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Thursday, November 11, 2004

The benefit of (parenthetical) thought

I (personally) suffer from parenthetical thought. That’s where you have distracting thoughts within other (otherwise perfectly straightforward) thoughts that can distract from your initial point. They don’t (necessarily) have to be negative though.

I’ll stop doing that now. (now)

Parenthetical thoughts can actually be used to help supplement your concentration in prayer. I’m sharing this because I sometimes suffer from poor concentration when I’m trying to pray.

(AllahuAkbar… Oh look, a rug!)

I’ve found that the parenthetical thought is particularly useful for two key things:

Number One: The Parenthetical Niyyah

The traditional way to make your Niyyat for prayer (intention) is to say to yourself:

"I offer, the _________ prayer (name of a particular prayer), of ______ rakats (number of rakats), Qurbatan E-lal-Ah, (seeking nearness to Allah, in obedience to Him").

The parenthetical way is a bit longer, might look like this:

"I offer, (standing in a private audience with my Creator) the Maghrib prayer of 3 rakats seeking nearness to Allah (who raised the sky without pillars, hung it with stars and sprinkled tiny and lovely sparrows therein) in obedience to (and awe of) Him.

I’m a big fan of sparrows. To me they are energetic, tiny, airborne ping-pong balls who stand (and fly, and bathe in dust, and play with each other and chirp happily) as proof of God's love for all of His creations. God takes care of the need of all His creatures, even the sparrow.

The things in parenthesis are up to you, they are not additions to the verbal intention for prayer itself, they’re just thoughts that might help you focus your prayer, maybe go into it with a bit more soul. Try to make the parentheses for every niyyat in every prayer different relating to what you might have read in the Qur’an or maybe found inspiring, or maybe what you’re praying for…

I offer, the Maghrib prayer of 3 rakats seeking nearness to Allah (in whose Hands are my life and soul, who I beseech for strong faith and good health) in obedience (and humble recognition of my own powerlessness over my own health) to Him.

Number Two: Parenthetical Sajda

Sajda is the position in prayer with your face on the floor. In this position you recite:

Subhana Rabbi yal A'la, which means Glory to my Lord, Most High.

The ironic and hopefully humble parenthetical thought goes:

Glory to my Lord Most High (from a servant most low.)

So guys, that’s it. Just a suggestion that I found really helpful for rebuilding sincerity and concentration in my prayers. Keep me in your prayers. :)

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