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      Tafseer - Explanation of the Qur'aan

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        ·           The saying of the Exalted, "Guide us to the Straight Path"

 Composition - After praising Allah, the servant then proceeds to ask of Him from His bounty and blessings. This is the most virtuous way of asking Allah by first praising Him and then asking of Him.

 Narrated Fudaalah bin Ubaid (radiyallahu anhu): "The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) heard a man supplicating in prayer. He did not glorify Allah and neither did he invoke blessings on the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam). The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said, "he made haste." He then named him and said to him or to those around him, "if any one of you prays, he should commence by glorifying his Lord and praising Him; he should invoke peace and blessings on the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) and thereafter he should supplicate Allah for anything he wishes." [Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 1/390 no. 1476], at-Tirmidhee [no. 3476], an-Nasaa`ee [3/44], Ahmad [6/18] and others with a hasan isnaad. Refer to the notes of F. Zamrali to ‘at-Targheeb fee ad-Du`aa’ [pg. 11].

 Ways that lead the Supplication answered

 Al-Haafidh ibn al-Qayyim explains the causes that lead to ones supplication being answered in a beautiful way saying. "When the servant combines in his supplication presence of the heart and its being attentive and devoting itself solely to Allah, sincerely asking Him for the desired matter, doing so at one of the six times when the supplication is more likely to answered - these being:

        ¨         The last third of the night.

       ¨         At the time of the adhaan.

       ¨         Between the adhaan and iqaamah.

       ¨         At the ends of the prescribed prayers.

       ¨         From the time the Imaam ascends the pulpit to the time the prayer has finished on the day of Jumu`ah.

       ¨         The last hour after the prayer Asr. [1]

Alongside, this the servant appends to this fear and reverence in the heart, beseeching his Lord in a state of humility and submissiveness. He faces the Qiblah and is in a state of purity, he raises his hands to Allah and begins by praising and extolling Him, then he invokes peace and blessings upon Muhammad, His servant and Messenger (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam). He proceeds mentioning his need by seeking forgiveness from Allah and then he earnestly and sincerely makes his request as one who is needy and impoverished, supplicating to Him out of hope and fear. He seeks the means of getting close to Him by mentioning His Names and Attributes and making the religion sincerely for Him Alone. Before making supplication he gives in charity. If all this is done then this supplication will never be rejected especially if the servant employs the supplications that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) informed us would be accepted or if his supplication includes mention of Allah’s Greatest Name. [Ibn al-Qayyim, ‘ad-Daa`u wa ad-Dwaa`u’ [pp. 13-14]

Meaning of the word Hidaayah - The word ‘hidaayah’, linguistically meaning in two senses is used in the Qur'aan: (only) direction and (conformed) guidance

 1. Guidance of direction and clarification. With this respect is the saying of Allah:

"And as for the Thamud We guided (hadainah) them through our Messenger, but they preferred blindness over guidance." [Soorah Fussilaat (41): 17]

Meaning: We made clear to them the True Way upon the tongue of our Prophet Saalih (alaihi as-salaam),, "but they preferred blindness over guidance."

Indeed, We guided (hadainah) him, whether he be grateful or ungrateful." [Soorah Al-Insaan (76): 3]

 Meaning: We have made clear to him the Way of Good and the Way of Evil as proven by His saying, "whether he be grateful or ungrateful."

 2. The specific type of guidance which is Allah bestowing His Grace upon the servant by making him conforms to the Way of Truth - With this respect is His sayings: "They are the ones whom Allah guided (hada Allah), so follow their guidance." [Soorah Al-An`aam (6): 90]

 "And whosoever Allah Wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islaam." [Soorah Al-An`aam (6): 125]

When you come to understand this then any difficulties in understanding the following sayings of Allah will also be removed: "Indeed! You [O Muhammad] cannot guide those you love, but Allah guides whom He Wills."                       [(28): 56]

 "And indeed you [O Muhammad] are guiding [mankind] to the Straight Path." [Soorah Ash-Shuraa (42): 52]

Because the aspect of guidance that has been negated is the specific guidance as this is in the Hands of Allah Alone. As for the aspect of guidance that has been affirmed then it is the general guidance which is to make clear the Way of Truth. And the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) explained this to the extent that it became like a great white plain whose night is like its day. [Referring to the hadeeth, "I have left you upon the great white plain, its night is like its day, none deviates from it except he who is destroyed."]

What is the Straight Path?
The meaning of the Straight path is manifested by our Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) as narrated Nawaas bin Sam`aan (radiyallahu anhu): "The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said: “Allah has set forth the following as a parable: There is a road that leads straight to the destination. On either side of the road there is a wall in which there are open doors with curtains hanging on them. From the remote end of the road, a voice calls, ‘proceed straight and do not turn aside.’ Whenever someone intends to lift a curtain from the door another voice calls from above, ‘beware! Do not lift the curtain, otherwise you will be lured inside.”

The Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) explained the parable by saying that the straight path is Islam, the walls are the limits imposed by Allah. The open doors are the things that he has prohibited, the voice which calls from the end of the road is the Qur`aan and the voice which calls from above is Allah's monitor in the heart of every believer.” [At-Tirmidhee [Adaab, # 76], Ahmad [4/182-183]. Declared saheeh by al-Albaanee in ‘Saheeh al-Jaami`’ [no. 3887]

        ¨         Why is one supplicating for guidance to the Straight Path when a Muslim is already regarded to be on the Straight Path?

Shaykh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah says: The case mentioned above is similar to what some of them ask concerning His saying, "guide us to the Straight Path" [Soorah Al-Faatihah (1): 6] saying: ‘Allah has already guided the believer, so what benefit is there in seeking guidance?’ Then some of them reply by saying that the meaning is ‘keep us firm upon guidance’ as the Arab would say to the one who is asleep, ‘sleep until I come to you’. Others from amongst them say that the meaning is, ‘keep our hearts firm upon the guidance’ and that the request for firmness has been omitted. Yet others from amongst them say that it means, ‘increase me in guidance.’

This question really occurs due to the absence of their contemplating upon the Straight Path to which the servant seeks guidance to: for the meaning of the verse is seeking guidance to act according to what Allah ordered, and leave what He forbade in all matters.

 This is because the person, even if he has believed that Muhammad (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) is the Messenger of Allah and that the Qur`aan is the truth in a general way, is commonly in need of knowledge of that which would benefit him and harm him. He is in need of knowledge concerning what he has been commanded to do and forbidden from doing in the finer aspects of the matters and in those areas of which he has no knowledge.

 Not only this but we find that of which he has knowledge, he does not put the greater part of his knowledge into practice! Assuming that all of the commands and prohibitions contained in the Qur`aan and Sunnah have reached him.

Secondly, Qur`aan and the Sunnah contain laws that are general and universal for which it is not possible to specify to every individual person - therefore the person has been commanded due to the likes of this, to ask for guidance to the Straight Path.

 Guidance to the Straight Path includes all of the following matters: cognizance (knowledge and understanding) of what the Messenger (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) came with in detail. Cognizance of what comes under his general orders and concern (hastiness) for acting according to one’s knowledge for indeed, just having knowledge is not a cause for attaining guidance unless he does not act according to his knowledge.

This is why Allah said to His Prophet after the treaty of Hudaybiyyah: "Indeed We have given you a manifest victory. That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and future, complete His Favor upon you, and guide you on a Straight Path." [Soorah al-Fath (48): 1-2]

Allah also said with respect to Moses and Haroon (alaihi as-salaam), "and We gave them the clear Scripture, and guided them to the Right Path" [Soorah As-Saaffaat (37): 117-118]

The Muslims have differed as to what Allah Willed from the textual matters - matters of knowledge, belief and action, while all of them are agreed that Muhammad (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) is the truth and the Qur`aan is the truth. If all of them were to have attained guidance to the Straight Path in totality then they would never have differed.

