Ayah 5: Ihdinas-Siraatal-Mustaqiim.
Our definition of who is a winner and a loser changes because of one thing, guidance. Easy to think like that in terms of Prophets. Have to reprogram ourselves to start thinking that way right now. Have to look at house, car, and say, that’s not success. Allah is teaching us that the number one thing to ask for guidance.
This surah says: guide us, we enslave ourselves, we ask for help. Why?
Allah is teaching us to ask for these things together. In jama’ah. The collective life of a Muslim is very important. Have to seek Allah’s help together. It’s as though Allah is saying by yourself you won’t survive. You have to be with other believers. Have to be in community. Have to pray together. That’s why the most beautiful prayers are in jama’ah. The most rewarded. It makes sense like that.
1) Just asked Allah for guidance, the greatest gift of all. When someone asks for something over and over, what does that tell you? They are desperate. Did Allah teach us to ask for guidance over and over? Yes. It’s like Allah is teaching us to be desperate. But if we’re saying this in prayer and yawning, does that look desperate to you? We’re missing the whole point. The whole point was to be desperate.
2) Who asks for something? The one who needs. You don’t ask for something you already have, you ask for something that you don’t have. And if desperate, you really need it a lot so you’re asking for it over and over. In this ayah, learning that you and I, we don’t even own guidance. Even if we are Muslim, Allah owns guidance. And it’s so expensive that we have to ask for it between rakaats, not between prayers. Meaning that we are in need of guidance while we are in prayer, and in between 1st and 2nd rakaats it might have gotten rusty, so we ask again. So how can we think that we don’t need guidance between prayers?
Allah made Fatihah mandatory part of every rakaah. He is saying Ask. Then ask again. Then ask again. And now that you’ve asked, go live your life; I’ll Give it to you. But wait! You might forget, so come and ask again, and ask again, and ask again.
And you know what, those few hours between Dhuhr and Asr, those 2 hours between Asr and Maghrib, that hour and a half between Maghrib and Isha, those nine hours between isha and fajr, those hours? That’s when you know whether you asked Allah or not. Because if you really asked Allah, your life will look different. And if you just recited, your life won’t look any different. So the test whether you really asked Allah for guidance is in those hours in between.
If there’s a mystery to be solved, it’s what are we doing in those hours? What’s happening? Especially night hours. After isha and before fajr. What’s going on with your life? What are you doing with yourself?
This surah is a call for an attitude from us in regards to guidance. Can’t own it. Super expensive. So expensive that the Propeht (peace and blessings be upon him) asked for guidance way more than you and I. So where are we?
Guidance is not the same as knowledge. Just because you’ve increased in knowledge, doesn’t necessarily mean have increased in guidance. Guidance is desperate request. It does not increase with knowledge, it increases with begging Allah sincerely. You can learn knowledge and still not become sincere. Emphasizing this point because nowadays have a culture of glorifying knowledge. Learn learn learn. Take notes, take notes, take notes. But no culture of glorifying guidance. Of transformation, changing yourself, begging Allah for transformation. So students of knowledge know names, dates, know figures, quotes, know Arabic, English translation, know books, know their references. But your behaviour? You’re horrible to your Mum. And your prayers are empty. What is that knowledge? That’s a joke. Who are you kidding? Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t let knowledge become a fashion. It’s supposed to humble us.
“When a tree bears fruits, it’s branches come down”
So beautiful. When you really get knowledge, you will come down, you will be humbled. You will be in sajdah more. You will be like the branches of that tree. May Allah make us humble as we increase in knowledge.
Linguistically, sirat is a path with no alternative. Doesn’t have plural because you can’t have multiple. Can only be one path. Lingustically: can only be one, straight, (like long straight sword), wide (can accommodate more travellers) and dangerous because you’re an easy target.
Commonly translated as straight but that’s already captured by the word siraat. But it means straight, upwards.
Important because leaving dunya. Leaving world and its temptations. Struggling against gravity. But gravity doesn’t go away as you go higher. No matter how much dua you’ve made, how much knowledge you’ve acquired, how much worship you’ve done, making your way up, temptation, greed, seduction are still there. It doesn’t let you go. The higher up you go, the more in danger you are. No such thing as a safe state. The higher up you go, the more scared you get.
So reminder for ourselves: Praise is not something that helps a scholar, a da’ee, a speaker. If you want to help anyone who is trying to do dawah in any capacity, make dua for them without talking to them. Saying “you’re so awesome” doesn’t help them. It helps Shaytan, who says “yes you are so awesome!”. Lets kill that culture, not helping anyone. Want to benefit someone, just make dua. Don’t ask for a picture. Don’t make a celebrity culture of our speakers. Just don’t do it. Not healthy for any of us. We are all human beings.