One of the greatest means of attaining khushūʿ in ṣalāh is the maʿrifah of Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā).
Maʿrifah refers to a deep awareness and knowledge of Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā). The greater your knowledge of Allah, the greater the level of khushūʿ you will develop.
Knowledge of Allah is a prerequisite for worshipping Him. Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā) states, “I only created jinn and men so that they worship Me” (51:56). Worshipping Allah means submitting yourself to Him, humbling yourself to Him and loving Him. However, how can we love Him if we do not know Him?
“What does one know if one does not know Allah (ʿazza wa jall) and His Messenger (ṣall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)? What truth has he recognised if this truth has eluded him? What knowledge has one gained and what action has one obtained if one has failed to know Allah, failed to act for His pleasure, failed to know the path to Him and failed to know what is in store for him once he reaches Him?” – Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh)
What should the maʿrifah of Allah lead to?
A deep awareness and knowledge of Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā) will make you shy of Allah, increase your love for Him and attach your heart to Him. You will be left in awe of Him and will always long to meet Him. You will repeatedly turn to Him broken in repentance. You will hastily run away from the creation to enjoy seclusion with Him.
Striving to attain these qualities is a continuous effort, and not a single struggle. It is a lifelong journey that will only end when we meet Him and He is pleased with us, inshāAllah.
“There is no life and no peace for the hearts unless they become deeply aware of their Creator, Lord and God through His Names, Attributes and Actions; and through this process (of getting to know Him), He becomes more beloved to them than everything else.” – Ibn Abī al-ʿIzz al-Ḥanafī (raḥimahullāh)
How can you attain the maʿrifah of Allah?
1) Through tadabbur:
Tadabbur is to reflect and ponder on the ‘āyāt’ (verses) of the Noble Qur’ān.
2) Through tafakkur:
Tafakkur is to reflect on the numerous ‘āyāt’ (signs) of Allah that surround us. Allah says, “We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth” (41:53).
The Qur’ānic verses (āyāt) continuously remind us of the many signs (āyāt). These include the sun, moon, stars, sky, rain, animals, mountains and the human being himself.
3) Through His Beautiful Names.
This is only possible through a deep understanding of Allah’s Excellent Names, their Majesty and their Perfection; and realising that He is the Only One to whom these Names belong.
Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) wrote, “The key to the daʿwah of the Messengers and the essence of their Message, is knowing Allah through His Names, His Attributes, and His Actions. This is the foundation which the rest of the Message, from beginning to end, is based upon.”
Allah said, “To Allah Alone belong the most Beautiful Names, so call on Him by them.” (7:180) The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Indeed Allah has 99 Names; whoever preserves them will enter Paradise” (Muslim).
Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) wrote, “There is no greater need of the soul than its need to know its Creator and Originator. And there is no way to achieve this except through knowing His Attributes and Names. The more a slave knows them, the more he will know Allah (ʿazza wa jall), the more he will seek Him and the closer he will be to Him.
Similarly, the more ignorant the slave is of His Names and Attributes, the more ignorant, disliked and further away from Him he will be. The status which the slave enjoys in the eyes of Allah is dependent on the status the slave himself accords Allah in his heart. Thus, journeying to Allah through the path of His Names and Attributes is truly an amazing matter. The doors it opens are astounding.”
Throughout your ṣalāh, bring the rich meanings of Allah’s Names to the forefront of your mind. Doing this will help you feel that you are directly conversing with Him, and thereby it will increase your closeness to Him.
“Whoever attains the recognition of Allah through His Names, Attributes and Actions, will undoubtedly love Him.” – Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh)
4) By worshipping Him as much as possible.
Maʿrifah itself is one of the greatest forms of worship. Other acts of worship – including dhikr, duʿā’, reciting the Qur’ān and ṣalāh – will increase your maʿrifah. It’s a cycle: the more you know Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā), the more you will worship Him. And the more you worship Him, the more you will know Him.
Performing ṣalāh with khushūʿ, is one of the greatest means of attaining His maʿrifah.
In summary, increasing your knowledge of Allah is one of the best ways to achieve khushūʿ. Once you get to know Him – through His signs, through His Names, through His Book and through worshipping Him – your awe, veneration and love of Him will increase. Your own self-importance will meanwhile decrease. Both of these will help your body and heart to humble themselves to Allah and allow you to taste the sweetness of khushūʿ.
“The perfection of the slave of Allah is in his knowing Allah and then loving Him (in the world); and (his perfection) in the hereafter is experiencing the joy of seeing Him.” – Ibn Taymiyyah (raḥimahullāh)
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