by Usman Majid

Let’s face it, you and I both caught our minds wondering during Salah at least once or twice in the last few days, right?

Attaining Khushoo in Salah is a life long mission, and will ultimately take your prayer from just a few simple movements into an incredibly beautiful, spiritually nourishing, mind blowing, out-of-this-world experience. Although this doesn’t happen overnight, we should be making continuous efforts to improve our prayer over time so that it not only pleases Allah and earns us more rewards, but so its positive benefits can manifest throughout our everyday lives.

So I know what you’re thinking; “Duh Usman! But how do we actually do that?”

I’m glad you asked.

In our free ’30 Top Tips for Attaining Khushoo’ in Prayer’ eBook, we shared a whole bunch of really useful tips to dramatically improve focus and tranquillity in prayer (which, erm… *cough cough* I recommend you check out!), but if I were to choose just one super easy tip from the eBook to share with you today it’d be the following:

SWITCH IT UP A LITTLE

“Switch it up? Huh?”

Okay, I hear you again! But don’t worry, I’m not asking you to add in a couple of extra Rak’ahs or to re-arrange the order of the Surahs – not that type of switching.

What I mean is, start introducing a couple of additional components to the prayer (as authenticated from the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (pbuh)) in order to switch your brain back into ‘focus mode’ and to add more value to your prayer. These can be as simple as including some additional dhikr after Ruku, or a couple of du’as in between both Sajdahs or whilst sitting in the Tashahhud position. More on this later.

Before I share with you exactly which Du’as you can begin memorising down below, let me explain why introducing small changes like this works.

There’s a phenomenon that all of our minds and bodies experience once we repeat an action enough times everyday; it’s called AUTOPILOT. This means that without thinking about it, without paying attention to the intricacies of each individual action, without even realising what’s going on in the world around you, you can carry out a task to perfection because you’re so used to it.

A good example of this is driving. When we first sit behind the wheel, our attention is focused on everything from the gears, to the indicator controls, the buttons on the dashboard, and of course, all of the craziness that occurs on the road. However, after a few weeks or months you no longer have to look at the gear stick when you’re changing into 3rd, or to even look at the dashboard as you flick through your favourite episodes of the Deenspiration Podcast Show. As a matter of fact, I’ve personally experienced car journeys where I’ve gotten from A-B and can barely remember what happened in between (let’s hope I didn’t speed!)

Now if I were to sit in a brand new car with a fresh new set of fancy buttons, seats that felt weird, and controls which I was once used to that have now all moved, I would have to start from scratch and begin paying attention again. This will force my brain to focus on what I’m actually doing, to be more mindful of my actions, and in essence I would have some new ‘car khushoo’. Yep, I just made that up. But bear with me here, okay?

Don’t get me wrong, autopilot works great for a lot of things. It reduces the need to think so that our brain batteries won’t die out as quickly, and can sometimes help to speed up the process. However in the case of Salah, we most definitely don’t want to be speed up or stop thinking; we’re standing in front of the Lord of the Worlds, and we DO want our minds to focus on Him and each word we’re reciting.

Just like the example of driving though, it can be so easy switch into autopilot during Salah if we pray so often without paying attention. Most of us repeatedly use the same Surahs, pay little attention to our words (or Allah!), and also want to finish a.s.a.p in order to get back to our lives. This repetition is a sure fire way to lose Khushoo’ fast.

Like me, I’m sure you’ve experienced a Salah during which you remember saying “Allahu Akbar” and then before you know it, you’re saying “Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah” and you have absolutely no idea what just happened in between. May Allah forgive us for our shortcomings!

Okay, let’s get practical. How do we actually ‘switch things up’ and reduce our chances of falling into autopilot? Below are three practical steps you can take:

1) ADD EXTRA DU’AS / DHIKR

When we first learn Salah as children we usually pick up the very basics. For most of us, we continue using these basics throughout our entire lives and don’t realise that we can actually include some extra words during specific moments within the prayer. Doing this will not only increase the value of your prayer over time (which we should all aim to do), but will force you to memorise these words and pay close attention to how and when you use them.

One of my favourites is this great additional Dhikr we can say after rising from Ruku’.

