In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.
All praise and thanks be to God, and may peace and blessings be upon the most noble of Prophets and Messengers.
A while ago, a show aired in Arabic called “كيف تتلذذ بالصلاة؟” which means “How can you taste the sweetness of prayer?” by a young Kuwaitida’iyanamed Mishary Al-Kharaz. For many of us, ourkhushoo’in our prayer fluctuates. What iskhushoo’? It is a state of mind that contains serenity, tranquility, dignity and humility during prayer, which springs from one’s heart standing in front of Allah in humility and submission. Sometimes in prayer we have so much devotion and can feel every word; yet at other times it’s all about the ritual movements and nothing more.Insha’Allah(God willing), I will try to summarize the main points of this show every week.
The Story of theAnsariand theMuhajir
In thesunan of Abu Dawud, it is narrated with ahasan(good) chain that in one of the battles, the Prophet ﷺ appointed two guards, one from theMuhajiroonand one from theAnsar. At one point, the Ansari got up to pray while the man from the Muhajiroon reclined in order to have a nap. A man from themushrikeen(disbelievers) who was close by saw this, and fired a small arrow at the Ansari who was praying. It hit him, but the Ansari, with some difficulty, removed the arrow and continued praying as the blood seeped from him. Themushrik, upon seeing this, fired another arrow. The Ansari was able to remove it also and continued praying. However, the Ansari could not stand the pain of the third arrow and fell intorukoo’(bowing) andsujood(prostration), and this is when the man of the Muhajiroon woke up, seeing his friend seeping with blood. Upon seeing this, the mushrik fled. “SubhanAllah! (Glory be to Allah!) Why didn’t you alert me when he first hit you?!” the Muhajir exclaimed. The reply of the Ansari was, “I was reciting asurah(chapter of the Qur’an) that I love, and I did not like to cut it off.”Allahu Akbar(Allah is great!) Imagine this person’s state in thesalah(prayer).
The Sweetness of Prayer
The prayer is one of the most beautiful acts of worship. When one does histasleem1 to end the prayer, there is a certain sense of serenity. Ibn Al-Jawzi said about the prayer:
إنا في روضة طعامنا فيها الخشوع و شرابنا فيها الدموع
“We are in a garden, where our food iskhushoo’(devotion), and our drink is the tears that flow.”
For a person who has true devotion in hissalah, his soul is not even with him; as Ibn Taymiyya said, his soul is actually circling the Throne of Allah.
One could say that those were the people of old. No one feels this way anymore. But this isn’t true; one only has to realize the importance of prayer, and unlock the secrets ofkhushoo’to taste this unique sweetness. Then the prayer becomes your refuge; the remover of your distress; something that you look forward to; and something that you wish would never end.
Let us begin to unlock these secrets and truly connect to our Lord when we pray.
The first step is that we have to change our understanding ofkhushoo’. Havingkhushoo’doesn’t just mean that you are concentrating and you are not distracted. Having a present heart is only the first level ofkhushoo’. It is as though you have just entered through the door, and now you have the whole house to explore. There are depths and depths tokhushoo’.
Some may say that having a present heart is hard enough. Before coming to the prayer, we need to put it into perspective. Say we spend ten minutes in each prayer. That equals fifty minutes a day, so not even one hour. The rest of the twenty-three hours are for ourdunya(this world). Can we give these fifty minutes solely for Allah, or do we have to turn them intodunyaas well?
Think of this before you start your prayer, so that yournafs(self) doesn’t tell you that it is too hard to concentrate—because you can do it. Remember that the sweetness of being in front of Allah far supersedes the sweetness of whateverdunyadistracts you.
There is a greater depth, and that isunderstanding.Truly understanding what you are reciting, and contemplating it. On the show, Mishary Al-Kharaz stated: “Let me introduce you to one of your biggest competitors in thesalah.” Do you know who he introduced?
One of the pillars in themasjid. Yes, the actual physical pillar. Any pillar, whether you are at home, work, or themasjid, is your competition. Why?
Because if you stand in prayer, it stands longer. When you are in yoursujood, it is insujoodlonger. You do yourtasbeeh, it does itstasbeehfor longer. How? Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the people? But upon many the punishment has been justified.” (Qur’an,22:18).
Yet, if you ask the pillar, or the parrot, what they understood, they would not be able to respond. So we need to ask ourselves—are we any better? What does it mean when we say “sami’a Allahu liman hamida“? What about thetahiyyat?2 Not the generic meaning, but the specific meaning.Insha’Allahthroughout this series we will understand these meanings so that we can attain this level ofkhushoo’.
One last thing…
Do not say, “But I can’t!” How can Allah ask you to havekhushoo’insalahand then make it impossible for you? Even if Arabic isn’t your first language—did Allah not know that Islam would spread far and wide?A’udhubillah(I seek refuge in Allah) from any such thought.
So remember that youcan. Strive, and you will achieve itinsha’Allah(Allah willing). Remember that Allah is Generous, more Generous than we can even imagine. If you take one step towards Him, He is the One that comes to you at speed. Allah says: