The Path of Those Whom You Have Favoured

After the servant has requested guidance to the Straight Path, Allah then proceeds to clarify further what this Straight Path is, by pointing out those who traverse it, and this in turn is explained in greater detail in Surah an-Nisa, “But no by Your Lord! They cannot have faith until they make you [O Muhammad] judge in all disputes between them and find in themselves no resistance to your decisions, and accept them with full submission. And if We had ordered them [saying]: ‘Kill [the guilty one amongst] yourselves or leave your homes’ very few of them would have done it. If they had done what they were told, it would have been better for them and would have strengthened their [faith]. Indeed we would then have bestowed upon them a great reward from Ourselves and We would have guided them to the Straight Way. And whosoever obeys Allah and the Messenger, they will be in the company of those upon whom Allah had bestowed His favour: the Prophets, the sincerely truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. What an excellent company these are!” (an-Nisa 4:65-69)

Ibn Abbas said in commentary to this verse, ‘[Those who you have favoured] by making them obedient to You and worship You from the Angels, the Prophets, the sincerely truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. This is like what our Lord, Exalted is He has said, “The will be in the company of those upon whom Allah has bestowed His favour…” Allah, Exalted is He, also says, “They are the ones Allah has guided, so be guided by their guidance.” (al-Anam 6:90)

In explaining to us the Straight Path by directing us to those who traverse it, lies an indication that we should be careful of the company we keep, this is a principle repeatedly taught to us by the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

“A man is upon the religion of his close friend, so look carefully as to who you take as your close friend.” (at-Tirmidhi 2378)

“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like the seller of musk and the blacksmith. As for the seller of musk, either he will give some to you, or you will try and buy it from him, or its scent will rub off on you. As for the blacksmith, either your clothes will be burned or his rancid odour will rub off on you.” (Bukhari)

“A person will be with those he loves” (Bukhari)

Moreover by directing our attention to those who traverse the Straight Path one is comforted and no longer feels lonely and isolated: for those travelling this Path, amongst man, are few. Some of the Salaf would say, ‘Follow the path of truth and do not despair because of the few who traverse it, beware of the path of misguidance and do not be deceived by the many who traverse it.’ So each time one feels isolated, look to those who have traversed  the path before you, those who have been favoured, take comfort in that, keep your gaze directed at them, your desire being to aspire to their company, and let not your desire be distracted to other than them; for they can never bring you any benefit before Allah. (Ibn al-Qayyim)

This verse constitutes clear proof that the obedience of Allah, Exalted is He, can only come about by Allah favouring us and His granting us His divine accord. (at-Tabari) Allah, Exalted is He says, “Say: Both east and west belong to Allah, He guides whoever He wills to the straight path.” (al-Baqarah 2:143) “Mankind was a single community. Then Allah sent Prophets bringing good news and giving warning, and with them He sent down the Book with truth to decide between people regarding their differences. Only those who were given it differed about it, after clear signs had come to them, envying one another. Then, by His permission, Allah guided those who had faith to the truth about which they differed. Allah guides whoever He wills to a straight path.” (al-Baqarah 2:213)

Allah sent the Messengers with scripture, but the people started differing over it by way of envy and obstinacy, so Allah graced the believers and, “guided those who had faith”, the ruling of truth came, “and Allah guides whoever He wills to a straight path.” In this respect Allah, Exalted is he also says, “They think they have done you a favour by becoming Muslims! Say, ‘Do not consider your Islam a favour to me. No indeed! It is Allah who has favoured you by guiding you to faith if you are telling the truth.” (al-Hujurat 49:17) “…We will strip away rancour in their hearts. Rivers will flow under them and they will say, ‘Praise be to Allah who has guided us to this! We would not have been guided had Allah not guided us. The Messengers of our Lord came with the truth.’ It will be proclaimed to them, ‘This is your Garden which you inherited for what you did.” (al-Araf 7:43) This truth is emphasis by the explicit mention of ‘You’ in the ‘You have favoured.’ By the servant saying this, he is reminding himself that Allah is the One who has blessed him with guidance and that Allah is the One who should be thanked for this, as such he has combined the aspects that are mentioned in, “Remember Me – I will remember you. Give thanks to Me and do not be ungrateful.” (al-Baqarah 2:152)

At-Taftazani ash-Shafi said that this chapter directs us towards all favours that one is granted. All favours revolve around four matters: the first creation and continuation and the second creation and continuation in the Hereafter. “All praise and thanks are due to Allah, Lord of the world” points one to the blessing of our own creation in this life. “The All-Merciful, the Most Merciful” points one to the blessings of Allah that allow us to survive in this world. “Master of the Day of Judgement” points one to the second creation and “You Alone we worship” points us to the second continuation, for the benefits and blessings of worship are truly seen in the next life. There are four more chapters in the Qur’an that commence with mention of praise, and all of these discuss one of these four blessings. (al-Baqai)

The Spiritual Cure: An Explanation of Surah Al-Fatihah prepared and translated by Abu Rumaysah Pages 156-161

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