Bismillah Ir-Rahman, Ir-Raheem.
I begin with ALLAH's auspiciousness,whose Name is the Best among all the names. All Revences, All Sanctities and All Worships are due to ALLAH alone. Ashahadu An Laa illaaha illal llahu Wa Ash Hadu Anna Muhammadan Abdu Hu Wa Rasooluhu ''I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah who is without partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) is the Rasool.'' "O Allah, Shower Your Peace come upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as you have brought peace to Ibrahim and his family.
Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious. O Allah, Shower your blessing upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as you have blessed Ibrahim and his family. Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious". I am Satisfied with ALLAH as My Rabb and Cherisher,Iam Satisfied With Islam as My Din(religion) and I am satisfied with Muhammad as a Rasulallah (Messenger)sallallahu alaihi was salam) I seek Protection with ALLAH! With the Glorious and Noble Face of ALLAH! With the Complete and Perfect words of ALLAH! With the Exalted Attributes of ALLAH! From the Punishment of Hell; From chastisement in the Grave; From the Trial of Life and Death; From the Mischief of the dajjal. There is no power nor strength with (anyone) save Allah. ALLAH is Good and Only accept that which is Good. ALLAH is the Truth and only accept that which True. ALLAH is Pure and only accept that which is Pure. Ya ALLAH! ALL the praises are for You,You are the Holder of the Heavens and the Earth, And whatever is in them. Ya ALLAH! All praises are for You; You are are the Substaner of the Heavens and the Earth And whatever is in them. Ya ALLAH! All the praises are for you;You have the Possession of the Heavens and the Earth and whatever is in them. Ya ALLAH! All the praises are for You; You are Light(Nur) of the Heavens and Earth And whatever is in them. Ya ALLAH! All praises are for You; You are the King of the Heavens and the Earth And whatever is in them. Ya ALLAH! All praises are for You; You are the Truth and Your Promise is the Truth, And Your word is the Truth and the Meeting with You is true, And Parardise is True And Hell is true and All the Prophets(peace be upon them) are true; And Muhammad Rasulallah(sallallahu alayhi wa salam) is true,And the Day of Resurrection is True. Ya ALLAH! You have promise and Your promise is the truth,Ya ALLAH! You have promise and Your words is the truth, Ya ALLAH! You have promise and You are the Truth!
Varying the soorahs, aayaat, adhkaar and du’aa’s recited in prayer
This makes the worshipper feel that he is encountering new meanings and moving between different topics mentioned in the aayaat and adhkaar. This is what a person misses out on if he only memorizes a few soorahs (especially the short ones) and adhkaar. Varying what one recites is the Sunnah and is more conducive to khushoo’.
If we study what the Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to recite in his prayer, we will see this variation. For example, with regard to the opening du’aa’, we find examples such as the following:
“Allaahumma baa’id bayni wa bayna khataayaaya kamaa baa’adta bayn al-mashriqi wa’l-maghrib. Allaahumma naqqani min khataayaaya kamaa yunaqqaa al-thawb al-abyad min al-danas. Allaahumma’ghsilni min khataayaaya bi’l-maa’ wa’l-thalj wa’l-barad (O Allaah, separate me (far) from my sins as You have separated (far) the East from the West. O Allaah, cleanse me of my sins as white cloth is cleansed from dirt. O Allaah, wash me of my sins with water, snow and ice).”
“Wajahtu wajhi li’lladhi fatara al-samawaati wa’l-ard haneefan, wa maa ana min al-mushrikeen. Inna salaati wa nusuki wa mahyaaya wa mamaati Lillaahi Rabb il –‘aalameen, laa shareeka lahu wa bidhaalika umirtu wa ana awwal al-muslimeen (I have set my face towards the Originator of the heavens and the earth sincerely and I am not among the mushrikeen. Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allaah, the Rabb of the Worlds: no partner has He. With this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims (those who submit to Him).”
“Subhaanak Allaahumma wa bi hamdika wa tabaaraka ismuka wa ta’aala jadduka wa laa ilaaha ghayruk (Glory and praise be to You, O Allaah, blessed be Your name and exalted be Your majesty. There is no god besides You).”
And other du’aa’s and adhkaar which the worshipper can use at various times.
Among the soorahs which the Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to recite during Salaat al-Fajr we find a great and blessed number.
The longer mufassal soorahs (soorahs from the last seventh of the Qur’aan), such as al-Waaqi’ah , al-Toor  and Qaaf , and shorter mufassal soorahs such as Idhaa al-shamsu kuwwirat [al-Takweer 81], al-Zalzalah , and al-Mi’wadhatayn [the last two soorahs].
It was reported that he recited al-Room , Yaa-Seen  and al-Saaffaat , and on Fridays he would recite al-Sajah  and al-Insaan [76, a.k.a. al-Dhahr] in Fajr prayer.
It was reported that in Salaat al-Zuhr, he would recite the equivalent of thirty aayaat in each of the two rak’ahs, and that he recited al-Taariq , al-Burooj  and wa’l-layli idhaa yaghshaa [al-Layl, 92].
In Salaat al-‘Asr, he would recite the equivalent of fifteen aayaat in each rak’ah, and he would recite the soorahs already mentioned in connection with Salaat al-Zuhr.
In Salaat al-Maghrib, he would recite short mufassal soorahs such as al-teeni wa’l-zaytoon [al-Teen 95], and he recited Soorat Muhammad , al-Toor , al-Mursalaat  and others.
In ‘Ishaa’ he would recite medium-length mufassal soorahs, such as al-shamsu wa duhaahaa [al-Shams 91], idhaa’l-samaa’u inshaqqat [al-Inshiqaaq 84]. He told Mu’aadh to recite al-A’laa , al-Qalam  and al-layli idhaa yaghshaa [al-Layl, 92].
In qiyaam al-layl, he used to recite the long soorahs. It was reported that He (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to recite 200 or 150 aayaat, and sometimes he used to shorten the recitation.
He used to vary the adhkaar he recited in rukoo’. In addition to “Subhaana Rabbi al-‘Azeem (Glory be to my Supreme Rabb)” and “Subhaana Rabbi al-‘Azeem wa bi hamdih (Glory and praise be to my Supreme Rabb)”, he would say: “Subbooh, Quddoos, Rabb il-Malaa’ikati wa’l-Rooh (Perfect, Blessed, Rabb of the Angels and the Spirit),” or, “Allaahumma laka raka’tu wa bika aamantu wa laka aslamtu wa ‘alayka tawakkaltu anta Rabbi. Khasha’a sam’i wa basari wa dammi wa lahmi wa ‘azmi wa ‘asabi Lillaahi Rabbi’l-‘Alaameen (O Allaah, to You have I bowed, to You I have submitted, in You I have believed, to You I have submitted and in You I have put my trust. Humbled are my hearing, my seeing, my blood, my flesh, my bones and my nerves for Allaah,The Rabb of the Worlds).”
When standing upright from rukoo’, after saying “Sami’a Allaah liman hamidah (Allaah listens to the one who praises Him)” he would say, “Rabbanaa wa laka’l-hamd (Our Rabb, and to You be all praise),” or sometimes, “Rabbanaa laka’l-hamd (Our Rabb, to You be all praise),” or, “Allaahumma Rabbanaa [wa] laka’l-hamd (O Allaah our Rabb, [and] to You be all praise).” Sometimes he would add the words: “Mil’a al-samawaati wa mil’a al-ard wa mil’a maa shi’ta min shay’in ba’d ([Praise] filling the heavens, filling the earth, and filling whatever else You wish)”, and sometimes he would add, “Ahl al-thanaa’i wa’l-majd, laa maani’a limaa a’tayta wa laa mu’tiya limaa mana’t, wa laa yanfa’u dhaa’l-jaddi minka’l-jadd (Rabb of Glory and Majesty! None can withhold what You grant, and none can grant what You withhold; nor can the possessions of an owner benefit him in front of You).”
In sujood, in addition to “Subhaan Rabbi al-A’laa (Glory be to my Rabb Most High)” and “Subhaana Rabbi al-A’laa wa bi hamdih (Glory and praise be to my Rabb Most High),” he would say “Subbooh, Quddoos, Rabb il-Malaa’ikati wa’l-Rooh (Perfect, Blessed, Rabb of the Angels and the Spirit),” or “Subhaanak Allaahumma Rabbanaa wa bi hamdik, Allaahumma’ghfir li (Glory and praise be to you O Allaah, our Rabb. O Allaah forgive me)” or “Allaahumma laka sajadtu wa bika aamantu wa laka aslamtu, sajada wajhi lilladhi khalaqahu wa sawwarahu wa shaqqa sam’ahu wa basarahu, tabaarak Allaahu ahsaan al-khaaliqeen (O Allaah, to You I have prostrated, in You I have believed and to You I have submitted. My face has prostrated to the One Who created it and gave it shape, then brought forth its hearing and its vision. Blessed be Allaah, the Best to create),” and others.
