(6) اِهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ المُسْتَقِيمَ
" Guide us (O' Lord) on the Straight Path."
the state of worship, and asking for help from Him, the first thing that the servant seeks is His guidance to the ' Straight Path ', the path of the righteous, the path of Justice, and the path of Faith and good deeds. So, he asks the Lord, Who has bestowed on him all of these bounties, to give him the bounty of 'guidance', too.
Such a man, in the above stated condition, is a believing one who is acquainted with the Lordship of his Lord, but it is possible, too, that suddenly he would cease to receive this bounty because of some component of wickedness, and, consequently, he would stray from the Right Path.
Therefore, he must ask his Lord, at least ten times a day, to protect him from any kind of aberration.
Moreover, this ' Straight Path ', which is the very Divine creed, has some stages. All people are not on the same level of spiritual preparedness necessary for attaining these stages. Whatever stages a person attains, there are still some higher stages above them that a believing servant might ask Allah to guide him to reach.
Here, a question arises: " Why must we always ask Allah for guidance to 'the Straight Path', as if we are being misguided ? ".
Besides, supposing the statement is true about us, the ordinary believers, but what about the holy Prophet and sinless Imams (p.b.u.th.) who were the examples of complete human beings ? In answer to this question, we may say :
Firstly, the fact is that Man is liable to deviate from the Right Path with each step that he takes as he is walking along the path of guidance. So, he should rely on Allah and ask Him to keep him firm on the 'Straight Path'.
We must not forget that our existence, our being, and all the bounties which always come to us, are from His Origin. To clarify the matter, we cite a simple example :
All creatures, including human beings, (from one point of view) resemble an electric lamp. We see that the light of a lamp, when it is on, appears to be constant and monotonous. The reason is that the electrical current flows constantly from a generator to the lamp. The generator continuously produces some new electrical power, a part of which reaches the lamp by some connective wires. Our being is similar
to the lamp. Although it appears as a sustained being, it is, in fact, a continually renewed being that flows ceaselessly to us from the Original Being, the Bountiful Creator.
Therefore, as the continually new being reaches us, we need constant new guidance, too. It is natural that if something wrong or some barriers manifest themselves in our spiritual connective wires with Allah; the vices, injustice, wrong doings, etc., will disrupt our connection with the Origin of guidance. At that moment, we may deviate from the ' Straight Path '.
We ask Allah that these barriers be removed and not obstruct our way that we may remain steadfast along the ' Straight Path '.
Secondly, receiving 'guidance' is the same as travelling the path of 'development' along which man can gradually promote from lower degrees to higher and higher ones.
We also know that the path of development is endless and continues towards 'infinity'.
So, it is no wonder that even the prophets and sinless Imams (p.b.u.th.) ask Allah to guide them to the ' Straight Path ', because the Absolute Perfection is Allah and all of us, without any exception, are on the path of perfection, then it is acceptable that they, too, ask Him for higher promotions.
Do we not often send greetings to the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) by the special formula of ' Salawat ' ? Does ' Salawat ' not have the meaning of requesting new blessings from Allah for Prophet Mohammad and his descendants (p.b.u.th.) ?
Is it not expressed in the Qur'an regarding the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) who used to say: "... O' my Lord ! advance me in knowledge ", (Sura Taha, No. 20, verse 114) ?
Does the Holy Qur'an not say: " And Allah doth advance in guidance those who seek guidance...,(Sura Maryam, No. 19,verse 19) ? And, again, does it not say : " But to those who receive guidance, He increases the (light of) Guidance, and bestows on them their piety and restraint (from evil) ", (Sura Muhammad, No. 47, verse 17) ?
This explanation makes clear the answer to the question regarding the benediction which we recite for the Prophet and the sinless Imams (p.b.u.th.) by which we beseech Allah, in fact, for a higher and better
position for them all (p.b.u.th.) .
Here are two traditions which make the above idea clearer :
Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) commenting on the verse 'Guide us (O' Lord) on the Straight Path ', says: " It means: '(O' Lord) continue bestowing Your blessings on us as You did during the days passed by which we succeeded to obey You, so that we can obey You in the future of our lives, too ' ".(1)
Imam Sadiq(a.s.) has said about the verse: " It means: '(O' Lord) show us the way which ends in Your love, leads us to Your Paradise, and prevents us from following our destructive desires or our own wrong and destroying decisions ' ".(2)
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What is the ' Straight Path ' ?
According to what is understood from the verses of the Holy Qur'an, the 'Straight Path' is the same as the 'Monotheistic Creed'; the religion of Truth and the belief in the instructions of Allah, as Sura Al-'An'am, No. 6, verse 161 says: " Say: ' Verily, my Lord hath guided me to a way that is straight,ö a religion of right,ö the path (trod) by Abraham the true in faith, and he (certainly) joined not gods with Allah '."
Here, 'a religion of right' and 'the theistic path of Abraham (a.s.) as the true faith', in which he called on no god but Allah, are introduced as the ' Straight Path '. This shows 'the belief' aspect.
But, Sura Yasin, No. 36, verses 60 and 61 say: " Did I not enjoin on you, O' ye children of Adam, that ye should not worship Satan; for that he is to you an enemy avowed ? " " And that ye should worship Me, (for that) this is the Straight Way ? " These verses, here, point to the 'practical' aspects of the 'religion of truth'. They urge us not to commit any Satanic deed or any wrong action.
