Questions for the Lessons from Surah Al-Mu’minun (Verses 1-2)

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This article is a summary of takeaways from Ustaz Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram’s Tafsir Online Lecture on 6th September 2020. Summaries of previous lectures on Surah Maryam and Surah Taha and Surah Al-Ambiya’ can be found here. This lecture is a continuation of the previous lecture on Surah Al-Mu’minun can be found here.

Khusyu’ Questions from the Previous Lecture

Shutting One’s Eyes During Salah

Q: Is it acceptable for me to close my eyes during Salah? I want to do this with the aim of truly understanding, internalising, and appreciating my recitation – out of Khusyu’ – so that my Salah may be accepted by Allah SWT.

A: The majority of scholars, especially those across the four Mazhab, say that in general, closing one’s eyes during prayers is something that is not encouraged in Islam. They say that this is Makhruh in general. The evidence for this is that Rasulullah SAW was reported to have said, “Whoever stands in prayer, let him not close both his eyes.”.

So, there is a hadith that can be used that maintains that by default, the eyes should not be shut during prayers. It does not forbid closing of the eyes – this means it is not Haram. However, it is discouraged.

Now this is the general principle; that means that if there are no reasons for you to shut your eyes, then you should not. However, in certain circumstances, for certain people, there are exceptions.

There are those who say that there are certain things that will distract them in prayer if they do not shut their eyes. If not shutting their eyes causes their Khusyu’ in Salah to be disrupted, then the Makhruh ruling is dropped for the closing of the eyes.

So scholars, including Imam An-Nawawi, from the Shafi’i Mazhab, have said that in situations where there are things within our field of vision that may distract us from prayer (e.g. there are children playing nearby, there is a disturbing photo ahead of us that is giving us distracted thoughts etc.), then we are permitted to close our eyes even in Salah.

If Khusyu’ cannot be obtained without the closing of the eyes, then it becomes permissible to close one’s eyes in Salah. Otherwise, it is not encouraged and should not be made into a habit. Train yourself such that whatever in your field of vision will not interfere with your Khusyu’ in Salah, so that you do not have to do this often.

Validity of Salah Without Khusyu’

Q: If I lose my Khusyu’ towards the end of the raka’at in Salah, will my prayer still be accepted?

A: Regarding the issue of Khusyu’ in Salah, the Fiqh scholars have discussed that Khusyu’ is obligatory (Wajib) in Salah. However, it is neither considered as one of the Conditions (Syurut) of Salah, nor is it one of the Pillars (Arkan) of Salah.

Conditions of Salah are things that must be ready already before the commencement of the Salah. Without them, the Salah is not valid. For example, covering the Aurah is a condition of Salah. So, if you do not cover your Aurah before the prayer, then your prayer is invalid; it is as though you did not perform your Salah.

Another example is the timing of prayer. If you perform Zuhur prayer at noon, before the azan of Zuhur comes, then the prayer is invalid. Khusyu’ is not a condition (syarat) of Salah; so the Salah is valid without it, for as long as all the conditions of Salah are met.

Khusyu’ is also not a pillar (rukun) of Salah. Pillars are steps that have to be included, and cannot be missed out within the Salah, for the prayer to be accepted. Without them, the Salah is invalid.

Scholars have emphasised that Khusyu’ is not one of them. Salah is valid even in the absence of Khusyu’. We do not need to make up for prayers done without Khusyu’. For as long as the conditions are met and the pillars are fulfilled, the Salah is valid.

Scholars say that Khusyu’ is Wajib in Salah. This means that during Salah, if we do not even have a single bit of Khusyu’, if we do not even try to get Khusyu’, then the Salah is valid, but it is considered a sin upon us for omitting it.

If from the first takbir to the final tahiyyat, your mind has been wandering around thinking about worldly matters (e.g. work, food, family problems, even thinking about your lover etc.), if there had been not a moment of Khusyu’ in your prayer, then your Salah becomes something that brings about sin rather than goodness, and the chances of your prayer being accepted by Allah SWT are slim.

So, the question posed asked if the Salah would be valid if there is a lapse in Khusyu’ towards the end of the prayer. The answer is that for as long as the pillars and conditions of Salah were met, the prayer is valid (Sah).

Allah’s Acceptance of Our Salah

However, if you are asking whether the Salah is accepted, then you need to realise that that is completely up to Allah SWT. As human beings, our job is to try our best with that which is within our means, while being aware that we can never be 100% perfect in whatever Ibadah we perform.

