and higher. No. we are not concern about higher stations. We are concern about getting off the ground properly. Yeah, everyone is at kindergarten level. We still want to have the foundation to be really good.

So, it is normal. I’m not saying it is good. but it is normal. When you are praying, you are saying, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ it is not taking you to a Mi’raj. But the prayer of a believer is supposed to be a Mi’raj. How did Holy Prophet (asws) go on the Mi’raj? How did he make the Mi’raj? How did he make the Isra’ and the Mi’raj?

He rode on the Buraq. Didn’t he? So to make the Mi’raj, he rode on the Buraq. And what did Sheykh Effendi say about what our buraq is?  What is our buraq? Our ego. Our nafs. Now, in order to make that prayer to be a mi’raj, we have to ride on our ego, on our nafs. But, the problem also is, if you are thinking, we are just talking about general zikr earlier, correct? And how to live Islamic life, how to get a taste of it. (Hoja addresses the murids: Sit properly. Be still a little bit. When the sohbet is going on, the proper edep, try to be still as much as you can. 24hrs, seven days a week, you are outside, you can move as much as you can. That’s why the Dergah is here to teach. Because this is also the sunnat of the Sahabi-e-kiram. When they are listening to the sohbet of the Prophet (asws), they don’t move. There are different things that are coming down. Different things that you understand and things that you don’t understand. Maybe the Angels are passing at that time, definitely the Prophets are coming, the Sheykhs they are coming and they are looking at your manners. They are looking at your manners. And if you have proper manners, they bless you that time and it’s better than you worshipping or doing so many things because you already got the blessings. Okay, this is just a reminder, for you and for me. For everyone. You have to learn. The Dergah is not a place where you are going to come and I’m just going to stroke your ego and I’m going to say, ‘very good my babies.’ And then go back. We see something that is not good, we are here to learn. You learn from the mistakes that you do.)

So now, the ego, is our Buraq. The prayer is the time of a Mi’raj. The prayer is not the time where you are going to step on your ego. Do you understand? The Dergah, it is a place where you are going to train how to live an Islamic life. Maybe couple of hours, a month, a few hours. You cannot say, this one day or twelve hours, you are just coming in, praying and eating and listening to sohbet and going to sleep. You can do that anywhere, isn’t it? There’s something else that is happening. There has to be activities. There has to be when you are listening to the sohbet and you are doing the work and starting to apply it directly to the work. Thirteen hundred years, that’s what the Muslims were doing. They were applying directly the knowledge of Islam into their lives. That’s why it is blessed. There is no separation between religion and your life. Your life is your religion.  Religion is life, which is call the Deen, it is the lifestyle. A religion is not something extra that you put into your life.

So, the important thing now is that if we are not preparing, then when the time comes we are rushing to prepare, it’s not going to work. Because that’s not the time for preparation. You are going to fail. You have to train. When the time it comes for you to fight, you cannot train anymore. You have to fight. You start training, you will fail. If you are not training your ego, if you are not riding your buraq outside of prayer, if you are not watching yourself, you are not understanding, you are not catching yourself, especially your thoughts now, isn’t it?  How many millions times we say Tafakkur? What is Tafakkur? To think. You ever try that? You understand how difficult it is? Just for five minutes, just to remember strictly what did you do today for the sake of Allah? What you didn’t do for the sake of Allah? To think. To go back. Try doing that for five minutes and you’ll see your mind moving in so many different directions. Isn’t it? And you are just thinking about your life. You are not thinking about Allah. So if the murid, which we are supposed to do, you are doing this then the prayer that time you will be able to focus on something. It’s not going to knock you wall to wall. At least you are going to hold on to something.

Prayer

So the remembrance of Allah, the focus of your prayer, in your prayer, that has to work, that has to function, you have to do that outside of prayer. So that when you come to the prayer, you are just riding it. You are not training your buraq anymore. You are just riding it. Because you are already doing that outside of prayer. You are applying, you are thinking, you are making a zikr, you are making some focus in your life that you are doing and you are not separating it from Allah swt. So, when the time comes, when you are praying, there’s no fighting anymore. There should  not be. Because the movements that you are doing are the movements of Angels. They are not the movements of your ego. The work that we are doing is the movements of animal. Outside. Outside of prayer, it’s the movement of animals. We eat. We sleep. We do other things, is the movements and the behavior of the animal side. But when you are standing up and you are saying: Allahu Akhbar, and when you are doing ruku’ , these are not movements of animals. These are movements of Angels and of Prophets. So that time, the mukmin is free. He’s released. And when he is released, he goes and he rides on his buraq and he goes somewhere. He will train his buraq to go somewhere where it is Haqq, where it is good. If you are not training your buraq, that time you say, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ your buraq is riding you and it’s taking you somewhere.

What are we doing here? We are preparing ourselves. We are training ourselves for the appearances of Mahdi (as), isn’t it? For what? For our Sheykh to come back. For every small things it counts. You being on time, it counts. You sitting properly, it counts. Listening properly, it counts. Especially when you are here at the Dergah, you are coming just for a couple of hours but if you are not taking it seriously, it will be wasted. Maybe you are not required to train for years and years and years. Only for a couple of hours. But they are looking at where your heart is. If in that couple of hours you cannot just hold yourself tightly then what good are we?

