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Guidance… The Divine Gift!

Question and answer details
Uzair
2013/05/14
As-salaamu `alaykum, I am a student currently pursuing my bachelors degree. For my Islamic Studies assignment I chose the topic ‘hidayah because I consider it something very rare these days and I believe it plays a very essential part in preserving and practicing Islam. I was hoping to get some information regarding its definition, its meaning and importance, and how one may get or lose hidayah. Thank you.
Ahmad Saad
Answer

Salam Dearest Uzair,

Please let me congratulate you for this good question that reflects deep insight and true desire of seeking knowledge. May Allah purify our hearts from heedlessness and grant us hidayah, amen!

First of all, the Arabic word ‘ hidayah’ means guidance. The verb ‘yahdi’ means 'to grant guidance'. Of course, it is Allah who grants guidance to people, thus hidayah is a God-given gift, which He places in the heart of whomever He wants to give guidance.

Almighty Allah says in Surah 2, verse 73, what means:

{Lo! the guidance is Allah's guidance.}

Hidayah is mentioned in so many places in the Quran and the hadith. It is in fact the merit that elevates Man and makes him distinguished from animals. Thus, the Quran 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. Hidayah is always associated with the spiritual elevation a person feels when Almighty Allah helps him or her offer a good deed or find a way to his/her problems.

The Quran 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, the rope of salvation for a drowning person, hidayah 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.

The Quran makes it clear that there are certain conditions and qualifications to gain hidayah. In the very beginning of Surat al-Fatihah (Surah 1), believers are indirectly instructed to seek guidance from Allah. Almighty Allah says in verses 6 and 7 what means:

{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.}

The Quran 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 Allah. Almighty Allah speaks of the Quran as being ‘hudan li-l-muttaqeen’ (a guidance unto those who ward off - evil.) Simply, because God helps only those who want to help themselves.

Again the Quran states that those who seek guidance will be elevated in guidance and given more of it. Thus, two facts are to be considered; hidayah is the divine gift which Almighty Allah gives to whomever He loves and people should be qualified with piety and Allah 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 (peace be upon him) 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, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the prophet (peace be upon him) said:

"The similitude of that guidance and knowledge with which Allah, 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, neither 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 Allah and benefits from the knowledge with which Allah 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 Allah with which I have been sent." (Reported in Sahih Muslim.)

The Ways to Gain Hidayah:

  • 1- Having a deep and strong relation with Allah, resorting to Him for needs and fearing Him in secret, as well as in public.
  • 2- Seeking knowledge and purifying one’s intention for Allah in every word and deed.
  • 3- Strict obedience to Allah and following His commands and teachings.
A Muslim should always be eager to gain hidayah and spend his/her life asking Allah for it. The one who is granted hidayah is really the successful and the happy person, simply because he/she will find him/herself leading a peaceful life. Seeking hidayah is the command of Allah and His messenger.

Allah says in Surah 8, verse 24, what means:

{O ye who believe; Obey Allah, and the messenger when He calleth you to that which quickeneth you, and know that Allah cometh in between the man and his own heart, and that He it is unto Whom ye will be gathered.}

When one of us has a precious stone, he/she will cherish it and look after it all the time. By the same token, when Allah 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`ma (blessing), a Muslim should always show gratefulness to Allah for it, since Allah says in Surah 14, verse 7, what means:

{And when your Lord proclaimed: If ye give thanks, I will give you more; but if ye are thankless, lo! My punishment is dire.}

It is clear that when a person shows thankfulness, Allah will grant him/her more. Also, showing obedience to Allah is the highest way to keep this blessing of hidayah.

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 Allah,
For He is always swift in punishing wrongdoers.

When Imam Ash-Shafi`e looked at the ankle of a woman, he was deprived from the nour (light) and found it difficult to memorize. When he complained to Wakee` (his teacher), he said to him that he should seek Allah's forgiveness for the action of disobedience he did so as to regain that light in the heart and the mind.

Imam Ash-Shafi`e wrote in this:

To Wakee` I complained my inability to memorize,
He instructed me to give up any sin.
He also said: “Knowledge is a Divine light
Which Allah grants not to a sinful man.”

So, a Muslim should keep himself remote from disobedience as far as he can so as to gain hidayah, find his/her way and lead his/her life in peace and tranquility. May Allah purify our hearts and guide us to the best of deeds in this world and in the afterlife, amen!

Thank you again Uzair for your question and please, always keep in touch.

Salaam.

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