بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
Ways to attain Khushu in our prayers
As we’ve discussed in the previous blog entry called, “The covering,” the condition of our hearts is one of the reasons we cannot focus the way we want to in Salaah. But, with every sickness is a cure. And the best of remedies is precaution and the knowledge of what to stay away from.
Let’s get into some ways that can help improve our concentration and khushu’ in Salaah.
There is a hadith that mentions that the worst thing we can fill is our stomachs.
Miqdam ibn Ma’d reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, say, “There is no vessel which the son of Adam can fill that is more evil than his stomach, for it is enough for him to take a few bites in order to straighten his back. Yet if he is overcome by appetite, then he may fill it with a third of food, a third of drink, and a third of breath.”
(Sunan Ibn Majah)
We all know happens to us when we eat too much. Short term and long term effects are not good. It was the way of the salaf to eat only what was needed which would keep their back straight. Us, sometimes, we eat for entertainment purposes. It’s not for necessity at times. Which isn’t good. First of all, you begin to gain weight, and that is rarely ever pretty. And second of all, it affects your ability to perform salaah. Have you ever prayed with your stomach full? Think back to Ramadan. It wasn’t a pleasurable experience. Remember those last few moments before fajr when you’d eat so much you wouldn’t be able to stand straight for salaah? Of course, back then we did eat too much that we’d have to be careful not to vomit it all out haha. It’s hard to stand for a lengthy amount of time when you’re full. Most likely you won’t be able to focus either. So you’ll quicken the salaah. It’s not preferred to eat a lot before prayer because then you know you won’t be as alert as you should be. And you won’t feel the beauty of the salaah. A full belly is very distracting! So we should lighten our meals, especially the meals we take before the prayer. If we want to be engaged in Salaah and have the khushu’ are stomach should not be full.
Thikr serves an amazing role in our lives. When the heart is absent from the remembrance of Allah, it begins to die. Every day we are given the opportunity to give the heart what it needs. The remembrance of its creator. The more often we do thikr, the more sins are removed from us, and the more the heart comes to life. Here is Ibn Taymiyyah’s thoughts on this.
Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “The remembrance of Allah for the heart is like water for the fish. What will be the state of the fish if it is taken out of water?” Muʻjam Aṣḥāb 1/11
- Avoiding excessive speech
If we are in the habit to always talk, perhaps we should stop and replace it with another kind of speech. Athkaar. It would do our hearts better to be engaged in remembering it’s Lord than remembering the affairs of other people. I know some of us get a kick out of talking about other people’s affairs, but it does no one any benefit. It also brings harm at times. It may seem entertaining, but the consequences are far from entertaining.
I read a piece of wisdom that said that a sign of the sickness of the heart is the remembrance of people instead of the remembrance of Allah. A person whose heart is engaged in worship will be too busy to be thinking about other peoples affairs. We have to remember that other people business is their business, we shouldn’t think that we have a right to add ourselves to the picture. If it doesn’t concern you, then you should stay clear. That is what a good Muslim would do. This beautiful hadeeth explains,
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Part of the perfection of a person’s Islam is his leaving that which is of no concern to him”
We would be making drastic changes in our lives if we shifted our focus from being so busy with the affairs of other people to being busier with the mention of our Creator. But clearly the odds will be against you because apparently it’s the “thing” to be caught up in other peoples business. Do you see what they air on television these days? It’s crazy. Media has given us this idea that its cool to know what is happening with someone else’s family, people that nothing to do with our lives. I mean don’t we have our spiritual crisis to worry about? These people are people just like you and I., But somehow media has added glitz and glam to the whole thing and I think it’s things like this that pollute our spirituality and sense of well-being. Why? Because you’d always be comparing your life to theirs and all of these things that just makes you more unhappy with your current self and situation. So then when it’s time to make Salaah, will your mind be present? Of course not. Because the whole day your mind was preoccupied with other things. Point being, the more we remember Allah in our days and nights, the more our hearts become attached to Allah. So when it’s time to pray the heart wants to. This kind of mediation brings relief to the heart. The heart won’t be restless, therefore, when the person prays, the mind and body will be tranquil Insha Allah.
الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُمْ بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ
“such are the ones who have believed and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah. Beware! It is the remembrance of Allah which provides tranquility to the hearts”
(Surah 13. Ar-Ra’d, Ayah 28)
Okay, so let’s say you were caught up in a lot of not so good stuff. But now you want to fix things and make things better. Great. But where do you start. With seeking Allah’s forgiveness. Not just once or twice but many times through the day. Rasulallah was known to make Istighfaar more than seventy times a day.
وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول “والله إني لأستغفر الله وأتوب إليه في اليوم أكثر من سبعين مرة” ((رواه البخاري)).
I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, “I swear by Allah that I seek Allah’s Pardon and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.”
If the Messenger of Allah would turn to Allah this often and he is the Prophet, then who are we to think that we don’t have to make as much Istighfaar? We are more in need of forgiveness if anything! The great thing about seeking forgiveness is that Allah loves for us to turn back to him, and this pleases Allah.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ
“surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves ..”
(Surat 2. Al-Baqarah, ayah 222)
Not only would you be helping yourself in having these sins that cover the heart removed, but you would be receiving the pleasure of Allah. And that is a great thing! Every time we make sincere repentance we get a new slate to start fresh. A sign of us being forgiven is our increase in istighfaar, and our haste in performing good deeds. All of these good actions have a positive effect on the spiritual health of the heart. And a healthy heart is the one that can engage in the remembrance of Allah and enjoy it too.
Imagine the Salaah of a person who comes with a sound heart! His heart would tremble with awe when hearing the words of Allah; no more would it be heedless. He would feel the prayer. So much he would cry because he knows the implications of the ayat he is reading. This person would feel the prayer because of his khuhu and awareness of the One he is standing in front of. He would be aware, present, feeling the tranquility of the salaah. He would not rush his salaah, but he’d take his time, finding ways to lengthen the salaah. Rasulallah (s) would stand for so long his feet would begin to swell.
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مِسْعَرٌ، عَنْ زِيَادٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ الْمُغِيرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ يَقُولُ إِنْ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَيَقُومُ لِيُصَلِّيَ حَتَّى تَرِمُ قَدَمَاهُ أَوْ سَاقَاهُ، فَيُقَالُ لَهُ فَيَقُولُ “ أَفَلاَ أَكُونُ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا ”.
“The Prophet (ﷺ) used to stand (in the prayer) or pray till both his feet or legs swelled. He was asked why (he offered such an unbearable prayer) and he said, “should I not be a thankful slave.”
To be continued Insha Allah. 🙂
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Baarakallah Feekum! 🙂