Prayers: Concentration in prayer

Q472 :Although I attend to my prayers regularly, I am seldom able to concentrate properly. Often I have doubts about the activities and movements included in the prayer. What I would like to know is whether my prayer is valid.

A472 : Every one who starts prayers should concentrate fully on the task in hand. He should always think of what he is reading or reciting or doing. If he reflects on the meaning of what he says, he is bound to find it easier to concentrate on his prayers. If you have learned certain surahs of the Qur'an without understanding them, you better try to learn the meaning of each verse so that you can help your concentration by thinking of the meaning. However, if one nevertheless is distracted or suffers a lapse of concentration which results in a confusion in his mind about what stage he has reached in his prayers, there is an easy solution to this problem. If, for example, you doubt whether you have completed two or three rak'ahs, then you are certain that you have done two rak'ahs but you are doubtful about the third one. Therefore, you continue your prayer on the basis of that which you are certain, i.e. two rak'ahs, and then just before you finish your prayer after you have completed your tashahhud you prostrate twice in compensation for forgetfulness. You then finish your prayer normally. If you nevertheless omit to do these two prostrations, your prayer is still valid. Distraction in prayer happens often, especially when one is preoccupied with immediate problems of his daily life. The Prophet was once leading his companions in a congregational prayer when he finished it after completing two rak'ahs instead of four. One of his companions questioned him about this and when he realized what has happened, he ordered his companions to complete their prayers. No one had to start his prayers afresh. That shows that despite the distraction, the prayer is valid.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )