The slave of Allah should reflect deeply upon how the ayah, “Guide us on the Straight Path” expresses his perpetual needs through the various meanings it comprises. Namely:
- Knowing the truth
- The way to it
- Acting upon it
- Holding fast to it, and
- Calling for it and forbearing harm caused to you by those whom you call on
Yet being in a state of perfect guidance cannot be realised unless the slave of Allah is able to receive complete guidance. Thus, whenever he falls short in some respects pertaining to his ability to assimilate guidance, the state of his enlightenment will be affected accordingly. This is because the slave of Allah is in need of this guidance, both inwardly and outwardly, and in all his affairs.
The following are types of guidance that the slave is in need of:
- Guidance to repent from all his wrongdoings, from deviated knowledge and insincere intentions. Hence, as the slave is in constant need to repent, he is always in need of this type of guidance.
- Guidance to be acquired with the finer details of the beliefs and actions that he has, in a broad sense, already been guided to.
- Guidance to matters he requires in order to further perfect and increase his guidance.
- To have guidance in matters that he needs in the future, just as he needed in the past.
- Guidance to have sound beliefs in matters in which he lacks any belief.
- Guidance to have sound beliefs in matters he has based upon wrong and deviated beliefs. This form of guidance abrogates his deviated beliefs and replaces them with the right and sound ones.
- Guidance to have the will and desire in matters that he possesses the capability to do and that he ought to do, but for which he does not yet have the desire to carry out.
- Guidance to have the desire as well as the capability to do things that he ought to do but that he neither desires nor is capable of.
- Guidance to maintain and preserve the sound beliefs, knowledge and good deeds that he already possesses.
Indeed asking for guidance is the greatest among his needs and the most crucial of all his requests. For this reason, Allah enacted that His slaves beseech Him for His guidance several times on a daily basis when he is in his best state, during the five obligatory prayers, because all this manifests the dire need of the slave to attain this guidance and how significantly important it is to him.
Additionally, Allah clarifies that the path of those who are truly guided is different from the path of those who earned His anger (the Jews) and those who are astray (the Christians and others). From that perspective, mankind is divided into three types with respect to guidance:
- Those whom Allah favoured with His guidance and preserved it for them. However, the individual share of the ones in this category depends on how much guidance each one of them has received.
- Those who are astray because they have neither received guidance nor were they prepared for it.
- Those with whom Allah is Angry because they recognised the truth but did not follow it.
The ones who are astray deviate from the truth because (in their quest for the truth) they became lost and bewildered and thus unable to find the right path, leading them to totally sever themselves from the truth and the knowledge leading to it. As for those who earned Allah’s Wrath, they are the ones who despite knowing the truth, still deviated from it, and as a consequence never benefitted from their knowledge because they refrained from acting upon the truth they knew. On the other hand, those whom Allah favoured with guidance stand apart by virtue of their guidance, knowledge, beliefs and deeds. And, Allah is the facilitator of Success and Guide to truth.
Inner Dimensions of the Prayer by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah Pages 44-47