Hudhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say: “Beware of the khushoo’ of hypocrisy.” He was asked, “What is the khushoo’ of hypocrisy?” He said, “When the body shows khushoo’ but there is no khushoo’ in the heart.” Fudayl ibn ‘Ayaad said: “It was disliked for a man to show more khushoo’ than he had in his heart.” One of them saw a man showing khushoo’ in his shoulders and body, and said, “O So and so, khushoo’ is here” – and he pointed to his chest, “not here” – and he pointed to his shoulders. (see al-Madaarij, 1/521)
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said, explaining the difference between the khushoo’ of true faith and the khushoo’ of hypocrisy: “The khushoo’ of true faith is when the heart feels aware and humble before the greatness and glory of Allah, and is filled with awe, fear and shyness, so that the heart is utterly humbled before Allah and broken, as it were, with fear, shyness, love and the recognition of the blessings of Allah and its own sins. So no doubt the khushoo’ of the heart is followed by the khushoo’ of the body. As for the khushoo’ of hypocrisy, it is something that is put on with a great show, but there is no khushoo’ in the heart. One of the Sahaabah used to say, ‘I seek refuge with Allah from the khushoo’ of hypocrisy.” It was said to him, ‘What is the khushoo’ of hypocrisy?’ He said, “When the body appears to have khushoo’ but there is no khushoo’ in the heart.’ The person who truly feels khushoo’ before Allah is a person who no long feels the flames of physical desire; his heart is pure and is filled with the light of the greatness of Allah. His own selfish desires have died because of the fear and awe which have filled his heart to overflowing so that his physical faculties have calmed down, his heart has become dignified and feels secure in Allah the remembrance of Him, and tranquility descends upon him from his Lord. So he has become humble (mukhbit) before Allah, and the one who is humble is the one who is assured. Land that is “mukhbit” is land that is low-lying, in which water settles, so the heart that is “mukhbit” is humble and content, like a low-lying spot of land into which water flows and settles. The sign of this is that a person prostrates to his Lord out of respect and humility, and never raises his head until he meets Him. The arrogant heart, on the other hand, is one that is content with its arrogance and raises itself up like an elevated portion of land in which water never settles. This is the khushoo’ of true faith.”
As for overdoing it, and the khushoo’ of hypocrisy, this is the attitude of a person who tries to make a great show of khushoo’, but deep down he is still filled with desires. So on the outside he appears to have khushoo’, but the snake of the valley and the lion of the forest reside within him, watching for prey. (Al-Rooh, p. 314, Daar al-Firk edn., Jordan).
“Khushoo’ in prayer happens when a person empties his heart for it (prayer), and focuses on it to the exclusion of all else, and prefers it to everything else. Only then does he find comfort and joy in it, as the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘… and my joy has been made in Salah.’” (Reported by Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 5/456. The hadeeth is in Musnad Ahmad, 3/128 and Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3124).
Allah has mentioned “al-khaashi’eena wa’l-khaashi’aat” (men and women who are humble (before their Lord)), and described this quality as one of the qualities of those who are chosen. He tells us that He has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e., Paradise). [See Surah al-Ahzaab 33:35].
One of the benefits of khushoo’ is that it makes prayer easier for a person. Allah tells us (interpretation of the meaning): “And seek help in patience and al-Salah (the prayer), and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for al-khaashi’oon [i.e., the true believers, those who obey Allah with full submission, fera much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise and in His Warnings]” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:45].
The meaning is that the burden of prayer is heavy indeed, except for those who have khushoo’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/125). Khushoo’ is very important, but it is something that is easily lost and is rarely seen, especially in our own times, which are the last times.
The Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The first thing to be lifted up (taken away) from this ummah will be khushoo’, until you will see no one who has khushoo’.” (Al-Haythami said in al-Majma’, 2/136: It was reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, and its isnaad is hasan. See also Saheeh alTargheeb, no. 543. He said it is saheeh).
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