Featured, Tafseer

Tafseer Surah Al-Fatiha: اهدِنَا الصِّراطَ المُستَقيمَ

The following is a translation of Dr Fadhel al Samarrai’s Tafseer of Surah Fatiha. Sub-headings have been added for ease of reading. This tafseer gives an insight in to the miraculous nature of the Qur’anic Arabic.

The meaning of guidance (الهداية) is counsel, indication, exposition and inspiration. The verb of guidance is sometimes transitive (with an object) such as His (swt) saying:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ ٱلسَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً

“Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful.”

(Al-Insaan, 76:3)

and His saying:

وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطاً مُّسْتَقِيماً

“and He guided you on a straight path”

(Al-Fath, 48:2)

and sometimes it is transitive with the preposition إلى like His (swt) saying:

وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِيۤ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

“and Indeed, you are guiding to the straight path”

(Al shuara, 26:52)

and His saying:

وَأَهْدِيَكَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَتَخْشَىٰ

“and I will guide you to your lord so that you may fear”

(An-Naziyat, 79:19)

and sometimes it is transitive with the preposition ل like His saying:

ٱلْحَمْدُ للَّهِ ٱلَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَـٰذَا

“All Praise to Allah the one who guided us to this”

(Al-Araf, 7:43)

It was said that the difference between transitivity (verbs requiring an object) with a particle (harf) and without a particle, is that transitivity with a particle is said when guidance was not regarding him, so he will connect to guidance through the particle.

  1. Transitivity without a particle

Transitivity without a particle, is said for the one who has guidance and for the one who does not have guidance.

So you will say: ‘I guided him to the road’ (هَدَيتهُ إلى الطريق) and ‘I guided him to the road’ (وهديته للطريق) to the one who is not in the road. So you connected him to the road via the particle. You will say: ‘I guided him (to) the road’ (هديته الطريق) to the one who is in the road so you made him realise the road and you clarified it for him. You will also say it to the one who is not in the road so you connected him to the road.

He (swt) said upon the tongue of Ibrahim’s (as), saying to his father:

فَٱتَّبِعْنِيۤ أَهْدِكَ صِرَاطاً سَوِيّاً

“follow me, I will guide you to a correct path”

(Maryam:43)

and his father was not on the path, rather he was far from it. He (swt) said regarding the hypocrites:

وَلَوْ أَنَّا كَتَبْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَنِ ٱقْتُلُوۤاْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ أَوِ ٱخْرُجُواْ مِن دِيَارِكُمْ مَّا فَعَلُوهُ إِلاَّ قَلِيلٌ مِّنْهُمْ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ فَعَلُواْ مَا يُوعَظُونَ بِهِ لَكَانَ خَيْراً لَّهُمْ وَأَشَدَّ تَثْبِيتاً * وَإِذاً لأَتَيْنَٰهُم مِّن لَّدُنَّـآ أَجْراً عَظِيماً * وَلَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ صِرَاطاً مُّسْتَقِيماً

“And if We had decreed upon them, “Kill yourselves” or “Leave your homes,” they would not have done it, except for a few of them. But if they had done what they were instructed, it would have been better for them and a firmer position [for them in faith]. And then We would have given them from Us a great reward. And We would have guided them to a straight path.”

(An-Nisaa, 4:66-68)

and the hypocrites were not upon the path.

He (swt) said upon the tongue of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ:

وَمَا لَنَآ أَلاَّ نَتَوَكَّلَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ وَقَدْ هَدَانَا سُبُلَنَا

“And why should we not rely upon Allah while He has guided us to our [good] ways”

(Ibrahim, 14:12)

and they are on the path. He (swt) addressed his messenger Mohammed ﷺ:

وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطاً مُّسْتَقِيماً

“His favor upon you and guide you to a straight path.”

(Al-Fath, 48:2)

and he ﷺ is proceeding upon the path.

So being transitive to itself (without the particle), is said to the one who is on the path and to the one who is not on the path.

  1. Transitivity with the particle laam (ل) and the particle ilaa (إِلَى)

As for the transitivity with the particle laam and the particle ilaa, it will be for the one who is not on the path, such as His (swt) saying upon the tongue of those disputants who came to Dawud (as) in order that he judges between them:

فَٱحْكُمْ بَيْنَنَا بِٱلْحَقِّ وَلاَ تُشْطِطْ وَٱهْدِنَآ إِلَىٰ سَوَآءِ ٱلصِّرَاطِ

“So judge between us with truth and do not exceed [it] and guide us to the sound path.”

