Humility or Submissiveness in Prayer
My talk today is about Al‐Khushoo’ in prayer, which is full solemnity coupled with humility and submissiveness. Salah is a primary pillar of Islam. The prophet (pbuh) said:
“Verily between man and between polytheism and unbelief is the negligence of prayer”” Muslim.
The prayer has two aspects: The external aspect such as the standing sitting, bowing, prostrating, etc. which makes up the body of the Salaah, and the internal aspect which is Al‐Khushoo’ which makes up the soul or spirit of the prayer. Therefore, the Salaah without the Khushoo’ is a set of empty rituals.
Salah, performed correctly with khushoo' is the key to success and true faith. Allah, (swt), tells us in Surat al Mumaneen:
"Successful indeed are The Believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers” .Qur'an 23:1‐2.
Therefore, if anyone wants to be among those who are successful, then they have to try to achieve the noble characteristic of Al‐Khushoo’ in their Salaah as this is one of the yardsticks to measure whether we are successful or not.
It is when the external and the internal aspects of the Salaah are properly combined that it manifests itself through the personality of the one performing the Salaah as is stated by Allah (swt)
“Verily, Salaah (Prayer) prevents from Al‐Fahshaa (i.e. illegal sexual intercourse) and Al‐Munkar (disbelief, polytheism or every kind of wicked and evil deed).”
[Al ‐’Ankaboot 29:45.]
The above ayah clearly declares that the person who prays should not find within himself any of these two characteristics. This is so because when someone performs Salaah with consciousness and humility, then this Salaah works as a check for him, and in turn helps him to keep away from doing evil deeds.
IBN Al‐Qayyim had said in his book al‐Salah about Al‐Khushoo’ in prayer :
The pleasure which a person whose heart is filled with love for Allah, fear from Him, and glorification of Him, can feel in his prayer, is certainly not like that which a person whose heart is empty and ruined feels. When the first person stands in the prayer, he does so with a tranquil and humble heart, an intact heart that is free of the evil's discrepancies. He will witness with every part of his body the awe of the situation as the light of faith penetrates him, which will remove the barriers of his soul and the smoke of his whims. This wilI prepare him to enjoy the meanings of the Qur'án. His heart will be mingled with the happiness caused by the belief in the facts of Alláh's beautiful names and attribute. His heart will feel their sublimity, perfection, beauty and greatness and the faith in Alláh who with his perfect attributes, is unrivaled. This person gathered all of his thoughts and attention to only think of Allah, thereby he felt the pleasure of being close to Him. Such nearness shall have no equal; the heart entirely resorts to Him. The Lord ~ has drawn close to His servant at first, upon which the servant is pulled with his heart to his Lord. Then the Lord ~ again draws nearer and nearer which makes his servant feel the completeness of his happiness.”
Therefore, to attain humility in prayer, we have to fill our heart with love for Allah, fear of Allah and glorification of him. We have to feel the need of Allah and remove any haughtiness from our hearts. The basis of humility (khushu') is softness, gentleness, tranquility, subservience of the heart. When the heart is humble, all of the limbs and body parts follow it in humility. Because they are followers of it; as the Prophet (pbuh) said,
"Verily there is a small morsel of the body, if it is rectified, the whole body is rectified; and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Indeed it is the heart."
It is important to realize that during Salaah, the heart is incapable of desiring both Allah and worldly possessions such as our children, money, etc. simultaneously, this is stated emphatically by Allah. Allah (SWT) said:
“Allah has not put for any man two hearts inside his body...” [Al‐Ahzaab 33:4]
Now, to what is our heart attached when we pray? Is it attached to Allah, or to the worldly things; if it is attached to the latter then clearly our loyalties are in the wrong place. This shows that our love and the attachments of our hearts are directed to the world and whatever is in it. Whereas Allah commands us to love Him i.e. attach ourselves to Him, Allah says:
“Say (O Muhammad): If your fathers, and your sons, and your brothers, and your spouses, and your tribe, and the wealth you have acquired, and the merchandise for which you fear there will be no sale, and the dwellings you desire, are more loved to you than Allah and His Messenger and Jihaad in His way, then wait until Allah brings His command (punishment) to pass...” [At‐Taubah 9:24]
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
“...When you pray, do not look here and there because Allah directs His Face towards the face of His ‘abd (worshipper) who is praying, as long as he does not turn away (or look away)” [At‐Tirmidhi and Haakim]
What is the meaning of ‘turning away (or looking away)’?
For the person who is observing prayer it has two meanings:
1) The physical turning away (looking to the right or left or otherwise) during the prayer
2) Turning away from Allah (swt) with the heart i.e. letting one’s concentration be directed to other than the Almighty.
The first of the two types of turning away (i.e. the physical turning away) we can try to control, and achieve. However, the most serious problem for all of us is the turning away with our hearts and directing our concentration on other than Allah during prayer.
Allah (swt) said
“Has not the time arrived for the Believers that their hearts in all humility should engage in the remembrance of Allah and the Truth which has been revealed (to them) and that they should not become like those to whom was given the Book aforetime? But long ages passed over them and their hearts grew hard? For many among them are rebellious transgressors."
So what are the necessary steps to develop Al Khushoo’
1‐ Complete consciousness or presence of mind during the performance of the Salaah (Prayer).
This means emptying the heart of everything except remembrance of Allah (swt). This can only be achieved if one focuses his attention upon keeping the heart restricted. This will result in making the heart conscious and would restrict it to concentrating upon what its owner wants.
2‐ Understanding what is said during the Salaah.
This is a very important aspect to develop humility and consciousness while performing the Salaah. We should clearly understand the meaning of the words as well as the principles founded in them and savor these meanings whilst reciting them in the Salaah. This would assist the concentration greatly.
3‐Feeling Allah’s Majesty in the heart during the performance of the Salaah.
Understanding the meaning of what is recited not only assist in developing the consciousness that is necessary in the Salaah but it also assists in the ‘abd (servant) feeling Allah’s Majesty in his heart. That Allah (swt) is the Greatest. He (swt) owns everything and He (swt) has power to do all things.
4‐Showing reverence to Allah (swt).
This is really a manifestation of fear for Allah (swt) by His servant, This results when the servant becomes aware of Allah’s Greatness and Majesty. Fear is what restrains the servant from being disobedient and compels him to worship his Lord. When fear is absent the servant becomes negligent and it becomes easy for him to commit sins. However, it must be known that too much fear brings about hopelessness and despair. Therefore, one must follow the middle course, which is to fear the punishment of Allah and hope for His Mercy.
5. Feeling ashamed and insignificant before Allah (swt).
This comes about when the worshipper knows that he is weak and commits sins by day and night, and he realizes that Allah is aware of this.
We should also try to convince ourselves that this might be our final farewell prayer as the Messenger of Allah(swt) said:
“Pray a farewell prayer as if you see Him...” [Tabaraani, Ibn Majah, Ahmad]
Our aim behind establishing prayer should be what Allah (swt) made as the aim.
He (swt) says:
“Establish Prayer for My remembrance.” [Taha 20:14]