A blind man is taken to meet the king. He has no vision and cannot see anything around him. However, when informed that you are now before the king, his body language changes drastically; shoulders droop, the neck is lowered, his steps, his voice and his whole attitude is suddenly infused with humbleness and humility. The knowledge that he is in front of the king is enough to affect him, despite his inability to see.
In the same way, if we think and remember in our hearts that we are in front of the Almighty King, Allah, our condition during worship will change. He is not just The King, rather He is Al – Khaliq, the creator of these diverse creatures scampering about the earth. He is Al- Bari, the engineer and designer of the amazing universe. We are conversing with Al- Lateef, the one who knows the most intricate feelings, in the deepest corners of our heart. He is Al – Jabbar, not only does he know you but He also has the power to heal your wounds, both physical and spiritual. The ministers and presidents of this world are so hard to reach; however, the greatest of all kings is only a Salah away. All you need to do to converse with Him is purify yourself and stand in Salah.
The Qiyaam (standing) in Salah
Our guide and teacher, Prophet Muhammad has taught us the method of Salah. We start the Salah by raising our hands and pronouncing the Takbeer – Allah u Akbar, reminding ourselves of the greatness of whom we are standing in front of. He is above and greater than all. The Takbeer is followed by some phrases of dua and praise, Surah Fatiha and recitation of some portion of the Quran.
Dua al Istiftaah – Dua at the beginning of Prayer
Different duas for the beginning of the prayer have been narrated from the Prophet . Here we will discuss the most famous of them. However, one way to develop khushu in Salah is to memorize different duas and read them alternately. Some of these duas can be found here.
The dua that most of us begin our Salah with is:
سُبْـحانَكَ اللّهُـمَّ وَبِحَمْـدِكَ وَتَبارَكَ اسْمُـكَ وَتَعـالى جَـدُّكَ وَلا إِلهَ غَيْرُك
“How perfect You are O Allah, and I praise You. Blessed be Your name, and lofty is Your position and none has the right to be worshipped except You.” 1
By saying ‘Subhanaka Allahumma’ we affirm that Allah is free from all faults, corrupt notions or false ideas. He is perfect in all His names and attributes. He is free from the fault that we pray to Him and He does not know, or we toil for His sake and He does not acknowledge. He is All- powerful and nothing is a barrier for Him. His Book is perfect; His commandments and His orders are perfect in every sense; they are doable, practical, are applicable at all times and places, and give the best results even if we may not perceive immediately. In every sphere of life, be it social, economic or governmental, the legislation given by Allah is the best. Every time we pronounce ‘Subhan Allah’, we are reassured about the excellence of our Deen. All hesitation in taking a step forward and applying it in our lives should go away. We also affirm that Allah’s plan and decree are flawless, thus increasing our faith and trust in Him.
We then praise Him, for He is the one worthy of our praise. Every praiseworthy quality and entity in the universe is because of Him. Whatever good I have is because of Him. Our heads are humbled and hearts are filled with gratitude for all the blessings that He has given.
In the end, we negate all deities beside him reaffirming that we will place no one above You; our nafs, our desires, our choices, our intellect, our friends and family, our fashion and trends, our society and governments. When reciting this dua we should analyse our lives, do I practically do what I proclaim in each Salah?
Our eternal enemy, Shaitan, surely does not want us to engage in any good. As soon as we begin the prayer, he uses every tactic to grab our attention and divert it. We’ve been taught to ask Allah for protection, because we do not have the ability and power to do so ourselves. If we say the ta’awwuz mindfully and consciously it will help us gain khushu in Salah.
The Ta’awwuz is followed by Bismillah.
Surah Fatiha is the essence and core of Salah, without which it is not accepted. Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever after listening to the Adhan says, ‘Allahumma Rabba hadhihi-dda` watit- said, “Whoever does not recite Al-Fatiha in his prayer, his prayer is invalid.” 2
To make your Salah meaningful, make sure that you have learned the translation of Surah Fatiha and understand what you say in it. Every now and then, reading or listening to the Tafseer of Surah Fatiha can help us stay focused during Salah. Following are some points that we can keep in our mind while reciting Surah Fatiha in Salah:
- Alhumdulillah – All praise and gratitude is for Allah. While you say this, reinforce gratitude and humbleness in your heart. There is no reason for me to be proud of and think low of others, everything is from Allah. There is no reason for me to complain and scowl; I have so much to be thankful for. The Lord of the worlds is the praiseworthy one, why not then surrender wholly and willingly to Him?
- Allah is ‘The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful’. Being a slave of The Most Merciful, do I exercise mercy with other people? Do I run and strive to achieve the mercy of Allah or do I walk the path of His wrath with false delusions about His mercy. This attribute of Allah should not make us bold in sinning, rather, it should increase us in our love of Allah and thus His obedience.
- ‘Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.’ Seventeen times each day, we are reminded of the hereafter and the accountability before Allah. It is a very strong reminder to mend our ways. The Day of Recompense also brings hope to those oppressed.
- ‘It is You we worship and You we ask for help.’ It is a call to examine our daily activities and the activities between one Salah and the next. Am I worshiping Allah by doing what pleases Him and which is according to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad?
- In the end we ask Allah to not just show us the straight path, rather guide us towards it. We ask Him to help us stay away from the path of the Jews and Christians who went astray and evoked Allah’s anger. 3. This again calls us to examine the milestones of the straight path in our lives. Do we really want to be different from the Jews and Christians or we do we love to follow their ways and practices? Are we following the path of those bestowed with Allah’s favor; the Prophets, the affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous? 4
Recitation of Quran:
After Surah Fatiha, it is prescribed to recite some (at least three) verses of the Quran. To develop khushu in this recitation, you can learn the meaning of some short Surahs if not the whole Quran (the word for word meaning of the Salah and some short surahs can be found here). Keep memorizing new ayahs and recite them in the Salah to beautify it. Moreover, while you are studying the Quran, mark the particular ayahs or passages that affect you and memorize them for recitation during Salah.
In the end, let us remember this saying of Ibn Qayyim, “The slaves of Allah stand in front of their Lord on two occasions, the first is when they stand in their prayers and the second is when they meet Him on the Day of Judgment. Whoever fulfills the rights of the first standing, will in fact be facilitating the second one, and whoever considers this easy and does not pay due attention to it, he will be making the other one difficult for himself.” 5
Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below. 🙂