Friday 17 June 2022

Our Lord !! Guide us on Aṣ-Ṣirāṭ al-Mustaqīm - The Straight Path

Today in our series of posts on Selected Invocations  (Dua / دُعا) from Qur'ān, we share a very short yet very powerful invocation  (Dua / دُعا) from Qur'ān which in fact is the essence of the whole Qur'ān. No other invocation is as strong as the 6th verse of the first Chapter Sürah Al-Fātiḥah. Although the entire chapter is an invocation itself, yet after invoking the very mercy of Allah, a Muslim must beseech his Creator to show him the Aṣ-Ṣirāṭ al-Mustaqīm - " الصراط المستقيم  " The Straight Path. 

Simply going by the translation, the Aṣ-Ṣirāṭ al-Mustaqīm - " الصراط المستقيم  " is just a Straight Path. But that is not what is meant by this invocation, not even in the most plain translation. If a believer truly understands the essence of this invocation and then remains steadfast, his entire life will transform into a life of truth and guidance, duly supervised by none other Allah Himself.
Allah tells the Muslims to be on the middle way, the straight path, and not to go upon the 'other paths', which Mujāhid said, it refers to innovations and doubtful matters. Doubtful, or disliked, matters are Makruh (Arabic: مكروه), and are not considered a sin, but as the grey area between good and evil. It is said that if you do the Makruh things, you will not be punished, but if you avoid them, Allah will reward you. [1]
In one of his lectures, eminent Muslim scholar compared Sirat al Mustaqim to a motorway. The straight path is just like a major motor way that may have many lanes, yet following the same motorway one reaches its destination. If en route, one accidently takes an exit, it is tantamount of being derailed from one's intended path and for getting back on to it, one has to make a detour of many extra miles and be on the main road again. Likewise, the straight guided path of Allah has not exits. If one gets on to the straight path and remains steadfast he is sure to be guided by Allah and helped to remain on the path despite distractions by the evil machinations of the Satan. The exits are like distractions by evil forces which one must avoid to be on the right path. If one gets distracted and takes an exit, then he has to carryout a whole lot of efforts by cleansing his heart and mind of those distracted ideas and be on the path of Allah once again. 

Thus it can be said that those follow the guidance contained in the Al Qur'an and Sunnah (teachings and way of life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ) will never get astray. The concluding part of the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stressed on Muslims to never leave the guidance provided by the Al Qur'an:

"I have left among you the Book of Allah, and if you hold fast to it, you would never go astray."
Let us go deeper into its meaning as many eminent Muslim scholars have tried to unfold its meaning and effect on the life of a true believer:

اِهۡدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِيۡمَۙ‏ 
(1:6) Direct us on to the Straight Way,
In fact in response to this invocation, And in response, Allah has revealed the whole Quran for our guidance to show us exactly what is the Siraat al Mustaqeem, what are the trials and tribulations, and what honor and reward awaits those who follow the Straight Path.

The very next verse qualifies which is the straight path:

صِرَاطَ الَّذِيۡنَ اَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ‏ غَيۡرِ الۡمَغۡضُوۡبِ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا الضَّآلِّيۡنَ
(1:7) The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace Those whose (portion) is not wrath and who go not astray.

That is that the Straight Path is the one on whom Allah bestowed His Grace, and not the path of those who played in hands of the Evil, and upon whom the wrath of Allah would befall on the Day of resurrection.
Every Muslim owes it to his Creator to read and understand the Message that was revealed for his guidance. If anyone deliberately does not want to understand the guidance, then he will be guilty in the Court of Allah. Allah will not accept the excuse that you believed so and so of the holy men and invoked them and did so many ziyaarat to their graves! There is one way and one way only, to understand which is the Path acceptable to Allah; and that is to read the Holy Quran with understanding! Once you have read the Holy Quran with understanding, Allah puts so much courage and wisdom in your hearts, that all the things that look strong and formidable today, are powerless, compared to the strength of Allah. [2]
Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi notes that by this innovation we beseech Allah to show us that way which may lead us aright in every walk of life and keep us absolutely free from errors and evil consequences and bring us success in the end." , This is the request which the servant of Allah makes to Him when he begins the study of the Qur'an. He prays to Him to guide him in every walk of life and save him from the labyrinths of doubt and uncertainty, which result from the lack of true knowledge. The servant also requests the Master to show him the right and the straight way of life from among the many by-paths and crooked ways.

The straight way for which we are praying is the way which has always been followed by the people favored by Thee and which has always brought Thy favors and blessings.

This is to show that the favored people are not those who go astray and incur the wrath of Allah, though apparently they might be enjoying the transitory good things of life. The really favored people are those who receive blessings on account of their righteous living. From this it also becomes clear that by favors are meant those real and permanent rewards, which result from righteous living and from winning the pleasure of Allah, and not those transitory good things of life which have been enjoyed even by the tyrants and worshipers of mammon and which are being enjoyed even today by all sorts of evildoers who have gone astray from the straight way.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
If we translate by the English word "guide," we shall have to say: "Guide us to and in the straight Way." For we many be wandering aimlessly, and the first step is to find the Way; and the second need is to keep in the Way: our own wisdom may fail in either case. The straight Way is often the narrow Way, or the steep Way, which many people shun (xc.11). By the world's perversity the straight Way is sometimes stigmatized and the crooked Way praised. How are we to judge? We must ask for God's guidance. With a little spiritual insight we shall see which are the people who walk in the light of God's grace, and which are those that walk in the darkness of Wrath. This also would help our judgment.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The verb اِهْدِنَا occurs here without the preposition اِلٰي. Thus, according to linguistic principles, the expression اِهۡدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِيۡمَ now does not simply mean “give us guidance.” More aspects are added to this; ie., “set our hearts on this path; instil in us the desire to tread this path, give us the resolve and determination to stay on this path and guide us in its ups and downs, and forever give us the urge to tread on it in this manner.”

The actual words are: اِهۡدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِهۡمَ. The article ال signifies عهد (definition). That is the straight path which has been explained in the next verse.

Qur'an Wiki:
With these words a believer pleads to be shown the Right Way and to be helped along it, which cannot be achieved without God’s guidance, care and mercy. To acknowledge that is in itself a recognition of God’s sovereignty and dominance over all things and events.
Guidance to the right way of life guarantees man’s happiness in this world and in the hereafter. It comes about, in effect, by guiding human nature and man’s instincts, desires and inspirations towards the recognition and comprehension of the divine will, so bringing human activity into rhythm with the natural order and the physical world.
The sūrah reveals the nature of the “straight path” as being one taken by those whom God has favoured, not the way of those who have earned His displeasure by their deviation from the Truth, nor that of the heedless who have no knowledge of the truth. It is the path of happiness and salvation.

We now share a very informative video on the subject by Abdur Raheem McCarthy, which clearly explains the very meaning of Aṣ-Ṣirāṭ al-Mustaqīm and how we as Muslims can follow it so that we not only please Allah but also being guided to Paradise, In Sha Allah, one day:
May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. May Allah help us remain steadfast and continue to be on the Aṣ-Ṣirāṭ al-Mustaqīm and let us not be distracted by the evil forces which may try their best to derail from this guided past and let us go astray. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Invocations / Dua " دُعا " from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Reference: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |
Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  

In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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