(38:22)

And His saying:

قُلْ هَلْ مِن شُرَكَآئِكُمْ مَّن يَهْدِيۤ إِلَى ٱلْحَقِّ

“Say, are there of your partners any who guides to the truth?”

(10:35)

i.e. the particle connects to the truth.

It came in the tafseer of Ibn Katheer: “Sometimes the guidance is transitive to itself, just as it is here: “guide us to the straight path” with the meaning of inspire us, or enable us success, or give us sustenance, or give us:

وَهَدَيْنَاهُ ٱلنَّجْدَينِ

“we guided him to the two paths”

(Al balad:10)

i.e. we explained to him the good and the bad.”

  1. Transitivity with the particle ilaa (إِلَى)

Sometimes it is transitive with إِلَىٰ like His (swt) saying,

ٱجْتَبَاهُ وَهَدَاهُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

“He chose him and he guided him to the straight path”

(Al Nahl:121)

فَٱهْدُوهُمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطِ ٱلْجَحِيمِ

“They guided them to the path of the fire”

(al saffat:23)

and that is with the meaning of guiding, indication and similar to this is His saying:

وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِيۤ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

“and indeed you guide to a straight path”

(Al shura:52)

and sometimes it is transitive with ل like the saying of the people of paradise:

ٱلْحَمْدُ للَّهِ ٱلَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَـٰذَا

“All praise to Allah, who guided us to this”

(Al-Araf, 7:43)

Al Lisan (dictionary) states: “I guided him to the path and to the house as guidance, i.e. I made him aware. The dialect of the people of hijaz, and other than them say: ‘I guided him to the road and to the house.’ Al Aqfash (grammarian) related both.”

Ibn Bari states: “It was said: I guided (to) the path is with the meaning go I made him aware, so it is transitive with two objects, and it said: I guided him to the road, and for the road is with the meaning of I directed him to it. So it is transitive with a prepositional particle like I guided, he said: it was said: I guided him (to) the road with the meaning I demonstrated to him the road.”

So upon this it will be: ‘he guided him (to) the road’ (هداه الطريق) with the meaning he made him aware of the road, and ‘he guided him to the road and for the road’ (هداه إلى الطريق وللطريق)  with the meaning of ‘I indicated it to him’, and it will be said: ‘he guided (li) to the road’ هداه للطريق  with the meaning of he demonstrated it to him also.

It seems that guidance is according to types. So the one who is misguided and furthest from the path, he is in need for a guide who will point to him the path and connect him to it. So here we use ‘he guided to’ (يهدي إلى)  i.e. he connected to and guided to.

The one connecting to the road is in need of a guide who will make him aware of the circumstances of the road and its different stages, and whatever is in it of fears and places of disaster and safety, and make him aware of that which the traveller will require in this road. So here we use ‘he guided him (to) the road’ (هداه الطريق).

  1. Transitivity with the particle laam (ل)

As for the laam, then it is used in the language for reason, i.e. to explain the goal of an event, and it may be used for the completion of a goal also, like your saying ‘I came for the purpose of seeking knowledge’ i.e. indeed the seeking of knowledge is the goal of coming and its reason, and ‘I reached the house’ with meaning of ‘I arrived to the house’.

Laam may be used with guidance to explain the goal of the event, so the traveller of the path wants to reach a goal and the road is not a goal in itself. Therefore, it will come with laam when this is the goal, so you will say: ‘he guided for the purpose of such and such’ i.e. he made him reach it for the purpose of it (goal). The goal therefore was the reason for his conduct and movement. The human is in need of all this guidance, so if he is misguided he will need someone who will guide him to the path. If he is to arrive (to his goal), he will need someone who will make him aware of the road. If he travels along a path he will need to reach the goal in order not to be cut of in the road. If the road was cut off, he will need someone to inform him of his goal, and make him attain his wish and guide him to it.

So you will say just like the people of paradise said, after the end of their path and reaching their goal:

ٱلْحَمْدُ للَّهِ ٱلَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَـٰذَا

“All praise to Allah who guided us to this”

(Al-A’raf, 7:43)

i.e. he enabled us to reach this (paradise), eventually and it is the conclusion of guidance.