When sitting between the two prostrations, in addition to “Rabb ighfir li, Rabb ighfir li (Rabb, forgive me, Rabb, forgive me),” he would say, “Allaahumm aghfir li warhamni wajbarni wa arfa’ni wahdini wa ‘aafini wa arzuqni (O Allaah, forgive me, have mercy on me, strengthen me, raise my rank, guide me, pardon me, sustain me).”
A number of versions of the tashahhud have been narrated, such as: “Al-tahiyyaatu Lillaahi wa’l-salawaatu wa’l-tayyibaat al-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-Nabiyyu …etc. (All compliments, prayers and pure words are due to Allaah. Peace be upon you, Ya Nabi…)” and “Al-Tahiyyaat al-mubaarakaat al-salawaat al-tayyibaatu Lillaahi, al-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-Nabiyyu…etc. (All compliments, blessed words, prayers, pure words are due to Allaah. Peace be upon you, Ya Nabi)” and “Al-tahiyyaat al-tayyibaat al-salawaatu Lillaahi, al-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-Nabiyyu… etc. (All compliments, good words and prayers are due to Allaah. Peace be upon you, Ya Nabi…).”
So the worshipper may use one form one time and another at another time, and so on.
There are a number of versions of the prayers sent upon Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) , such as:
“Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala aali Muhammad kamaa salayta ‘ala Ibraaheem wa ‘ala aali Ibraaheem, innaka Hameedun Majeed. Allaahumma baarik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa baarakta ‘ala Ibraaheem wa ‘ala aali Ibraaheem innaka Hameedun Majeed (O Allaah, send prayers on Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad, as You sent prayers on Ibraaheem and the family of Ibraaheem, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory; O Allaah, send blessings on Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad, as You sent blessings on Ibraaheem and the family of Ibraaheem, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory).”
“Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala aali baytihi wa ‘ala azwaajihi wa dhuriyatihi kamaa salayta ‘ala aali Ibraaheem, innaka Hameedun Majeed wa baarik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali baytihi wa ‘ala azwaajihi wa dhuriyatihi kamaa baarakta ‘ala aali Ibraaheem innaka Hameedun Majeed (O Allaah, send prayers on Muhammad and on his family, wives and progeny, as You sent prayers on the family of Ibraaheem, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory; O Allaah, send blessings on Muhammad and on his family, wives and progeny, as You sent blessings on the family of Ibraaheem, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory).”
“Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad al-Nabiyy al-Ummi wa ‘ala aali Muhammad kamaa salayta ‘ala aali Ibraaheem, wa baarik ‘ala Muhammad al-Nabiyy al-Ummi wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa baarakta ‘ala aali Ibraaheem fi’l-‘aalameen, innaka Hameedun Majeed (O Allaah, send prayers on Muhammad the Unlettered Nabi and on the family of Muhammad, as You sent prayers on the family of Ibraaheem, and send blessings on Muhammad the Unlettered Nabi and on the family of Muhammad, as You sent blessings on the family of Ibraaheem among the nations, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory).”
Other similar versions have also been narrated, and the Sunnah is to vary among them, as stated above. There is nothing wrong with reciting one version more than others, because it is more strongly proven and better known in the books of saheeh ahaadeeth, or because Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) taught one version rather than others to his Sahaabah when they asked him about it, and so on.
(All of the above texts etc. have been taken from Sifat al-Salaat al-Nabi Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) by Shaykh Muhammad Naasir al-Deen al-Albaani, which he compiled from the books of hadeeth).
Performing sujood al-tilaawah when reciting an aayah where this is required
One of the etiquettes of reciting Qur’aan is to perform sujood al-tilaawah (prostration for recitation) when one recites an aayah containing a “sajdah” (place where a prostration is required). In His Book, Allaah describes the Prophets and the righteous as follows : “… When the Verses of the Most Beneficent were recited unto them, they fell down prostrating and weeping.” [Maryam 19:58]. Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The scholars agreed that we should prostrate here [when reciting this aayah] so as to follow their example.” (Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem, 5/238, Daar al-Sha’b edn.)
Sujood al-Tilaawah in prayer is very important because it increases khushoo’. Allaah says : “And they fall down on their faces weeping and it adds to their humility [khushoo’].” [al-Israa’ 17:109].
It was reported that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) prostrated when he recited Soorat al-Najm  in his prayer. Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported in his Saheeh that Abu Raafi’ said: “I prayed ‘Ishaa’ with Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) and he recited Idhaa al-samaa’u inshaqqat [al-Inshiqaaq 84] and prostrated. I asked him about it, and he said, ‘I prostrated behind Abu’l-Qaasim [The Nabi] Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), and I will continue to do so until I meet him again.” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-Adhaan, Baab al-Jahr bi’l-‘Ishaa’).