Furthermore, the majorities of those who know what Allah has ordered disobey Him and do not follow His Way. If they were guided to the Straight Path in these matters then they certainly would have performed what they had been commanded to do, and left what they had been forbidden from.

As for those whom Allah guided from amongst this nation until they became from the God-Fearing Friends of Allah, then the greatest reason for this was their supplicating to Allah with this supplication (guide us to the Straight Path) in every prayer along with the knowledge of their continuous need of Allah that He guide them on the Straight Path. So, due to their continuous supplication (i.e. Guide us to the Straight Path) and acknowledgment of the need of Allah, they became God-Fearing Friends of Allah. Sahl bin Abdullaah at-Tustoree said, ‘there is not route between a servant and Allah closer to Him then need.’

The one who have attained guidance in the past is in need of guidance in the future, this is the real meaning behind the saying of those who say that it means: ‘establish us and guide us to being firm upon the Straight Path.’ The opinion of those who say that it means ‘increase us in guidance’ includes what has proceeded.

But all that has been stated, refers to His guidance to the Straight Path that is to be granted in the future, for indeed action in the future is upon knowledge that is not yet attained. And the person is not considered to be one who is guided until he acts according to his knowledge in the future, but it is possible that this knowledge not be there in the future, rather it could be removed from the heart, and if it still be there it is also possible that it not be acted upon.

Therefore, all of mankind is in dire need of this supplication, this is why Allah made it obligatory upon them in every prayer and they are not in need of any other supplication as they are of this one.

When guidance is obtained to the Straight Path then help, provision and all of the happiness that the soul seeks are obtained [from Allah]. Allah knows best.  [Ibn Taymiyyah, ‘Diseases of the Heart and their Cures’ [Eng. Trans., pp. 44-47]. The original text is to be found in his ‘Majmoo Fataawaa’ [10/ 91-138]

We Learn - From the above verse we also learn that the Straight Path is one path and not many and indeed that anything that deviates from it is to be regarded as misguidance.

In another narration it is reported “… then he recited "And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not [other] paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This He has ordained for you that you may become pious." [Soorah Al-An`aam (6): 153] [2]

Abdur-Rahmaan bin Mahdee said "Maalik bin Anas (Sahabi) had been asked about the Sunnah to which he replied, ‘it is whatever has no other name for it except ‘the Sunnah’ & he recited. "‘& Verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, & follow not [other] paths, for they will separate you away from His Path.’ [6: 153]

Mujaahid [Taabaiee' - Student of Ibn Abbas] said about the saying of Allah: "…and follow not [other] paths." [Al-An`aam (6): 153] [That it refers to] "The innovations and doubts."

He said, "explanation of the path - meaning the one who is justly balanced between exaggeration and negligence," and this shows that the one who turns aside is one who commits excesses or is negligent, and both of them are amongst the descriptions of the innovations."

The explained path is the Path of Truth and that which is other than it, turns away from the truth - and these are the paths of innovations and misguidance - may Allah protect us, by His Excellence.

[1] These are some of the situations when the supplication is accepted… some more of them being… Laylat al-Qadr, the middle of the night, at times of call of obligatory prayer, while drinking the water from the well of Zam-Zam, Aat the time of reciting Soorah Faatihah and being mindful of its meaning, During Prostration, The Du'aa of a  Muslim brother without the latter's knowledge, Du'aa when someone's heart is focused on Allah and he is filled with sincerity, a parents du'aa for his children … etc. [Refer to 'the Book of Du'aa' - Shiekh Hussain al-Awaaishah]

[2] Ismaa`eel has narrated from Sulaimaan bin Harb lies evidence for this: Hammaad bin Zaid narrated to us; from `Aasim bin Bahdalah; from Abu Waa`il; from Abdullaah [Ibn Abbaas]

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