What is Khushoo’?
Khushoo’ refers to the concept of servitude, submissiveness, and serenity that is based upon a sincere admiration, love, and exultation of Allah. It is also the awareness of one’s own weaknesses, absence of haughtiness, arrogance, and superiority from the heart.
Allah ﷻ has said concerning the prayer:
وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلَّا عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ
“… and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for al-khaashi’oon…’[Quran 2:45]
When Khushoo’ enters salah is no longer something at the back of your mind, rather it is at the front as something you look forward to or yearn for.
So what value does Khushoo’ bring in our prayer?
Iblis made a promise to attack a Muslim from every direction.
“Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to Allah].”[Quran 7:17]
‘Few people being grateful’ would mean few people sincerely worshipping Allah- and salaah, being the greatest form of worship, is usually the first to be affected.
The moment Khushoo’ diminishes in your salaah, it degrades the salah in stages until it is just empty words and actions. One needs to remember that the place of Khushoo’ is in the heart, and matters of heart cannot have relevance only during certain times of a day. Therefore, the journey to build Khushoo’ cannot start 2 mins before salaah. We need to think of Khushoo’ in a holistic way. It is an inward state that envelops your heart around the clock.
This explains why, for many of us, it’s so difficult to attain Khushoo; because we haven’t left any space for it.
There’s only so much that a human heart can house, and if it is filled with sins, distractions, addictions, perversions, jealousy, hatred, negativity, and grudge, then how will Khushoo’ find a place when it is constantly being evicted?
Khushoo’ is also the reason why Salah is decribed as deterrent of الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ
“… Indeed, salaah prohibits immorality and wrongdoing…” [Qur’an 29:45][Quran 29:45]
The salaah mentioned in this ayah is the kind of salaah done with proper Khushoo’ in the heart.
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Let us now look at some practical points and examples to help us instill Khushoo’ in our hearts.
Here is a test to determine if you are serious about attaining Khushoo’: Have you asked Allah, in sincere dua, to grant you Khushoo’ in your lives and salaah?
Asking Allah to grant us success in any endeavor is a must. Because success comes only from Allah ﷻ.
Khushoo does not stay at one level. It fluctuates. Some days it feels easier to maintain while on other days it is difficult. Therefore, on the days it is high, a believer makes dua thanking Allah for it and asks Him ﷻ to help him maintain it. And on the days it is low, he pleads to Allah for forgiveness and asks His help to increase it.
The foundation of Islam is Iqra’ and the utensil of Islam is the pen.
A believer must strive to study about the deen, to properly apply it. Learning about deen is a process that is never over. When you stay in touch and constantly read, review and revise your topics of the deen, you often realize there are things in your life to get rid of, others to adapt and even some details to fix.
First and foremost educate yourself about the rules of the prayer.
Do you know what the pillars of the prayer are? When should you repeat a rakaah vs when should you perform a Sujood as-Sahw? What to do if you join the Imam late? What atmosphere are you not allowed to pray in?
Apart from knowing about the details of prayer, educate yourself about the One you are performing the prayer for – The Originator and Creator of all, for the first command to us was to read; read about Allah ﷻ.
Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). Quran 96:1[Quran 96:1]
One of the best ways to learn about Allah is through his names. Delve deeper into what each name entails. The more you know about your Creator, the more you will love Him; the more you love him, the willing you are (and the easier it becomes) to do acts of obedience with greater sincerity towards Him ﷻ
Ponder about the various adhkaar we recite in our Salaah
Many of us might have an idea about the basic meaning of the adhkaar we recite in our salah. We may feel that we know all that there is to know, but it cannot be far from the truth. It is imperative that we ponder over what we recite as we recite them. For instance, have you ever wondered how beautiful is this line in the tashahhud:
السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين
(…Peace be upon us and upon all the righteous slaves of Allah…)
We are not just making dua for ourselves but for the entire Muslim ummah. How amazing it is that it is not just us, but every Muslim around the world in the past, present and future do the same; they pray for you in every one of their salaah.
Pace it out comfortably
Taking time to perform each action during salaah can help with relaxing and reflecting upon each word and sentence. For instance,
– Contemplate the greatness of Allah each time you say Allahu Akbar.
– Remind yourself of How Allah is high when you are at your lowest position (while in Sujood)
The key here is to plan ahead so that you’re not squeezing salah into a few minutes. Allow enough time to meet with your Lord.
The time between your salaahs
The way you spend your time in between your Salaahs has a huge impact on the quality of your Salaah. As mentioned earlier, your heart does not have a switch that can suddenly turn sincere, mindful, and devoted once you start the Salaah, when you did not take care to keep it in that state prior to Salah.
Prepare your environment
Honestly, we must all have heard of this. It is because it is a very important precondition. Preparing your environment would entail removing all distractions.
People talking within earshot distance can be a distraction, kids can be a distraction, that bright pattern on your musallah can be a distraction, unfinished tasks can be a distraction, sense of urgency can be a distraction (delaying prayer until it becomes urgent), etc.
We tend to disregard how much distraction takes away from our prayers. There is a reason that people are not allowed to pass through your sutrah; it is your place of focus. A quiet place and a quiet mind can be achieved only if you plan ahead.
Did you know there are other invocations that Prophet ﷺ recited in ruku’ other than “Sami’ Allahuliman Hamida”? A book called “Hisnul Muslim” or “The Fortress of a Believer” is an excellent source to learn various adkaar. Switching the Surahs and adhkaar can hold your concentration because you are now recalling the ayah and its meaning (and In sha Allah pondering over) while reciting them instead of mechanically repeating ayaat without processing.
This is a tip related by Hatim bin Al-Asam that he said in answer to a question about prayer:
“… I stand up to perform my prayer, placing the Kabah between my brows, the bridge over Hell beneath my feet, Paradise to my right and Hell to my left, and the Angel of Death behind me, thinking all the while that this is my final prayer …”Excerpt from ‘Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship’ by Imam Al Ghazali
Millions all around the world bow and prostrate in prayers, but how many, at this moment, are living the reality of Khushoo’?
Adapted from Sheikh Sajid Umar’s lecture “10 practical tips on how to increase Khushoo in your prayer“