We can try our utmost best and fight to get Khusyu’ all the way and then lose our “stamina” as your mind begins to drift towards the end of Salah. Have hope that Allah SWT will accept from you. Allah SWT says in the Qur’an, in Surah Al-Baqarah:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ

Allah SWT does not burden any soul with more than it can bear… [2:286]

So, know that Allah knows your limitations. What is important is that you try. What is not acceptable, is if you do not even try. If from the moment the prayer starts to when it ends, you intentionally let your mind wander, then that is not acceptable.

May Allah SWT grant us strength in our hearts so that we may be able to upgrade our Salah. As time goes by and we grow older, we hope to see an improvement in our Salah. Consistently strive to better yourself, a bit at a time, in the hopes that you may find yourself feeling the sweetness and calmness that comes with Khusyu’ in your Salah.

The Highest Level of Khusyu’

Q: Is there a difference between Khusyu’ and Fana’?

A: There are similarities between the two, but they are not identical.

Khusyu’ in its original form brings about the meaning of ‘bowing’. So, someone who is bowing in their prayer lowers their thinking, their hearts, and their emotions. He does not wander around, he stays focused in concentrating, in order to truly experience the moment and get present to his communication with Allah SWT.

Someone in a state of Khusyu’ is very aware of his every speech and action during Salah and is intentional in performing his Salah in the best possible way.

Fana’ in its original form brings about the meaning of ‘disappearing’. That’s why one of the attributes of Allah SWT is ‘Baqa’’ meaning permanence. Baqa’ is the opposite of Fana’. Allah SWT will always exist and will never disappear.

As human beings, we are not permanent; there will come a time when we will die and disappear, we will cease to exist in this world.

So someone who is said to be in the state of Fana’ in his worship, in his religion, and in his Salah, is said to be at a higher level than Khusyu’.

Someone in the state of Khusyu’ is focused, or internalising the meaning of his recitation in Salah, or reflecting upon his own weaknesses and sins in a state of bowing. That is Khusyu’.

Someone who is in the state of Fana’ disappears from his state of existence. This is a state that is only reached by people who dabble in the field of Tasawwuf. When someone is in a state of Fana’, he forgets himself.

He only feels the presence and power of Allah SWT. He no longer sees himself as important. He disappears himself in the relationship with Allah SWT.

This is not something that I can explain within this span of a few minutes. This is a conversation for a series of talks meant for people who want to reach a high status in their prayers, and it requires a good teacher to guide them. For these people, their fundamental knowledge of Fiqh, Tauhid, Akhlak, Tafsir etc. need to be established already.

We hear about the story of a Sahabah who during a war, had a spear pierce through his leg. It hurt too much to remove the spear so much so that he might die due to the excruciating pain if it were to be removed.

This Sahabah told his companions to wait for a moment, and to remove the spear from him while he is in Salah. The reason for this is that during Salah, he would be in a state of Fana’ such that he is no longer aware of his own feelings and bodily sensations. The spear could then be removed without him noticing anything because of his level of focus.

Tips to Increase Khusyu’ in Every Stage of Salah

Q: Khusyu’ is such a critical issue in our Salah. Even carrying out our Salah by just paying attention to the pillars and conditions is already difficult enough. How do we increase in Khusyu’ during Salah?

A: I myself have not reached the state of perfection in Salah. As such, I do not feel qualified to be giving tips on how to achieve it. So, it is with a heavy heart that I fulfil these requests of yours. Do not view me as someone who has reached the state of Khusyu’ in Salah.

I am a human being, just like you, and I too have my limitations in Salah, just as you do. I am sharing this in the hopes that if you are not able to carry out all of these, then at least just put in practice 1-2 of them so that you may increase in your level of Khusyu’ in Salah.

1) Pre-Salah Preparation

     i. Wudhu’

In the previous lecture, we mentioned that the first step is to pay careful attention and be purposeful in every step of your Wudhu’. One should view the Wudhu’ as not just a means to cleanse the body of physical filth but also to purify the heart and organs of sin.

     ii. Plan a suitable time and place

Ensure that you take suitable precautions before Salah. Do not eat too little before prayer such that hunger distracts you, or too much that you get sleepy during Salah. Do not pray too late such that you are too exhausted to focus. Do not pray in an inappropriate place such that you are easily distracted or interrupted in your prayer.

     iii. Clothing & Psychology

Ensure that whatever you need to settle that might distract you during prayer is settled first. For example, if you know you need to reprimand your son about some disciplinary action in school, and you see that the time for Asar is finishing soon, do not use that time to scold him, such that you enter Salah in a state of anger and frustration.