It is important to maintain the practice of sujood al-tilaawah, especially since it causes annoyance to the Shaytaan and suppresses him, thus weakening his hold on the worshipper. Abu Hurayrah said: Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: ‘When the son of Adam recites a sajdah, the Shaytaan goes away weeping, saying, “Woe to him! He was commanded to prostrate and he prostrated, so Paradise is his; I was ordered to prostrate and I disobeyed, so Hell is my fate!”’” (Reported by Imaam Muslim in his Saheeh, no. 133).
Seeking refuge with Allaah from the Shaytaan
The Shaytaan is our enemy, and one of the aspects of his enmity is his whispering insinuating thoughts (waswaas) to the worshipper at prayer so as to take away his khushoo’ and confuse him in his prayer.
Waswaas is a problem that befalls everyone who turns to Allaah with dhikr and other kinds of worship; it is inevitable, so one has to stand firm and be patient, and persist in the dhikr or salaah, and not give up. His sticking to it will ward off the Shaytaan’s plots from himself. “… Ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaytaan.” [al-Nisaa’ 4:76 – interpretation of the meaning].
Every time the slave wants to turn his thoughts towards Allaah, thoughts of other matters come sneaking into his mind. The Shaytaan is like a bandit lying in wait to launch an ambush: every time the slave wants to travel towards Allaah, the Shaytaan wants to cut off his route. For this reason, it was said to one of the salaf: “The Jews and Christians say that they do not suffer from the problem of waswaas.” He said, “They are speaking the truth, for what would the Shaytaan want with a house that is in ruins?” (Majma’ al-Fataawa, 22/608).
This is a good analogy. It is as if there are three houses: the house of a king, filled with his treasure and savings, the house of a slave, containing his treasure and savings, and an empty house with nothing in it. If a thief comes to steal from one of the three houses, which one will he choose? (al-Waabil al-Sayib, p. 43).
When the slave stands up to pray, the Shaytaan feels jealous of him, because he is standing in the greatest position, one that is closest [to Allaah] and most annoying and grievous to the Shaytaan. So he tries to stop him from establishing prayer in the first place, then he continues trying to entice him and make him forget, and “making assaults on him with his cavalry and infantry” [cf. Al-Isra’ 17:64], until he thinks of prayer as less important, so he starts to neglect it, and eventually gives it up altogether. If the Shaytaan fails to achieve this, and the person ignores him and starts to pray, the enemy of Allaah will come and try to distract him, by reminding him of things that he did not remember or think of before he started praying. A person may have forgotten about something altogether, but the Shaytaan will remind him of it when he starts praying, so as to distract him from his prayers and take him away from Allaah, so that his heart will no longer be in his prayers, and he will lose out on the honour and reward of Allaah turning toward him, which is only attained by the one whose heart is really in his prayer. Thus he will finish his prayer no better off than when he started, with his burden of sins not reduced at all by his salaah, because prayer only expiates for sins when it is done properly, with perfect khushoo’, and the person stands before Allaah in body and soul.” (Al-Waabil al-Sayib, p. 36).
Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) taught us the following methods of combatting the wiles of Shaytaan and getting rid of his waswaas: Abu’l-‘Aas (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that he said, “Ya Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)!, the Shaytaan interrupts me when I pray, and I get confused in my recitation.” Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “That is a shaytaan whose name is Khanzab. If you sense his presence, seek refuge with Allaah from him, and spit [dry spitting] towards your left three times.” [Abu’l-‘Aas] said: “I did that and Allaah took him away from me.” (Reported by Muslim, no. 2203)
Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) also told us about another of the Shaytaan’s tricks and how to deal with it. He said, “When any one of you gets up to pray, the Shaytaan comes and confuses him – i.e., mixes up his prayer and creates doubts in his mind – so that he does not know how many [rak’ahs] he has prayed. If any one of you experiences that, he should do two prostrations whilst he is sitting.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-Sahw, Baab al-Sahw fi’l-Fard wa’l-Tatawwu’).
Another of the Shaytaan’s tricks was described as follows. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “If any one of you is praying and feels some movement in his back passage, and is uncertain as to whether he has broken his wudoo’ or not, he should not end his prayer unless he hears a sound or smells an odour.”
Indeed, his tricks may be very strange indeed, as the following hadeeth makes clear. Ibn ‘Abbaas reported that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was asked about a man who thought that he had broken his wudoo’ when he had not done so. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The Shaytaan may come to any one of you when he is praying and open his buttocks and make him think that he has broken his wudoo when in fact he has not. So if this happens to any one of you, let him not end his prayer unless he hears the sound of it with his ears or smells the odour of it with his nose.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, no.11556, part 11, p. 222. He said in Majma’ al-Zawaa’id, 1/242, its men are the men of Saheeh).
