What is the ruling on sahw (forgetfulness) in prayer when a person’s mind wanders without any intention on his part?
Praise be to Allaah.
When the time for prayer comes, the worshipper should forget about all worldly matters so that he can focus his mind and his thoughts on worshipping his Lord as much as he can. So when he purifies himself and stands to pray, he stands humbly, reciting the Book of his Lord or listening to it, pondering its meanings and the meanings of the adhkaar he recites in his prayers. He should not give in to the Shaytaan and his insinuating whispers; when the Shaytaan tries to distract him, he tries harder to focus on his prayers, and seeks refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytaan. It was narrated from Abu’l-‘Alaa’ ibn al-Shukhayr that ‘Uthmaan said, “O Messenger of Allaah, the Shaytaan comes between me and my prayer and recitation.” He [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “That is a shaytaan (devil) called Khanzab. If you feel him then seek refuge with Allaah from him and spit drily to your left three times.” He ‘[Uthmaan] said: I did that and Allaah kept him away from me.
Narrated by Ahmad, 4/216; Muslim, 4/1728-1729; ‘Abd al-Razzaaq, 2/85, 499, no. 2582, 4220; Ibn Abi Shaybah, 7/419, 10/353; Ibn al-Sunni in ‘Aml al-Yawm wa’l-Laylah, p. 272, no. 577.
And Allaah is the source of strength. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions, and grant them peace.