Ensure that you are dressed appropriately and that your surroundings are clean and suitable for prayer. Ensure that you are facing the right direction (Qiblah) so that you are not uncertain during Salah. Ensure that all the necessary requirements for Salah are met such that you do not have to think about whether or not you are meeting them during the prayer itself.

     iv. Prepare yourselves before the Prayer Time arrives

Be seated on the prayer mats together to be ready for Salah the moment the Azan comes. Rasulullah SAW says, “Whosoever is waiting for Salah is considered to already be in Salah”. What this means is that your time seated on the mat awaiting the Azan for Salah will not be wasted.

However, do not take advantage of this to escape from important work by taking your time before Salah. If you have work to settle, get it done first. If you have time to spare, then feel free to come early for Salah.

2) Commencement of Salah

     i. Get present to the importance of your Salah

Be aware that what you are about to do is not done just to please people or to stop people from gossiping about you. What you are doing is actually a gift that has been given to Rasulullah SAW through Isra’ Mi’raj.

He SAW was brought away from Makkah and far above through the layers of heavens. What you are carrying out is not a small deed. Be aware of what you are doing and with Whom you are speaking. Ensure that your heart, body, and mind are positioned to face Him SWT.

     ii. Leave the world behind

We are taught to leave the world behind when we perform Salah. This means, we do not occupy our mind with the problems and blessings of the world. Rasulullah SAW says that a person’s Salah is their Mi’raj (ascent) to Allah SWT. It is how we get close to Allah SWT.

For as long as we do not leave the world, we will not be able to have Khusyu’ and be truly present in our conversation with Allah SWT. One might say that Salah is a form of expressing gratitude to Allah SWT so they want to think about the blessings during Salah.

Salah is not the time to think about these blessings. Instead, focus of thinking about the Giver of the blessings.

     iii. Imagine that you are on the Sirat

Imagine being in a state where Paradise is on your right and Hellfire beneath you. On the Day of Judgement, will you be able to cross the Sirat with full of confidence such that you do not slip and fall from the Sirat?

There are many types of people who will be on the Sirat on the Day of Judgement. Some will be able to cross it effortlessly, at lightning speed. Some will be like the wind in their speed, or like a bird. Others will sprint quickly by, while others will walk, and some others will crawl across the Sirat.

At the end, after crossing the Sirat, everyone hopes to attain the Redha of Allah SWT. Which group of people would you like to belong to? Act accordingly in your Salah.

     iv. Pray as though this is your final Salah

We do not in fact know whether this will be your final prayer. There is no guarantee that you will still be alive when the next Azan sounds.

So, pray as though this is your final chance to serve Allah SWT. Do not take for granted that there will always be a next time. There might not be one.

3) Actions & Speech (the body and tongue)

     i. Perform all the steps with calmness, clarity, and certainty

Ensure that you put in place proper Tuma’ninah in your prayer so that it does not seem like you are ‘stealing’ during your Salah. The Tuma’ninah is a pause that is done at every step. Ensure that you are calm and not rushing through the steps.

If there are steps that you are doing for yourself that you would feel embarrassed to be doing audibly in front of people, because of how you are not reciting it properly, then stop whatever you are doing. Even if nobody sees you, Allah SWT does. We are praying for nobody but Allah SWT.

Khusyu’ is not just about the internal things. If what is external (actions & speech) is not done well, then how do we reach a good internal state (thoughts & feelings)? These two are essential because the Prophet SAW says, “Pray just as you have seen me pray”. Rasulullah SWT prays calmly and recites calmly in prayer, and so should we.

4) Thought (the mind)

     i. Think about the meaning behind the recitations and steps

Be present of what you are reciting. When you say the Takbir (“Allahuakhbar”), acknowledge that Allah SWT is the greatest and you are small. We do not know the Arabic language; however, it is important for us to know what we are reciting daily in Salah.

Take classes and learn about the Salah. In Ruku’, realise that you are praising Allah SWT who is Al-Azhim, the Greatest, and that you are weak and lowly.

5) Feelings (the heart and soul)

     i.  Look at the State of your Heart

At the end of the day, what is being judged by Allah SWT is not what we say or do. Rather, it is what the state of the heart is. What exactly is in your heart? Are you fully present to Allah SWT in your life? Are you performing these actions for His sake alone? What is most important to you at this point of time? Is Allah’s pleasure the only thing that you seek? Ask yourself these questions.

6) Closure

     i.  Embrace the Final Sujud

In your final Sujud – when you are aware that the next step would be the final Tahiyyat and the Salam – pause. The Sujud is where a servant of Allah SWT is said to be closest to his Creator.

Remember how we mentioned that we should pray as though it is our final prayer? Well, if this were to be your final prayer, then that Sujud would be your final Sujud. Surrender yourself to Him SWT.

