To achieve full focus (khushu) and sincerity (ikhlas) and block out thoughts of our daily affairs during salah is a generally struggle,. This is precisely why we start our prayer with takbirat-ul-ihram, to focus our minds on what we are saying, doing and reciting in our prayer, to grasp the meanings of the verses that we are reciting.
Khushu in worship is required. Allah Almighty tells us:
‘And stand up in your prayer with submissiveness.’ (2:238)
In the beginning of Surah al Muminun, Allah Almighty praises those that are fully focused on their prayer:
Successful are the believers.
Those who are humble in their prayers. (23:1-2)
When we attain this khushu we communicate fully with Allah Almighty. Boost your khushu by putting aside dunya, gadgets and other distractions to concentrate on your prayer and your communication with Allah Almighty. This will also improve your communication with people around you in your everyday life.
When you are fully connected with Allah Almighty without doubt it reflects in your character, family and work. Wherever you go, you have a sense of tranquillity in your heart from this connection with Allah Almighty which can be felt by those around you. They will see a permanent change in you and notice the difference when you are connected to Allah Almighty in this way. For instance, you may come across as more serene.
Remaining focus during extended worship
Different forms of worship(ibadah) vary in length – for instance, fasting starts at Fajr and ends at sunset, whereas Hajj is the longest amongst all ouribadahand is unrelated to sunrise and sunset. How do you maintain focus when theibadahis unbroken for so long? This is where wearing ihram and reciting the talbiyahform part of your worship of Allah Almighty during Hajj. White clothes are a reflection of purity of intention, communication and connection with Allah Almighty and purity of the heart, tongue and ibadah in seeking Allah’s pleasure. You are saying: ‘I don’t want to go back with same heart, spirit and inspiration.’ You don’t want to return renewed.
Just as salah continues until you turn to do the salaam, keep thinking about Allah Almighty throughout Hajj, and while you are in ihram. Allah Almighty wants you to experience something new in Hajj. You are in a state of worship in ihram even though you are communicating with those around you, so refrain from obscenity and arguing because you are performing a continuous act of worship. You would not commit obscenities or argue in salah.
Our main focus in our journey is how to improve our connection with Allah Almighty and forget the dunya around us. When you look at the ihram that you are wearing you realise that you have been forced to cast off nice clothes and trained instead to shift your attention to Allah Almighty while walking, sleeping, or even when communicating with others. Hajj also trains us to control our anger and not criticise anything because our aim should not be shifted from seeking the pleasure of Allah Almighty.
Think to yourself: ‘In my journey I should not be focused on anything except Allah Almighty’ and forget anything that happens around you and focus fully on doing salah, recitation of the Qur’an and remembrance (dhikr). This trains your heart, mind and character to be better with Allah Almighty first and then with people.
Forgiveness on the Day of Arafah
A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported Allah’s Messenger peace be on him) said:
There is no day when God sets free more servants from Hell than the Day of Arafah. He draws near, then praises them to the angels, saying, ‘What do these want?’ (Muslim)
There are many days across the year that Allah Almighty releases people from hell. However, during the day of Arafah, Allah Almighty releases more people than throughout the whole year.
He descends from the heavens i.e. He will send down the angels as His agents and they will be amongst us. It is the day of forgiveness. He says to the angels:
‘Look at them they have come from different places, with different hopes and wishes, but all dishevelled and I have forgiven all of them.’ (Bayhaqi)
The angels say but so and so person did such and such and Allah Almighty will say:
‘I’ll forgive them. They came all the way to seek My Forgiveness, so be my witness that I have forgiven them.’ (Bayhaqi)
The Prophet (peace be on him) advised us to behave in the right way by saying:
‘Whoever controlled their tongue, hearing and sight he will be forgiven.’ (Musnad Ahmad)
The Prophet (peace be on him) told us of three conditions to receive forgiveness:
1. Control your tongue
2. Control your hearing
3. Control your sight
If you behave accordingly you will be forgiven. Show Allah Almighty your need and desperation for His forgiveness as well as your wishes. Another narration states, Abu Hurairah said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:
The pilgrims performing Hajj and Umrah are a delegation to Allah. If they call upon Him, He will answer them; and if they ask for His forgiveness, He will forgive them. (Ibn Majah)
The Prophet (peace be on him) used a special supplication on Yawm Arafah: ‘Laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahu laa shareeka lahu lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa Huwa ‘alaa kulli shay’in Qadeer’.
None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone, without partner. To Him belongs sovereignty and all praise and He is over all things omnipotent.
Every single second on this day is for us to utilise and benefit from it.
Physical and spiritual journey to Allah
Focus on how to change and connect with Allah Almighty. This is a journey to Allah Almighty not to a time or space. Forget about the dunya in Hajj. Just as in fasting you are forced to change your routine, Hajj also changes your habits and puts Allah Almighty at the forefront of your concerns. You may not live to complete this Hajj or perform another. Make the best of the time that you have here. Make your heart fully focused on the remembrance of Allah Almighty. Make your tongue busy in the remembrance of Allah Almighty. Whatever is in your heart will be reflected by your tongue. Ask Him for all your needs. You will be granted whatever you ask for.
Hit the delete button and start fresh
Allah Almighty looks to our hearts and sees them busy with dunya in which we are immersed. Empty your heart from dunya and fill your heart with love of Allah Almighty. Go to your hard disk and delete everything and install a new program that is the love of Allah Almighty. Your heart has to be filled with Allah Almighty with no space for any other on the hard disk. Today delete all the old files and fill your heart with Allah’s love. If can’t do this then pretend or fake it until you will eventually get it Insha’Allah. Be sincere and Allah Almighty will open your heart. A sensitive heart is reflected by tears in your eyes. If you have no tears it shows that there is something wrong in your heart. Tears are the purification of your heart.
This is your chance – you have been selected. Grasp this opportunity and don’t ruin it with pettiness. Be focused and sincere. Sincerity will change your life and it creates miracles. Be sincere. Allah Almighty Alhamdulillah enabled you to come and you came.
May Allah Almighty help us to change our hearts and be the best in character when we return. Use this opportunity to change yourself. Try. If you don’t feel change, go back to Him. Be very sincere and He WILL change your life. The heart of Hajj is Arafah and the day of Arafah is full of mercy and blessings. Perform your worship with full sincerity (ikhlas). Ask Allah Almighty to change your character to be amongst those with the best hearts. Arafah is the best day, so be the best people on the best day and have the best heart and the best deeds on that day.