Because of this, we will not find huda (هدى)  transitive with laam used in the noble Qur’an with way (السبيل) or path (الصراط). So you will not find for example هداه لصراط مستقيم ‘he guided him to the straight path’ or هداه لسبيل مستبين ‘he guided him to the clear way’ because the path is not the goal. Rather it is a path which leads to the goal, so it is sought for other than it, so it is said: ‘he guided him (to) the path’ ( هداه إلى الصراط وهداه الصراط). He (swt) said:

بَلِ ٱللَّهُ يَمُنُّ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْ هَداكُمْ لِلإِيمَانِ

“Rather, Allah has conferred favor upon you that He has guided you to the faith”

(Al-Hujuraat, 49:17)

Therefore he made the faith an objective, that is to say that faith is from security, and it is the stability of the soul and its tranquillity, and most that which burdens the human is the loss of his psychological security, therefore its achievement is a goal from the greatest of goals.

And He said:

قُلِ ٱللَّهُ يَهْدِي لِلْحَقِّ

“say Allah guides to the truth”

(Yunus, 10:35)

and He said:

إِنَّ هٰذَا القُرآنَ يَهدي لِلَّتي هِيَ أَقوَمُ

“Indeed this Quran guides to that which is straight”

(Al-Israa, 17:9)

and He said:

ٱلْحَمْدُ للَّهِ ٱلَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَـٰذَا

“All praise to Allah who guided us to this”

(Al-A’raf, 7:43)

and He said:

يَهْدِي ٱللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَآءُ

“Allah guides to his light whoever he wishes”

(An-Nur, 24:35)

The saying ‘to the way’ (للسبيل) or any of its methods with laam was not mentioned in the above verses because all of these are goals. Therefore faith, truth, that which is correct, light and paradise all of them are desired and demanded goals, and laam was used with them.

Note also that Allah designated this guidance – which is the guidance for the goal and completion of it – to Himself or the Qur’an. So He did not use (هدى لكذا)  ‘he guided for such and such’ but for Him (swt) or for His book. So it is informing of the goals in contrast to (هداه كذا) ‘he guided him (to) such and such’ or (هداه إلى كذا) ‘he guided him to such and such’. Therefore He used it for Him and other than Him. He (swt) said:

وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِيۤ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

“an indeed you guide to a straight path”

(Al shuura:52)

and He said:

فَٱتَّبِعْنِيۤ أَهْدِكَ صِرَاطاً سَوِيّا

“follow me, I will guide to a straight path”

(Maryam, 20:43)

You may say, but the Qur’an uses the two expressions sometimes in one context. When this occurs, it indicates upon both of them with one meaning, For example His (swt) saying:

قَدْ جَآءَكُمْ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُّبِينٌ * يَهْدِي بِهِ ٱللَّهُ مَنِ ٱتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ ٱلسَّلاَمِ وَيُخْرِجُهُمْ مِّنِ ٱلظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى ٱلنُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

“There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book. By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darkness into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.”

(Al-Maaida, 5:15-16)

then He said:

يَهْدِي بِهِ ٱللَّهُ مَنِ ٱتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ ٱلسَّلاَمِ

“Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace”

So he made the action transitive by itself (directly connected to object): سُبُلَ ٱلسَّلاَمِ “ways of peace”. Then He said: وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ “and he guides them to a straight path”. So He made it transitive with the particle الى which indicates both with one meaning.

Another example is His saying:

قُلْ هَلْ مِن شُرَكَآئِكُمْ مَّن يَهْدِيۤ إِلَى ٱلْحَقِّ قُلِ ٱللَّهُ يَهْدِي لِلْحَقِّ أَفَمَن يَهْدِيۤ إِلَى ٱلْحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَن يُتَّبَعَ أَمَّن لاَّ يَهِدِّيۤ إِلاَّ أَن يُهْدَىٰ

‘‘Say, Are there of your partners any who guides to the truth? Say, Allah guides to the truth. So is He who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed or he who guides not unless he is guided?”

(Yunus, 10:35)

So He made it transitive once with ila and once with laam. So He said:

قُلْ هَلْ مِن شُرَكَآئِكُمْ مَّن يَهْدِيۤ إِلَى ٱلْحَقِّ

‘Say, “Are there of your partners any who guides to the truth?’

So He made it transitive with laam and then He said:

ٱللَّهُ يَهْدِي لِلْحَقِّ

‘Allah guides to the truth’

Therefore, He made it transitive with laam. Then he said:

أَفَمَن يَهْدِيۤ إِلَى ٱلْحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَن يُتَّبَعَ

‘So is He who guides to the truth worthier to be followed’

Therefore, He made both expressions with a single meaning.