Note: There is a devilish trick which “Khanzab” plays on some worshippers: He tries to distract them by making them think of acts of worship other than the prayer that they are performing, by making them think of some issues of da’wah or knowledge, so that they start to think deeply about those matters and stop focusing on the prayer they are performing. He even confuses some of them by suggesting to them that ‘Umar used to make plans for the army whilst he was praying.
We should let Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah explain this matter and set the record straight: “With regard to what was reported, that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said, “I make plans for the army whilst I am praying,” this was because ‘Umar was commanded to engage in jihaad and he was the leader of the believers (Ameer al-mu’mineen, i.e., the khaleefah), so he was also the leader of jihaad. So in some respects he was like the one who prays the prayer of fear (salaat al-khawf) whilst also watching out for the enemy, whether or not there is actual fighting. He was commanded to pray, and also to engage in jihaad, so he had to carry out both duties as much as he could. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘O you who believe! When you meet (an enemy) force, take a firm stand against them and remember the Name of Allaah much, so that you may be successful.’ [al-Anfaal 8:45]. It is known that one cannot achieve the same peace of mind during jihaad as at times of peace and security, so if it happens that a person’s prayer is lacking because of jihaad, this does not mean that his faith is lacking.
For this reason, standards may be regarded as being slightly relaxed in the case of prayer at times of danger as compared with times of peace. With regard to prayer at times of danger, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘… but when you are free from danger, perform al-salaah. Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.’ [al-Nisa’ 4:103]. So the one who is commanded to establish prayer at times of peace is not commanded to do so in the same manner at times of danger.
Moreover, people are of varying levels in this regard. If a person’s faith is strong, he will have the proper presence of mind when he prays, even if he thinks of other matters. Allaah had caused the truth to reside firmly in ‘Umar’s heart, and he was al-muhaddith al-mulham (‘the inspired speaker’), so there is nothing strange in a person of his calibre making plans for the army whilst performing the prayer. He was able to do this, whilst others are not, but undoubtedly when he did not have these concerns to think about, his presence of mind in prayer would be greater. And no doubt the prayer of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) at times of safety was even more perfect that at times of danger, in terms of external appearance. If Allaah has made allowances with regard to some of the external movements of the prayer at times of fear, how then about the internal aspects?
In conclusion, therefore, if a person who is pressed for time thinks about some obligatory matter whilst he is praying, this is not the same as a person who is not pressed for time thinking during prayer about some matter that is not obligatory. It may be that ‘Umar could not give thought to making plans for the army except at that time, because he was the leader of the ummah with many obligations and responsibilities. Anyone could find himself in a similar situation, according to his position. People always think during prayer about things that they do not think of at other times, and some of this could come from the Shaytaan. A man told one of the salaf that he had buried some money, but he had forgotten where he had buried it. He told him, ‘Go and pray,’ so he went and prayed, and he remembered where it was. It was said [to the salafi], ‘How did you know that?’ He said, ‘I know that the Shaytaan will not leave him alone when he prays without reminding him of something that matters to him, and there is nothing more important to this man than remembering where he had buried his money.’ But the good slave will strive to attain perfect presence of mind in prayer, just as he strives to do everything else properly that he is commanded to do. And there is no help and no strength except in Allaah, the Most High, the Almighty.” (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/610)
Thinking of how the salaf were when they prayed
This will increase our's khushoo and motivate us to follow their example. “If we were to see one of them when he stood up to pray and started reciting the words of ALLAH!, It would cross his mind that he was standing before the Rabb of the Worlds, so he would be filled with overwhelming awe.” (Al-Khushoo‟ fi‟l-Salaah by Ibn Rajab, p. 22). Mujaahid (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “When one of them stood in prayer, he would be too fearful of his Rabb to allow his eyes to be drawn to anything, or to turn aside or to fidget by playing with pebbles or anything else or to think of any worldly matter, unless he forgot, during prayer.” (Ta‟zeem Qadr al-Salaah, 1/188)
When Ibn al-Zubayr stood up to pray, he would be like a stick (i.e., immobile) with khushoo‟. Once he was prostrating when a missile from a catapult was launched at him, when Makkah was being besieged, and part of his garment was torn away whilst he was praying, and he did not even raise his head. Muslimah ibn Bashshaar was praying in the masjid when part of it collapsed, and the people got up [and fled], but he was praying and did not even notice. We have heard that one of them was like a garment thrown on the floor; one of them would end his prayer with the colour of his complexion changed because he had been standing before Allah. One of them would not know who was standing to his right or left when he prayed. One of them would go pale when he did wudoo‟ for prayer, and it was said to him, “We see that when you do wudoo‟ a change comes over you.” He said, “I know before Whom I am going to stand.”
