Khushu in Arabic means humbling, submission and tranquility, and it’s all a matter of the heart. Ibn Rajab said “The essence of Khushu is the heart’s humbling, submission, tranquility and yearning, so if the heart submits, all other body organs follow suit because they are all followers of the heart”.
But the question is, how can we lead our hearts to submit in Salah? The very short answer goes as follows: Rest assured that every single aspect of your life will “ONLY” get right if you develop Khushu in Salah, and vice versa. This is not an exaggeration, but rather a proven fact, the least of which is having a sane, calm and peaceful mind, let alone all relationship, financial and social matters. Do you need proof? Here you go: “Successful indeed are the believers. Who are humble in their prayers” (23:1-2). Therefore, if you could only remind yourself before every single Salah, that Khushu in it holds the key to every single success in your life, and definitely in your afterlife, you would have taken the first step towards developing that intended Khushu.
Next, you need to learn what leads to Khushu, and the list goes as follows:
- You are praying to your Lord, hence, you need to know Who you’re praying to. When you have a meeting with your boss, your teacher, or any important figure in your life, you get well prepared for it, and when you get there you give them your undivided attention. Hence, your preparation and concentration for a meeting with your Lord, i.e. Salah, should take higher priority and better preparation. Learn Who your Lord is and read about His Beautiful Names.
- Allah SWT is looking at you in your Salah as long as you are praying it humbly. The prophet SAW said “If you pray, do not turn away, for Allah faces His servant while he is in Salah and keeps facing him as long as he does not turn away” [Muslim].
- The better you prepare for your Salah, the better your Khushu in it. This includes waiting for it, praying it as early as possible, praying it in congregation if possible, and of course doing the ablution properly, and repeating the words with the call to prayer.
- Remember death before and during prayer, the prophet SAW said “Remember death in your prayer, for the man who remembers death during his prayer is bound to pray properly, and pray the prayer of a man who does not think that he will pray any other prayer” [Hassan Hadith].
- Praying it in tranquility, actually if you follow the previous steps, by the time you start your Salah, tranquility should have already taken over your whole body. But just in case, make sure your body is immobile as you pray except during the transition from one position to the other. Force it, make an effort to reach it because it’s a sign of Khushu and it helps reaching it.
- Pray in a quiet place, where no distractions would divert your attention from this all important meeting.
- When you say Allahu Akbar as you start your prayer, remind yourself that this actually means that Allah is greater than everything else, and especially than those trivial things, which keep distorting you in your Salah. And remind yourself of this highly significant fact each time you repeat “Allahu Akbar” during each transition in your prayer. Trust me, it makes a huge difference in your concentration.
- Seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan before starting to read Surah Al-Fatihah, it’s a Sunnah and it’s a “must” to develop Khushu, so please do not be lazy to say it. There are two reasons you lose your concentration in Salah, one is your own whim, the other is Satan’s whispering. So far you have been dealing with your own whim, so it’s time to seek protection from the Devil, and none other than Allah can help you in this regard, so just say it with full attention and concentration as if begging Allah to protect you from Satan’s distractions and whispering in Salah.
- Focus on your recitation in Salah, because once we become so familiar with what we have memorized, especially with Fatihah, we tend to recite it mechanically without any pondering on the words. One of the best methods I noticed, which help in this regard, is to imagine the words written on your carpet, so you would rather be reading them than just reciting them from your memory. Try it, if it helps, stick to it, otherwise, make the mental effort to ponder on the words you’re reciting as much as you can.
- Vary the chapters, verses and Duas you recite in prayer to avoid monotonous repetition and pondering.
- As you bow and as you prostrate, remind yourself that you are doing this to Allah, that it’s a sign of submission and that Allah SWT is indeed looking at you as you do this. Furthermore, that while many people in this very moment are bowing and prostrating to other humans, you are doing this to Allah and to Allah alone!
Meanwhile, ask Allah for Khushu! Make it a habit in your supplication to say “O Allah, grant me Khushu in my Salah and accept it from me”. Make a lot of repentance, and live your life for Allah’s sake, and inshaa Allah Khushu will come naturally to your Salah.