Praise be to Allaah.
Evil whispers during prayer and at other times come from the
Shaytaan, who is keen to misguide the Muslim and deprive him of good and
keep it far away from him. One of the Sahaabah complained to the Messenger
of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about waswaas
during prayer, and he said: “The Shaytaan comes between me and my prayers
and my recitation, confusing me therein.” The Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “That is a devil called
Khanzab. If he affects you seek refuge in Allah from him and spit drily to
your left three times.” He [the Sahaabi] said, I did that and Allaah took
him away from me.
(Narrated by Muslim, 2203)
Proper focus (khushoo’) is the essence of prayer. Prayer
without proper focus is like a body without a soul. The following are two of
the things that help one to develop the proper focus:
1 – Striving to think about what you are saying and doing,
pondering the meanings of the Qur’aan, dhikr (words of remembrance) and du’aa’s (supplications) that you are reciting; bearing in mind that you are conversing with Allaah as if you can
see Him. For when the worshipper stands to pray, he is speaking to his Lord,
and ihsaan means worshipping Allaah as if you are seeing Him, and knowing
that even though you cannot see Him, He sees you. Every time a person
experiences the sweetness of prayer, he will be more inclined to do it.
This depends of the strength of one's faith – and there are many means of
strengthening one’s faith. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said, “Of the things of your world, women and perfume
have been made dear to me, and my joy is in prayer.” According to another
hadeeth he said, “Let us relax, O Bilal, with prayer,” and he did not say,
Give us a break from it.
2 – Striving to ward off the things that may distract you
during prayer, namely thinking about things that are irrelevant or
distracting. Waswaas affects each person differently, because waswaas has to
do with a person’s level of doubts and desires and the degree to which a
person is attached to other things or is fearing other things.
(From Majmoo’ Fataawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah,
With regard to what you say about the waswaas reaching such a
great level that you have begun to experience waswaas that makes you think
about Allaah in ways that are not appropriate, these are evil whispers from
the Shaytaan. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And if an evil whisper from Shaytaan (Satan) tries to turn
you away (O Muhammad) (from doing good), then seek refuge in Allaah. Verily,
He is the All‑Hearer, the All‑Knower”
Some of the Sahaabah complained about the waswaas that was
bothering them. Some of the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said to him, ‘We find in ourselves
thoughts that are too terrible to speak of.’ He said, ‘Are you really having
such thoughts?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘That is a clear sign of faith.’”
(Narrated by Muslim). (Narrated by Muslim, 132 from the hadeeth of Abu
Al-Nawawi said in his commentary on this hadeeth (narration): “The Prophet’s words, ‘That is a clear sign of faith’ means, the fact that think
of this waswaas as something terrible is a clear sign of faith, for if you
dare not utter it and you are so afraid of it and of speaking of it, let
alone believing it, this is the sign of one who has achieved perfect faith
and who is free of doubt.”
And it was said that what it means is that the Shaytaan only
whispers to those whom he despairs of tempting, because he is unable to tempt them. As for the kaafir (non-Muslim), he can approach him in any manner he wants and is not restricted to waswaas, rather he can play with him however he wants. Based on this, what the hadeeth means is that the cause of waswaas is
pure faith, or that waswaas is a sign of pure faith. See also question no.
The fact that you hate that and your heart recoils from it is
a clear sign of faith. Waswaas happens to everyone who turns to Allaah by
reciting dhikr etc. It is inevitable, but you have to be steadfast and
patient, and persevere with your dhikr and prayer, and not give up, because
in this way you will ward off the plot of the Shaytaan.
“Ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaytaan” [al-Nisa’ 4:76 –
interpretation of the meaning]. Every time a
person wants to turn to Allaah, waswaas brings other matters to mind. The
Shaytaan is like a bandit: every time a person wants to move towards Allaah,
he wants to block the way. Hence when it was said to one of the salaf that
the Jews and Christians say, “We do not experience waswaas,” he said, “They
are speaking the truth, for what would the Shaytaan do with a house in
(From Fataawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, 22/608).
1 – If you feel that you are being affected by this waswaas,
say, “Aamantu Billaahi wa Rasoolihi (I believe in Allaah and His
Messenger).” It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah that the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Shaytaan comes
to one of you and says, ‘Who created you?’ And he says ‘Allaah.’ Then the
Shaytaan says, ‘Who created Allaah?’ If that happens to any one of you, let
him say, Aamantu Billaahi wa Rusulihi (I believe in Allaah and His
Messenger). Then that will go away from him.”
(Narrated by Ahmad, 25671; classed as hasan (sound)by al-Albaani in al-Saheehah, 116).
2 – Try to stop thinking about that as much as possible, and keep busy with things that will distract you from it.
Finally we advise you to keep on turning to Allaah in all situations, and to ask Him for help, and to beseech Him, and to ask Him to make you steadfast until death, and to cause you to die doing righteous deeds… And Allaah knows best.