The word hidayah, linguistically meaning direction and guidance, is used in two senses in the Qur’an.
First, guidance of clarification and direction, not taking into account whether the person to whom it has been clarified traverses the path of guidance or not.
In this respect is the saying of Allah, “As for the Thamud, We guided them but they preferred blindness over guidance.” (Fussilat 41:17) Meaning, ‘We made clear to them the True Way upon the tongue of our Prophet Salih, peace be upon him, despite the fact that they did not traverse this way as proven by His saying, “but they preferred blindness over guidance.” In this respect also is His saying, “Indeed, We guided him, whether he be grateful or ungrateful.” (al-Insan 76:3) Meaning, ‘We made clear to him the way of Good and the way of Evil as proven by His saying, “whether he be grateful or ungrateful.”
Secondly, the specific type of guidance which is Allah bestowing His grace upon the servant by making him accord to the way of Truth.
With this respect is His sayings, “They are the ones whom Allah guided, so follow their guidance.” (al-Anam 6:90) “Whoever Allah Wills to guide, He open his breast to Islam.” (al-Anam 6:125) When you come to understand this then any difficulties in understanding the following sayings of Allah will also be removed, “Indeed you [O Muhammad] cannot guide those you love, but Allah guides whom He wills.” (al-Qasas 28:56) “And indeed you [O Muhammad] are guiding [mankind] to the Straight Path.” (ash-Shura 2:52) because the aspect of guidance that has been negated is the specific guidance which is in the hands of Allah Alone. As for the aspect of guidance that has been affirmed, it is the general guidance which is to clarify the truth; and the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, explained this to the extent that it became like a great white plain whose night is like its day. (ash-Shanqiti)
There is also a third sense to the word guidance that was mentioned by ibn al-Qayyim, and that is guidance on the Day of Judgement along the path to Paradise – this being the bridge leading to it. So the one who is guided to the Straight Path in the Hereafter that leads to His Paradise. His fitness on the path that Day will be dependent on how firmly he trod the Straight Path in this life. (ibn al-Qayyim)
The Spiritual Cure: An Explanation of Surah Al-Fatihah prepared and translated by Abu Rumaysah Pages 138-140