All Muslims wish to taste the sweetness of salaah, about which our Beloved Prophet (SAW) said, “… and my joy has been made in prayer.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 5/456. The hadith is in Musnad Ahmad, 3/128 and Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3124]. But in order to taste this sweetness of salaah, we need one key ingredient – khushoo.
‘Khushoo’ in Arabic refers to humbleness or submissiveness while offering our daily salaah (prayers). Allah says in the Quran (interpretation of the meaning), “Successful indeed are the believers, those who offer their salaah with all solemnity and full submissiveness,”[Quran 23:1-2]. Khushoo is the state of consciousness and submissiveness in front of Allah (SWT), who is the Master and Owner of all creation. But how many of us find ourselves drifting off in salaah? As soon as we say, “Allahu Akbar” and begin our salaah, we wander into the Wonderland of Alice or wherever. We can think about a million things except that one thing which we should all be focusing on – the salaah itself. May Allah forgive us.
We live in the end times about which Hudhayfah (RA) said: “The first thing of your religion that you will lose is khushoo, and the last thing that you will lose of your religion is salaah. There may be a person praying who has no goodness in him, and soon you will enter the mosque and not find anyone who has khushoo.” [al-Madaarij, 1/521].
Concerning the virtues of khushoo and as a warning to the one who neglects it, the Prophet (SAW) said: “Five prayers which Allah has made obligatory. Whoever does wudu (ablution) properly over them, prays them on time, does rukoo properly and has perfect khushoo, it is a promise from Allah that he will be forgiven, but whoever does not do this, has no such promise – if Allah wishes, He will forgive him, and if He wishes, He will punish him.” [Reported by Abu Dawood, no. 425; Saheeh al-Jaami, 3242]
Therefore, khushoo is a serious matter, which is impossible to achieve without the help of Allah. Being deprived of khushoo is nothing short of a calamity. Hence the Prophet (SAW) used to say in his dua: “O Allah, I seek refuge with You from a heart that has no khushoo,” [Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 5/485, no. 3482; Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 2769].
One of the benefits of khushoo is that it makes prayer easier for a person. Allah tells us (interpretation of the meaning): “And seek help in patience and al-salaah (the prayer), and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for al-khaashi’oon [i.e., the true believers, those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise and in His Warnings.]” [Quran 2:45]
So how does one attain khushoo so that one can taste the sweetness of salaah? Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (RA) explained the things that help us to have khushoo: Two things help us to [develop khushoo]: a strong desire to do what is obligatory, and (fight) weakness of distractions.
1. With regard to the first, the strong desire to do what is obligatory:
This means that a person strives hard to focus on what he is saying and doing, pondering on the meanings of the Quran recitation, dhikr, du’as, and keeping in mind the fact that he is speaking to Allah as if he sees Him, for when he is standing in prayer, he is talking to his Lord.
Ehsaan means that you worship Allah as if you see Him, and even if you cannot see Him, He can see you. The more the slave tastes the sweetness of salaah, the more attracted he will be to it, and this has to do with the strength of his emaan.
The means of strengthening emaan are many, and this is why the Prophet (SAW) used to say, “In your world, women and perfume have been made dear to me, and my joy is in prayer.” According to another Hadith, he said, “Let us find comfort in prayer, O Bilaal” – he didn’t say, “Let us get it over and done with.”
2. With regard to the second, (fight) weakness of distractions:
This means striving to push away all distractions that make you think of something other than the prayer itself and warding off thoughts that keep your mind off the purpose of the prayer. This is something which differs from one person to another, because the extent of waswaas (whispers from Shaytaan, the cursed one) has to do with the extent of one’s doubts and desires, the heart’s focus and dependence on what it loves, and its efforts to avoid what it dislikes. [Majmoo al-Fataawa, 22/606-607]
I pray that Allah (SWT) help us achieve khushoo in our salaah and to taste the sweetness of it. Ameen.
[Reference: “33 Ways of developing Khushoo’ in Salaah” by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid]