Guidance Is the Divine Gift!
By Ahmad Saad
Question: Please enlighten me the definition of “hidāyah”, its meaning and importance, and how one may get or lose it.
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of al-'ālameen. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.
Allāh Subhānahu wa ta‘ala states that it is Him Who opens the hearts, the ‘hidayah’ of whom He Wills and likewise Seals the hearts of others.
The Arabic term ‘hidāyah’ means ‘guidance’. The verb ‘yahdi’ means 'to grant guidance'. Indeed it is Almighty Allāh who grants guidance to mankind. Thus hidāyah is a God-given gift, which Almighty Allāh alone who places in the heart of whomever He wants to provide guidance. And, Allāh Almighty does what He Wills.
Allāh said to His Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam):
“And the Jews will not be pleased with thee, nor will the Christians, till thou follow their creed. Say: Lo! The guidance of Allāh (Himself) is Guidance. And if thou shouldst follow their desires after the knowledge which hath come unto thee, then wouldst thou have from Allah no protecting guardian nor helper.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:120]
“Verily, you (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allāh guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided” [Al-Qasas, 28:56]
This phrase that Allāh guides whom ‘He’ wills is repeated many times in the Qur’an. Some scholars who interpret the Qur’an [the exegesis of the Qur’an] grasp the meaning of this phrase as: “God guides ‘he’ who wants to be guided.” Allāh is Al‘Adl, the Just. Allāh cannot and does not do anything unjust.
Hidāyah is mentioned in so many places in the Qur'an and the hadith. It is in fact the merit that elevates Man and makes him distinguished from animals. Thus, the Qur'an describes those who lack guidance and those who are cut from their Lord as being degraded to the level of animals in the sense that they will be looking only for fulfilling the lusts and needs of the flesh. Hidāyah is always associated with the spiritual elevation of a person when Almighty Allāh helps him or her offer a good deed or finding a right way to his or her solutions.
The Qur'an itself is described, before all, as ‘Huda’ (guidance). Like the beacon that shows us the way in the darkness, the solace for the agonized hearts, and the rope of salvation for a drowning person, hidāyah plays a vital role in our lives. It separates those who lead an animalistic life from those who are liked to their Lord, those who know their way from those who are lost in the jungle.
Seek guidance from Allāh
The Qur'an makes it clear that there are certain conditions and qualifications to gain hidāyah. In the very beginning of Surat al-Fatihah, believers are indirectly instructed to seek guidance from Allāh.
Almighty Allāh says:
“Show us the straight path. The path of those whom Thou hast favored; not [the path] of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who astray.”
[Surah Al-Fatihah, 1:6-7]
And Allāh also says:
“The foolish of the people will say: What hath turned them from the qiblah which they formerly observed? Say: Unto Allah belong the East and the West. He guideth whom He will unto a straight path.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:142]
The Qur'an also clarifies that those who gain guidance and feel its sweetness are not the sleepy, the lazy or the advocates of the evil, but it is the pious and the devout who spend their all for the sake of Allāh. Almighty Allāh speaks of the Qur'an as being ‘hudan li-l-muttaqeen’ guidance unto those who ward off - evil.) Simply, because Allāh helps only those who want to help themselves.
Again the Qur'an states that those who seek guidance will be elevated in guidance and given more of it. Thus, two facts are to be considered; hidāyah is the divine gift which Almighty Allāh gives to whomever He loves and people should be qualified with piety and Allāh fearing in order to gain it.
Of course people differ in regards to their reception of guidance; some people are ready and fast in achieving guidance while others are too slow. In the hadith, The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) categorizes people, in respect of receiving and accepting the guidance he brings, into three categories: those who benefit the guidance themselves and help others get it, those who just help others but are not able to practice it themselves, and those who are like barren land, they do not accept guidance nor do they help people find it.
Abu Musa, (radhiallāhu‘anhu), reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said:
"The similitude of that guidance and knowledge with which Allāh, the Exalted and Glorious, has sent me is that of rain falling upon the earth. There is a good piece of land which receives the rainfall readily and as a result of it there is grown in it herbage and grass abundantly. Then there is a land hard and barren that retains water and the people derive benefit from it and they drink and make the animals drink.
Then there is another land which is barren, no water is retained, nor is the grass grown. And that is the similitude of the first one who develops the understanding of the religion of Allāh and benefits from the knowledge with which Allāh sent me. He acquires the knowledge of religion and imparts it to others. [Then the other type is] one who does not pay attention to [the revealed knowledge] and thus does not accept guidance of Allāh with which I have been sent." [Reported in Sahih Muslim]
The Ways to gain Hidāyah:
1- Having a deep and strong relation with Allāh Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, resorting to Him for needs and fearing Him in secret, as well as in public.
2- Seeking knowledge and purifying one’s intention for Allāh in every word and deed.
3- Strict obedience to Allāh and following His commands and teachings.
A Muslim should always be eager to gain hidāyah and spend his other life asking Allāh for it. The one who is granted hidāyah is really the successful and the happy person, simply because he or she will find him or herself leading a peaceful life. Seeking hidāyah is the command of Allāh and His messenger (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam).
Allāh Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says:
“O ye who believe; Obey Allāh, and the messenger when He calleth you to that which quickeneth you, and know that Allāh cometh in between the man and his own heart, and that He it is unto Whom ye will be gathered.”
[Surah Anfāl, 8:24]
When one of us has a precious stone, he or she will cherish it and look after it all the time. By the same token, when Allāh grants you guidance, then you are gifted with something very precious. You should care for it, die but never lose it, for the moment you lose it, you lose yourself, you lose your heart and you lose your soul.
To keep this Ni’mah (blessing), a Muslim should always show gratefulness to Allāh Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala for it, since Allāh says:
“And when your Lord proclaimed: If ye give thanks, I will give you more; but if ye are thankless, lo! My punishment is dire.”[Surah Ibrahim, 14:7]
It is clear that when a person shows thankfulness, Allāh will grant him or her more. Also, showing obedience to Allāh Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala is the highest way to keep this blessing of hidāyah.
The Arab poet says:
If you are enjoying a blessing, take care of it,
And bear in mind that sins will remove blessings.
And protect that blessing with obeying Allāh,
For He is always swift in punishing wrongdoers.
When Imam Ash-Shāfi‘ie looked at the ankle of a woman, he was deprived from the Noor (light) and found it difficult to memorize. When he complained to Wakī’, he said to him that he should seek Allāh's forgiveness for the action of disobedience he did so as to regain that light in the heart and the mind.
Imām Ash-Shāfi‘ie (rahimahullāh) wrote in this:
To Wakī` I complained my inability to memorize,
He instructed me to give up any sin.
He also said: “Knowledge is a Divine light
Which Allāh grants not to a sinful man.”
So, a Muslim should keep himself remote from disobedience as far as he can so as to gain hidāyah, find his or her way and lead his or her life in peace and tranquility. May Allāh purify our hearts and guide us to the best of deeds in this world and in the afterlife, amen!
Allāh the Exalted Knows Best.
[Excerpted with minor modification from Q&A published in Islam Online (Ask About Islam) dated 3 Sep 2003]