Praise be to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds, Who has said in His book (interpretation of the meaning), "and stand before Allaah with obedience" [al-Baqarah 2:238] and has said concerning the prayer (interpretation of the meaning): "and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for al-khaashi'oon" [al-Baqarah 2:45]; and peace and blessings be upon the leader of the pious, the chief of al-khaashi'oon, Muhammad the Messenger of Allaah, and on all his family and companions.
Salaah is the greatest of the practical pillars of Islam, and khushoo' in prayer is required by sharee'ah. When Iblees, the enemy of Allaah, vowed to mislead and tempt the sons of Adam and said
"Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left"
[ al-A'raaf 7:17, interpretation of the meaning],
one of his most significant plots became to divert people from salaah by all possible means and to whisper to them during their prayer so as to deprive them of the joy of this worship and cause them to lose the reward for it. As khushoo' will be the first thing to disappear from the earth, and we are living in the last times, the words of Hudhayfah (may Allaah be pleased with him) are particularly pertinent to us: "The first thing of your religion that you will lose is khushoo", and the last thing that you will lose of your religion is salaah. There may be a person praying who has no goodness in him, and soon you will enter the mosque and not find anyone who has khushoo'." (al-Madaarij, 1/521).
Because of what every person knows about himself, and because of the complaints that one hears from many people about waswaas (insinuating thoughts from Shaytaan) during the salaah and the loss of khushoo', the need for some discussion of this matter is quite obvious. The following is a reminder to myself and to my Muslim brothers, and I ask Allaah to make it of benefit.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"Successful indeed are the believers, those who offer their salaah (prayers) with all solemnity
and full submissiveness." [al-Mu'minoon 23:1-2]
i.e., fearing Allaah and in a calm manner. Khushoo' means calmness, serenity, tranquillity, dignity and humility. What makes a person have this khushoo' is fear of Allaah and the sense that He is always watching. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Daar al-Sha'b edn., 6/414). Khushoo' means that the heart stands before the Lord in humility and submission. (al-Madaarij, 1/520).
It was reported that Mujaahid said:"and stand before Allaah with obedience" [al-Baqarah 2:238 interpretation of the meaning] part of obedience is to bow, to be solemn and submissive, to lower one's gaze and to humble oneself out of fear of Allaah, may He be glorified." (Ta'zeem Qadr al-Salaah, 1/188).
The site of khushoo' is the heart, and its effects are manifested in the physical body. The various faculties follow the heart: if the heart is corrupted by negligence or insinuating whispers from Shaytaan, the worship of the body's faculties will also be corrupt. The heart is like a king and the faculties are like his troops who follow his orders and go where they are commanded. If the king is deposed, his followers are lost, which is like what happens when the heart does not worship properly.