How to Have Khushoo’ in Salah

I can’t count the number of times I have started praying with the intention to focus only to snap out of my daydream right before the Tasleem. For this reason I decided to learn more about how to attain Khushoo’ in Salah. This post is a compilation of some of the most notable tips I’ve come across.

Khushoo’ is generally defined as humble submissiveness. One who has Khushoo’ has an alert heart before Allah and is filled with awe, tranquility, humility, and submissiveness during Salah. According to a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad , Khushoo’ will be the first thing to leave this Ummah.

Allah says in Ayah 46 of Suratul Baqarah:

And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]. Those who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to Him.

We learn from this that one must firmly believe in the Akhirah to have Khushoo’ in Salah.

Overall Changes

Sometimes it’s the choices we make and the type of life we live that prevents us from tasting the sweetness of Khushoo’ in our Salah. Here are a few things you can do to change for the better.

Make Dua. Never underestimate the power of Dua. Sincerely asking Allah to help you focus during Salah is bound to make a difference.

Fix Your Perspective on Salah. If you think Salah is a burden, you’ll find it hard. However if you realize that you’re talking to Allah, you’ll find it easier, and even enjoyable. The Prophet said: “When one of you stands praying, he is in fact talking to his Lord, so one has to think about how to talk to his Lord.” (al-Haakim, al-Mustadrak, 1/236; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1538). 

Remember Allah more often. The things that are on your mind the most outside of Salah tend to be on your mind during your Salah as well. Constantly remembering Allah could have a positive impact.

2 ayahs about knowledge

Seek Knowledge. Ibn Jareer (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “I am astonished at people who read the Qur’an and do not know what it means. How can they enjoy reading it?” Learn the meaning of what you’re saying in Salah. Read the tafsir of the Surahs you have memorized and start reflecting on them in Salah.

Before Salah

The time before Salah, whether you’re praying at the Masjid, at home, or elsewhere, is crucial. Your preparation for the Salah has an impact on how well you focus.

Perfect Your Wudoo’. When you make Wudoo’ properly, you mentally prepare yourself for your standing before Allah.

Jabir ibn Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The key to Paradise is prayer, and the key to prayer is ablution.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Clean Your Mouth. The Prophet brushed his teeth before every Salah.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, “Had I not thought it difficult for my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use the Miswak (tooth-stick) before every Salat.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Make Naafilah. Not only are the Nawafil prayers extra reward, they help to patch up the issues with your Fardh Salah.

Remove Distractions. Anything that comes between you and your Salah should be put aside. Even the slightest distraction, a cloth with pictures on it, was removed by the Prophet .

During Salah

This is where the journey really starts. The moment you make that first Takbeer, you are in a conversation with Allah the Most High. However, the Shaytan has other plans. The Shaytan won’t distract you with something blatantly out of place. He’ll bring something to your attention that you find important.  Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to ward of distraction and remain focused.

Remember Death. The prophet said: “Remember death during Salaah, because if a man remembers death during Salah, it is more likely that he will perform it perfectly; and pray as if it is your last Salaah.

Think About the Akhirah. Imagine you could hear the punishment of the grave or see the trillions upon trillions of angels worshipping Allah. How would your Salah be if you were on the Sirat and could see Jannah and Jahannam? Try to remember the signs of Allah that amaze you.

Aim for Ihsan. When the Prophet was asked about Ihsan, he responded that it is to worship Allah as though you can see Him and if you can’t see Him, He can see you. This means absolute concentration and devotion to Allah in every aspect of your Salah. You are only rewarded for the part of your Salah that you are present in.

{Imam Ahmad (18415) narrated that ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: A person may offer a prayer and nothing of it is recorded for him except one tenth of it, one ninth of it, one eighth of it, one seventh of it, one sixth of it, one fifth of it, one quarter of it, one third of it, or half of it.” Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami‘ (1626).}

Try to latch on to each and every word in Salah. Make an effort to ponder over each word whether you’re reciting or listening to an Imam recite. Personally, I’ve found doing this very helpful.

Seek Refuge With Allah from Shaytan When Distracted. Let’s face it, the Shaytan is not going to stop trying to mislead us any time soon. Why not be prepared? A companion once came to the Prophet and complained about constant whispering from the Shaytan that was distracting his prayer. The Prophet told him to seek refuge with Allah from him and dry spit to his left three times.

{Abu’l-‘Aas (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that he said, “O Messenger of Allaah, the Shaytaan interrupts me when I pray, and I get confused in my recitation.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “That is a shaytaan whose name is Khanzab. If you sense his presence, seek refuge with Allaah from him, and spit [dry spitting] towards your left three times.” [Abu’l-‘Aas] said: “I did that and Allaah took him away from me.” (Reported by Muslim, no. 2203)}

Keep Your Heart in Check. Make sure that you’re not falling into Riyaa’ and constantly remind yourself to focus. An interesting point AbdurRaheem McCarthy brought up in one of his lectures is that every Takbeer should be a reminder for you. This means you have a minimum of eleven reminders in a two Rak’ah Salah. When you say Allahu Akbar, you’re acknowledging that Allah is greater than anything and everything you can possibly think of.

Avoid unnecessary movement. When the Prophet was asked about the looking around in Salah, he responded that it is the Shaytan snatching a part of a man’s prayer.

Slow Down. Many times we perform Salah too quickly to properly comprehend and reflect. Mentally checking your self and slowing down allows for more effective concentration. There are a number of Ahadith that indicate that the Prophet did not rush when he prayed. 

After Salah

The first thing you should do after Salah is say Astaghfirullah three times, asking Allah to forgive you for any flaws in your Salah. On a quick  sidenote, there is a Hadith in which the Prophet says that whoever recites Ayatul Kursi after every optional prayer, the only thing standing between him and Jannah is death, which sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Although attaining Khushoo’ in Salah is not the easiest thing, adding quality to your Salah is definitely possible. Insha’Allah you’ll be able to make a difference using the tips listed above.

If you’re interested in learning more about Khushoo’ check out these sources:

33 Ways of Developing Khushoo’ in Salah.

How to Overcome Waswas in Your Worship

Islamqa: Praying with Khushoo’ and Avoiding Distraction

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