We are quick to say we’ve submitted to the will of Allah (glorified and exalted be He), but does our heart completely back our words? Have we submitted ourselves, or found “khushoo” in our prayer, our actions and our daily lives?
“Successful indeed are the believers, those who offer their salaah (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness (Khushoo).” [Surah Al-Muminoon 23:1-2]
Definition of Khushoo
The reasons why we obey someone can be broadly traced under the following categories.
• Recognition of superiority or authority
• Acknowledging the orders as just
If we comply with the commands of human beings based on the cited reasons, how do you think we should carry out our duties towards Allah – the only One we should fear, far superior to anything we could imagine, the One who is full of kindness in rewarding the righteous though being in no need of them.
Allah reveals in the Qur’an: “Had We sent down this Qur’an to a mountain, you would surely have seen it humbling itself and rending asunder by the fear of Allah. Such are the parables which We put forward to mankind that they may reflect.” [Surah Hashr 59:21]
Linguistically, khushoo connotes a feeling of intense reverence, awe, submission and respect. In Islam it also comprehends that aspect of fear that stems out of deep knowledge of the power of Allah. Imam Ahmed once heard a man mocking another Muslim by mentioning the little amount of Islamic knowledge he had. Ibn Hanbal defended the Muslim by replying that he had the fruit of knowledge: khushoo.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to recite the following supplication:
“O Allah, I seek refuge with you from the non-beneficial knowledge, from a heart that does not possess khushoo’ from the evil desire which is never satisfied and from supplications which are not accepted.”
Khushoo and knowledge are deeply related. “It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah.” [Surah Fatir 35:28]. The interesting point to notice is that usually fear is associated to the unknown and superstition feeds on ignorance, while in Islam, khushoo is a consequence of knowledge.
Thus khushoo goes beyond fear; the latter would be best rendered in Arabic by the word khawf. The purpose of khawf is to prevent us from falling into sins, to restrain our whims by keeping in mind the punishment for the transgressors. Khushoo, instead, is the means by which our hearts are brought to life, finding tranquility in the remembrance of Allah, seeking His pleasure with every action of ours. Khushoo is often associated with salat, but it shouldn’t be confined to it.
With the Shahadah we declare we have recognized who our Creator is, but its implication is deeper. By definition, a Muslim is the one that not only acknowledges His presence but that is wholeheartedly willing to submit to His will.
Salat is to be the manifestation of this submission of the hearts and limbs and, deprived of Khushoo, it becomes a mechanical act. If your heart is not in it, the very objective of Salat (linking you to Allah) has been missed.
The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:“The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad”.
And how can a prayer be accepted if we take it lightly and our attention is continuously diverted while we are in the midst of it?
The Qur’an says: “So woe to those who pray. But who are heedless of their payer.” [Surah Al-Ma’oun 107:4-5]
What Khushoo is Not
Khushoo is not a synonym for weeping or lowering one’s gaze. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) saw a young man lowering his head, so he said to him: “What is this? Raise your head, for indeed this (kind of) khushoo does not increase what is in the heart. Whosoever displays a khushoo that does not stem from the heart, then it is hypocrisy added to hypocrisy.“
Muhammad bin Sirin was once consulted about a man who dropped unconscious when the Qur’an was recited to him and it was attributed to his fear of Allah. Bin Sirin asked that an appointment should be arranged with the man, explaining: “We will sit on a wall, and the Qur’an – from beginning to end – will be recited unto him. If he falls off the wall, he is as he claims.”
When Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was informed that there were people who fainted on hearing the Qur`an, she replied: “The Qur’an is nobler than to have people lose their minds from it. Rather, it is as Allah the Mighty and Sublime said: “Those who fear their Lord tremble with fear by it, then their skins and hearts settle to the remembrance of Allah.” [Surah Al-Zumar 39:23]
We can derive from the above narrations that the heart is the center of khushoo. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was also reported as saying: “There is an organ in the body, if it is good, the whole body will be good, and if it is bad the whole body will become bad, verily it is the heart.”
Stay tuned ! Up next in this series: Obstacles to Attaining the State of Khushoo.
About the Author: Sister Jihan Anwar is an MIS student sharing her musings with the team at MuslimYouthMusings and working as a journalist at the National Yemen Newspaper.