Finding Focus in Prayer


Allah says in the beginning of  Surah Al-Mu’minun [23: 1-3], “Indeed successful are the Believers, those who in their prayer have Khushoo’ (fear of Allah) and those who refrain from vain talk.”

Taken from an article “Here Allah mentions that refraining from vain talk is a sign of the successful believers. Allah also mentions refraining from vain talk after he mentions al-Khushoo’. This is because too much talk makes the heart hard. It is not possible to reach the level of Khushoo’ (fear of Allah) unless one refrains from vain talk.” 


In Surah Al-Mu’minun, the first verse mentioned about successful people.

Surah Al-Mu’minun [23: 1] - Finding Focus in Prayer - The Rhazes
Surah Al-Mu’minun [23: 1] Successful indeed are the believers.


Subsequently, the following verses mentioned about the criteria of a successful people:

Surah Al-Mu’minun [23: 2-11]:
[2]Those who offer their Salat (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness.
[3]And those who turn away from Al-Laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allah has forbidden).
[4]Those especially for the goal of cleansing themselves, purifying themselves. (translation as explained by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan)
[5]And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts)
[6]Except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then, they are free from blame;
[7]But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors;
[8]Those who are faithfully true to their Amanat (all the duties which Allah has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility and trusts etc.) and to their covenants;
[9]And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) Salawat (prayers) (at their fixed stated hours).
[10]These are indeed the inheritors.
[11]Who shall inherit the Firdaus (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever.


The first criteria mentioned is:

Surah Mu’minun [23: 2] - Finding Focus in Prayer - The Rhazes
Surah Al-Mu’minun [23: 2]“those who in their prayer have Khushoo” – [Those who offer their Salat (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness]


It is indeed by having khushoo’ in our prayer, we’re training ourselves to stay focused in our lives and in what we do everyday, which leads us to success.

How could a person be a successful startup founder for example, if he could not stay focused while doing his work and gets easily distracted with non-work related matters such as spending times on social medias? Hence, if we take care of our prayers and stay focus, god will help us so that we stay focus on  other things inshaAllah.

Previously, we have learned matters that need to be taken care of in order to have khushoo’, such as, pray early, use siwaak before prayer etc. However this article will show you some brain exercise techniques that will help us attain khusyu’ in  salah.

The tips below were originally written by Dr Rizal Abu Bakar. (For Malay version, click here).



During a focused or khushoo’ prayer, the Parietal Lobe where most brain activities functioned, becomes less active. It is now designed to only focus on a single activity, hence setting aside thoughts of a lost key that we were looking for before the prayer or the next activity we will be planning to do.

However, when a brain thinks highly of the worldly activities during a prayer, it shows that the Parietal Lobe is still active.

The question is, how do we keep the Parietal Lobe less active during a prayer in order to get khushoo’?



To calm this part of the brain, it requires PRACTICE. On a daily basis.
It can be your own bedroom or any suitable ‘QUIET’ areas. Stay away from any distraction for 5 minutes as a beginning.

Find your comfort way of sitting. You can sit with eyes opened or closed in any ways that is comfortable for you.

Inhale the cool or warm air that surrounds you through the nose. Next, slowly exhale the air through your mouth and feels the air flowing out.

[4] Continue Breathing, FOCUS ON CHEST MOVEMENT.
Breathe into your chest and check for chest movement. Continue to breathe. Feel the movement.

[5] Continue Breathing, FOCUS ON BELLY MOVEMENT.
Now, focus on and feels the movement of your belly. Feel it.

[6] Your mind might wander, thinking on other things. Ignore it. Continue to focus on the moving air in and out, and the movement of the chest and belly.

[7] After 2 minutes, START ZIKR. Choose a short 2 syllable zikr, for example “Allah”. This exercise will activate the Frontal Lobe immediately.

[8] PRACTICE THE WHOLE EXERCISE FOR 5 minutes. Repeat for 12 days. The goal is to calm the Parietal Lobe.

[9] Once you have mastered the rhytm of breathing and zikr, you can practise this activity everytime before praying.

[10] Plan ahead the time you will be practising your salah.
You need to allocate a specific time before praying to do this exercise in order to keep relaxed.

[11] After zikr, stand up for prayer and breath with ease.

[12] Breathing during prayer is also very important. It is recommended that your breathing rhythm is aligned with verses you recite in the prayer. Inhale, then recite the verse. As you stop reciting, inhale again for the next verse. This technique helps to calm the parietal lobe.

[13] Focus on the pronunciation of your recitation. When the mind starts to lose focus, inhale then exhale. Continue when you regain your focus.

Every techniques need practice and the calmness will flow in naturally.

Khushoo’ is a form of rizq.

I hope these techniques to calm the Parietal Lobe would help us in our good doings and I pray to Allah s.w.t to grant us the khushoo’.


p/s: We wrote an eBook called ‘Breathing Technique to Improve Focus in Prayer’. Besides this breathing technique, we included another 8 rarely-discussed-tips on improving focus in prayer. If you would like to get the eBook delivered to your email, you can sign up here.


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