So right now, that we’ve talked before, Rajab is going to enter in a few weeks. This is preparation for Rajab. Rajab is preparation now, and Rajab is what? Raghaib and Mi’raj. Isn’t it? One is coming down, the other one is going up. It is the transfer of the Prophet’s (asws) Nur to his mother’s womb. So it comes to earth. It is planted. Before it was with the father. And Mi’raj is when the light of the Prophet (asws) now, it goes. It is released. And right in the middle of Shaban, it concerns us.  In the middle of Shaban and the Shaban is the month of the Prophet. Right in the centre of the month of the Prophet, it is the ummat. It is our Bara’at. And Rajab is in preparation for Shaban. And Shaban, after you’ve prepared and you passed  your Bara’at, you feel clean and good and pure and you enter into Ramazan, your spirit is free. If you are not preparing and suddenly you want to train and prepare for Ramazan during Ramazan, that’s why it’s going to become a heavy crushing burden to you.

We are not other faith, other tradition that says: Oh, before Holy months enter,  before you fast, let’s do every kind of dirtiness, let’s do every kind of nafsani action, let’s do every kind of animal action, because later you are going to fast. You understand? Other religion, they are doing that. They are going to enter into a Holy days, they said, ‘oh, we are not going to eat meat for forty days. So let’s have a festival of meat.’ What is festival of meat? Carnival. Carnival means festival of meat. Where they do every sort of egoistic actions, wild actions, they do everything. They drink, they do everything, then later they say, ‘okay. Because tomorrow we have to fast,’ so they stop everything. You are tired. You’ve already let your ego to do as much as it wants, then you start worshipping. Are we understanding, as muslims, how weird that sounds? Can you imagine before we enter into Ramazan, you are going to go through every kind of dirtiness, then you enter.  Then what’s the use?

So everything that we are doing now, it’s in preparation for something. You are praying, prepare for the prayer. Enter into the prayer properly. Forget about entering into the prayer, majority of Muslims, they hate the prayer. They say it’s such an inconvenience. They enter like thieves and they leave like thieves. Quickly they are doing it, as if it’s burning them. They enter into the Jummah, in the Jami, quickly. Last minute they come in. Quickly they pray and they go out. As if it’s burning them. It’s supposed to be the House of Allah. It is Jannat, but they turn into a jahannam. If the Imam speaks a little bit longer, they get very upset. Of course, I don’t blame them too much these days also because the Imams are up there on the mimbar, and they are only asking for money non stop. Continuously, especially in this country. Using that maqam of the Prophet (asws) to make  business, for dunya. Not giving them anything for the spirit, that this world that we are living now in Ahir Zaman, is draining your spirit. It’s emptying you out.

So you come to masjid to get filled. Masjid is not giving you that. No wonder they are leaving. But there are places where they are giving you that and murids are being spoiled with that. Be careful. If we are not holding on to what is supposed to be ours, Allah will select those ones, will pick those ones that are much better than us. At the last minute we can get knocked out and new ones are going to take over. This is Sheykh Effendi’s warning, over and over again he has said this. I’m looking to myself. We should look to ourselves. We are not indispensable. Every one of us, we are replaceable. If we are not holding on to that value that Allah has given us, if you cannot carry the responsibility, Allah will create a new race, a new people, that is going to carry it better than us.

So what we are doing now is preparation. Nothing else. If you are prepared, when the time comes, it will be easy. Right now we are preparing for the events that are going to come. Our life is preparation for death. Our life is preparation for the Hereafter. If we know that, then that time we are not going to be caught off guard. We are going to know what to do.

Is your prayer going to be accepted? Allah is going to decide that. I’m not going to tell you. But let me tell you something, we should all just ask ourselves: the prayer that we make, is it worth for Divine Presence? No. of course not. So we say astarghfirullah. Which is why in the Naksibendi way, it is a sunnat, every time you finish your prayer, you say, ‘Astarghfirullah. Astarghfirullah. Astarghfirullah.’ One hundred times you are saying it. And you are saying astarghfirullah for the mistakes that you have done in your prayer. Not outside. So that is another thing that you are going to, another protection of your prayer. And we are praying and we ask Allah for the sake of the Holy ones, accept our  prayer, accept our services, accept our ibadat. Put that into their account. Like what Sheykh Effendi says: you know, you are buying rice, not in America, in other countries, even now, you buy rice, you buy one kilogram of rice, you get small stones and small pebbles and small other things in that, it’s counted with  that one kilogram of rice. So the Awliya Allah, our Sheykh, their worship is like that rice. Our worship is like that pieces of stone. But because we are with them, it is counted together with them. It’s counted for something.

This is not being humble. It is being sincere. It is being real. So if we are not training ourselves to have that kind of concentration, khusyuk, outside of prayer, how are we going to have it inside of prayer? Suddenly it’s going to come like that? 24hrs our mind is racing,  suddenly you say, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ everything is supposed to be shut down? Impossible. You don’t train anything for the whole year, suddenly you say, ‘okay now I’m going to fight.’ You can do that? Impossible.  No matter how good you are, no matter how good you are a fighter, you stop fighting for some time, your performance level goes down. So if we are not fighting against our ego, how that time when we are  in front, we take the takbir, we are able to fight our ego then that time?

Alhamdulillah. Allah swt has send the mercy to us, and the mercy to us reaching is our Sheykh. He is our Imam here and Hereafter. We follow him. And  Alhamdulillah, in the Hanafi mazhab, you follow your Imam. The Imam is going to lead the Jamaat. You are not responsible. The Imam is responsible. You understand? So always make him to be your Imam. That time, they can cover it a little bit. But think. Think carefully. If you are not going to train yourself, when the time comes, even when you say medet, medet is not magic, even if you say medet, it’s not going to help you so much. But if you take one step, they will take ten steps to you. This much is enough.

Imam

  WaminaAllahu Taufiq. Alfatiha.

 General Zikr sohbet by Hoja Lokman Efendi Hz, Khalifah of Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs) * OSMANLI DERGAHI- New York

15 Jamadilakhir 1436H

April 4, 2015

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