Clinging to Allah, the Qur'an says, is the key to reaching the 'Straight Path': "... Whoever holds firmly to Allah will be shown a Way that is straight ", (Sura 'Al-i-'Imran, No. 3, verse 101) .
It is necessary to mention this point, that the ' Straight
(1) Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 92, p. 254;and. Tafsir us-Safi, vol.1, p.72 (2) Ma'ani-ul-Akhbar, p. 484
Path ' is always only one way, not more than that, because the shortest distance between two points is always only one straight line.
Therefore, when the Qur'an says that the ' Straight Path ' is the very true belief in the Divine religion with its moral and practical aspects, it is because it is the shortest route to a spiritual connection with Allah.
And it is also for this same reason that 'the religion of truth' is not more than one: " The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will) ...", (Sura 'Al-i-'Imran, No. 6, verse 153) .
Later it will be made evident that 'Islam' has a vast meaning which envelops all the monotheistic religions that were lawful at their own times but were nullified by the new one. Thus, it clarifies that all different commentaries that commentators have cited on the matter, i.e. the' Straight Path ', refer, indeed, to the same thing.
Islam, the Pure Unity, Qur'an, the Prophet, and his vicegerents (p.b.u.th.) , are some explications that commentators have offered for the meaning of the ' Straight Path '. All of the stated explications refer to the Divine religion in the aspects of ' Faith ' and 'practice'.
Also all of the various narrations and traditions cited on the subject in the Islamic sources, each of which points to a separate dimension of the question, in substance, refer to one essence. Some examples are as follows :
It is narrated from the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) who has said: " The 'Straight Path' is the path of prophets and they are those on whom Allah hath bestowed His Grace ". (3)
Here are three traditions from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) , who, when commenting on this verse, said: " It is the 'way' and the 'cognizance' of Imamate ". (1)
Again, in another tradition, he (a.s.) says : " By Allah, we (Ahlul-Bait) are the ' Straight Path ' ".(2)
Another tradition from the same Imam (a.s.) says: " The ' Straight
(1) Nur-uth-Thaqalayn, vol. 1, p. 20, tradition 86 (2) ibid, p. 21, tradition 88 (3) Ibid, tradition 89
Path ' is Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) ".(1)
Ahmad-ibn-Mohammad-ibn-Ibrahim Al-Tha'labi, a Sunni scholar, has narrated from Abu-Buraydah Al-Aslami, who was one of the companions of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) , that he said: " The ' Straight Path ' is the path of Mohammad and his descendants ". (2)
This means that their path is based on the doctrine of Islam which consists of the belief in: 'Oneness of Allah', 'Justice', 'Prophethood', 'Imamate', and the 'Hereafter'. There is no doubt that the path of Ahlul-Bait (p.b.u.th.) is the ' Straight Path', and that adhering to it causes prosperity and salvation, while pursuing other than that leads to loss and injury.
Ibn-il-Maqazili has narrated from the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) who has said: " The example of my household (Ahlul-Bait) is similar to the Ark of Noah. He who embarked it was rescued (from drowning and destruction) , but, he who refused it drowned (and perished) ". (3)
Other traditions narrated from Ahlul-Bait (p.b.u.th.) also confirm the concept. In addition, the well-known tradition ' Thaqalayn ' from the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) , is another good clear witness to the matter, too. It says: " I leave behind me amidst you two Great things; should you be attached to these two, never, never shall you become astray: the 'Book' of Allah (the Holy Qur'an) and my progeny, my ' Ahlul-Bait '."(4)
As was previously stated, it is certain that the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) , Hadrat Ali-ibn-Abitalib (a.s.) and all of the other infallible Imams (a.s.) invited people to the theistic religion of Allah, an invitation to Faith and practice in truth, which elevates Man to the climax of ability, guidance, dignity, and human excellences.
By the way, it should not be neglected that there are two kinds of guidance: ' Divine Guidance ' and ' Religious Guidance '.
' Divine Guidance ' is the human intelligence bestowed on a person by Allah, which recognizes the difference between: good and bad, right
(1) Ibid, tradition 94 (2) Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 24, p. 16 & Manhaj-us-Sadiqin, vol. 1, p. 116 (3) Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 23, p. 124, tradition 50 (4) Ihqaq-ul-Haqq, vol. 9, pp. 309- 375
and wrong, gain and loss, felicity and wretchedness, virtue and vice, and so on. It is, in fact, the inner messenger of a person.
' Religious Guidance ' means that Allah sends prophets, Divine Books and legislation to guide Man to all merits of this world and the next, as well as making him aware of the injuries and damages of the two worlds. Of course, when Man is guided by the above guidance and acts accordingly, he will be worthy of receiving the blessings of the next world; this is made possible through the development of the soul by acquiring knowledge, good habits, and commendable moral qualities in which state he will certainly attain the happiness of this world and that of the next, together with the infinite grace of Allah.
' Intellect ' is called a 'guide' in that it enlightens man as to what is right and what is wrong. The Prophets (p.b.u.th.) , Imams (a.s.) , and scholars are called ' Guides ', too, because they guide the human race to the salvation and felicity in both worlds. But, really, Allah is the main Supreme Guide, and these are the means appointed for the guidance of Man.
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