While thinking about this topic, I started mentally rewinding all the series and lectures, books or articles I had heard/read about khushoo and its importance in salah. However, what I soon realized was that it didn’t matter how much I read or how many lectures I listened to, the effect of having khushoo only lasted for a few prayers but was not a consistent element in my salah.
For those who are not really sure what ‘khushoo’ is, it’s most often translated as sincerity and concentration during salah, where you focus only on speaking with your Creator and not getting distracted by worldly affairs.
A famous speaker portrayed a very powerful and beautiful definition of khushoo. He said khushoo is a feeling when your limbs and mind become numb, when you can’t think or hear about anything else around you because you are standing in front of the King, the Master and speaking to Him.
Sadly, there have been instances when I rush through the salah and sometimes even forget if I am praying the 3rd rakat or the 4th one! In trying to figure out where I was going wrong repeatedly, I narrowed down on the following points, which I hope helps you to develop khushoo when you pray next time, insha’Allah.
1. Get into the grove even before prayer begins:
Imagine how we would plan for a meeting or an interview. We would begin with checking if we are dressed properly, if our papers are ready and if we have perfected our speech. We would probably even repeat the speech many times over to make ourselves look prepared and confident.
Imagine the amount of pre-preparation we have to do to talk in front of the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth! So, in order to focus in salah, let us prepare even before we actually start praying. Condition your mind and nafs to get into the grove by:
- Repeating after the adhaan
- Reciting the dua after adhaan
- Doing wudhoo with concentration
- Dressing nicely! (You are presenting yourself in front of your Lord, remember?)
- And, most importantly, pray on TIME.
2. Learn something new:
Try learning a new short surah or maybe even a few verses from a long surah. Recite the same after fatihah. This way, you are automatically forced to concentrate on reciting something new. In turn, you will be keeping your heart and mind vigilant. This is an extremely powerful tool to prevent your mind from wandering away into thinking about other inconsequential matters while praying.
3. Don’t steal while praying:
‘The worst type of thief is the one who steals from his prayer.’ He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, how can a person steal from his prayer?’ He said, ‘By not doing rukoo’ and sujood properly.’” 1
When treating salah as a form of physical movement, we tend to rush through to get over with it! But, we lose the blessings of performing salah here. While performing sujood, spend a couple of minutes extra to make dua. Bow your heart along with your body and submit to the Highest Power. Allow humility and peace to enter your heart and mind while praying rather than being worried about what meal to prepare or what task to complete at office.
While getting up from sujood, sit up straight and then go back into sujood position slowly, rather than slamming your forehead to the ground in quick succession. Feel relaxed and allow each bone in your body to feel at ease. Salah gives you a free ticket to talk to the King of Heavens and the Earth, acknowledge the fact that it is a graceful and powerful meeting!
4. Learn the language:
Well, the main reason why most of us find it difficult to concentrate in salah is because we fail to realize the magnanimity of the occasion, fail to realize whom we are speaking to and in most cases, don’t even understand what we are reciting because most of us are not native Arabs.
The best way to develop khushoo is to learn the language. If you don’t find the time or the means to learn Arabic, you can start by learning the meaning of the surahs that you generally recite during prayer. Try listening to the tafseers of those surahs and you will automatically realize the beauty of each letter mentioned in the Glorious Quran, helping you concentrate on every single word being uttered in salah, making you crave for more, insha’Allah.
5. Perfect your relationship with Allah
“… and establish prayer for My remembrance”. (Surah Taha 20:14)
This is the Lord, the All Mighty, All Powerful asking us to pray so that we remember Him?! Is there any moment in your life when you forget your own families or kids? Now, how is it that we forget the Creator, the one who created our families and kids?
You might be wondering why I’m talking about perfecting our relationship with Allah on the same lines as that of khushoo. Ever noticed how close we get with friends when we get to know them better? A phone call or an online chat with them becomes more important than anything else. Imagine how much more engrossed in salah we would be if we could develop the same kind of relationship (if not more) with our Lord ?
Our Rabb provides even after our disobedience, He loves us more than our own mothers do, He descends down during the last part of the night waiting to see if His slaves ask anything from Him, so isn’t it time we perfect our relationship with Him ?
Understanding and allowing His Mercy and Love to enter our hearts will make our hearts humble, filling it with unimaginable love, automatically making us yearn for more chances to speak to the King, the All Merciful and Oft Forgiving, with complete concentration!
6. Defeat Satan:
“Then I (Satan) 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 You].” (Surah Al-A’raf 7:17)
Satan has promised to annoy us and take us away from the straight path. We are given a challenge here to submit ourselves to our Lord and not let the Satan win. Salah is probably the most perfect time for Satan to distract us and he does end up succeeding on more occasions than one. Suddenly, an unfinished work seems more important and his whispers start getting louder. Crush the satanic whispers from within.
Stay away from haram, do not waste ‘free’ time, read beneficial books and do not make your mind a piece of meat for Satan to devour upon. Keep Satan at bay when you are not praying and you will automatically be successful in cutting out his whispers while praying insha’Allah.
7. How’s your dua list?
Most of the time, we end up asking the same set of duas with an added ‘demand’ here and there according to the situation we are in. Notice how we always have something new and exciting to share with our friends everyday? But, why is it that we tell the same stuff to our Lord in every single prayer? Speak to Him with zeal, enthusiasm and humility. Start diversifying your dua list. Increase your time in sujood and make dua, don’t rush to finish tasleem and walk out. Ask dua constantly to increase khushoo levels.
Want to be successful? Here’s how:
“Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive (khaashi’oon)” (Surah Al-Mu’minun 23: 1-2)
In the aforementioned verses, Allah says those who have attained khushoo (khaashi’oon) are indeed successful. He doesn’t call them religious, He calls them successful. Notice the choice of words here?
When you manage to discipline your nafs, mind and heart in front of the Highest Power, it becomes easy to discipline yourself within the boundaries of Islam while dealing with worldly matters too, making you successful here and in the hereafter!
Know that you’ve experienced a small percentage of khushoo when:
- You can only hear the words which you are uttering to our Lord and nothing else
- When external noises are muted
- When every single worry in your heart ceases to exist
- When the beauty of Allah’s Mercy and the magnanimity of talking to Him fills your heart with awe, so much so that you don’t want to complete your prayer and let the beautiful meeting end,
- When your limbs get soaked in numbness
- When you feel sad that your meeting and one-on-one conversation with Allah is coming to an end during the last rakat
- And, when you cry (without feeling embarrassed that someone might see you), making you yearn for the next salah!
May Allah make us of those who are successful. May Allah make us of those who are the chosen ones in His eyes. May Allah allow our hearts to taste the sweetness and beauty of this blessed religion. May Allah make us of those who develop khushoo in every single prayer we are allowed to perform until our last breath! Ameen.
Please share your suggestions on attaining khushoo in the comments section below, insha’Allah.
- Reported by Ahmad and al-Haakim, 1/229; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 997 ↩