How To Maintain Khushoo' In Prayer
Author: Hussain al-Awaa'ishah
Source: As-Salaat Wa Atharuhaa Fee Ziyaadatil Eemaan (Trans Abu Iyaad)
Allaah - Subhaanahu wa Ta'aalaa - said:
The Believers will prosper. Those who have khushoo within their prayers [Mu'minoon 23:1-2]
and He - Taa'aalaa - also said:
And stand before Allaah with a devout frame of mind [Baqarah 2:238]
Abu Hurairah (ra) said: The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) prayed one day, turned aro und and said: "O so and so! Do you not beautify your prayer? Does not the one wh o performs prayer when he does so look at how he prays? Indeed he prays for hims elf."
This khushoo is perfected by a number of matters some of which are within the pr ayer itself and others outside of it. Amongst such matters are:
1. Remembrance of Death
Anas (ra) said: The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Remember death within your prayer because when a man remembers death in his prayer is strives to beautify h is prayer and pray the prayer of a man who does not think that he will perform another prayer after it. Take caution and and an excuse is sought for every affa ir."
The Messnger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has ordered the muslim to remember death during his prayer. This is because it is a means of beautifying the prayer. The thought of death creates apprehension in the souls and by it the actions are sealed. What comes after it is even more frightening. Where is the escape from the compressio n of the grave? And what will our response be when we are questioned in the grav e? Futhermore, we do not know where our destination is, to a garden whose width is as that of the heavens and the earth or to the fire whose fuel is men and sto nes.
Thus does the servant imagine the visions of death and what comes after it, so h e prays the prayer of a man who doesn't think that he will perform a prayer afte r it. He, therefore, beautifies his prayer, counts himself amongst the dead, pr epares his shroud, writes his will and returns the rights to those who own them. When he wakes up he does not wait for the evening and when he reaches the eveni ng he does not wait for the morning.
In this manner he comes to perform the prayer, humble, submissive and weeping. B etween fer and hope he faces the Hereafter and he bids farewell to the world. It is a farewell prayer and a prayer of farewell. By it he says farewell to his fa mily, parents, brothers and his dearest and nearest ones, in fact the whole World.
And here he says "Allaahu Akbar" - Allaah is Greater - indeed He is greater than every single thing. He belittles this world and deems it insignificant. Then he makes one of the opening supplications and says "O Allaah make my sins distant from me as you have made the the east and west distant from each other." He visu alises the remoteness of the east from the west then he brings to mind whatever he can from among his sins and mistakes which his back carries. He fears that he will meet Allaah - Subhaanahu - in this state and that death will pass him befo re he has repented; so he calls with this supplication, certain and convinced th at it will be answered.
He reflects upon the meaning of all that he utters during his prayer, bringing t o mind the greatness and might of Allaah - Ta'aalaa - in his heart, tears wellin g from his eyes because Paradise and Hellfire have become evidently closer to hi m than his shoelace. He personifies the saying of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam): "Pray a f arewell prayer as if you see Him and though you do not see Him, He certainly sees you."
It is essential to be observant of Allaah - Ta'aalaa - so that the matter of pra yer is set aright and that the world is placed behind our backs. If a person kne w that his words are being heard and that they reach the King without a doubt wh at then will he say? And how will he speak? Will you not see him weighing his le tters and words? How will it be for the one who stands erect in front of the All -Hearer the All-Seer and All-Knowing, the One from Whom no secret is hidden?
Abdullaah ibn Shikhkhir (ra) said: I saw the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) praying with us and in his chest was a humming/buzzing sound, due to his weeping, like that of a cooking kettle (when it boils).
The weeping of Umar (ra) could be heard from the last row as been reported in Bukhaaree. Abdullaah ibn Shaddaad said: I heard the sobbing of Umar while I was in the last row and he was reciting: "I complain of my grief and sorrow to Allaah alone." [Yoosuf 12:86]
As for Abu Bakr (ra), the people could not heat his recitation in the prayer due to his weeping just as Aa'ishah (ra) has described when she said: "The Messenge r of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said while he was in his (final) illness: "Call upon Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer". Aa'ishah said: "I said: When Abu Bakr stands in y our place the people are not able to hear due to weeping so call Umar and let hi m lead the people". He (the Messenger) said: "Call Abu Bakr and let him lead the people". Aa'ishah said to Hafsah: "Say to him (the Messenger) that when Abu Bak r stands in your place the people cannot hear him due to weeping so call Umar an d let him lead the people." Hafsah did that and the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Indee d you are like the companions of Yoosuf. Call Abu bakr and let him lead the peop le in prayer." Hafsah said to Aa'ishah: "I was never to gain any good from you."
In another narration: "Abu Bakr is a sorrowful man. When he stands in your place he is not able to pray with the people."
2. Reflecting upon the Meanings of the Words which are related to the Prayer
When he says "Allaahu Akbar" he brings to mind the meaning of these words and th e greatness and might of Allaah the Exalted which they contain. When he seeks re fuge in Allaah from Shaytaan - the accursed - he reflects upon the meaning of se eking refuge and that it entails recourse to and holding onto Allaah, the All-He aring Who hears the servant, the All-Knowing Who knows what the Shayaateen whisp er. He brings to mind that with this (seeking refuge) he opens the door toevery good and closes the door to every evil. In the same manner does he reflect upon the meanings of Bismillaah..., the Tasbeeh (Subhaanallaah) and the sending of pr ayers upon the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam).
