Allah’s name I begin and blessings and salutations on the best of all creation, Muhammad, May Allah bless him and grant him peace.
Wa’alaykum Salaam! A very important question which many people are headless of and pay little attention to. When you are Praying think that Allah, The Exalted, is in front of you and if not that then at least think that Allah, The Exalted is watching you. I feel that some of the sayings of the pious are worthy of mention
Sufyan al-Thawri, May Allah bless him, is reported as saying: ‘Without humility and awareness, one’s Prayer is invalid.’ (Ihya ul uloom) This was the position of the Sufis who prayed only for the sake of Allah, The Exalted, and Salaah was not just bodily movements. According to the Jurists the Prayer will count, it will not benefit you spiritually.
It is related that al-Hasan, May Allah bless him, said: ‘Any Prayer performed without conscious awareness is a short cut to punishment.’ (Ihya ul uloom) When praying we should not have thoughts of the world in our hearts but be aware of the fact that we are stood in front of the Almighty.
According to Mu’adh ibn Jabal, May Allah bless him: ‘A man gets no credit for Prayer in which he deliberately notices those on his right and left.’ (Ihya ul uloom)
According to an authenticated (Sahih) Tradition (Hadith), Allah’s Messenger, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: ‘Though he performs the whole Prayer, a man may be credited with no more than one sixth or one tenth of it. A man gets credit only for that part of his Prayer of which he is conscious.’ (Abu Dawood-related by Uthman bin Talha)
Remembering Allah, The Exalted, in Salaah and an awareness that you are stood in front of Him, The exalted, is part of Salaah. In a Hadith it states: ‘When performing the Prayer one is conversing intimately with one’s Lord.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)
When offering Salaah, it is very important to concentrate on what you are praying and the meaning, and if praying behind the Imam it is advised that our mind does not go elsewhere. There is nothing wrong of thinking of an islamic quote or naat, however, to get the most of that Prayer is best to think you are in the presence of Allah, The Exalted, and that you are bound for Paradise or for Hell. Pray with the love and fear of Allah, The Exalted.
Having considered the aforementioned evidence it is important to remember that Allah is free from limbs, eyes, ears etc. He hears and sees, but this is free from organs of hearing and vision. It would be haram to attempt to comprehend him in this manner.
Allah, The Exalted, and the Messenger, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, know best.
[Answer provided by: Brother Abd al Mannan]