The Facts of Prayer 3

5. Presence of Heart and Sincerity

The Prophet (S) is quoted as having said: “When one stands up to offer his prayer, he communes with his Lord”.(1) And he said: “Whoever makes light of prayer, he would never meet me at the spring of Kauthar, never by Allah”.(2) Prayer is quite worthless if it is no more than automatic actions, verbal formulas and soulless physical movements.

Prayer can never achieve its distinct goals, if the worshipper is physically present, but spiritually absent and thus removed from the object to which he offers his devotion. There must be a genuine presence, to the point that one deeply realizes the value of the position of standing in front of Allah and the grandeur of the Creator he speaks to in his prayer. The soul, then, absorbs the meanings of prayer psychologically, spiritually and morally... which equates to submission, love of Allah, desire for His reward, uprightness in behavior, and correctness in dealing with people... etc.

The soul is, in this way, affected by the ritual verbal formulas and actions. Every word pronounced by the worshipper and every action performed has a correspondingly deep effect on the human spirit. When man prostrates he realizes the meaning of submission and respect for Allah's greatness, and becomes aware of the falsity of human prides. When the individual raises his hands to supplicate for parents and his faithful brothers and sisters that soul feels love, mercy, sympathy and love of good towards others. The Qur'an praises highly the respectful devotees and lauds their uniquely sublime position:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ.

“Successful indeed are the believers. Who are humble in their prayers”. (3)

The Prophet (S) calls sincere hearts to be tied to Allah, to be deeply attached to Him and to have genuine presence in front of Him. by saying: “Allah never accepts a prayer if the man's heart is not present along with his body.”(4) It is related that the Prophet (S) was once present in the mosque, when a man came into the mosque and offered his prayer. He did not bow or prostrate perfectly. The Prophet (S) commented: “He pecked like a crow. If he dies, and his prayer is like this, he will die as a non-Muslim”.(5)

He has also been quoted to have said: “Whoever offers two rakas (cycles of prayer) and does not talk to himself of this world, Allah forgives all his previous sins.”(6)

Imam al-Sadiq (a.s) said: “A heart where love of Allah and fear of Him join together, its reward would be paradise. So when you pray let your heart be present with Allah, because never does a faithful servant of Allah pray to Him with a conscious heart, without Allah gathering the hearts of the faithful round him, and grants him paradise as he is loved by the faithful”.(7)

Presence of heart must certainly be accompanied by the sincere intention to offer the prayer as a means of the nearness to Allah, without hypocrisy, the pretension of being sincere, humble and pious in front of people, or pride over one's prayer. The worshipper should concentrate his intention and will and turn all his feelings and the depths of his existence towards the Allah Glorified. The soul becomes composed and serene through sincere deeds. Its powers are then ready to receive the blessings of divine perfection. By achieving this, it deserves to be granted divine mercy, forgiveness, and ample reward.

The Most Exalted says:

وَمَنْ يُسْلِمْ وَجْهَهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ.

“And whoever submits himself wholly to Allah and he is the doer of good (to others), he indeed has taken hold of the firmest thing upon which one can lay hold: and Allah's is the end of affairs”. (8) Most certainly, the worshipper must cross the plain, both of material and perception in order to spiritually enter the majestic and divine world and be humbly present in front of Allah. Heavily burdened by life its troubles and sins, the soul finds rest and inhales the fragrance of the nearness of Allah in this spiritually charged atmosphere.

The Prophet (S) was speaking the truth when he used to call Bilal al-Habashi to give the adhan by saying: “O Bilal, give us rest by it”.(9)

Author: Al-Balagh Foundation




1. Al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, Part 1, P. 112.

2. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Part 38, P. 9.

3. The Holy Quran 23:1-2

4. Al-Naraqi, Jami al-Sa'dat, Part 3, P. 327.

5. Al-Amili, Wasail al-Shi'a, Part 1, Section of Wujub Itmam al-Salat; (also by Ibn Jabir in his works of traditions; ibn Maja, Part 1, P. 459).

6. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Part 84, P. 249.

7. Al-Naraqi, Jami al-Sa'dat, Part 3, P. 328.

8. The Holy Quran 31:22

9. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Part 83, P. 16.