When Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr stood up to pray, he would be as immobile as a stick, out of Khushu’. During the besiege of Makkah, he was once prostrating when a missile from a catapult was launched at him, and part of his garment was torn away whilst he was praying. However, he did not even raise his head.
When the time for prayer came, Ali ibn Abi Talib would be visibly shaken, and the color of his face would change so much so that the people would ask him, “What is the matter with you?!” 1
One of the ways of gaining Khushu in Salah is to understand the meaning and implication of our prayers, which is the objective of this series. Today, In shaa Allah, we will try and discover the secrets of ruku; the ways it shapes our character, the lessons and reminders we can gain from it and the ways in which we can improve our ruku in Salah.
Let the Heart Bend
Among the praiseworthy characteristics of believers, mentioned in the Quran, is that they bow before their Lord.
“[Such believers are] the repentant, the worshipers, the praisers [of Allah], the travelers [for His cause], those who bow and prostrate [in prayer], those who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and those who observe the limits [set by] Allah. And give good tidings to the believers.” (Surah Tawbah 9: 112)
Picture the act of bowing in your mind. Why would anyone do it? (Keep in mind that it is forbidden to bow and prostrate to anyone other than Allah). Bowing is a symbol of extreme respect, reverence, humility, obedience and submission. When we bow in prayers, it should not be a mechanical action. Rather, we must remember that this action is being done in front of the Almighty, Ever-Powerful and All-Wise. We are a weak creation of His and are merely His slaves.
Bend with your hearts…
When we bow down in ruku it is not just our back that should bend, our heart must also bend down in front of Allah. We must dare not raise our head before any of His commandments. And why would we do that, knowing the orders of the All-Wise are never against wisdom or our benefit? Ruku symbolizes that we have submitted to Allah in obedience, it shows the relationship between the slaves and the King of the kings.
Can the one who has bowed in Salah stand against the orders of Allah by lying and spreading mischief? Can you disobey Allah by watching or listening or going towards that which He has prohibited? Can you dare wage war against Allah by involving in usury and interest? The one who stands as an ally with disbelievers and against the Muslims is reminded, “You bow down and yet you befriend the oppressors and enemies of Allah?” Each ruku in Salah reminds us. The whole prayer is in fact a reminder and stops us from that which is prohibited, provided we understand the prayer.
Allah says in the Quran:
“Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater.” (Surah Ankaboot 29: 45)
Anyone who understands the meaning of prayer will not rush in their Salah. Those who are heedless will try to speed through the entire prayer, so that they don’t miss anything from their favorite drama serial. Our prayer shapes us into submission to Allah.
Race and Excel!
We should not restrict ourselves to the bare minimum of saying the tasbeeh three times. We can increase the number to five and seven, at least sometimes if not all the time. Why not race for good deeds and strive for excellence?
In addition to this, some other duas for ruku have also been narrated from the Prophet . To make our Salah better we can memorize these duas, learn their meaning and read them alternatively. Some of these duas can be found here.
We then raise our head and straighten our back.
The Messenger of Allah said: “The prayer is not valid if a man does not bring his backbone to rest while bowing and prostrating.” 2
If we proceed to the next step without standing up properly, we are in fact being thieves!
Prophet Muhammad said, “The worst of thieves is the one who steals his prayer.” The companions inquired, “How does he steal his prayer, Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “He does not do ruku or sajda properly.” 3
Upon standing up straight, we proclaim, “Sami allahu liman Hamidah’ (Allah has heard whoever praises him), and add ‘Rabbana wa lakal hamd’ (Our Lord, praise is yours)
Don’t you love the person who is always there to listen to you? Don’t you feel close to the one who looks at you out of the whole audience? The one who pays attention to every word you say? Similarly, the phrase ‘Sami’ Allah’ reestablishes our conviction that Allah hears everything we say, increasing our love for Him. When nobody pays attention, He does. I only need to call on Him. Not only does He listen my whispers, but also He is listening to all those against me, their slander and backbiting. Won’t this be enough to comfort me? Did He not listen and respond to Khawlah bint Tha’labah from above seven heavens, even though Aisha sitting close by could not hear? 4
Guard your tongue!
On the other hand, the phrase reminds us to control our speech too. Every word that escapes from our mouth is being recorded. This should serve to remind us to control our tongue from one prayer to the next.
“Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record].” (Surah Qaf 50: 18)
Moreover, other authentic phrases of praise can also be added with ‘Rabbana walakal hamd’, as mentioned in the following narration:
“One day we were praying behind the Prophet. When he raised his head from bowing, he said, “Sami`a l-lahu liman hamidah.” A man behind him said, “Rabbana wa laka l-hamdu, hamdan kathiran taiyiban mubarakan fihi” (O our Lord! All the praises are for You, many good and blessed praises). When the Prophet completed the prayer, he asked, “Who has said these words?” The man replied, “I.” The Prophet said, “I saw over thirty angels competing to write it first.” 5
Some other phrases can be found here.
May Allah help us attain Khushu in prayers and make it for us the coolness of our eyes. Ameen!
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