The truth is that it is not one meaning, and that here this difference is required, so it links to the first verse and it is His saying:

يَهْدِي بِهِ ٱللَّهُ مَنِ ٱتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ ٱلسَّلاَمِ وَيُخْرِجُهُمْ مِّنِ ٱلظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى ٱلنُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

‘By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darkness into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.’

This is because the one who follows the pleasure of Allah is not misguided and nor is he a deviant from the path, rather he is on it. Therefore, he is in need for someone to guide him on the path and make him aware of it, and he is not in need for someone to connect him to it (path). As for the one who is in darkness, he needs someone to take him from it and point him to the path and connect him to it. Therefore, he is not on the correct path, and due to this, Allah said:

وَيُخْرِجُهُمْ مِّنِ ٱلظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى ٱلنُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

‘and brings them out from darkness into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.’

i.e. he will connect them to it. Therefore, all positions of the expression which He mentioned in it are required.

  1. Transitivity without any particles

We return now to His saying (swt): ٱهْدِنَا ٱلصِّرَاطَ ٱلْمُسْتَقِيمَ “guide us (to) to the straight path”. Allah made the action of guidance transitive by itself (without a preposition), and He did not make it transitive with the particle, and that is to combine several meanings in to one. This means transitivity without a particle is said for the one who has it (guidance) and for the one who does not have it. Here we are seeking guidance for the one who is on the path, so He will make him aware of it and He will enlighten him regarding its issues.

As for the one who is misguided from the believers regarding seriousness, then Allah will return him to seriousness, so He included the two types of people.

The one who has belief in the oneness and praising of Allah, the meaning was seeking continuity of the guidance upon the straight path and constancy upon the guidance and increasing in it, just like His (swt) saying:

وَٱلَّذِينَ ٱهْتَدَوْاْ زَادَهُمْ هُدًى

“those who were guided, He increases them in guidance”

(Muhammad, 47:17)

This is because the servant is in need of Allah (swt) in every moment and situation. Allah makes him realise guidance and He increases him in it and He makes him continue upon it.

Therefore the meaning of ‘guide us (to) the straight path’ is to make us aware of the path of truth and return us to it with a beautiful return when we are misguided or we have deviated, and make us firm upon the guidance and increase us in guidance.

It came in Al Bahr Al Muhit: “this sentence includes the seeking of continuity of guidance to the path of those upon whom Allah has bestowed favour, because the one who declared from him the praise of Allah and he informs that he worships him and seeks assistance from him, then the guidance has happened for him, but he asks for its permanence and its continuity.”

It came in Ruhu al maani: “for the establishment of the meaning of ‘guide’ are the following points.

Firstly: that it’s meaning is, make us firm upon the deen so that we are not shaken by doubts, and in the Quran:

رَبَّنَا لاَ تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا

“our lord do not make our hearts waver after you guided us”

(Aal-Imran, 3:8)

and in the hadith: اللهم يا مُقلِّبَ القلوبِ ثَبِّتْ قلوبنا دينك “O Allah! Oh turner of hearts, make our hearts firm on your religion.”

Secondly: give us, increasing of guidance, just like He (swt) said:

وَٱلَّذِينَ ٱهْتَدَوْاْ زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَآتَاهُمْ تَقْوَاهُمْ

“And those who are guided – He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness.”

(Muhammad, 47:17)

Thirdly: that the rewardable guidance, like His saying (swt):

يَهْدِيهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ بِإِيمَانِهِمْ

“their Lord will guide them because of their faith”

(Yunus, 10:9)

Fourthly: that the purpose is Allah indicates for us the truth in furthering of our lives, just as He pointed upon it in its past.

  1. Why did Allah not bring forward the object with guidance just as He did with worship and seeking help?

Why did He not say: ‘us only you guide’ (إيَّانا اهدِ)  just as He said: ‘to you only we worship and to you only we seek help’ إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ ?

The reply is that it is not to correct to foreground (bringing forward the object) because restricting the request for guidance by excluding the rest of mankind is not suitable. Therefore saying: ‘O Allah guide me and do not guide anyone else except for me’ (اللهم اهدني ولا تهدِ أحداً سواي) or ‘O Allah show me mercy and do not be merciful to anyone else other than me’ (اللهم ارحمني ولا ترحم أحداً غيري)  is not correct. Instead you should ask for guidance for yourself and not confine it for you, so if you said: ‘us alone you guide’ (إيانا اهد), the meaning would have been: guide us and do not guide anyone else except us, and this is not correct.

Look from another angle, how Allah said ‘guide us’ (اهدنا) and He did not say: ‘guide me’ (اهدني). This is for many reasons.

