Khushoo means devotion. Khushoo is when one's complete attention during Salah is to Allah (swt). Yes, that is more than normal. Only thing is that the devil does not want you to do that. That pesky little bugger would rather that you concentrate on other important things. Like what you will have for lunch or thinking about the last EastEnders episode or you might be re-playing the last United game in your head.... Goal!!!! Oops, what was I doing? Anyway, time for the third Sajdah...
Anyway, you're probably wondering what the big deal is. Some of the sahaba asked "What is Ihsan (perfection)?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah (swt) as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you." (Bukhari 2:47)
So you wanna be Mr or Miss or Mrs Perfect? Well just follow the above Hadith. Aah, but it is not that simple. The aforementioned devil will play tricks on you to make you not succeed. What you really need is a guide to Khushoo. (If you ain't figured it out yet, I don't have a cold! And I don't need a Kleenex.)
The Revival's (almost foolproof) tips for perfection. In Salaah. Using ahadith. What more could you want?
Step 1: Get rid of any obvious distractions. Before you start.
Respond to the call of nature – There is no way you can pray your Salah with full concentration when you’re desperate for the loo! That’s why the Prophet has ordered us not to pray when we need to answer the call of nature. Even if the Iqamah is called, you should go and relieve yourself and then come back and join Jama’a. (Sunan Abu Dawud, no.97)
Don't pray when food is present – The reason why we're told not read our Salah on an empty stomach is so that we don’t spend all our time thinking about food! (Sahih Muslim no. 560) Could you read your Maghrib properly in Ramadan straight after you'd opened your fast knowing that you got a whole table of tasty munch waiting for you? In other words if you're starving rather than drooling over the Seekh Kebab or Chicken Biryani whilst praying, its best to munch up first so you can focus fully whilst praying.
Smooth out the surface of where you’re gonna be praying – Remove anything which might distract you, i.e. stones, dust, mud. (Sahih al-Bukhari no.2298) No one wants to go down in sujood only to bang their forehead on some stone(not to mention it’s the closet point to God)!
Avoid praying next to a talking or sleeping person – How many of us can sleep in the same room as a snoring person without getting peed off? Not many eh? That’s why we are told not to pray next to a sleeping person. Firstly, they’ll knock your concentration with their loud snoring and secondly, they might start doing some dodgy body movements which could easily distract you from your Salah! Also, we’re told not to pray near someone who is talking. If you’re praying next to a loud mouth, you’re bound to hear their convo thus get distracted!
Step 2: What about when in the middle of prayer?
Remember death - The Prophet said: “Remember death during Salah, because if a man remembers death during his Salah, it is more likely that he will perform it perfectly; and pray as if it is your last Salah”. (Albandi’s ‘Silsilah as-Sahihah’ 1421)
Reflect upon the verses of the Quran – If you understood what was being said in Salah, there would be a lesser chance of getting distracted. That’s why we’re encouraged to learn Arabic (or at least the Salah) in order to understand what’s being said. The Prophet would reiterate the verses of the Quran in Salah.
Recite the Quran in a slow and rhythmic tone – The Prophet would recite the Quran in a slow, rhythmic and melodious tone. If you’re gonna rush and race through your Salah then what’s the point of praying it? The only way you’re gonna get Sakina (peace of mind) is by reciting the Quran in a slow and calm way.
Face a Sutrah (a barrier between the person praying and others) & focus on a Sujood point – In Salah, the Prophet would focus on his Sujood point to avoid any eye contact with anyone or being distracted by anything else for that matter. It’s also recommended to pray close to a wall or something solid to help your eyes from wondering.
Step 3: Avoid the pitfalls
Avoid loud recitation – If everyone decided to recite in a loud manner, no one would be able to concentrate on his or her Salah. That’s the very reason why we are told to recite just loud enough to hear ourselves. (Sunan Abu Dawud 2/28)
Avoid turning around in Salah– If in Salah you turned your eyes, neck or even your heart towards anything other than Allah, your Khushoo would be snatched away from you just like that. So, to avoid that, keep your eyes, head and neck on one spot!
Restrain from yawning – If you have the urge to yawn, try to restrain it as much as you can by the help of your hand. The reason being is because the Shaytan enters therein and we know that when the Shaytan is in sight, things are not going to plan! Shaytan would love to distract you especially in your Salah . So keep your gob shut and tick the devil off!
Step 4: Profit!!!
The Salah of the Salaf Saliheen (Pious Predecessors)
Contemplating on the level of Khushoo attained by the Salaf can increase our Khushoo ONLY if we choose to follow in their footsteps. Let’s take a look at their amazing concentration and give ourselves the motivation to be just like them (Inshaa’Allah!).
‘Ibn Zubair used to stand in Salah as if he was a pole, because of high degree of Khushu.’
‘Maslamah Ibn Bashar was praying in the mosque as part of it collapsed. So people rushed to the mosque and found Maslamah still praying, unaware of them.’
‘We were told that some of the Salaf used to weep during Salah, and others did not know who were on their right or left. The faces of some would change as soon as they made ablution and got ready for Salah, and when asked why, they replied, “We know well Whom we are going to stand in front of.”’
Now let’s compare our salah with that of the early salaf’s (pretty depressing huh?).Whilst they did not move an inch in their Salah, nowadays we have people looking at their watches, some thinking about what they’re going to do after their Salah or what they’re going to wear to a party they’re going to go to.
Some play with their noses (eugh!), while others look at the Masjid’s decorations, some re-cap on what’s been going on in school or the latest gossip! Others think about business transactions and some even try to find out who is on their left and right!
When we’re in Sujood that is the closest point we’ll ever be with our Lord. Do you really want your heart filled with Dunya when you’re at that point?! One of the questions that we’ll be asked about in our graves will be about our Salah.
So, let’s perfect our Salah and reap in the rewards given by our Creator. It’s not going to be easy but if we put 100% dedication, Allah (swt) will make it easy for us Inshaa’Allah.
Amir Ibn Qais once said:
“I would prefer to be stabbed by spears in my body than think of worldly affairs during Salah.”