Khushu and Khuzu in Salah

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It is narrated from Hazrat Abadah bin Samit (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ”The five prayers are the obligatory prayers prescribed by Allah. So whoever performs ablution properly for these prayers, recites them at their designated times, performs the ruku’ with excellence, and offers the prayers with humility, Allah has promised forgiveness for them. And for those who do not do so, there is no promise from Allah, whether He forgives them or punishes them.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, Mishkat)

Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA) states in ”Bawadir al-Nawadir”: ”Khushu’ in its literal sense means humility.” The encouragement for khushu’ in the Quran and Sunnah refers to a state of inner tranquility and submission that arises from knowledge of Allah’s greatness and one’s own humility before Him, leading to ease in obedience and worship.

At times, the effects of khushu’ become apparent on the body, manifesting in modesty and humility. If fear of Allah and humility are not present in the heart, then even if someone appears very modest and humble outwardly, they are not truly possessing khushu’. Displaying the effects of khushu’ consciously is also not desirable.

Imam Ghazali mentioned the verses, narrations, and other evidences before stating that some scholars believe khushu’ is a condition for salah, and the validity of the prayer is dependent on it. Sufyan al-Thawri, Hasan al-Basri, and Ma’adh bin Jabal held the view that prayer is not valid without khushu’.

However, the majority of jurists did not consider khushu’ a condition for prayer but rather an essential aspect of it. They stated that only making the intention for the salah at the time of the opening takbir with a focused heart towards Allah is necessary. The remaining parts of the prayer, if khushu’ is not present, then although the individual may not receive the full reward of that portion of prayer, they will not be considered a neglectful prayer.

Imam Ghazali states: ”Despite the extraordinary importance of khushu’, we still hope for Allah’s mercy even if someone prays with distractions, as long as they have taken the step to perform the obligatory act of worship and have directed their heart towards Allah even for a short while. This will at least remove their name from among the disobedient and neglectful ones.”

Hazrat Thanvi emphasized in Sufism and spiritual development that if the quality of khushu’ is not present, there are four methods to achieve it. Firstly, one must adopt the effects of khushu’, such as walking with a bowed head, speaking softly, avoiding harshness in speech and conduct, and maintaining a moderate demeanor. Secondly, one should seek the company of people who possess khushu’. Thirdly, instill the fear of Allah in the heart by contemplating on the consequences of disobedience. Lastly, dedicate time alone to focus on Allah, His mercy, and the potential consequences of misdeeds, thus cultivating khushu’.

Hence, while khushu’ is not considered an obligatory condition throughout the entire prayer due to the limitations of individuals, making an effort to establish khushu’ especially at the beginning of the salah is emphasized.

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