Ramaḍān is the perfect time to actively develop khushūʿ in our ṣalāh. Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā) says in the Qur’ān,
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِى صَلَاتِهِمْ خَٰشِعُونَ
“Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble and submissive in their ṣalāh” (23:1-2).
Khushūʿ is a state in which the heart stands before Allah (ʿazza wa jall) with complete humility, lowliness and servitude; focusing fully on Him Alone. Then the body also humbles itself and obeys Allah.
Khushūʿ is a state in which you constantly weigh up your sins against Allah’s greatness, leaving you overwhelmed with humility and a desperate need for Him.
“Two rakʿahs with contemplation is better than standing for the entire night with an inattentive heart.” – ʿAbdullāh b. ʿAbbās (radiy Allāhu ʿanhumā)
One of our main Ramaḍān goals should be to perform the five farḍ prayers to the best of our abilities. This includes all the additional sunnah prayers and performing them with full concentration, calmness and tranquillity. Similarly, qiyām (the night prayer) in this sacred month is the perfect opportunity to work on our khushūʿ. We should maximise qiyām to lengthen the various postures, praise Allah extensively, and prolongingly ask from Him, as our beloved Messenger ﷺ used to do.
“When the time for ṣalāh comes close, I perform wuḍu thoroughly, go to the spot where I intend to pray, and sit there until all my limbs are in a collected state. Then I stand up to perform my prayer, placing the Kaʿbah in front of my eyes, the ṣirāṭ (bridge over Hell-fire) beneath my feet, Paradise to my right and Hell-fire to my left, and the Angel of Death behind me, thinking all the while that this is my last prayer. Then I stand between hope and fear. I carefully pronounce ‘Allāhu Akbar’. Then I recite the Qur’ān carefully in a measured pace, bow in humility, and prostrate submissively. I then present it with sincerity to Allah. Then I wonder whether or not my prayer has been accepted.” – Ḥātim al-Aṣamm (raḥimahullāh)
How to Attain Khushūʿ
– Get rid of distractions. Eat and use the bathroom before praying. Pray in a quiet place and put your phone away to enter a ‘peaceful zone’.
– Understand what you are saying. Learn the translation of everything you are saying in ṣalāh. This will help you reflect on what you are saying.
– Vary the adhkār and sūrahs. Carve out time in this blessed month to memorise additional adhkār and sūrahs from the Qur’ān to experience the beauty of ṣalāh. See the detailed ‘Taste the Sweetness of Ṣalāh’ book for a list of the adhkār.
– Remember death and the hereafter during and outside of your ṣalāh. Imagine you are praying your final prayer. Visualise the stages of the hereafter in your ṣalāh.
– Focus your heart fully on Allah. Fill your heart with His love, fear and hope. Try to pray as though you can see Him. If you can’t, then keep in mind that He sees you. This is the key to ṣalāh.
“Let not your concern be the quantity of your actions. Rather, worry about perfecting them and doing them well; for a slave may be praying, but he is disobeying Allah in his ṣalāh.” (Wuhayb b. al-Ward)
A Journey Through Salah
The journey through ṣalāh is remarkable. Each part is a unique milestone, bringing its own sweetness and joy. Every action and statement have their own form of servitude (ʿubūdiyyah) to Allah. To help you attain khushūʿ, below are some pointers to focus on during each step of the journey. For more elaboration on each step, refer to the ‘Taste the Sweetness of Ṣalāh’ book.
1. Wuḍū: Inner and Outer Purification
– Recite the duʿā’ before and after wuḍū’.
– Pray two rakʿahs after wuḍū’ (taḥiyyat al-wuḍū’).
– Make an intention to purify yourself from three impurities: 1. shirk, 2. sins and 3. dirt.
– When performing wuḍū, visualise: 1. your sins being forgiven, 2. your status being raised, 3. the eight doors of Paradise being opened, 4. the Prophet ﷺ recognising you on the Day of Judgement because of wuḍū.
2. Walking to the Masjid
– The masjid is the most beloved of places to Allah. Have the intention that, by walking to the masjid, you are returning to your Master to set aright your negligence of Him.
– Walk calmy and mentally prepare to enter ṣalāh.
– For every step you take, hope for : 1. one good deed, 2. being raised a degree and 3. one sin being wiped away.
3. Takbīr: Glorifying Allah
– Renew your sincerity and empty your heart of anything besides Allah.
– Strive to eliminate pride from your heart.
– Magnify and glorify Allah with your tongue and heart.
