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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Everyone Needs Guidance

Guide Us to the Straight Path
We recite Surah Fatihah in our 5 times daily prayer and in the Fifth Verse we ask Allah: Guide us to the Straight path. Everyone is asking for guidance five times a day, the righteous of us and the non-righteous of us. Even the Prophet Peace Be Upon him, was reciting Fatihah in his prayers asking for guidance.
What is Guidance? Does everyone need Guidance? Why do we as Muslims have to ask for Guidance 5 times in a day? What about those who are already guided like prophets and other righteous people, why then they have to ask for guidance in the five times daily prayers?
One of the best explanations of Hidayah or Guidance is given by Imam Raghib al-Isfahani that is: Hidayah signifies leading someone towards his destination, gently and kindly; while guidance in the real sense comes forth from Allah alone and has several degrees.
First Degree of Guidance:
The first degree of guidance is general and it covers everything in this whole creation, from smallest particles like atoms to minerals, plants, animals etc. It might seem a bit surprising to some that minerals and atoms need guidance but the Holy Book of Allah makes it clear that all form of existents in the universe possess some form of life, sensitivity and even consciousness and understanding in their own degree and according to their own sphere of existence. Some of these existents may have more of this essence than others and some may have less. And those who have less of consciousness, sensitivity, and understanding are considered as inanimate. Humans and Jinn are of those creatures that are considered rational beings. They possess faculties of reason, logic, understanding and above all we have been honored with a Free Will to Choose. Therefore, we humans are made subservient to the injunctions and Laws of Shariah and accountable for our actions. This first type of Guidance is given to all creations by Allah regardless their level of consciousness, sensitivity, life form etc. As the Holy Quran says:
قَالَ رَبُّنَا الَّذِي أَعْطَىٰ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلْقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَىٰ
He gave to everything its distinctive form, and then Guided it (20:50)
And in another Surah Allah says:
الَّذِي خَلَقَ فَسَوَّىٰ ﴿٢﴾ وَالَّذِي قَدَّرَ فَهَدَىٰ
Allah created all things, Well proportioned them, and Who has determined and Guided them. (87:1-2)
From the above verses we can deduce that, Allah has given every creature a particular nature and function and guided it in a way which should correspond to its station in the scheme of things. Because of this Guidance that Allah has given to every creature in this universe, we see a balance and a perfect order in this whole existence around us. Every single object is performing its function according to the Guidance it has been given by its Creator and thus everything is in perfect harmony. Hydrogen and Oxygen for example, know through this Guidance how many of atoms they need to exchange in the chemical reaction to form a drop of water. And it is the Ears that hear a sound not the Eyes and similarly it is the nose that smells but not the eyes. The human heart is Guided how to pump blood and distribute it to the rest of the body organs. It is this guidance that makes able the birds and animals how to build a nest and feed their babies. It is this Guidance that makes a spider able to net his web in such a marvelous way. As exactly Allah says in the Verse above He created the creation and guided them to perform their functions.Analogically, this guidance is like that Software we call Operating System in a Computer unit we have today. As we know that a computer cannot function without an operating system. It is this Operating Software (Guidance) that tells every small and large chip or unit inside the computer what to do, how to do, when to do a certain function. Likewise every created thing in this universe works in the same way as that computer. Allah created them in certain fashion and form for certain purpose to perform certain function and gave them that Guidance. This Guided Nature of this creation brings another very important point in mind that it shows that everything in this creation has been created for a purpose. If every single object is created with guidance and has certain function then logically it can be said that they must be created for a purpose. They are certainly not created in vain.
As Allah says in the Holy Quran:
وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاءَ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ
Not for (idle) sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between!” ( 21:16)
We human beings make and build things for a purpose, like the very computer, car, Airplane etc. If we create things for a reason and a purpose then all this creation must have a bigger and very important purpose which is created by the All-knowing Creator as well. The flawlessness, the perfect order and the balance in this creation tells us that everything is Guided thus they exist for a very important purpose.
The Second Degree of Guidance:
Unlike the first degree of Guidance, this degree of Guidance is not general but particular and limited only to the Rational Beings with a free will like humans and Jinns. This type of guidance is a higher level of guidance consciously accepted and received from Prophets and the Revealed Scripture. This degree of guidance comes in the form of a message from the Creator through His Messengers informing them of their purpose and duties in this life. This message tells human beings and jinn that they are created for a purpose and thus guides them toward goodness and a moral life and that their actions are going to be judged. Rejection of this Guidance will result in perdition and hardships in this Worldly life and the Hereafter as well. As rational beings they can use their Free Will to accept this guidance or reject it. Those who accept it, become believers (Muslims) but those who do not accept it becomes Disbelievers (Kafirs).Allah has sent this Guidance time and again since the creation of Adam, peace be Upon him. As Allah refers to this in the Quran after Adam eats from the tree and tells them to go and down to Earth and I will send you Guidance. Today we have the last and final of this degree of Guidance in its complete and unadulterated form the Holy Quran and the Teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Peace be Upon him.
The Third Degree of Guidance
The third degree of guidance is even more particular and special only to the true Believers ( Muminin) and the God-Fearing (Muttaqeen). This Guidance directly descends to the certain individuals who has already accepted the second degree of guidance and wholeheartedly submitted to the Will of their Lord by applying all the injunctions in their life. This degree of Guidance is called Tawfeeq. That is to say, Allah’s Rahma or Grace provides a man with internal and external means and circumstances which should make it easy and even pleasant for him to accept and act upon the Guidance of the Holy Quran, and difficult to ignore or oppose it. The scope of the third degree of guidance is limitless and its level indefinite. In this sphere of guidance man can acquire and reach to a very high level of spiritual progress through the agency of virtuous deeds. The more virtuous deeds a man performs the more increase in direct divine guidance he gets.
As Allah Says:
وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَآتَاهُمْ تَقْوَاهُمْ
As for those who follow the straight path, Allah will increase their Guidance.(47:17)
وَمَن يُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
And whoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart.( 64:11)
وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
Those who strive for Us, We will surely guide the in Our paths. (29:69)
It is in this field of progress that we see even the greatest prophets and men of Allah striving, and it is an increase in the Divine Guidance and help that they keep seeking to their last breath. May Allah Guide us all to the straight path, the path of the prophets, messengers, all those righteous whom Allah had blessed with guidance.

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