When the time for prayer came, „Ali ibn Abi Taalib would be visibly shaken, and the colour of his face would change. It was said to him, “What is the matter with you?‟ He said, “By Allah, there has come the time of the amaanah (trust) which Allah offered to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it, but I bore it [cf. Al-Ahzaab 33:72].”
When Sa‟eed al-Tanookhi prayed, there would be tears rolling down his cheeks onto his beard. We heard that one of the Taabi‟een, when he stood up to pray, his colour would change, and he would say, “Do you know before Whom I am going to stand and with Whom I am going to talk?” Who among you has fear and respect like this? (Silaah al-Yaqazaan li Tard al-Shaytan, „Abd al-„Azeez Sultaan, p. 209)
They said to „Aamir ibn „Abd al-Qays, “Do you think to yourself during prayer?” He said, “Is there anything I like to think about more than the prayer?” They said, “We think to ourselves during prayer.” He said, “About Paradise and al-hoor (“houris”) and so on?” They said, “No; about our families and our wealth.” He said, “If I were to be run through with spears, it would be dearer to me than thinking to myself about worldly matters during prayer.”
Sa‟d ibn Mu‟aadh said: “I have three qualities
, which I wish I could keep up all the time, then I would really be something.
When I am praying, I do not think about anything except the prayer I am doing;
if I hear any hadith from Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam), I do not have any doubts about it;
and when I attend a janaazah (funeral), I do not think about anything except what the janaazah says and what is said to it.” (Al-Fataawa li Ibn Taymiyah, 22/605).
Haatim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “I carry out what I am commanded; I walk with fear of Allah in my heart; I start with the [correct] intention; I magnify and glorify Allah; I recite at a slow and measured pace, thinking about the meaning; I bow with khushoo‟; I prostrate with humility; I sit and recite the complete tashahhud; I say salaam with the [correct] intention; I finish with sincerity towards Allah; and I come back fearing lest [my prayer] has not been accepted from me, so I continue to strive until I die.” (Al-Khushoo‟ fi‟l-Salaah, 27-28).
Abu Bakr al-Subghi said: “I lived through the time of two imaams (leaders) although I was not fortunate enough to hear them in person: Abu Haatim al-Raazi and Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Marwazi. As for Ibn Nasr, I do not know of any prayer better than his. I heard that a hornet stung him on his forehead and blood started flowing down his face, but he did not move.”
Muhammad ibn Ya‟qoob al-Akhram said: “I have never seen any prayer better than that of Muhammad ibn Nasr. Flies used to land on his ears, and he did not shoo them away. We used to marvel at how good his prayer and khushoo‟ were. His fear [of Allah] in prayer was so great that he would put his chin on his chest as if he were a piece of wood standing up.” (Ta‟zeem Qadr al-Salaah, 1/58).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him), when he started to pray, used to tremble so much that he would lean right and left. (Al-Kawaakib al-Durriyah fi Manaaqib al-Mujtahid Ibn Taymiyah, by Mar‟i al-Karami, p. 83, Daar al-Gharb al-Islaami). Compare this with what some of us do nowadays, looking at our watches, adjusting our clothes, fiddling with our noses, thinking of deals and counting our money whilst praying, or tracing the patterns of decorations on carpets and ceilings, or trying to see who is beside us. Think of how anyone would behave before some great leader of this world – would he dare to behave in such a manner then?!
