As a matter of fact, the five daily Prayers are prescribed upon every Muslim, so we have to know that a Muslim should be mindful and attentive while offering the Prayer. He should reflect on the meaning of the Qur’anic verses and du`aa’ he reads. He should be humble and concentrate while praying.
Moreover, a Muslim should be keen on offering supererogatory prayers that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) regularly offered. A Muslim is highly recommended to keep on offering the supererogatory prayers recommended before and after the obligatory ones for reasons such as following the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), bringing oneself nearer to Allah, and compensating for whatever shortages and deficiencies that take place in the performance of the obligatory prayers.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “In order to gain proper concentration in Prayer, it is important to keep one’s mind free of all pre-occupations with worldly affairs. Since our minds tend to dwell on the things which we are currently absorbed with, it is important to break the hold of this world upon our minds by conditioning ourselves to think consistently of Allah and the Last Day. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “A true believer is one who has made all of his thoughts subservient to the bigger thought: Allah.”
another important point to remember is that often because of our indulgence in major sins, we may be deprived of true joy in Prayer as a penalty for these sins. Such sins include displeasing one’s parents, fornication or adultery, indiscriminate mingling and mixing with members of the opposite sex, unethical conduct and behavior in financial dealings, and so on.
therefore, as a prerequisite step towards improving our concentration in Prayer, we must examine our life and purge it of all the major sins according to the best of our ability. After having done so, we can follow these tips which have been gleaned from the discussions of the salaf as-salih (pious predecessors):
1. Before standing up for Prayer, try to deal with all the minor urgent matters which demand your attention. If you are pressed by hunger, eat first; if you are pressed to attend to the call of nature, relieve yourself; if you are the parent of an infant, feed him or her, or keep him or her busy.
2. Perform your wudu’ (ablution) well, paying due care and attention.
3. Approach the Prayer with zest and passion as if it is the most important task in your life. Actually the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that we could do nothing in this world that could ever surpass Prayer in merit and excellence.
4. Visualize that in your Prayer you are going to have a special audience with Allah, Lord of the worlds, and that you are enjoying a direct communion with Him—which, in fact, is true.
5. Think of the Prayer you are performing as if it were the last Prayer of your life. In fact, it could very well be the last one, since no one is given a guarantee that he would live to perform another Prayer.
6. Picture the scene of the Last Day when people will be lined up into two groups, one destined for Heaven, and another for Hell, and ask yourself where you would be placed.
7. Focus your mind on what you are reading in your Prayer.
8. If, in spite of your best efforts, your mind is still wandering, seek refuge in Allah and bring your mind back to Prayer.
9. Pray to Allah and beg Him to grant you true the joy of concentrating in your Prayer and protection against the wanderings of your mind”.
Moreover, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states:
“The five daily prayers are prescribed upon every Muslim. But there are certain supererogatory (Sunnah) prayers that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) regularly offered. A Muslim is highly recommended to keep on offering the supererogatory prayers for the following reasons:
1. They bring the Muslim nearer to Allah. On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allah, Most High, said: ‘Whoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works (acts of worship) so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.’” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
2. Whoever turns away from these sunnan (supererogatory prayers), seems to be turning away form the love of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). Allah says: “Indeed there is for you, in the Messenger of Allah, a good example to follow.” (Al-Ahzab: 21) Whoever loves Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), should adhere to his Sunnah. As the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) kept on offering these supererogatory prayers, his adherents should follow his footsteps.
3. These supererogatory prayers compensate for whatever shortages and deficiencies that take place in the performance of the obligatory prayers. It stands to reason that no one can assume perfection of his prayers. When man will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment – and the first thing to be accounted for is prayer – his prayer will be looked at. If the obligatory prayers are incomplete, then the sunnan will compensate for them.
Finally, as for the Muslim who limits himself to performing the obligatory prayers, there is no punishment to be afflicted on him. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to the Arab who swore that he would not add to or reduce from the obligatory prayers: “He will succeed if he says the truth.” And in another version, he (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever would like to look at a man from the people of Paradise, then he may look at this (man).“