Guidance of Allah(God)
"Guide us in the right path; the path of those whom You blessed; not of those who have deserved wrath, nor of the strayers." ( Quran : 1 / 4- 7)
The last three verses of the Surah "Al-Fatihah" consist of a prayer on the part of man. In other words, Allah(God) has taught man what to pray for: "Guide us in the right path; the path of those whom You blessed; not of those who have deserved wrath, nor of the strayers." (Quran: 1/4-7)
The best explanation of the word, "guidance" has been offered by Imam Raghib al-Isfahani in his book "Mufradat al-Quran", which can be summed up thus: "guidance" signifies leading someone towards his destination, gently and kindly; while guidance, in the real sense, issues forth from Allah(God) alone, and it has several degrees.
The First Degree of Guidance
The first degree of guidance is general, and covers everything that exists in the universe -- plants, animals etc.The creatures which show obvious signs of life but not those of consciousness and reason are considered to be living, but not rational; whereas, creatures showing the signs of consciousness and reason, along with those of life, are called rational beings.
Because of these differences in the degrees of consciousness, men and jinn alone, of all the existents in the universe, have been made subservient to the injunctions of Allah(God) and accountable for their actions, for they alone have the necessary consciousness and understanding.
But, it does not mean that other creatures or existents are totally devoid of life or sensitivity. The Holy Quran is very explicit on this point: "There is nothing that does not glorify Allah(God), but you do not understand their glorification." (Quran: 17/44) Thanks to this general guidance, everything in the universe is performing its function with such marvellous efficiency.
The Second Degree of Guidance
Unlike the first, the second degree of guidance is not general but particular. It is limited to those creatures which are considered to be rational, that is, men and jinns. This kind of guidance comes to every man through prophets and revealed books. Some accept this guidance, and become believers ; some reject it and become disbelievers.
The Third Degree of guidance
The third degree of guidance is still more particular, being special to true believers. Allah(God)'s grace provides a man with internal and external means and circumstances which should make it easy, and even pleasant for him to accept and act upon the guidance of the Holy Quran. The scope of the third degree of guidance is limitless, and its levels indefinite.
All increase in virtuous deeds brings with it an increase in divine guidance. The Holy Quran itself gives us the promise of such increase "As for those who are guided, Allah(God) augments their guidance, and grants them their righteousness" (Quran: 47/17)
Keeping in mind the three distinct degrees of guidance, one can easily see that guidance is a thing which everyone does possess in some way, and yet no one, not even the greatest, can do without wishing to attain more of its advanced and higher stages. Hence, of all the prayers man can address to Allah(God), the most important is the prayer for guidance, which has been taught to us in the very first Surah of the Holy Quran; and this prayer is as necessary for the prophets as for an ordinary Muslim.
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