#137: Attaining Khusyuk When Praying in A Stadium

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. When attending a football match in a stadium and performing the prayer in an open space, I find it hard to focus. When having khusyuk is an important matter in prayer. I am asking for your advice on this issue.

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

We start with the statement of Allah SWT:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿١﴾ الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ

“Certainly, will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive.” [1]

Ibn Kathir when commenting on the above verse said: ‘Ali bin Abi Talhah narrated from Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma: “صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ” (they are the humbly submissive) are people who are fear Allah and full of calmness. From Ali bin Abi Talib RA: The khusyu’ meant here is the humbly submissive heart.

Hasan al-Basri said: “Their khusyuk is in their hearts where they lower their gaze in humble submission.” Khusyuk in prayer can only be attained when a person focuses his heart and forgets any other activities. At the time, calmness and contentment arise for him. [2]

It is narrated that this verse is revealed when the Prophet PBUH was praying and looking up. Hence this verse is revealed and the Prophet PBUH lowered his gaze towards his place of prostration. [3]

According to al-Baghawi, scholars differed in commenting on the meaning of khusyuk in Allah SWT’s statement “الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَThey who are during their prayer humbly submissive. However, they agreed that khusyuk is an important element for a high-quality prayer.

Among the opinions of companions and scholars related to the meaning of khusyuk are:

  • Ibnu ‘Abbas said: Calmness and humility (مخبتون أذلاء)
  • Ali bin Abi Talib RA said: Not turning to the right or left
  • Sa’id bin Jubair said: It is (a person who) doesn’t know who is on his left or right, he never turned for he’s khusyuk (facing towards) Allah ‘Azza wa Jalla.
  • ‘Amr bin Dinar said: it is calmness and beauty of his position (action)
  • Ibnu Sirin and others said: If you don’t look up from the place of your prostration.
  • Atha’ said: It is when you are not occupied moving your body in prayer.
  • Al-Hasan (Al-Basri) and Qatadah said: (They are) those who fear Allah (متواضعون)
  • Mujahid said: It is lowering one’s gaze and voice (غض البصر وخفض الصوت).
  • There are those who state, khusyuk in prayer is: Gathering concentration (in performing the actions in prayer) and turning away from his other affairs as well as reflecting on the meaning of the recitation and dhikr recited. [4]

Here, we’ll also present several scholars opinions in defining khusyuk:

  • Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah said: Khusyuk is: A heart that stands in front of Allah with humility and obedience.
  • Imam Junaid Al-Baghdadi said: Khusyuk is; feeling of humility in one’s heart in front of the All-Knowing who knows the unseen matters. [5]
  • Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali also gave an interesting definition of khusyuk. He said: The origin of khusyuk is a delicate, calm and firm heart. [6]
  • Al-Syaukani when commenting on this verse said: Some scholars include (khusyuk) as a part of the action of the heart such as fear and apprehension. While others said it is a part of the action of the body such as calmness in prayer, not moving here and there and not doing any useless movements in prayer. Lexically, it means calmness, tawadhu’ (humility), fear and subservient. [7]

According to Syeikh Muhammad Rasyid Ridha, the meaning of khusyuk in prayer is the result of a sahih belief (iman) which helps his actions to follow his belief. Khusyuk is a result of the feeling of kasyatullah in the heart until it overflows to one’s actions, feelings and calm and submissive gaze. Whilst khusyuk with one’s voice is through the melodious voice and mellow language the same as khusyuk in other body parts. [8]

In a hadith narrated from Ammar bin Yasir, he prayers two rakaat and simplified it. Then Abd al-Rahman bin Harith said to him: O Abu al-Yaqazan, I saw you simplified them both. He replied: Doubt came to me and indeed, I heard Rasullullah PBUH said:

إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لِيُصَلِّي الصَّلاَةَ ، وَلَعَلَّهُ لاَ يَكُونُ لَهُ مِنْهَا إِلاَّ عُشْرُهَا ، أَوْ تُسْعُهَا ، أَوْ ثُمُنُهَا ، أَوْ سُبُعُهَا ، أَوْ سُدْسُهَا حَتَّى أَتَى عَلَى الْعَدَدِ

“Indeed, a person praying, there may be nothing left from him (understanding and khusyuk in prayer) except the remaining 1/10 or 1/0 or 1/8 or 1/7 or 1/6 that doubt reaches the number of rakaat.” [9]

It should be understood that khusyuk can be divided into two:

  • Khusyuk of the heart is the presence of someone’s heart while praying, focused facing Allah SWT bringing the love for Him, Honouring Him and fearing His punishment and hoping His rewards until he feels close to Him with a calm heart full of reflection, understanding everything that he recites and perform in prayer. Khusyuk of the heart gives birth to the khusyuk of the body, for it is the basis of khusyuk.
  • Khusyuk of the body is calm in actions in prayer, minding the manners and is not hasty in reciting dhikr and supplication, lowering the gaze towards the place of prostration, not looking up or other direction that is distracting and is not busied with useless movements.

According to the above opinion of several scholars, we can conclude the definition of khusyuk to be: Khusyuk is the action of the heart which includes fear, humility, submission in front of Allah in showcasing the actions of the body such as calmness in prayer, not turning left and right as well as lowering one’s gaze during prayer.