Whisper to Him SWT your deepest desires and hopes. Make yourself aware of His SWT’s presence. It is Allah SWT who hears what no human being can hear from you. It is He who can answer your prayers.

It is He who will decide what is best for you in this world and the next. It is Allah SWT who will determine whether you enter Paradise. It is He who will punish you if you choose to remain in disobedience. Take advantage of this time when you feel yourself the closest to Allah SWT.

     ii.  End your Salah with a Du’a

When you sit up for the Tahiyyat, be present as you recite the words of the Salawat and the Tashahud. Then at the end, right before you give your salaam, pause, and make du’a. This is encouraged by the Prophet SAW. Be aware that you are about to leave the comfortable safe space of your conversation with Allah SWT, to return to a world full of challenges. Make du’a asking Allah for aid, protection, and guidance as you end this conversation with Him SWT.

(a)  Du’a 1:

Rasulullah SAW said: “When one of you finishes the (last) Tashahhud, he should seek refuge in Allah from four things by saying:

 اَللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابِ جَهَنَّمَ, وَمِنْ عَذَابِ اَلْقَبْرِ , وَمِنْ فِتْنَةِ اَلْمَحْيَا وَالْمَمَاتِ , وَمِنْ شَرِّ فِتْنَةِ اَلْمَسِيحِ اَلدَّجَّالِ

Allahumma inni a’uzhu bika min ‘azhabi jahannam, wa min ‘azhabil-qabr, wa min fitnatil-mahyaa wal-mamaat, wa min sharri fitnatil-masihid-Dajjal

O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the punishment of the grave, and from the punishment of Hellfire, and from the trials of life and death, and from the evil of the trial of dajjal the false Messiah.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

(b) Du’a 2:

اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي مَا قَدَّمْتُ وَمَا أَخَّرْتُ،

Allaahummagh-firlii maa qaddamtu wa maa akhkhartu,

O Allah, forgive me for [sins] I committed beforehand as well as those which shall come to pass,

وَمَا أَسْرَرْتُ وَمَا أَعْلَنْتُ، وَمَا أَسْرَفْتُ،

wa maa asrartu wa maa a‛lantu wa maa asraftu,

and those I have committed in secret as well as those I have committed in public,

وَمَا أَنْتَ أَعْلَمُ بِهِ مِنِّي

wa maa anta a‛lamu bihi minnii,

and where I have exceeded all bounds as well as those things about which You are more knowledgeable.

أَنْتَ الْمُقَدِّمُ وَأَنْتَ الْمُؤَخِّرُ،

’antal-muqad-dim wa antal-mu’akh-khir,

You are Al-Muqaddim (the Expediter) and Al-Muakhkhir (the Delayer).

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ

laa ilaaha il-laa anta.

None has the right to be worshipped except You.

Closing Words

The last stage is Enhancement. I will not mention or go in-depth into it because it is a stage that is difficult to reach and requires proper teaching and guidance to learn.

According to Imam Qushairy, a famous Tasawwuf scholar, Khusyu’ is lowering your secrets in your speech and filling up your feelings with awe of Allah SWT’s Glory.

When you perform Salah, it has nothing to do with you and your good deeds. It has everything to do with Allah SWT. When you have true Khusyu’ you will find yourself disappear and Allah SWT will be the only One that is left. To reach this state, you need to learn from the learned. It is not something that I can teach on this platform.

Dear brothers and sisters do not rush through your Salah. Take your time to make these du’as. Let each prayer be one that raises us in our status in Allah’s Eyes. Let each prayer elevate us to a higher level. Let each prayer be one that earns us Allah’s blessings and love.

Treasure Allah’s gifts to us. Treasure Allah’s gifts to us. Treasure Allah’s gifts to us. The Salah is Allah SWT’s gift to us. Do not treat it is as a burden or additional workload. How would you like it if people were ungrateful for the gifts you give them? Take advantage of your Salah.

May Allah SWT make us amongst the believers who have Khusyu’ in our prayers. Ameen.

——————–

Summary by: Arina Adom

Arina Adom is a lover of learning who takes on the world with an open mind. Resourceful and adaptable, always ready to take on new challenges. Comfortable working with diverse groups of people, yet able to work independently. Thrives under pressure. Currently seeking a meaningful career that enables her to impact lives directly and bring about positive changes in the lives of others in the community.

Arina graduated with a degree in Science ( Hons ), Life Science from NUS. She is currently taking a diploma in Quran and Sunnah Studies from Al Zuhri.

Arina Adom – Linkedin Profile


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