Knowing the advantages of khushoo' in salaah
These include: - Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “There is no Muslim man who, when the time for a prescribed prayer comes, he does wudoo‟ properly, has the proper attitude of khushoo‟, and bows properly, but it will be an expiation for all his previous sins, so long as they were not major sins (kabeerah). And this is the case for life” (Reported by Muslim, 1/206, no. 7/4/2) -
The reward recorded is in proportion to the degree of khushoo‟, as Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “A slave may pray and have nothing recorded for it except a tenth of it, or a ninth, or an eighth, or a seventh, or a sixth, or a fifth, or a quarter, or a third, or a half.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad; Saheeh al-Jaami‟, 1626). - Only the parts of his prayer where he focused and concentrated properly will be of any avail to him. It was reported that Ibn Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “You will only have from your prayer that which you focused on.” Sins will be forgiven if you concentrate properly and have full khushoo‟, as Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “When a slave stands and prays, all his sins are brought and placed on his head and shoulders. Every time he bows or prostrates, some of them fall from him.” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubraa, 3/10; see also Saheeh al-Jaami‟). Al-Manaawi said: “What is meant is that every time a pillar (essential part) of the prayer is completed, part of his sins fall from him, until when he finishes his prayer, all his sins will be removed. This is in a prayer where all the conditions are met and the essential parts are complete. What we understand from the words “slave” and “stands” is that he is standing before the King of Kings [ALLAH] in the position of a humble slave.” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubraa, 3/10; see also Saheeh al-Jaami‟). -
The one who prays with khushoo‟ will feel lighter when he finishes his prayer, as if his burdens have been lifted from him. He will feel at ease and refreshed, so that he will wish he had not stopped praying, because it is such a source of joy and comfort for him in this world. He will keep feeling that he is in a constricting prison until he starts to pray again; he will find comfort in prayer instead of wanting just to get it over and done with. Those who love prayer say: we pray and find comfort in our prayer, just as our Leader,The Example for all mankind and Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam)said, “O Bilaal, let us find comfort in prayer.” He did not say “Let us get it over and done with.”
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam)said, “My joy has been made in prayer.” So whoever finds his joy in prayer, how can he bear to look for joy anywhere else, or to keep away from it? (Al-Waabil al-Sayib, 37).
Striving to offer du‟a‟ at the appropriate times during the prayer, especially in sujood There is no doubt that talking to Allah, humbling oneself before Him, asking things from Him and earnestly seeking His help, all help to strengthen the slave‟s ties to his Rabb and increase his khushoo‟. Du‟aa‟ is an act of worship, and we are commanded to make du‟a‟. Allah says “… call upon Him in humility and in secret…” [al-An‟aam 6:63]. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam)said: “Whoever does not call on Allah, Allah will be angry with him.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, Kitaab al-Da‟waat, 1/426; classed as hasan in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 2686).
It was reported that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to make du‟a‟ at specific places in the prayer, i.e., in sujood, between the two prostrations and after the Tashahhud. The greatest of these is in sujood, because Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “The closest that the slave can be to his Rabb is when he is prostrating, so increase your du‟a‟ [at that time].” (Reported by Muslim, Kitaab al-Salaah, Baab maa yuqaalu fi‟l-rukoo‟ wa‟l-sujood. No. 215). And he said: “… As for sujood, strive hard to make du‟a‟ in it, for it is bound to be answered for you.” (Reported by Muslim, Kitaab al-Salaah, Baab al-Nahy „an qiraa‟at al-Qur‟an fi‟l rukoo‟ wa‟l-sujood, no. 207).
One of the du‟aa‟s which Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to recite in his sujood was:
“Allaahumma‟ghfir li dhanbi diqqahu wa jillahu wa awwalahu wa aakhirahu wa „alaaniyatahu wa sirrahu
(O Allah, forgive me my sins, the minor and the major, the first and the last, the open and the hidden).” (Reported by Muslim, Kitaab al-Salaah, Baab ma yuqaalu fi‟l-rukoo‟ wa‟l-sujood, no. 216).
He also used to say,
“Allaahumma‟ghfir li maa asrartu wa maa a‟lantu
(O Allah, forgive me what I have done in secret and done openly).” (Reported by al-Nisaa'i, al-Mujtabaa, 2/569; Saheeh al-Jaami‟, 1067).
We have already described some of the du‟aa‟s that he used to recite between the two sajdahs. (See section 11).
One of the things that he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to recite after the Tashahhud is what we learn from the hadith: “When any one of you finishes the Tashahhud, let him seek refuge with Allah from four things, from the punishment of Hell, from the punishment of the grave, from the trials (fitnah) of life and death, and from the evil of the Dajjal (Antichrist‟).”
He used to say,
“Allaahumma innee a‟oodhu bika min sharri maa „amiltu wa min sharri maa lam a‟mal
(O Allah, I seek refuge with You from the evil of what I have done and the evil of what I have not done).”
“Allaahumma haasibni hisaaban yaseeran (O Allah, make my accounting easy).”
He taught Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with him) to say,
“Allaahumma innee zalamtu nafsi zulman katheeran, wa la yaghfir al-dhunooba illa anta, faghfir li maghfiratan min „indaka warhamni innaka anta al-Ghafoor al-Raheem
(O Allah, I have wronged myself very much, and no one can forgive sin but You. Grant me forgiveness from You and have mercy on me, for You are the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful).”
