بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the last Recover Ramadan post, I spoke about how important the salah (prayer) is.
There are two aspects of the salah: the outward actions and the inward actions.
The outward actions (i.e. that of the limbs and the tongue) all have to be in accordance with the salah of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam).
What about the inner actions? Well, that would be the actions of the heart.
That’s where the khushoo issue comes in. Khushoo, simply put, is the humility that one feels in salah.
You know, it’s that feeling. We all read about it and dream of attaining it. The key word here is dream.
Many people just think “Insha-Allah, one day I’ll pray with khushoo” and don’t take the steps that are necessary to achieve it.
What kind of steps do we need to take?
Well, I think that can be divided into two parts:
1) Just before and during the salah.
2) Outside the salah.
As for the first part, that involves many steps. I’ll just mention one.
Pay attention to what you are saying.
Yes, that’s it. Just focus and try to ponder over what you’re saying. Remember that Allah is watching you.
Just try this simple step and see how it goes. Whenever I focus on the salah, I get a different feeling.
In order to do this, you’d have to 1) understand the words of salah and 2) mix it up once in a while.
Mix up what, you ask? You know, vary the short surahs after Al-Fatihah (it doesn’t always have to be Surah Al-Ikhlaas, you know) and the various adkhar (supplications) in rukoo (bowing) and sujood (prostrating).
That was the easy part. The second step is much more difficult.
See, khushoo in salah is ultimately attained by having khushoo outside of it.
The reason that it’s so difficult for us to remain focused on Allah for a mere 15 minutes is because many of us don’t focus on Him the entire day.
How is it that we can forget about Allah for the whole day and then expect to be close to Him in prayer? Do we really think it’s as easy as flipping a switch?
No, it isn’t. The person who has forgotten Allah outside of prayer will not be allowed to remember Him in prayer. It’s as simple as that.
We all claim that the salah is very important to us so let’s ask ourselves some questions:
1) Do we constantly supplicate to Allah to grant us khushoo in our salah?
2) Have we made attaining khushoo in salah a priority in life?
3) Did we try to figure out how we can improve the quality of our salah?
4) Did we try to do some research on some ways that we can attain khushoo?
5) When we pray without khushoo, does it leave us feeling saddened and disgusted with ourselves? Or do we just let it go?
6) Does our entire day revolve around the salah? Do we plan all our days according to the prayer times?
7) Has our salah improved us as people? Has it brought us closer to the Lord of the Worlds?
We need to remember one thing: it is possible to attain khushoo. However, we need to change our attitudes, put in the required effort and keep slogging away until we get there, insha-Allah.
And even if we don’t get there, then at least when we are questioned on the Day of Judgment, we can say that we tried.
Yes indeed. We are what our salah is.
What do I mean by that?
It means that our level of righteousness can be checked by the quality of our prayers.
Allah has mentioned many traits of the believers in the Quran. The first action of the limbs that is usually mentioned is the salah.
Also, the believers don’t just pray, rather they establish the salah and pray with khushoo (humility).
What are the proofs? The Quran is replete with references to the salah. This time I’m not going to provide the references because I’d like you to open up the Quran and search for yourself, insha-Allah.
So, what does all of this mean? Well, if we want to determine how “pious” we are, we should ask ourselves the following questions:
1) Do we consistently pray the five obligatory prayers at their proper times? Do we try to pray them at their earliest times? Do we do the adhkar (remembrances) after the salah?
2) Do we consistently pray the rawaatib (sunnah) prayers?
3) Do we ever pray tahajjud (the night prayers)? Are we consistent? Do we ever pray any of those long Ramadan-type Qiyam Al-Layl prayers outside of Ramadan?
4) Do we ever pray any of the other prayers like Dhuha, the 2 rakahs after entering the masjid, the 2 rakahs after doing wudhoo, etc?
5) Does our prayer resemble the prayer of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam)? Do we pray according to the Quran and the Sunnah, or the way that “we were taught”?
6) How much focus do we have in the salah? Do we feel a sense of contentment and joy during our salah? Do we look forward to praying or is it a drag for us?
Yes, I know. These questions are very depressing. It depressed me just to write them but I had do because we all need to ask ourselves these questions.
I’ve noticed that when my salah quality is good, everything in my life is going well. And if the quality sucks, then my life seems very bad.
Think about it and you might realise that it is the same case with you.
One of the reasons that Ramadan is such a nice month for us is because we are so focused on the prayers. Our day revolves around them and we have more khushoo in them as compared to outside Ramadan.
So, we all need to work on our salah.
Why? Because we are what our salah is.
Still looking for ways to focus in salah and get that wonderful feeling of khushoo (humility)?
Try this book by Imam Ibn Rajab (rahimahullah): Humility in Prayer.
I haven’t had a chance to read all of it but I learnt a lot by just skimming through the book.
Also, Imam Ibn Rajab is a fantastic author. Too bad he lived centuries ago…
As promised, here’s a book on improving the quality of our salaah: 33 Ways of Improving Khushoo in Salaah by ShaikhMuhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid
For those of you who may have the printed book, please take note: In one of the editions, there was a mistake in the dua mentioned in the conclusion. It is “qalbin“, not “qablin“. [The version that I’ve uploaded is fine.]
Also, Brother Muhammad Alshareef prepared a list of shortcuts to concentration (and I think he took it from this book, if I’m not mistaken).
By the way, these ways actually do work – when we remember to apply them I mean.
Okay, my last post was on “how to pray”. Now for the “how to focus in prayer”.
Here’s a nice* lecture which gives a step-by-step overview about how to go about doing it:
[*A few months ago, I would have called it an excellent lecture. However, after I heard one of my teacher’s lectures on this topic (sorry, it’s in Arabic), all the lectures and books on this topic were downgraded from excellent to nice or good. His lecture was THAT good (and I’ve only heard the first part so far!).]
Khushoo By Yaser Birjas (Download)