Attaining Khusyuk When Praying in Places Such as a Stadium

After we present the opinions of previous scholars regarding khusyuk in prayer, thus, regarding the issue presented, we state the following:

First: We applaud your concern for although in an environment where spirits run high and enthusiasm of supporting our favourite soccer team, however, we never forget our responsibility as Allah SWT’s slaves to devote ourselves to him. Hopefully, the attitude you show will be an example to all of your friends. We are reminded of the statement of Allah SWT:

وَإِذَا كُنتَ فِيهِمْ فَأَقَمْتَ لَهُمُ الصَّلَاةَ

“And when you are among them and lead them in prayer, let a group of them stand [in prayer]” [10]

Although the verse is regarding prayer during a battle, however among the lessons we can take is that no matter how difficult the situation is, prayer is prioritized.

Second: If you are capable to perform the prayer at the beginning time of prayer, then this is best to avoid a feeling of debt towards Allah in performing prayer. If this can be done, then we’ll be from amongst those who attain the best deeds based on a hadith of the Prophet PBUH, from Ummu Farwah R.Anha, he said:

سُئِلَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَيُّ الأَعْمَالِ أَفْضَلُ ؟ قَالَ : الصَّلاَةُ فِي أَوَّلِ وَقْتِهَا

“Which of the actions is best? He replied: Observing prayer early in its period.” [11]

Third: Try your best to perform prayer in congregation. This will result in a 27 times level of increment. So true is the hadith from Ibn Umar R.Anhum, Rasullullah PBUH said:

صَلاَةُ الْجَمَاعَةِ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ صَلاَةِ الْفَذِّ بِسَبْعٍ وَعِشْرِينَ دَرَجَةً

“The prayer offered in congregation is twenty-seven degrees more rewardable than a prayer offered by a single person.” [12]

Alhamdulillah, in 2019 (when I was still the Federal Territories Mufti), during the Suzuki AFF Cup match between Malaysia and Vietnam which was held in the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, Mufti of the Federal Territories Office sent a group of officers to measure the qibla and handle the congregational Maghrib prayer. Alhamdulillah, the effort received an encouraging response from all.

Fourth: Invite your friends to pray together. This is one of the best forms of dakwah so that each of you will receive blessings of Allah SWT in life. It is also a great sunnah that will be rewarded later in the hereafter by Allah SWT.

Fifth: Try to understand the meaning of prayer and the recitation and movements in prayer including the wisdoms and purpose of it as discussed by scholars.

Sixth: Make Muslim sports figures who always maintain their prayers as your examples. We see how committed and consistent our national football players are in performing the worship of prayer. This, we experienced ourselves with them when it was the peak of the semi-final, they prayed in one of the hotels. If in the critical time, they are still performing their Maghrib prayer, thus, us just as the spectators are prioritized to fulfil the obligation.

Seventh: We cite the advice of hujjatul Islam, Imam al-Ghazali regarding the methods to attain khusyuk in prayer. He stated the meaning of khusyuk as:

  • Hudhur al-Qalb (presence of the heart) is emptying one’s heart from anything he is doing.
  • Tafahum is understanding the meaning of what is recited.
  • Ta’zim is respect followed by humility and fear towards Allah.
  • Haibah means honouring Allah on His strength, ability and sovereignty.
  • Raja’ (hope) is our clear and great realization of the luthf and the love of Allah is immense which includes His charitability and blessings.
  • Haya’ (shyness) is the effort to ensure that his prayer is accepted or good enough. [13]

Closing

We close this discussion by once again emphasizing how the issue of khusyuk is one of the most important matters in a Muslim’s life. We borrow the words of Allamah Syeikh Tahir Ibn ‘Asyur, who said: Khusyuk is the sincerity of the heart as well as what is seen. Included in the meaning of khusyuk is “ihsan” as explained by the “Gabriel’s hadith”, Ihsan is “You pray to Allah as though you see hi and if you don’t (as though) see Him, hence, (it’s certain that) He sees you.” [14]

May Allah SWT makes us amongst those who always obey Him the best we could and we end with the supplication taught by Rasullullah PBUH to his companion, Muaz bin Jabal RA:

اللَّهُمَّ أَعِنِّي عَلَى ذِكْرِكَ ، وَشُكْرِكَ ، وَحُسْنِ عِبَادَتِكَ

“O Allah, help me to remember You and thank You and help me to the best manner of worshipping You.” [15]

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] (Surah al-Mukminun: 1-2)

[2] See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 5/110

[3] See al-Tafsir al-Munir fi al-‘Aqidah wa al-Syari’ah wa al-Manhaj, 9/329

[4] See Ma’alim al-Tanzil, 5/408

[5] See Madarij al-Salikin, 1/521

[6] See al-Khusyu’ fi al-Solat, Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, pg. 17

[7] See Fath al-Qadir, 1/977

[8] See Tafsir al-Manar, 1/301

[9] Narrated by Ahmad (18398) and Ibnu Hibban (1889)

[10] Surah al-Nisa’ (102)

[11] Narrated by Abu Daud (426)

[12] Narrated by Muslim (1409)

[13] See Ihya’ Ulum al-Din1/161-162

[14] See al-Tahrir wa al-Tanwir, 11/257

[15] Narrated by Abu Daud (1522)

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