Narrated Rifa’a bin Rafi Az-Zuraqi:

One day we were praying behind the Prophet (pbuh). When he raised his head from bowing, he said, “Sami’a-llahu liman hamidah.”

A man behind him said, “Rabbana wa laka-l hamd, hamdan Kathiran taiyiban mubarakan fihi” (O our Lord! All the praises are for You, many good and blessed praises).

When the Prophet (pbuh) completed the prayer, he asked, “Who has said these words?”

The man replied, “I.”

The Prophet (pbuh) said, “I saw over thirty angels competing to write it first.” (Bukhari)

Amazing, right?! These few words can be easily memorised, but add a WHOLE lot of rewards to your prayer. If you haven’t already, go ahead and add this to your next Salah. Pay careful attention after rising from Ruku’, and make sure to add it after saying “Rabbana wa laka-l hamd”.  Just imagine how much it will increase your Salah in value – InshaAllah.

Here’s the Arabic for you to save to your phone and memorise:

Another portion of the Salah during which you can introduce some new Du’as is the short time between both Sajdahs (jalsa).

The next time you enter Sajdah and rise up to sit momentarily, before you go into the second Sajdah, spend an extra few seconds reciting either (or both) of the following Du’as:

Finally, another moment in which you can add a variety of Du’as from the Qur’an and Sunnah is during the last sitting of prayer (tashahhud), after reciting “attahiyyat” and Durood upon the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), just before saying the salaams to end the prayer. To help you with this, I created a list of 10 Powerful Du’as from the Qur’an and Sunnah. You can download it for free at the end of this blog post (just scroll down a little!).

2) ADD AN EXTRA SURAH

This one’s easy peasy, but will require you to pay some attention before entering Ruku and change up your flow a little bit.

How often do we recite the Fatihah, throw out a quick “Qul-hu-Allahu-Ahad” and go straight into Ruku? In fact, sometime’s we’re so used to it that our bodies automatically begin moving into Ruku before we’ve even finished the Surah, right?! Again, this is classic autopilot syndrome. Changing which Surah or the number of verses we recite is a great way to train ourselves to better focus during Salah, and of course, increase its value.

So the next time you’re about to go into Ruku’, stop. Recite Bismillah, and begin a second Surah. Why not add Surah Al-Falaq as well this time (or any additional Surah following the one you already recited). This sounds simple, but trust me on this one; when your body wants to go into Ruku but your lips begin reciting again, now you’re forced to stop, pay attention and slow down the pace of your Salah a little.

If this happens to you, congratulations. You’ve just regained control and left autopilot mode. Now the next step is to learn the meaning behind the words you’re reciting.

(Note: if you already recite longer sections of the Qur’an during Salah, try adding a few more verses. Alternatively, you can try to choose a completely different set of verses, perhaps those that you haven’t recited for some time. Trying to recall each word will no doubt force you to pay more attention. Don’t forget, practicing a new Surah or section of the Qur’an during Salah that you recently memorised is a brilliant way to revise.)

3) CHANGE YOUR TONE

When your body is in autopilot, by default, so is your voice. Have you ever listened to your recitation when you’re in a rush and not really paying attention? It probably sounds quite monotone, pretty fast with okay-ish tajweed, and with very little ‘oomph’ to it, right? Not good!

I’m not expecting you to learn how to recite like your favourite Shaykh from Masjid Al-Haram by your next Salah, but do at least make an effort to practice beautifying your voice, perfecting your tajweed and reciting with passion.

Remember: when you’re standing before Allah, this is *the* perfect time to show off and put some passion into your recitation. By switching up the style of your recitation, not only are you giving more respect to the Qur’an, but it’s way more enjoyable and adds a few extra levels of Khushoo’ to your prayer. Not to mention that Allah listens to every word and will reward you multiple times over – InshaAllah.

TELL ME HOW IT GOES

I hope that this simple tip of ‘switching it up’ a little during Salah will help you increase your focus and tranquility. I’d love to hear if these tips helped you. Go ahead and try them out, and scroll down to leave a comment below. Do you have any of your own tips? I’d love to read them too!

Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a free copy of the ’30 Top Tips for Attaining Khushoo’ in Prayer’ eBook too. There are way more tips for you to learn and implement in there.

Free Downloadable Du’a Sheet