Question: I tend to have a hard time focusing. How can one focus doing prayer and zikr?
Take it simple. Take it very simply. Before you move to prayer and your zikr, focusing, first look in your daily life what you are doing and ask, am I focusing on what I am doing or not? You are doing work, are you focusing on that work? You are eating, are you focusing on eating?
Once you start focusing on doing the activities in your life, simply, then that time meaning, focus means what? Now I’m doing this, I’m not doing all these other things, it doesn’t concern. You have to have that discipline now. I’m working, I cannot be talking at the same time, answering your phone call and daydreaming. I cannot. I have to say, it is enough. I have to push this away. Once you start doing that, you discover your job is becoming better. It’s easier. There’s more energy doing it.
Once you understand that and once you are able to do it, you are going to come now to prayer. Of course the prayer, once you start praying all the sheytan is going to jump on you. Your ego is going to go crazy. Things that you didn’t think about outside of prayer, suddenly it’s circling around. You notice. You’re saying Auzu billahi min ash-sheytanir rajim BismillahirRahmanirRahim, you’re saying. You are reciting the words of Allah, you are reciting Quran e-Kerim. But sheytan is still coming. Why is sheytan coming? Because you open the door to sheytan.
So many times we are caught in this habit, like people they are caught in the habit, sohbet is starting, oh that’s the time I’m going to go to sleep. Sohbet finished, we are serving tea and coffee and cake, they are going to wake up, they are going to eat. Isn’t it? Zikr happening they are sleeping, zikr finish, they wake up. First you have to say, ‘this is messed up.’ You have to say it to yourself, ‘this is wrong. It shouldn’t be like that.’ And you have to try. You make a dua, you pray, you have to try and you put something, you put some discipline, and Allah is saying, ‘if you take one step to Me, I will take ten steps to you.’
So you are trying. You are trying to wake up now. Now maybe one friend of Allah is seeing how much you are struggling with one prayer, you can come out from it. Sometimes they just led you to fight. Because more you fight against your ego, more rewards, more blessings that you are going to get. You understand?
So now, you are praying. You are about to pray. You pray, you are reciting, thoughts are coming, stop. Go back to what you are praying. Pray, ask for forgiveness. You cannot stop yourself, ask for forgiveness before and ask for forgiveness after. And say, ‘Ya Rabbi, I’m a weak one.’ Because when you’re in the prayer, the prayer of a believer, like what Holy Prophet (asws) is saying, ‘the prayer, it is the mi’raj for the believers.’ You make the mi’raj. We don’t make the mi’raj. You pray, you are still staring at the carpet. You didn’t come off one inch from the ground. How are you making mi’raj? Holy Prophet is not speaking the truth? Hasha Astarghfirullah. He’s speaking true. So there is something there. Because some people, it is a habit, like I say, they say, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ that’s the time they start daydreaming, when they are praying. Because they are not saying to themselves, ‘now, right now, I’m standing in the presence of my Lord. My Lord is looking at me directly. He’s looking into my heart. So Auzu billahi min ash-sheytanir rajim ….AlhamdulillahirRabil Alamin…’ if it strays then you have to come back. Astarghfirullah. You come back. It strays, you have to come back. You are watching yourself.
When you are alone, it may be difficult. When you are in jamaat, it’s a little easier. When you are behind an Imam that is connected, behind a Sheykh, behind an EvliyaAllah, it is completely easy. Then you start tasting what the salat is. Then you start understanding when this thing is coming, I have to put a block there. Later, because you are doing it so much, you don’t have to put a block there when it is near, you are going to put a block there when it’s far away.
What is it that we are doing that is sunnat in the Naksibendi way? Of course everything that we are doing, prayers and everything, it is sunnat. First thing what did we recite? After we finished, we give salams, first thing we send is astarghfirullah. What are we asking Allah forgiveness for? Forgiveness for the mistakes that we are doing inside of the prayer. Which is why Allah has given us the blessings and the Mercy of having the nafila ibadat of the sunnah prayers also before and after the farz prayer, so if there is something in the farz prayer that is missing, the sunnah prayer is going to complete it. Understand?
Zikr, loud zikr, talk about loud zikr first, then we are going to talk about your silent zikr. Because if loud zikr you are not able to keep up, you cannot do your silent zikr. Loud zikr is so much easier. But loud zikr is the time I see some people they decide to make silent zikr. I say, why are you making silent zikr? This is a loud zikr. ‘Oh, I concentrate better that way.’ Concentrate better? You don’t concentrate better like that at home. You make a silent zikr, you go to sleep! So loud zikr, again you focus on who? The one who is leading the zikr. You are connecting yourself. You are being very observant. You don’t enter into illusion and delusion world. He is the one who is going to take you somewhere. You don’t fight against to him. Voice is going up, you go up. It slows down, you slow down. There is a submission that is going on there. There is always a leader.
So when you are busy with that, you may focus. Because what are you focusing on? You are focusing on not messing up, first. You are focusing on being together in a jamaat. Being together with the Sheykh. Focus on that. He is the one who is driving. The big plane, he is commanding it. You just get on board. Then when he takes off, you are a passenger, you don’t need to do nothing. You follow.
May Allah accept our weak service and may Allah wake us up. May Allah wake up this nation before it gets too late, insya’Allah. Al-Fatiha.
Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz,
Khalifah of SahibulSaif Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs),
OSMANLI DERGAHI- New York
12 Zul-Qadah, 1436H
August 27, 2015