Salah is the foundation for one's relationship with Allah, subhanahu wata'ala (be He glorious and exalted). How precious is salah to us in our daily lives? When you hold a precious newborn baby, you take special care to be gentle and protective.
In the same way, salah needs delicate and careful handling. We have to know the right approach, the right mind set, the right way to present ourselves to the Lord of the Universe. The Qur'an says: "Successful indeed are the believers, those who in their salah have khushu' (humility)" [23:1-2]. And the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: "The first thing to be lifted up from this Ummah will be khushu', until you see no one who has khushu"' (Tabarani). And in another hadeeth (Prophet's Muhammad's saying): "O Allah, I seek refuge with You from a heart that has no khushu'..." (Tirmithi and Ibn Majah).
So what is khushu'? It encompasses awareness, surrender, humbleness, dignity, and calm-the right approach, the right mindset, the right way to present ourselves to the Lord of the Universe. This is in contrast to the all too common experience of salah. Many of us have become slaves to the "habit" of praying salah, doing so in a mechanical and thoughtless manner. Salah then does not improve us, does not increase our eman, and does not deter us from wrongdoing. This kind of salah, rather than bringing us nearer to Allah, makes us remote from Him. So how can we increase khushu' in our salah?
1. Formulate our intention with regard to salah.
That means that we will be mindful of why we are praying and what the benefits and blessings are of salah. If you make a list of these, you begin to see just how extensive it is. Salah demonstrates surrender and obedience to Allah It cleanses and removes our sins. It prevents sins and wrongdoings. It positions us to be graced by Allah with the reward of Paradise and protects us from the punishment of Hell. It brings Allah's help and guidance. It brings comfort and delight. It cultivates patience and perseverance. It exercises the will It increases adaptability. It teaches us to silence the inner chatter. Ibn Al-Jawzi said: "Whoever sees the dawn of reward bears easily the darkness of responsibility." Human beings have a need to see the purpose and the benefits in striving for a goal. Research shows that "why" one wants to change or achieve something constitutes 80 percent of the success.
2. Approach the salah with remembrance of death.
If we remember that this life is a preparation for the Day upon which Allah will recompense each soul according to what it has earned; that death is the transition to the next life; and that death could be now or tomorrow-then we will make salah as if it is our last salah and the last supplica- tion to Allah for His mercy and forgiveness. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: ".. .and make the salah of a man who does not think he will make another salah" (Al-Albany, as-Silsilah as-Sahihah). If we keep the remembrance of death fresh in our conscious mind when we approach salah, we will have greater awareness, surrender, humbleness, dignity, and calm.
3. Approach and perform the prayer with fullest awareness of the power and glory of Allah, and of the noble stature and challenge of being human.
One of the Tabi'een (a person who met a Companion of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) would visibly change in the coloring of his face at the time of prayer. He would say: "Do you know before whom I am going to stand and with whom I am going to talk?!" (Silah al-Yaqadhan li Tard al-Shaytan, Abdul-Azeez Sultan). And Ali ibn AbiTalib would not only change color, he would be visibly shaken. When asked why, he said: "By Allah, there has come the time of the amanah (trust) which Allah offered to the heav- ens and the earth and the mountains, but they declined to bear it, but I bore it."
4. Perform the salah in a measured pace and keep the eyes on the place of prostration.
Carelessness and haste in salah are impediments to khushu'. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: "The one who does not do ruku' (bowing) properly and pecks (like a bird) in sujud (prostration), is like a starving man who eats only one or two dates; it does not do him any good at all" (Tabarani). A measured pace and singular focus befits the occasion of standing before one's Lord.
5. Think deeply about the meaning of the ayaat (verses) that are being recited during the prayer.
Ibn Jareer said: "I am astonished at people who recite the Qur'an and do not know what it means..." If the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, himself would often spend hours reflecting upon one verse, we can understand the importance of thinking, reflecting, and probing the mean- ing. When Saeed At-Tanukhi made salah, tears would roll down his cheeks, wetting his beard. Only by reflecting deeply on the meaning of the Qur'an can we be moved as they were. "And they fall down on their faces weeping, and it adds to their khushu"' [17:109].
These five steps can humble us, heighten our aware- ness of the greatness of prayer, and bring a calmness and dignity to our minds, hearts, and limbs. In this way we feel our surrender to Allah becoming more full, more complete! We have to remember that if we want to ensure our children's surrender to Allah, we must truthfully represent that surrender with our own manner of thought, feeling, and action. In that way, our children will emulate us and they will love Allah. If we increase the khushu' in our own salah, we are doing much to ensure that the salah of our children will not be meaningless, empty, mechanical, and unsuccessful.
- If we are dedicated to self-transformation and growth, continuously observing, examining, and correcting/improving ourselves (in a gently, loving, and self-accepting way), then we are striving to guard our rela-tionship with self.
- If we abide by a constitution of adab in all our relationships and particularly in the relationship with our spouse and children, then we are striving to guard our relationships with others.
- And if we strive to increase our khushu' in salah as a means to draw nearer to Allah and to more completely surrender to Him, then we are striving to guard our relationship with Him.
We said at the beginning that the month of Ramadhan is a wonderful time for reflection and self-examining. If we seize the opportunity during this blessed month to reflect deeply on our relationships and to implement the above three principles of good relationship, then we will be taking the steps necessary to avoid defect in our relationships and prevent a "shaving clean" of our religion. We will be providing a superb model for our children. And our relationship with them will be held securely between...
May Allah accept from us all our fasting, our prayers, our charity, and our resolutions to implement whatever we learn so that it becomes knowledge of the heart and an experience of deep devotion. Ameen.
Article provided by Al Jumuah Magazine, a monthly Muslim lifestyle publication, which addresses the religious concerns of Muslim families across the world.
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