By Ibn Rajab
The basic meaning of khushu’ is softness of the heart; it being gentle, still, submissive, broken, and yearning. The Messenger of Allah said, “Of a surety there is a morsel of flesh in the body, if it is sound, the whole body will be sound; but if it is corrupt, the whole body will be corrupt. It is the heart.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
When the heart is humble, so too is the hearing, seeing, head, and face; indeed all the limbs and their actions are humbled, even speech. This is why the Prophet would say in his bowing, “My hearing, sight, bones, and marrow are humbled to You.” (Muslim) Another narration has, “And whatever my foot carries.” (Ahmad) One of the Pious Predecessors saw a man fidgeting in his prayer and remarked, “If the heart of this person was humble, so too would his limbs be.” This is reported by Hudhayfah and Sa’id ibn Al-Musayyib, and it is also reported from the Prophet, but it is not authentic.
Mas’udi reports on the authority of a person who narrated to him that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib said concerning Allah statement, “Those who are humble in their prayer.” (Q, 23:2) “It refers to the humility of the heart, that you soften your shoulder for a Muslim, and that you do not look here and there in your prayer.” ‘Ata’ ibn al-Sa’ib reported on the authority of a person that ‘Ali said, “Khushu’ refers to the humility of the heart and that you do not look left or right.” ‘Ali ibn Abu Talhah narrated that ibn ‘Abbas said in commentary to the above verse, “Those who are fearful and still.” Ibn Shawdhab narrated that al-Hasan said, “Humility had taken root in their hearts so their gazes were lowered and their limbs became subservient.” Mansur reported that Mujahid said, “The foundation of khushu’ is in the heart and quietude in prayer.” Layth narrated that Mujahid said, “Part of it is that the limbs become subservient and the gaze is lowered. When the Muslim stands for prayer, the fear of his Lord would prevent him from turning left and right.” ‘Ata’ al-Khurasani said, “Khushu’ refers to the humility of the heart and the subservience of the limbs.” Zuhri said, “It is the quietude of the servant in his prayer.” Qatadah said, “The khushu’ of the heart refers to fear and lowering the gaze in prayer.” Ibn Abu Nujahy narrated that Mujahid said concerning the words of Allah, “Humbling themselves to Us.” (Q, 21:90) it is “being humble and meek.”
Allah has described the earth as having khushu’ in the following, “Among His sings is that you see the earth laid bare and then when We send down water on it, it quivers and swells.” (Q, 41:39)
The meaning of its quivering and swelling is that its bareness and stillness (khushu’) has been removed and in its place vegetation grows. This, then shows that the khushu’ that it has was stillness, lowness, and lack of growth. The same applies to the heart. When it has khushu’, its base desires and thoughts, which arise from the carnal lusts, are laid to rest, and it breaks and submits to Allah. Khushu’ replaces the hearts remoteness, haughtiness, arrogance, and lordliness. When it settles in the heart, the limbs, organs, and motions—even the voice—are stilled. Allah has stated that voices have khushu’ in the following statement, “Voices will be humbled before the All Merciful, and nothing but a whisper will be heard.” (Q, 20:108) The humility of the voices refers to it being still and quieted after being clamorous.
In a similar vein, Allah has described the faces and sight of the disbelievers with khushu’ on the day of Rising. This then proves that all of these limbs can have khushu’.