– As you enter the court of the Almighty, surrender to Allah by raising your hands and mentally throw the world behind you.
4. Istiftāḥ: The Opening Duʿā’
– Fill your heart with the greatness of Allah and praise Him.
– Just as you are facing the Qiblah with your body, turn your heart to Allah.
– Renew your repentance and make a firm intention to stop sinning.
5. Istiʿādhah and Basmalah
– Seek protection in the mighty and invincible power of Allah against your worst enemy.
– Start by seeking Allah’s help and blessings.
6. Qiyām: Standing before your Master
– Clasp your arms like a humble slave and lower your gaze. Do not look to the left or right.
– Continuously recall that you are now in front of Allah and He is talking to you.
7. Reciting Qur’ān
– Recite slowly and beautifully.
– Reflect on the words you are uttering and fill your heart with love, hope and fear (depending on what you are reciting).
– Vary the sūrahs you have memorised.
– Visualise and interact with what you are reading.
– Increase in knowledge and your īmān of Allah as He manifests Himself through His words.
8. Fātiḥah: The Greatest Sūrah
– Learn and reflect on the meaning.
– Take a moment to pause at the end of each āyah as Allah responds.
– Recall and reflect on all of the blessings Allah has given you (manifestations of His mercy). This will increase your love for and hope in Him (Āyah 1-2).
– Visualise your plight on the Day of Judgement and feel scared (Āyah 3).
– Feel yourself expressing your servitude and need of Him, whilst simultaneously magnifying Him (Āyah 4).
9. Āmīn: The Seal of the Lord of the Worlds
– Be certain that Allah will accept your duʿā’.
– Intend for your āmīn to coincide with the āmīn of the angels so that you are forgiven.
10. Rukūʿ: A Pillar of Glorification
– Glorify Allah Alone.
– Bow physically and mentally.
– Remove the glorification of anyone other than Him from your heart.
– Don’t make your humility and submission to Allah temporary. Be humble and submit to him outside of ṣalāh as well.
11. Standing up from Rukūʿ: A Pillar of Praise
– Praise Allah once again.
– Fill your heart with His love, awe and majesty.
– Acknowledge your servitude to Him and be certain that only He can give and withhold.
– Hope that your praise coincides with the praises of the angels, so that Allah will forgive your sins.
12. Sujūd: The Greatest Pillar of Ṣalāh
– Prostrate to Allah with humility – go to Allah like a beggar would.
– Experience delight in being close to Him, as this is the closest you can get to Him on this earth.
– Feel honoured that you only prostrate to Him, and not to any of His creation.
– Have hope that your sujūd will wipe away your sins and remove the burdens off your shoulders.
– Take advantage and make duʿā’.
– As you perform this most honourable deed, consider how you are triumphing over Shayṭān, who is now crying.
– By performing more sujūd (through extra nafl prayers), hope to be in the company of the Prophet ﷺ in Paradise.
13. Sitting Between the Two Sajdahs
– Sit up straight and don’t rush this step.
– Humbly plead for forgiveness. Remember that you are sitting on your knees with your eyes lowered.
– Recite and reflect on the supplication that the Prophet ﷺ made in this moment: for Allah to forgive you, have mercy upon you, grant you well-being, guide you and provide for you.
14. The Final Sitting (Tashahhud)
– Through tashahhud, you are now bidding farewell to your ṣalāh.
– Respectfully greet Allah and pay your respect to Him.
– Send salām on the Prophet ﷺ and feel the joy as he replies to you.
– Feel a sense of brotherhood with all the believers in general, and with the pious slaves specifically.
– Renew your tawḥīd with أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ لاَ إِلٰهَ إِلاَّ الله and raise your finger to demonstrate this.
– In the final duʿā’, enjoy another chance to ask Allah for your needs.
15. Taslīm and the End of Ṣalāh
– Intend that you are greeting the angels and those around you.
– The taslīm concludes this epic journey.
– Feel sad that you are now leaving your Creator and returning to the worries of the world.
– No matter how hard you’ve tried, your ṣalāh will have deficiencies. So, seek Allah’s forgiveness and recite the adhkār after ṣalāh.
– Beware of ʿujb (self-admiration and conceit) about your ṣalāh.
– Be grateful to Allah who has allowed you to undertake this amazing journey.
The process of attaining khushūʿ and enjoying ṣalāh requires time and effort. It won’t happen overnight. Keep coming back to these pointers and work on them in gradual steps.
May Allah purify our hearts from the love of this world, and make us stand in front of Him with utmost humility, love and servitude.