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 ' ". (29) 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 ' ".
(30) 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-'Anam, No. 6, verse 161 says: " Say: Verily, my Lord hath guided me to a way that is straight,ِ a religion of right,ِ
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 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 ". (31) 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 ". (32) Again, in another tradition, he (a.s.) says : " By Allah, we (Ahlul-Bait) are the Straight Path ' ".
(33) Another tradition from the same Imam (a.s.) says: " The Straight Path ' is Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) ". (34) Ahmad-ibn-Mohammad-ibn-Ibrahim Al-Thalabi, 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 ".
(35) 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) ". (36) 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 '." (37) 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 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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" The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy bounties, not (the path) of those inflicted with Thy wrath, nor (of those) gone astray." Commentary : Two Paths of Deviation This verse is, indeed, a clear illustration of the Straight Path ' which was dealt with in the previous verse. It says that the person asks Allah to guide him onto the path of those on whom He has blessed with many kinds of bounties;
(such as the blessings of guidance, success, the leadership of people of truth, knowledge, good actions, holy wars and martyrdom);not those who deserved His wrath because of their wrong doings, nor those who neglected the right path and went astray.
" The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy bounties, not (the path) of those inflicted with Thy wrath, nor (of those) gone astray." In fact, we are not familiar with the method of guidance, so the Lord's command, in this verse, is that we ask for the path of the prophets, good doers and all of those to whom Allah has extended His bounties, blessings and favours.
It also warns us that there are two deviated paths in front of us:
the path of those inflicted with His wrath, and the path of those gone astray.
* * * Explanation : 1- Who are Those upon whom Allah has bestowed His bounties ' ? Sura An-Nisa, No. 4, verse 69 has introduced these people, thus: " All who obey Allah and the Apostle are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah,ِ of the prophets (who teach), the Sincere (lovers of Truth), the Witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah ! What a beautiful Fellowship ! ".
As it demonstrates, this verse introduces the people on whom the bounties and Mercy of Allah are bestowed. They are four groups: the Prophets, the Sincere, the Witnesses, and the Righteous.
These four states may refer to an idea that: for the attainment of a sound, progressive and faithful society, prophets and Divine leaders should form the foundation.
After the prophets are the sincere truthful missionaries and preachers whose words attest to their actions by which they are able to extend the prophets' missions throughout their societies.
Following this period of the formation of these structural states, naturally, some evil-minded individuals, who serve as barriers on the path of truth, may appear in the way. There should be some others to stand against them. In this struggle a few of these defenders of truth may be gifted with martyrdom, whose blood would then water the tree of Theism '.
The fruit of these struggles and devotions is yielded as the Righteous' with whom the society can be pure, efficient, and abounding with spirituality.
Therefore, in the Holy Sura Al-Fatihah (The Opening), we are encouraged to repeatedly ask Allah, during the day and night, that we be led on the path of these previously mentioned four groups, and, obviously at each time, we must emphasize with sincere effort and endeavour, on one of these four states more than the others in order to perform our duty and mission well. 2- Who are the Last Two Groups in this Verse ? The separation of these two groups from each other indicates that each group has some defining characteristics.
To make distinction between these two groups, there are three commentaries:
A) From the application of these two words in the Qur'an, it is so understood that /maqdubi alayhim/ those inflicted with His Wrath' are in a worse condition than /dallin/ those gone astray'. In other words, those gone astray' are the ordinary misguided and /maqdubi alayhim/ those inflicted with His Wrath' are the misguided who are obstinate or hypocritical. And, for these two very reasons, the Curse and Wrath of Allah have been cited towards them in frequent occurrences in the Qur'an. The followings are some instances :
"... But such as open their breast to Unbelief,ِ on them is Wrath from Allah, ...", (Sura An-Nahl, No. 16, verse 106).
" And that He may punish the Hypocrites, men and women, and Polytheists, men and women, who imagine an evil opinion of Allah. On them is a round of Evil; the Wrath of Allah is on them. He has cursed them and got Hell ready for them: and evil is it for a destination ", (Sura Al-Fath, No. 48, verse 6).
However, this group, ie. those inflicted with His Wrath ' were those who, besides their unbelief, pursued the path of obstinacy and enmity against Allah, and whenever they could, they even injured the Divine leaders and prophets (p.b.u.th.). As Sura 'Al-i-Imran, No.
3, verse 112 says: "...They draw on themselves Wrath from Allah, and pitched over them is (the tent of) destitution. This because they rejected the Signs of Allah, and slew the Prophets in defiance of right; this because they rebelled and transgressed beyond bounds ".
B) Some of the commentators believe that /dallin/ those gone astray' refers to the misguided of the Christians; and /maqdubi alayhim/ those inflicted with His Wrath' refers to the misguided of the Jews.
This idea was formed because of the particular responses that these two groups showed in reply to the invitation to Islam. For, as the Qur'an has clearly pointed out in different verses, the misguided Jews used to show a special grudge and enmity against the invitation of Islam, though, at the beginning, their scholars and learned men were the bearers of the glad tidings of Islam.
Very soon, though, under the effect of deviation of thought, belief and notion, and, also, because their financial gains were being endangered, they became the most obstinate enemies of Islam and they did whatever evil they could against the progression of Islam and Muslims. (Even today, Zionism and Zionists hold the same position regarding the manner in which they treat Islam and Muslims.) Therefore, to render these people as those inflicted with His Wrath ' seems very correct.