It is essential to turn to the books of Tafseer and sayings of the scholars unti l a person understands what exactly he is saying and that is saying what he unde rstands. This is for all of his prayer, he strives to achieve that in accordance with his capability and strength.
3. Abandoning sins and disobedience.
Allaah the Exalted said:
Indeed Allaah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in their souls [Surah Ra'd 13:11 ]
Disobedience is a barrier which stands in front of khushoo' in the prayer. Included in this disobedience is clinging to a woman possessing evil manners and not divorcing her or giving a fool power to dispose of his wealth or giving a loan without it being witnessed. The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: "There are three who call upon Allaah - Azzawajall - but are not answered: A man under whom is a woman of evil nature and he does not divorce her, a man who is owed something by another but who did not call anyone to be a witness over it and a man who gives a fool his wealth." Allaah the Exalted also said: And do not give to the foolish their wealth"
Also included in this is the disobedience the wife shows to her husband and the slave who has run away from his master, as occurs in the hadeeth: "There are two whose prayer does not go beyond their heads: A servant who has fled from his master until he returns and a woman who disobeys her husband until she returns."
Likewise obeying Allaah in abundance increases khushoo' in the prayer and adds t o its beautification. Among the things which bring this about are: Being mercifu l to orphans, stroking their heads and feeding them. In this regard, the Messeng er (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Do you wish that your heart should become soft and that you obta in your need? Show mercy to the orphan, stroke his head and give him from your f ood. Your heart will become softened and your will acquire your need."
4. Avoiding too much laughing as it is fatal to the heart and its khushoo'
There occurs in the hadeeth: "...Indeed too much laughing kills the heart."
5. Choosing suitable actions
This is from a number of different aspects:
- In that they are halaal/lawful, because Allaah does not accept but the lawful and wholesome. Consuming unlawful property repels the supplication and prevents khushoo'.
- That these actions do not oppose the times of prayer. If that is the case, a man will start to make decisions for himself by allowing himself to delay the pr ayers or even making them up if he misses the time in which they are to be perfo rmed. He may also ask someone who will give him such an answer.
- That he tries to find out - according to his capability - those actions which are not strenuous or exacting, so that he enters into the prayer with a humble and repentant heart. The one who is tired and overworked must refresh his mind a nd this is at the expense khushoo' in the prayer.
The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has commanded us that when supper is served and the iqaamah has also been pronounced for the prayer, we begin with the supper until we have finished from it. This is because of the hearts occupation with the provisions o utside of the prayer. Ibn Umar (ra) reported from the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) that he said : "When the meal of one of you is served and the prayer has commenced, begin wit h the meal first and do not hurry until you have finished from it."
6. Not being excessively occupied with the affairs of the world.
This is because it will most certainly be at the expense of the Hereafter. Take, therefore, from the world that which will cloth you, your family and your child ren. If your work is done in the morning it will suffice you. There is nothing w hich necessitates work in the evening. If you receive a consistent amount of bus iness which brings you profits in abundance there is no need for becoming entang led with a variety of trades, dividing your mind thereby, making you forget the rights of your Lord and destroying the rights of your self, your family and your dependants.
7. Reciting the Qur'aan abundantly.
Also what has been established from among the various remembrances and supplicat ions from the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) as well as reading the heart-melting traditions an d stories. These soften the heart and make the Shaytaan distant.
8. Coming to the prayer early.
So that his zeal for the prayer does not force him to hurry towards the mosque a nd therefore enter the prayer while he is disturbed or muddled.
Abu Qataadah (ra) said: The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: "When you come to th e prayer you must come to it at ease and with tranquility and do not come to it hastily. Whatever you catch of the prayer, pray it and whatever you miss complete it."
Also Abu Hurairah (ra) said: The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: "When the praye r is recompensed for do not come to it hastily but come to it with ease, in tran quility. Whatever you catch of it pray it and whatever you miss complete it. Ind eed when one of you comes to perform the prayer he is engaged in prayer."
9. Straightening of the rows, making them level and filling the gaps.
This is because the gaps in the rows are the residing places of Shaytaan and the places where he stands. In a hadeeth there occurs: "Join together in the rows as Shaytaan stands between the gaps."
The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) used to say when straightening the rows of the Companions (r a): "Be equal (level) and do not separate lest your hearts separate." He also used to say: "Either you must straighten and make level your rows or Allaah will cause your faces to be separated."
In the absence of the straightening of the rows, making them level and filling t he gaps is the separation of the faces and hearts, an impairment to Eemaan and k illing of khushoo'. Conversely, in the straightening of the rows and their being level is the perfection of the prayer and its beautification as the Messenger ( sas) said: "... as the straightening of the rows is from the perfection of the prayer" and also his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) saying: "... as the straightening of the rows is from the beauty of prayer."