Ten recommendations by Ayatollah Khamenei on the rituals of daily prayers

Ten recommendations by Ayatollah Khamenei on the rituals of daily prayers

Note: The text was originally published on Khamenei.ir, the official website of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

1. Practice being attentive while performing the daily prayers

Prayers have a body and a soul. You must pay attention to this point. Each and every one of us, including myself, must pay attention to this point. Prayers have a form as well as substance. We must take care not to separate the soul and body of prayers from one another. That is not to say that the body of prayers is totally ineffective. Even the body alone is not totally devoid of positive effects. However, the type of prayer that has been emphasized by Islam, the Quran, sharia, the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), and the infallible Imams (a.s.) is one that has a body as well as a soul. The form of prayers has been tailored to their soul. Prayers are composed of different parts such as ruku, prostration, and tashahhud. These various parts are there to fulfil the different needs that prayers are supposed to fulfil, and there is a secret behind each of the parts. Together, these parts form the body [form] of prayers. This form is very important, but attention to God is the soul of prayers. We must be aware of what we are doing. As I told you when praying is not accompanied by attention to Allah, it is not as effective as it should be.

Nov 19, 2008

 This is because daily prayers are very important. One should perform daily prayers in an appropriate and attentive manner. Being attentive during daily prayers means paying careful attention to what one says and thinks about. One should not perform one's daily prayers without paying attention to the meaning of what one says. For example, I am speaking to you, and you are listening. I am aware that my audience is listening to my speech. The same thing should be true about praying: we must believe that God is listening to us. I believe that a person can get closer to God even if he does not at all understand the meaning of what he says during praying - he should just be aware that he is speaking to God. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) said, "Daily prayers are a means for every pious man to get closer to God." People like us may know the meaning and interpretation of everything said during daily prayers, and we may have read several books about daily prayers, but we may still fail to pay attention to the meaning of what we say during daily prayers.

Apr 12, 2011

Achieving heartfelt attention and concentration [during religious rituals] requires practising. Those who—have achieved that status and know how to accomplish that—teach us that while performing daily prayers, we should feel ourselves present before an elevated, exalted figure who is the creator of the universe and the sovereign of man’s entire existence. According to the riwayats (narrations), the prayers, as far as they are performed in this manner, are accepted and will have the due effect and impact. Other effects of prayers will follow then-- though it is impossible to sum up the effects of prayers in a few sentences or lines.

September 18, 2006


2. Learn the meaning of the words of the prayers

While performing prayers, everyone should try to focus on the meanings of the words they express. That is, during the prayers everyone should speak to the dear and merciful God. Praying in this manner is like a fountain of grace that will quench the thirst of the souls. However, this fact must not be used as an excuse for the lazy ego that might want to quit prayers on the pretext that they cannot focus and concentrate. Daily prayers are obligatory anyways and those who do not perform their daily prayers lose the best opportunity to achieve closeness to and establishing relation with God the Elevated. The officials in charge should prepare leaflets of the translation of the words of daily prayers, in all levels, and spread millions of copies everywhere. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn and understand the meanings of the words of the prayers.

September 9, 1998

Even those who do not know Arabic and do not understand the meaning of the phrases, if while performing daily prayers, try to be attentive and do not forget that they are speaking to God, this is already a great blessing. But try to learn the meaning of the words of the prayers (salat). It is a very easy task to learn the meaning of the prayers and you can quickly learn the translation of the few phrases of the prayers. Perform the daily prayers praying attention to the meaning. The daily prayers are “the means for closeness to God for every pious person [Narration by Imam Ali]”. The prayers will bring about closeness to God, but only for the observant and pious.

April 26, 1990


3. Recommended rituals of the prayers increase heartfelt presence and concentration

 As I previously mentioned, the form and soul of prayers are inter-related. According to Islamic traditions, different positions have been recommended to us for different pasts of prayers. Of course, these positions are not obligatory. Rather, they are recommended acts. For instance, it has been recommended where we should look when we are standing or are during ruku and sajdah. In other traditions, it has been recommended that we should close our eyes when we are during ruku. Still in some others, we have been recommended to look ahead when during ruku. These positions will all help us be more attentive during prayers.

Nov 19, 2008


4. Perform prayers sincerely, not out of pretence

If you remember God, say your prayers sincerely, and have the intention of getting closer to God when praying, then this would count as an act of worship. However, if you say prayers out of hypocrisy, then your prayers would count as a sin. Hypocrisy is a great sin, an instance of which I just mentioned.

Aug 26, 2008


5. Watch, for performing prayers without heartfelt concentration hardens the hearts

God bless the late Sheik Mohammad Bahari - I think one of these days there is going to be a commemoration ceremony on the occasion of his demise anniversary. In one of his works, he has written that dua, dhikr, and prayers can make the heart ruthless when they are repeated without paying attention to their meaning. Why is that? That is because our hearts are inattentive during prayers. Therefore, prayers can be accompanied by attentiveness, which cause the heart to get tender, pure, and closer to Allah. On the other hand, prayers can also be performed without any attention, in which case - according to Sheik Mohammad Bahari - the heart becomes ruthless.

