We now arrive at the final and potentially the most important way to achieve khushūʿ in your ṣalāh. Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) has described it as ‘the secret and essence of ṣalāh.’
The secret of ṣalāh, and what transforms it from being a lifeless body to a real, moving and powerful force is: turning to Allah (ʿazza wa jall) fully and completely with your heart. During ṣalāh it is not permissible to turn your face away from the qiblah. Similarly, as His sincere slave, it is not befitting to turn your heart away from your Lord to matters other than Him.
When placing your heart before Allah (ʿazza wa jall), do it with utmost humility, as though you are seeing Him. When asked by Jibrīl (ʿalayhis-salām) to define ihṣān, the Prophet ﷺ said, “That you worship Allah as though you are seeing Him; for if you cannot see Him, He truly sees you” (Muslim).
The attainment of iḥsān should be every believer’s life goal. Iḥsān is to strive to worship Allah with the presence of the heart and watchful awareness (murāqabah). The reward of this will be the best of rewards: seeing Allah (ʿazza wa jall) Himself in Jannah inshā’Allah.
Ṣalāh is akin to a heavily guarded treasure chest that can be opened only with a special key. That key is to turn towards Allah (ʿazza wa jall) and turn away from everything other than Him.
Go to Allah (ʿazza wa jall) with full presence and concentration. Incline to Him completely. Focus on Him Alone. If you turn to Him, He will turn to you. If you turn away from Him, He will turn away from you.
Achieve this by removing the world from your heart and purifying your heart from desires and doubts.
Think of a cup which is full. To add to it, you must first throw out some of its contents. Likewise, the treasures of ṣalāh cannot enter a heart that is filled with concerns for the dunyā, is steeped in desires, and is riddled with doubts. These must first be removed.
Similarly, clear your mind from all evil thoughts and ideas. Instead, steer your mind to think about Allah (ʿazza wa jall): His majesty, His beauty, His kindness, His love and His Generosity.
Ḥassān b.ʿAṭiyyah (raḥimahullāh) said, “Indeed two men can be performing the same ṣalāh, but the difference between them is as vast as the distance between the heaven and earth. This is because one of them has fully directed his heart towards Allah (ʿazza wa jall), whereas the other one is heedless and inattentive.”
“When you stand to pray with humility in front of Allah (ʿazza wa jall), then stand as Allah has commanded you to do so. Beware of forgetfulness and being distracted. Beware of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) looking at you, yet you look at other than Him. Beware of asking Your Lord for Paradise and seeking His protection from the Hell fire whilst your heart is elsewhere and has no idea of what your tongue is uttering.” – al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (raḥimahullāh)
The 3 components of focusing your heart on Allah
1- The focus of the heart: Safeguard your heart from desires, from the worldly thoughts and the whispers of Shayṭān as they will reduce the reward of ṣalāh.
2- The focus of iḥsān: Completely give your heart and its focus to Allah (ʿazza wa jall). Worship Him as though you see Him.
3- The focus of reflection: Contemplate on the Qur’ān and each component of the ṣalāh with its distinctive characteristics.
Following this chapter’s exploration of the ten ways of attaining khushūʿ in ṣalāh, the next chapter will take you on a journey through ṣalāh. By understanding and recollecting the significance of each posture, you will find your khushūʿ increasing by the will of Allah (ʿazza wa jall).