He heard a man saying in his Tashahhud:
“Allaahumma inne as‟aluka yaa Allah al-Ahad al-Samad alladhi lam yalid wa lam yoolad wa lam yakum lahu kufuwan ahad an taghfir li dhunoobi innaka anta‟l-Ghafoor al-Raheem
(O Allah, I ask You O Allah, the One, the Self-Sufficient Master, Who begets not neither is begotten, and there is none like unto Him, to forgive me my sins, for You are the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful).” He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to his companions: “He has been forgiven, he has been forgiven.”
He heard another man saying,
“Allaahumma innee as‟aluka bi-anna laka‟l-hamd, laa ilaaha ill anta wahdaka laa shareeka lak al-Mannaan yaa badee‟ al-samawaati wa‟l-ard, yaa dhaa‟l-jalaali wa‟l-ikraam, ya hayyu yaa qayyoom, innee as‟aluka al-jannah wa a‟oodhu bika min al-naar"
(O Allah, I beg of You as all praise is due to You, there is no god but You Alone, who have no partner or associate, the Bestower, O Originator of the heavens and earth, O Possessor of Glory and Honour, O Ever-Living, O Self-Sustaining, I bag You for Paradise and I seek refuge with You from Hell).”
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said to his companions: “Do you know by what did he ask Allah?” They said, “Allah and His Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) know best.” He said, “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, he asked Allah by His greatest Name (ismuhu‟l-a‟zam) which, when He is called by it, He responds, and if He is asked by it, He gives.”
The last thing he would say between the Tashahhud and the Tasleem was:
“Allaahumma‟aghfir li maa qaddamtu wa ma akhkhartu wa maa asrartu wa maa a‟lantu wa maa asraftu wa maa anta a‟lam bihi minni anta‟l-muqaddim wa anta‟l-mu‟akhkhir, laa ilaaha illa anta"
(O Allah, forgive me what I have done in the past, and what I will do in the future, and what I have concealed, and what I have done openly, and what I have exceeded in, whatever You know about more than I. You are the Bringer-Forward, and You are the Delayer, there is no god except You).”
(These du‟aa‟s and others, along with their isnaads, are to be found in Sifat al-Salaah by al-„Allaamah al-Albaani, p.163, 11th edn.)
Memorizing du‟aa‟s like these will solve the problem that some people have of remaining silent behind the imaam when they have finished the Tashahhud because they do not know what they should say. Adhkaar to be recited after prayer These also help to strengthen khushoo‟ in the heart and reinforce the blessings and benefits of the prayer. Without a doubt, one of the best ways of preserving and protecting a good action is to follow it up with another. So the one who thinks about the adhkaar that come after the prayer will find that they begin with seeking forgiveness three times, as if the worshipper is seeking forgiveness from his Rabb for any shortcomings that may have occurred in his prayer or his khushoo‟.
It is also important to pay attention to naafil (supererogatory) prayers, because they make up for anything lacking in the fard (obligatory) prayers, including any failure with regard to khushoo‟.
Having discussed things that help us to have khushoo‟, we now move on to a discussion of:
Warding off distractions and things that adversely affect khushoo’
Removing anything that may distract the worshipper.
Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Aaishah had a decorated, colourful curtain which she used to cover the side of her house. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said to her, Take it away from me, because its decorations keep distracting me when I pray. (Reported by al-Bukhari, Fath al-Baari, 10/391). Al-Qaasim reported that Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) had a cloth with decorations on it, which she used to cover a small sunken alcove (used for sleeping or storage). Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to pray facing it, and he said, Take it away from me, because it's decorations keep distracting me when I pray. So she took it away and made pillows out of it.” (Reported by Muslim in his Saheeh, 3/1668).
Another indication of this is the fact that when Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) entered the Ka'bah to pray in it, he saw two rams horns. When he had prayed, he told „Uthmaan al-Hajabi, “I forgot to tell you to cover the horns, because there should not be anything in the House to distract the worshipper.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, 2030; Saheeh al-Jaami‟, 2504). This also includes avoiding praying in places where people pass through, or where there is a lot of noise and voices of people talking, or where they are engaging in conversations, arguments etc., or where there are visual distractions. One should also avoid praying in places that are very hot or very cold, if possible. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) told us to delay praying Zuhr in summer until the hottest part of the day was over.
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Praying when it is intensely hot prevents a person from having the proper khushoo‟ and presence of mind, and he does his worship reluctantly, so Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) wisely told The Sahabah to delay praying until the heat had lessened somewhat, so that they could pray with presence of mind and thus achieve the purpose of prayer, i.e., having khushoo‟ and turning to Allah.” (Al-Waabil al-Sayib, Daar al-Bayaan edn., p.22)