Names of Allah Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII | Part XXIX | Part XXX | Part XXXI | Part XXXII | Part XXXIII | Part XXXIV | Part XXXV | Part XXXVI | Part XXXVII | Part XXXVIII | Part XXXIX | Part XL | Part XLI | Part XLII | Part XLIII | Part XLIV | Part XLV | Part XLVI | Part XLVII | Part XLVIII | Part XLIX | Part L | Part LI | Part LII | Part LIII | Part LIV | Part LV | Part LVI | Part LVII| Part LVIII | Part LIX | Part LX | Part LXI | Part LXII | Part LXIII | Part LXIV | Part LXV | Part LXVI | Part LXVII | Part LXVIII | Part LXIX | Part LXX | LXXI
Every time I go back to California, I rent a car. As I drive to Ta’leef in Fremont or WVMA in Saratoga, I always have to use some kind of navigation system, otherwise I am completely lost (despite driving to those places numerous times!) If you were to ask me the way, I would not be able to help you. Thank God for Google Maps!
The first article in this series was about Allah subhanahu wa ta`la (exalted is He) al-Hādī, who is the Guide. Hidāya comes from inclining towards something, which is why one of the words in Arabic for gift is hadiyya, because it makes the hearts of those whom you gift incline towards you. Thus guidance to Allah (swt) is a gift from Him that makes our hearts incline towards Him, and it encompasses all types of guidance. Allah (swt) says:
“He said, ‘Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form and then guided [it].’” (Qur’an, 20:50)
Ar-Rashīd: He who Directs us to the Right Path
According to Ibn al-Qayyim and al-Ghazali, ar-Rashīd is one of the Names of Allah (swt). In Lisan al-Arab, it states that “Ar-Rashīd is the one who directs His servants to what is beneficial for them i.e. He guides them and shows them the way.” Thus ar-Rashīd refers to being directed to the right path, knowing what the intended outcome is. Allah (swt) tells us in the Qur’an that our destination is to Him and Paradise, and He shows us the way. The difference between rushd and hidāya is that hidāya is also guidance along the path. Moreover, there are levels to hidāya, which is why we constantly ask Allah (swt) for guidance in Surat al-Fatiha:
“Guide us (ihdinā) to the straight path.” (Qur’an, 1:6)
You can be guided because you are now cognizant of Allah (swt); then you can be guided further to better deeds and closeness to Him; and ultimate guidance comes in following the sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) in the most excellent manner. Hidāya is also something that penetrates the heart.
Rushd has two elements to it: One is being able to direct someone, but that needs a prerequisite, which is actually knowing and being able to discern the right way from the wrong way. Al-Ghazali states that ar-Rashīd is the One who directs you without needing signs. If I use Google Maps to direct someone, I cannot say that I have this attribute, because I am seeking help to direct someone to the way.
In the Qur’an, the words rushd or rashīd are used in the following contexts:
“They said, ‘O Shu’ayb, does your prayer command you that we should leave what our fathers worship or not do with our wealth what we please? Indeed, you are the forbearing, the discerning (rashīd)!’” (Qur’an, 11:87)
Allah (swt) also tells us that He has made clear the right path from the wrong one:
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course (ar-rushd) has become clear from the wrong.” (Qur’an, 2:256)
So Allah (swt) is the One who directs us to the destination because He is the One who knows the way the best, without needing directions or signs from any other. If you are lost and seeking directions, you would seek it from someone you know who will direct you not simply to the way, but to the best way to the ultimate destination.
Just like we may have downloaded the ‘Waze’ app to guide us to the best route home, we should recite the Qur’an and seek to understand the sunnah to find out which way to Allah (swt) is best!
Allah (swt) directs us to what is best for us in this religion
Allah (swt) has told us that the destination is to Him and to Paradise. He has not only directed us to the ultimate destination but also shown us how to get there. The Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ teach us to pray and how to pray; to speak well; to fast and how to fast; to help others; to give charity and the best way of giving charity; to establish justice; and so on.
We must remember that the Prophet’s ﷺ way was the way of moderation. When some Companions came to the Prophet ﷺ to inform him of their acts of worship – praying all night and not sleeping; fasting every single day without a break; never getting married – the Prophet ﷺ corrected them. Putting effort for the sake of Allah is commendable, but not to the extent where you forget your humanity and do not give your body or your family their due rights.
In Surat al-Kahf, the youth of the cave make the following du`a’ (supplication) to Allah (swt):
“[Mention] when the youths retreated to the cave and said, ‘Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance (rashada).’” (Qur’an, 18:10)
They were being persecuted for their beliefs and had nowhere to turn for refuge but the cave. There, they ask Allah (swt) to show them the best way out of their predicament. In that story, Allah (swt) causes them to sleep for over 300 years, and then shows them that they were on the right path. The tyrant dies and the people were then able to follow their example without fear. Thus, remember that sometimes wisdom and direction are not rewarded or appreciated by people, but the fruits will show later, insha’Allah (God willing).
Be wise, follow the way, and direct others
Ibn al-Qayyim says, “Allah (swt) is rashīd and He loves rushd, and so He makes whom He loves like that [i.e. gives them this quality].” Allah (swt) tells us that He gave the Prophet Abraham `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him) the gift of discernment:
“And We had certainly given Abraham his sound judgement (rushdahu) before, and We were of him well-Knowing.” (Qur’an, 21:51)
The Prophet Abraham (as) was given wisdom and direction, and thus he was able to direct others in the way that suited them best. He knew how to make his people think when he destroyed all of the idols (Qur’an, 21:51-67), and he was able to debate the tyrant in a way that was suitable to him (Qur’an, 2:258). A person can have this quality in its limited human form by asking Allah (swt) and seeking knowledge in order to gain wisdom (and not simply to ‘know a lot’). Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi stated that the closer a person is to Allah, the more likely he is to have this attribute of rushd. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
“Allah has endeared to you the faith and has made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance and disobedience. Those are the [rightly] guided (rāshidūn). [It is] as bounty from Allah and favor. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (Qur’an, 49:7-8)
May ar-Rashīd direct us to the best path to Him, and give us the quality of rushd!