Have you ever felt you are not giving enough concentration while offering prayer? Yes, at times we all tend to be in that situation and sometimes are not aware of what ruins our khushoo while praying. Khushu is one of the most important parts of Salah (prayers or Namaz). Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:

Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive. (Surah Muminoon:1-2)

See also: Quran online

‘Khushu’ is an Arabic word used to refer to humility or humbleness while offering our Namaz. In short, it means humble submission. The meaning and actualization of khushoo lies in the ‘presence of our hearts’ while we are reporting for our daily obligation towards Allah (SWT). Prayer without khushoo is as though fire is without any warmth. It does cover your duty of praying as a Muslim, but however, does nothing more. Therefore, we need to take some steps in order to make our prayers more meaningful.

One way is to remove distractions during prayer. But what are these distractions that ruin our khushu, and how do we tackle them? Well, let’s have a look.

1- Not Clearing your Mind Enough

During the course of a usual day, a thousand pieces of information bombard in our brains. We need to give the brain time to organize all this info, label and put them into specific drawers. In short, we need to give our brains time to think. Otherwise, these thoughts will definitely get hold of whatever time they can grasp from our daily hectic schedule. They target the times when we’re eating, or just preparing to sleep, and most importantly when praying salah.

Of course, Shaitan facilitates this during salah and so our mind is completely elsewhere while we’re standing in front of Allah (SWT). In order to avoid this scenario, plan out some time for thinking during the day. Just take a break from everything and sit back; writing a diary maybe if that works for you. The aim is to get rid of those thoughts so that they don’t muffle up in your mind during prayer time.

2- Sense of Urgency

During our prayer, Satan also tends to remind us of things we forgot to do. For instance, you lost the key to your cupboard and search the whole house restlessly. No matter how much you stress thinking, you just can’t seem to remember. But just as you recite Takbir (Allahu akbar), you suddenly remember that it’s in the kitchen. What are you tempted to do? Of course you will quicken your prayer and rush to the kitchen before you forget the location.

First of all, you need to realize that it is Shaytan’s wicked trick to spoil your prayer rewards. Secondly, remind yourself that knowledge comes from Allah (SWT), and if He wills, you will remember whatever it is even if you recite Surah Al-Baqarah in prayer. The angels said:

They said, ‘Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise.’ (Surah Baqarah:32)

3- Worrying About the Validity of Wudu

This is such a major problem leading people to leave prayer because they are never sure whether they are pure or not. It is related from ‘Abbad ibn Tamim from his uncle that he complained to the Messenger about a man who thought that he had broken wind during the prayer. He said:

He should not turn away or leave the prayer unless he hears a noise or smells something. [Sahih Al Bukhari 1: Chapter 4, Hadith 137]

If you are sure that you performed wudu, the basis is that you have wuzu until it is absolutely proven that you don’t have wuzu. Same goes if you’re not sure if there is impurity on your body, clothes or place of prayer.

4- Worrying About Mistakes

That is worrying about situations such as; whether you said subhana rabbiyal adhim or subhana rabbiyal ala in the last ruku or did one or two sujood, etc. during prayer. Just put your mind in what you’re doing at present.

5- Being worried about Possible Future Mistakes

You’ve perhaps experienced that anxiety of which chapter to recite after, while reciting Surah Fatiha. You are so worried that you finish Al-Fatihah without realization of what you said. The easiest remedy for this is to select the Surahs before you start your prayer.

6- Uncomfortable Environment

Let’s say it is 38 degrees Celsius and you’re praying with your fan turned off. How much khushoo do you expect to have? The companions had the talent of praying even during times of surgery, or while people were trying to depart them from this world. However, we today don’t have such tolerance tendencies so best is to make the environment comfortable, as much as possible. Indeed, Allah wants ease for us while we stand in front of Him.

7- Uncomfortable or Distracting Clothing

This is more applicable to women than it is to men. Women sometimes offer prayers in clothing that maybe tight or long; fearing and actually tripping over hems or toppling over while doing sajdah. It is okay to worry about all these things before prayer instead of during it. Perhaps a different set of clothes can be made for prayer. This goes for headscarves too. Some can headscarves might be see-through or difficult to adjust on one’s head; so get a scarf appropriate and easily adjustable for prayer. The point is to make sure that you’re comfortable enough to concentrate on the actual prayer and not its conditions and validity.

Moreover, clothing with patterns may also drift away the attention from prayer so it is best to avoid such clothing while praying. A Hadith regarding this is as follows:

Narrated by Hazrat Aisha(RA): the Prophet prayed in a Khamisa (a square garment) having marks. During the prayer, he looked at its marks. So when he finished the prayer he said, Take this Khamisa of mine to Abu Jahm and get me his Inbijaniya (a woolen garment without marks) as it (the Khamisa) has diverted my attention from the prayer. The Prophet said, 'I was looking at its (Khamisa's) marks during the prayers and I was afraid that it may put me in trial (by taking away my attention). [Sahih Al Bukhari 1: Chapter 8, Hadith 373]

Salah is the key to our success in this world and the next. However, if we do not look after this key or lose it, we surely would not be able to unlock the doors that lead to the good in this life and the next. It’s as simple as that. Poor quality of Namaaz is like being unable reap full benefits of a powerful life management tool bestowed to us by Allah (SWT). May Allah (SWT) accept our prayers and assist us in offering them the best possible way we can!

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The author

Rida Ghaffar