But, the misguided of the Christians, who upon encountering with Islam were not so grudging, but were misled because of their misperception of the Divine religion and therefore refusing the Truth, were rendered into / dallin / those gone astray '.
They believed in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost instead of clinging to true Monotheism, the worship of Allah. This is, in itself, one of the greatest examples of astray' and aberration'.
In the Islamic traditions, too, / maqdubi alayhim / those inflicted with His Wrath ' are interpreted as the Jews, and / dallin / those gone astray ' as the misguided of the Christians. The foundation of this interpretation is the same as was mentioned in the above.
C) It is also probable that /dallin/ those gone astray' refers to those who are misguided but do not insist on making others go astray, while / maqdubi alayhim / those inflicted with His Wrath ' refer to those who both go astray' and lead others astray '. They try vigorously to change others to become like themselves.
The references to this meaning are the verses that introduce the persons who obstruct the way of guidance of others and are mentioned in the Holy Qur'an as those who would hinder (men) from the Path of Allah'. Sura Ash-Shura, No. 42, verse 16 says: " But those who dispute concerning Allah after He has been accepted,ِ futile is their dispute in the sight of their Lord: on them is Wrath,and for them will be Penalty terrible".
Other traditions have also been cited concerning the matter, including a narration from Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.). It says:
"Everyone who has disbelieved in Allah, on him is Wrath, and he is astray from His Path". (38) In Maani ', a book of traditions, it is narrated from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) who said: " Shiah (the followers) of Ali (a.s.) are those on whom Allah has bestowed the bounty of Wilayat ', love of Ali-ibn-Abitalib (a.s.); His Wrath is not on them, and they are not on the wrong path".
(39) * * * Supplication : O' Lord! Count us not among those inflicted with Your Wrath' and those gone astray', but consider us among true believers, the followers of the school of Ahlul-Bait (a.s). O' Lord! Guide us on the Straight Path in our every circumstance and in all our affairs! O' Lord! We thank you for this Divine blessing and say : "Praise belongs to Allah (alone) Who set us among those holding steadfast to the love of Ali-ibn-Abitalib and the other immaculate Imams (a.s.)."
The End Sura Al-Fatihah (The Opening) * * * 1 Majm-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, p. 17
2 Makhzan-ul-Irfan, Commentary, vol. 1, p. 28 &
Masabih-ul-Anwar vol. 1, p. 435
3 Manhajus-Sadiqin, vol. 1, p. 90 4 Al-Burhan Fi Tafsir-il-Qur'an, vol. one, p. 21; & Atyab-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, p. 83 5 Majma-ul-Bayan, vol. one, p. 17 . 6 Rauh-ul-Janan, Abul-Futuh Razi, Commentary, vol. one, p. 16 7 Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 76, chapter 58, p. 305 (according to Tafsir Al-Bayan ', vol. one, p. 461) 8 Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 76, chapter 58 9 Majma-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, p. 18 10 Ibid 11 Al-Mahasin by Barghi p. 40 & Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 92, p. 234 12 Tafsir-us-Safi, vol. 1, p. 70 & Al-Mizan, vol. 1, p. 26 (Persian version) 13 The phrase /bism-il-lah/ is used as a contraction of /bism-il-lah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim/. 14 Makhzan-ul-Irfan, vol. 1, p. 28 15 Al-Kafi, vol. 3, p. 312 16 Al-Itqan, vol. 1, p. 136 17 Atyab-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, p. 92 18 Kafi, Tauhid by Saduq, and Maani-yul-Akhbar, (according to Almizan Commentary). 19 Majma'-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, p. 21 20 Maani-ul-Akhbar, p. 32, tradition 8; and, Tafsir Furat-ul-Kufi, vol. 1, p. 52 21 Al-Manar Commentary, vol. 1, p. 51 22 Nur-uth-Thaqalayn Commentary, vol. 1, p. 17 23 From the collection of Poems of Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali-ibn Abitalib (a.s.), p. 175 24 Nur-uth-Thaqalayn, Commentary, vol. 1, p. 19 25 Majma-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, p. 24 ; &, Manhaj-us-Sadiqin, vol. 1, p. 24 26 Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 72, p. 186 27 Kanz-ul'Ummal, vol. 4, p. 36( taken from Tafsir-i-Baqawi, Amal-ul-Youm wal-Laylah) 28 Manhaj-us-Sadiqin, Comentary, vol. 1, p. 114 29 Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 92, p. 254;and. Tafsir us-Safi, vol.1, p.72 30 Ma'ani-ul-Akhbar, p. 484 31 Nur-uth-Thaqalayn, vol. 1, p. 20, tradition 86 32 ibid, p. 21, tradition 88 33 Ibid, tradition 89 34 Ibid, tradition 94 35 Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 24, p. 16 & Manhaj-us-Sadiqin, vol. 1, p. 116 36 Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 23, p. 124, tradition 50 37 Ihqaq-ul-Haqq, vol. 9, pp. 309- 375 38 Tafsir-us-Safi, vol. 1, p. 74 39 Maani-ul-Akhbar, p. 32, tradition 8; and, Tafsir Furat-ul-Kufi, vol. 1, p. 52