Many people ask this question: How can I have khushoo’ (concentration and humility) in salah (prayer)?
Truth be told, if one managed to perform the salah properly, it will really be an immensely and incomparably peaceful and soothing experience that would liberate the heart, mind and soul from all burdens of one’s day-to-day life.
It really is a gift. Just like our Beautiful Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) was heard saying, “O Bilal, call iqamah for prayer: give us comfort by it.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
It does bring comfort, if only we know how to capture its essence and spirit.
Now, how do we reach this state of being present in prayer and enjoying this experience?
Well, first of all, we need to remember something. Salah (prayer) is among the most- if not THE MOST- important act we need to be working on. It is the first thing we will be asked about on The Day of Resurrection.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The first of man’s deeds for which he will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection will be Salat (prayer). If it is found to be perfect, he will be safe and successful; but if it is incomplete, he will be unfortunate and a loser. If any shortcoming is found in the obligatory Salat, the Glorious and Exalted Rubb will command to see whether His slave has offered any voluntary Salat so that the obligatory Salat may be made up by it. Then the rest of his actions will be treated in the same manner.” [At- Tirmidhi].
Allah Almighty says:
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [Qur’an 51: 56]
This “worship” is not referring to shallow, void, mechanical ritualistic act. Rather, it refers to deep connection, daily commitment and true pursuit of knowing Him, learning about Him, and learning from Him and genuinely loving Him. It is such a deep state and deep relationship between the Creator and His created beings. It is the purpose of their creation. So it can’t be shallow.
Accordingly, we need to understand that this is a life-long project and commitment. Working on perfecting the prayer and completing the spiritual and physical dimensions of it is a main task for all believers, as it is essentially there to help them reap immense benefits in this life and the next.
Now, what if you don’t have ‘khushoo’?
Well, ‘khushoo’ is not something that you either have or don’t have and that’s it. It is not something that you, for example, can go buy from the supermarket. It is not something that you will sit back, and wait for someone else to bring it to you. It isn’t like sitting on your couch, and all of a sudden, a massive wave of khushoo’ will enter your body and transform your existence. That’s not real, that’s not right. Essentially, we are created to work on ourselves and progress, so khushoo’ is something we also need to work on acquiring and struggling to maintain. That’s the beauty of you putting effort in something, then receiving Allah’s aid and incomparably soothing blessings, then feeling immensely grateful for that, and then wanting to repeat this whole process over and over again.
It is beautiful work and connection.
Khushoo’ -by rough definition- is to achieve a state of concentration, true conscious presence, humility and glorification of the One you’re talking to in prayer: i.e., Allah Glorified and Exalted.
Sometimes, during our busy days, we forget to achieve this during our daily prayers.
While we won’t be able to cover all aspects of this issue, but in this article series, we present some useful tips for you to bring life to your prayer, and allow the prayer to bring life to your heart, mind and soul.
Here are the tips.
- Ask Allah about what you need every time you enter into the prayer
Think about it: if you know that someone is so rich and powerful that they can achieve anything, and this someone happens to be on your side, he is your ally, would you be seizing the opportunity of asking all the time for what you need, or would you waste this opportunity and be careless and indifferent about it? Not asking is such a waste given this opportunity, right?
Well, Allah Almighty is The Rich, The Self Sufficient, The Independent One, The Free of Need who responds to the needs of those who seek Him. Allah is the ally of those who believe, He brings them out from darknesses into the light.
So, upon entering the prayer, remember this. Remember His Names, Remember His Power, and get in there determined to ask of Him and talk to Him about your needs. Why waste this opportunity. This is actually a great act of worship.
As the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said:
“Verily supplication is worship.” [Related by the four Imams]
And no, please don’t reserve asking Allah for only the “big” things in life like marriage, work, education…etc. Rather, ask Allah about anything and everything you need. Who else do you have to ask?
The Prophet taught us “If you ask, ask Allah, if you seek help, seek help from Allah.”
So, Allah and prayer should be your go to haven for help and relief.
Remember that we say in Prayer in Surat Al Fatiha 17 times a day throughout our five daily prayers, “You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help.” (Qur’an 1: 5)
So, bring this verse to life. Ask Allah for His help with your daily decisions. We always, ALWAYS, have to make decisions, every day. Like, “should I go to this place or not, should I meet these people or not, should I attend this or not, should I call that person or not, should I do this or that or not…etc.”
Seek the Help and Knowledge of Allah who knows the seen and unseen, the past, present and future in making your own daily decisions. “And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things.” (Qur’an 64: 11).
So, Allah will guide your heart and comfort you when you ask Him sincerely and seek Him and know that ultimately everything is in HIS Hands. This is the power of tasleem (submission) it brings peace and helps you place your worries in the Hands of the All-Powerful which brings peace to your heart and mind.
Again, imagine if every time you enter into the prayer knowing you will ask Allah for something, wouldn’t this deepen the bond you have with Him?
Who do you have deeper connection with: the one you call once a year, or the one you call every day?
So, call upon Allah every day.
And yes, you can ask Allah about anything, as long as you don’t ask for something haram (unlawful/immoral/ a sin). You can ask Him for anything.
Thabit narrated from Anas, who said “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
‘Let one of you ask his Lord for his every need, even until he asks Him for the strap of his sandal when it breaks.’” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
So, do that insha’Allah, and observe how this state of need and consciousness in asking for what you want would transform your salah.
- Study/read/listen to tafseer of Surat Al Fatiha
In each and every single unit of our prayer, we recite Surat Al Fatiha. The prayer will be invalid if this is not recited. This Surah is extremely extremely powerful. If your prayer is based on reciting this Surah, and you don’t actually understand or know or feel the meaning of what you’re reciting, then it is a waste.
“Ubadah bin As-Samil narrated that:
The Prophet said: “There is no Salat for the one who does not recite Fatihatil-Kitab.”
So read about the merits of this Surah and its rewards and powers. Did you know that it is a healing Ruqyah?
There is nothing like what Allah has chosen to be The Opening of His Book.
Narrated Ubayy bin Ka’b:
That the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Allah has not revealed the likes of Umm Al-Kitab in the Tawrah, nor the Injil. It is the seven oft-repeated, and (Allah said) ‘It is divided between Myself and My slave, and My slave shall have what he asks for.'” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi ]
So, know the meanings of Al-Fatiha to feel its power while praying. If you capture the meaning of Al-Fatiha, read it with concentration and proper recitation (tajweed), it will really transform your prayer experience.
There are plenty of resources online and offline to study in depth this Surah. For example, you can listen to this lecture by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, it will deeply influence the way you interact with the Fatiha.