  1. It is suitable with the plural in His saying: ‘you alone worship and you alone we seek help from’ (إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ), because when the speaker informs that he and those with him who are worshipping Allah and seeking help from him, are asking for guidance for him and those with him to the clear path. This is because they are guided with it so the worshipping from them is correct. Don’t you see that whoever is not guided to the path which connects him to his goal, then the attainment of his goal will not materialise for him.

It came in in Tafseer al Razi: As if the servants saying: I heard your messenger saying: ‘the group is a mercy and disunity is a punishment’, then when I want to praise you, I mention all the praise, then I said: ‘All Praise is for Allah’, and when I mention worshiping, I mention all worship, so I said: ‘to you alone we worship’, and when I mention seeking help, I will mention complete seeking of help, so I said: ‘you alone we seek help from’. Therefore without doubt, when I seek guidance, I seek it for everyone, so I said: ‘guide us to the straight path’, and when I seek emulation of the righteous with everyone, then I said: ‘path of those you whom you bestowed favour upon’, and when I seek escape from those who are repulsed, I escaped from all, so I said: ‘not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.’

  1. Supplication (du’a), whenever it was general then it was closer to the response.
  2. In it is to love for others what you love for yourself. So he cleans what exists in in the soul from the filth selfishness and tendencies of isolation with good and he spreads love of cooperation among the Muslims.
  3. The spreading of the collective spirit (الروح الجماعية) between the individuals.
  4. The gathering upon guidance is stable and strong, and that great numbers of walkers on the road will cause friendliness and will minimise the difficulty of the trip as opposed to being alone on the trip, which brings loneliness and attracts boredom. Indeed the human being, when there are travellers with him, he does not feel lonely, and whenever there are numerous travellers, security spreads and tranquillity is established. As for the lonely traveller, he may be lonely and he maybe become weak, and he may fall and be destroyed, and maybe the wolves will eat him. The hand of Allah is with the group, whereas the wolves will only eat the remote sheep.

This matter will happen to the one travelling on the worldly paths and to the one travelling on the paths principles and values without distinction, and it is in the second situation most apparent and dangerous.

  1. How is Allah’s saying ‘guide us to the straight path’ ٱهْدِنَا ٱلصِّرَاطَ ٱلْمُسْتَقِيمَ connected with the beginning, middle and end of the chapter?

It is connected with His saying: ‘lord of the worlds’ in the beginning of the chapter, because it is from the meaning of sustaining master, and the first task of the sustainer is guidance, just as we mentioned.

It is connected with His saying: ‘The Beneficent, the Merciful’, because the one who Allah guides, then he has shown him mercy, therefore you seek from The Beneficent, the Merciful that he does not leave you misguided and he does not guide you to the path, then indeed his mercy is denied for the one who abandons asking him for guidance and success from misguidance and loss will be misguided and wasted.

It is connected with His saying: إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ ‘you alone we worship’, because the worship necessitates to be on the correct path which Allah is pleased with, and worship is not realised except by guidance to the straight path, therefore it is not possible to worship him with true worship while you are misguided.

It is connected with His saying: وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ You alone we ask for help because you request from Him guidance and constancy upon it.

It is connected with His saying: أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ “You have blessed because those who are blessed are those proceeding on the straight path.

It is connected with His saying: وَلاَ ٱلضَّآلِّينَ Not (those) who are misguided) because in other chapters those who are misguided are straying from the road. The unobstructed are those serious on the truth. Guidance is opposite to misguidance. Often the Qur’an combines the opposites guidance and misguidance. He (swt) says:

يُضِلُّ مَن يَشَآءُ وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَآءُ

“He misguides anyone He wills and guides anyone He wills.”

(An-Nahl, 93)

يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيراً وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيراً

“He misguides many by it and guides many by it.”

(Baqara, 26)

Any many more.

  1. Why was path (صراط) used?

The choosing of the word path (صراط) instead of the word road (طريق) or way (سبيل) has its reasons. Path (صراط) is on the pattern of (فِعال) from (صراط) and it is from the patterns indicating for inclusion, like connection and strength. Therefore, it will be inclusive for every traveller, and it will not be narrow for them. Therefore, it is wide and spacious as opposed to the word (طريق) because it is (فعيل) with the meaning of (مفعول) from (طرق) with a meaning of well-trodden, and this does not indicate in its form for inclusion, so it may be narrow for the travellers and not contain them.

