Practical Steps to Gain Khushoo
A Practical Guide to Gaining Khushoo Within Salah
Repeat the words of the Adhan
This is a subtle method to signal to your body and mind to draw away from any worldly affair you were engaged in. It’s an invitation to stop feeding your thoughts on the daily anxieties and temporary highs. This is the first step by which you acknowledge the call to prayer, where you are about to meet your Lord.
Salah your opportunity
You have been granted another opportunity to pray and give thanks. But have you ever realized the different functions Salah can be used for? How can you make it your joy? It is a way to overcome distress, sadness, fear and weakness. Furthermore, numerous are the hadith that portray the prayer as a mean for effacing sins and even avoiding them.
It’s your chance to seek forgiveness, to ask Allah to grant you health, knowledge, Baraka or increase your Iman. You can use it as Istikara, in which you directly ask Allah to guide you to choose the best option in a specific situation.
The Messenger(pbuh) even suggested we pray two raka’at in order to remember what we forgot or find an item we lost. Every salah might be the last one you’ll be able to perform; take advantage of it. Next time you approach Salah, have a specific reason. This should aid you right away in preserving khushoo throughout salah.
Stay still for a moment
Simply stand a few moments before praying, be conscious of everything that is running in your head. You will find out that there is nothing, absolutely nothing more important than this very Salah. Take a deep breath and exhale, expelling all worries and distracting thoughts as you exhale. Leave the dunyabehind. You are about to step in the presence of Allah and have a dialogue with Him.
Keep your gaze fixed
Focus your eyes on the spot in which you will perform sajda. Don’t worry if you find it difficult at first. Calmly reset your eyes on the point every time you notice that it is deviating.
As a side note, the movement of the eyes has been found to be directly related to one’s thoughts. This implies that it is not only your eyes that are wandering, your mind is too. When you notice this happening, simply re-direct your attention to the words you are saying. Be deliberately slow in performing every action.
Start the prayer by reciting a supplication
There are various dua (Dua’a Al Istiftah – Opening Supplications) the Prophet
used before reciting surat Al Fatiha. An example is: “Subhaanak-Allaahumma, wa biham-dika, wa tabaarakasmuka, wa ta’aalaa jadduka, wa laa ilaaha ghayruka”
(I declare You free and far removed from all imperfections, O Allaah, and all praise is for You. Blessed is Your Name. Great and Exalted is Your Kingdom. None has the right to be worshiped besides You).
Remember to include it in yours so as to increase attentiveness. Try learning new supplications so that it doesn’t become a mechanical thing leading you to stop paying attention to what you are saying. Stand in prayer as if the Prophet(pbuh) is leading you.
The power of visualization
One technique that instantly helps me focusing on the salah is a simple one based on a hadith about the siraat. The siraat is a narrow bridge suspended over Hell which everyone has to traverse to be admitted in Paradise.
Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri reported: “We, the companions of the Prophet said, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is the bridge?’ He said, “It is a slippery (bridge) on which there are clamps and (hooks like) a thorny seed that is wide at one side and narrow at the other and has thorns with bent ends. Such a thorny seed is found in Najd and is called As-Sa’dan. Some of the believers will cross the bridge as quickly as the wink of an eye, some others as quick as lightning, a strong wind, a fast horse or she-camel. Some will be safe without any harm; some will be safe after receiving some scratches, and some will fall down into Hell. The last person will cross by being dragged over the bridge.”(Sahih Bukhari- Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532).
Now imagine yourself on this bridge. You still don’t know which your final abode will be. In front of you there is Paradise, you can smell its scent and are yearning to reach it. Let the carpet you are standing on to perform salah represent the fine, thorny bridge that you need to cross. Below you, you can see a sea of blazing lava, you hear the cries of those who have fallen and your knees tremble at the only thought of being touched by it: the swiftest of movements could make you fall at any time.
The firmness of the person on the bridge will depend on their deeds and compliance to the deen in the dunya.
Some scholars argue that khushoo is a required element in salah, missing it would equal to having not satisfied the pre-requisites for sound worship.
Consider every salah as your attempt to cross the bridge, khushoo is your safety measure to reach the end of it.
A dialogue with Allah
Have you ever asked yourself why Surat Al Fatiha is recited in every single raka’a?
The Prophet(pbuh), said in a Hadith Al Qudsi:
"Allah, the Exalted, said, `I have divided the prayer into two halves between Myself and My servant, and My Servant shall have what he asks for.' If he says, `Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds' Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.' When the servant says, `Most Gracious, Most Merciful'. Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me.' When he says, `Master of the Day of Judgment.' Allah says, `My servant has related all matters to Me.' When he says, `You do we worship, and your aid we seek.' Allah says, `This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he sought.' When he says, `Show us the straight path. The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.' Allah says, `This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.'" (Muslim 1:296, and An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 5:11, 12).
Allah is not only listening to your prayer, but replying and rewarding you for every verse you utter.
Memorize ayats or suras and be eager to recite them during your salat
If you read a passage in the Qur’an which particularly clicked with you or brought you to tears, do your best to learn it and recite it after Al Fatiha. Frequently change the suras you recite. Make it a point to know their meaning, check the commentaries, the lexicon used, be critical about what you read, make it a dynamic activity by reflecting on what you recite as every verse is supposed to be stimulating your mind and heart.
Make at least one different dua’a in each sujood
Earlier we mentioned the need to reflect about the names and qualities that Allah attributed to Himself and revealed to us. Now it’s the time to use these names: when you make dua use the appropriate name depending on what you are asking for.
For example: when you are seeking for relief you may call upon Him by Al-Bâri’- The Maker of Perfect Harmony or Al-Salâm- The Flawless and the giver of peace. While appealing to His power to allow things to happen remember that He is Al-Mu’min- The Giver of Faith or Al-Haadi -The Guide. Ask Him to grant you and your family protection by calling Him Al-Muhaymin – The Guardian, Al-Raqîb- The Vigilant.
Get acquainted with the biography of the Prophet
Read the seera of the Prophet(pbuh) in detail, so that when you send blessing upon him you do it with sincerity.
Cultivate a feeling of gratitude and veneration
When you complete the prayer and say “Alhamdulillah, AllahuAkbar, Subhanallah” actually think about instances that would make you utter these words. For example if you have escaped an accident think about that when you say Alhamdullilah, when you say Allahu Akbar remember that us and all what this universe comprehends are compared to the throne of Allah as a ring in the desert.
The effect of Khushoo on productivity
Acquiring khushoo positively affects your productivity.
1. Quicker decision making
Having khushoo will make you see everything in a different prospective, what you do or don’t do is based on a specific evaluation: will Allah be pleased if I do this? Does this take me closer to Jannah or to Hellfire? You then save the time worrying or dragging yourself in doubtful activities
2. You’ll have a forward-looking attitude
No regrets, fear nor desperation will take hold of you since you have certainty that everything happening is exactly as it should be. You trust in the mercy and justice of Allah, as long as you follow His commandments nothing can harm you.
3. You’ ll stay away and be afraid of even coming close to commit a sin, hastening instead to perform good purposeful deeds.
4. Greater awareness in your day-to-day dealings.
By being constantly mindful of Allah, you become more careful of how you treat people or use your resources, including time.
We hope these points may serve as a reminder to both you and us, and help us in attaining or increasing Khushoo.