Nov 5, 2008


6. Establish a habit of properly performing the prayers, when you are young

This is something which our youth have to learn. If our youth learn this, praying properly will not be difficult for them when they reach our age. For those who are not used to praying properly, learning to do so will be possible but difficult when they reach our age. Praying properly means praying attentively and remembering God when praying. This means speaking to God from the bottom of one's heart while praying. If these points are observed, praying properly will turn into a habit and will not be tiring for anyone. In this case, one will continue praying attentively until the end of one's life.

Nov 19, 2008


7. Do not regard prayers flippantly

Imam Sadiq (a.s.), while ill in bed and about to die, told his executor before his death: "Those who debase prayers are not among my followers." This means those who do not consider prayers as important.

Considering all the positive aspects of saying prayers, how much time do we usually spend per day saying our prayers? The obligatory prayers which we say during the day-17 rikaats-will take almost 34 minutes of our time in a day if we are to say our prayers attentively. Otherwise, the time we spend every day on saying our prayers would be even less. Sometimes, we spend 15 or twenty minutes of our time watching TV advertisements while we are waiting for our favourite program to start. These advertisements are not useful for us, but we just watch them and lose twenty minutes of our time just to watch our favorite program. There are lots of similar cases in our lives in which we waste time in a similar fashion-like when we wait for a taxi, a bus, a friend, or our professor in a class. In all these cases, we lose ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes of our time. We can spend these minutes praying which is a great and important act.

Nov 19, 2008


8. Perform prayers early after the call for prayers

good and appropriate act should be done as soon as possible. This is similar to prayers and other acts that are expected to be performed in a certain period, and the earlier they are done, of the greater worth and virtue those acts will be.

Dec 15, 2006

Devout individuals never refrain from doing good deeds because of embarrassment and prudence. When some people are asked why they did not perform particular prayers, or why they did not do it on time, they say because they were embarrassed [that others may think they are pretentious]. Never avoid doing a good deed over embarrassment. Others might say, you are hypocritical. Let them say what they want. If it is a good deed or a word of truth, never give up on it over practising modesty before others.

July 30, 1999 

Working in a scientific lab, a workshop, a research centre, or some class at some university does not—in any way— run counter to timely performance of daily prayers, and attentively meditating and feeling oneself before God. This will purify your hearts. You are young and your hearts are luminous.

September 16, 2006

On the youthful university campuses, it is great to attend to religious teachings, to religious representations, to have gatherings for seeking intercession from God and the Ahlulbait (a.s.), to recite Arafah supplication, to organize i’tikaf and congregational prayers for young university students. I also add that, in religious ceremonies, you should give your attention to the spirit of the ceremonies. It is not enough to have a superficial ceremony, where a poem is recited that would make one, or help him incite some to cry. The spirit of supplicating to God and offering prayers [salat] represents connecting with God, knowing God, enjoying spirituality, purifying and adorning the souls, and refining the minds from temptations. Perform your prayers timely and attentively.  Being unreceptive is wrong; not thinking beyond the surfaces is a major shortcoming. Be watchful so that you do not get afflicted with this shortcoming.

May 9, 2005


9. Perform prayers in congregation and at mosques

Another sign of [properly offering the daily prayers] is constructing and renovating mosques and increasing the number of congregational prayers [salat al-jama’ah]; and this will lead to the emergence of the blessings of the prayers within [instances of] social solidarity and cooperation. Undoubtedly, this religious duty—with all its reliance on the internal aspects of meditation, vigilance and attendance—like other religious duties, concerns all aspects of human life, and not merely one aspect of it, that is one’s personal life. When collective engagement and collective joy of members of the society is looked for, performing prayers-- as the warmest and most stimulating collective act of worship-- plays a major role,. The manifestation of this quality is the performance of the 5 times daily prayers, the Friday prayers, and prayers on Eids.

September 1, 1994

A quality performance of the daily prayers is one in which we are attentive and wholehearted. The performer should see prayers as “a time of meeting with God”, speak with God, and see themselves as present before God. One should always try to perform prayers in a mosque and collectively, as much as they can.

September 4, 2013


10. Perform as many nafilahs [daily recommended prayers] as you can!

I recommend everyone, in particular, the youth, to bond with prayers and benefit from them. That is, people should try to perform prayers while giving attention to its meaning and feeling like they are present before God the Elevated; and make this easy by practising so they can also perform-- alongside the obligatory prayers-- the recommended prayers, especially those of morning and Maghrib prayers. If there is among their family and friends anyone who has deprived themselves of the great blessing of prayers, they should forbid them from this big sin and huge loss, by using nice words and wise behavior. However, parents have a greater responsibility towards prayers of their children, in particular, their teenage children.

September 5, 1995


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