Likewise, the word way (السبيل), is like (فعيل) with the meaning of the passive particle (مفعول) from ‘the road is lowered when its passers increased’, like the judge (الحكيم) with the meaning of the arbitrator (المُحكَم). The much-frequented road is from the road is the well-trodden road, it is called: much frequented path (سبيل سابلة) i.e. well-trodden road (مسلوكة).

Path (صراط) is singular, defined by two means of defining: with alif and lamm and Idafah (genitive construction). It is characterised with correctness which indicates a single path. There is no path other than it, because between two points there does not exist more than one straight path. So the straight path, it is the path of Islam and it is the religion of Allah, and He described it with correctness in order to indicate that it is the shortest road. Therefore, it will not cause difficulty for the traveller. If there was any crookedness it would hinder him from the road and he will not reach the goal, because he is connected to more than one straight path between two points.

Indeed, the goal of the travellers on the path, it is to reach Allah (swt) just as he said:

إِنَّ هَـٰذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَن شَآءَ ٱتَّخَذَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ سَبِيلاً

“Surely this is a reminder, so whoever pleases takes to his Lord a way.”

(Al-Insaan, 76:29)

And our Lord is upon the straight path and what connects to him is a straight path, just as he said:

إِنَّ رَبِّي عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

“surely my Lord is on the right path.”

(Hud, 11:56)

and He said:

قَالَ هَذَا صِرَاطٌ عَلَيَّ مُسْتَقِيمٌ

“He said: This is a right way with Me”

(Al-Hijr, 15:41)

So he assigned the traveller upon the path this path to reaching him. The meaning of reaching Him is to achieve His pleasure, because we are all returning to Him and meeting Him.

  1. Why ‘straight’ path?

It came in the tafseer of al Razi: know that the people of geometry said: the straight line, it is the shortest line that connects between two points. So the result is that the straight path is the shortest from the all the crooked lines. Therefore the servant was saying: ‘guide to the straight path’ for number of reasons:

Firstly: that it is the closest lines and the shortest of them, and I am incapable, so it is not appropriate due to my weakness except the straight road.

Secondly: that straight is one and he did not make it crooked, and some of it resembling some in distortion, so the road is dubious to me. As for the straight, nothing other than it resembled it, so it was furthest from fear and vice and nearest to safety and protection.

Thirdly: the straight path connects to the goal and the crooked does not connect to it.

Fourthly: The straight does not change while the crooked changes.

It came in tafseer al Qaeem: “He mentioned that the straight path as singular which is made definite with: definite with Al and made definite with genitive construction, and that informs its designations and its specificity and that it is one path. As for paths of the people of anger and misguidance, indeed He (swt) pluralised it and isolated it like his saying:

وَأَنَّ هَـٰذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً فَٱتَّبِعُوهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلسُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَن سَبِيلِهِ

“And (know) that this is My path, the right one therefore follow it, and follow not (other) ways, for they will lead you away from His way”

(Al-Anaam, 6:153)

So he made the word path (صِرَاطِ) and his way (سَبِيلِهِ) singular and he made the word ways (ٱلسُّبُلَ) plural as a contrast to it. This is because the road which connects to Allah is one, and it is what His messenger ﷺ was sent with and His book was revealed for. No one can reach it except from this road, and even if the people come from every path, and seek to open every door, the road for them will be blocked, and the doors for them will be locked except from this road only.

It is evident that the Qur’an did not bring the word path except as singular, so he did not use it as a plural or collective as opposed to the way (sabeel), because he singled it out and he gathered it. That is because path (صِرَاطِ) is the broadest of paths, and it is what the ways (ٱلسُّبُلَ) lead to. He (swt) said:

وَأَنَّ هَـٰذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً فَٱتَّبِعُوهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلسُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَن سَبِيلِهِ

“And (know) that this is My path, the right one therefore follow it, and follow not (other) ways, for they will lead you away from His way”

(Al-Anaam, 6:153)

Therefore, he made it one path and it is straight path then He said: وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلسُّبُلَ and follow not (other) ways” and He said:

يَهْدِي بِهِ ٱللَّهُ مَنِ ٱتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ ٱلسَّلاَمِ

“With it Allah guides him who will follow His pleasure into the ways of safety”

(Al-Maida, 5:16)

So He mentioned ways as a plural and it is paths of numerous goods, and He said:

وَٱلَّذِينَ جَاهَدُواْ فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا

“And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways”

(Al-Ankabut, 69)

So He made it numerous paths, whereas for Him, He made a single path and it is the straight path.