By Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 11 June 2017 at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town


أللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّد وَآلِ مُحَمَّد،
O God, bless Muhammad and Muhammad’s Household,

وَمَتِّعْنِي بِهُدىً صَالِح لا أَسْتَبْدِلُ بِهِ،
give me to enjoy a sound guidance which I seek not to replace,

وَطَرِيقَةِ حَقٍّ لا أَزِيْغُ عَنْهَا،
a path of truth from which I swerve not,

وَنِيَّةِ رُشْد لاَ أَشُكُّ فِيْهَا
and an intention of right conduct in which I have no doubts!

In this part of Dua Makarimul Akhlaq, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is seeking from Almighty Allah (SWT) 3 things:

– Righteous guidance

– Steadfast perseverance

– Intention without any doubt/weakness


The Imam starts by reciting Salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) and his purified Household. Naturally we need to delve deeper into the issue of Hidayah (guidance) on this point. Of course, the discussion of Hidayah is an extensive one.

You can imagine that the prime purpose of the Holy Quran is Hidayah, as evidenced in its verses where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:

هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ

that the Quran came to guide the whole of humanity. (Surah Baqarah Verse 2)

In other verses Almighty Allah (SWT) says:

هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

that the Quran came to guide the God conscious. (Surah Baqarah Verse 185)

The list continues and illustrates the point that the topic of Hidayah is a vast and expansive one. However, we will confine our discussion on Hidayah within the context of Dua Makarimul Akhlaq where Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is seeking from Almighty Allah (SWT) for righteous guidance.

There are 2 principle types of guidance which the Holy Quran refers to:

– Hidayah Takwiniyya – genetic/natural guidance; and

– Hidayah Tashri’iyya – legislative guidance

This is looking at guidance from one angle, otherwise each as further divisions or classification that can be explored.


In the Holy Quran, Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 50 of Surah Taha (chapter 20):

قَالَ رَبُّنَا الَّذِي أَعْطَىٰ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلْقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَىٰ

“He said: Our Lord is He Who gave to everything its creation, then guided it (to its goal).”

This verse illustrates the natural system of guidance. This whole world and everything which Almighty Allah (SWT) created, received its existence from the Creator (SWT) and also at the same time, He guided His creation in a certain direction.

This guidance is without our Free Will – it is there naturally.

For example, Almighty Allah (SWT) created the sun, and guided the solar system and Milky Way accordingly.

Similarly, Almighty Allah (SWT) created everything else too, and the way He has created everything is for them to operate in a systematic manner. This is called guidance by creation, namely natural/genetic guidance.

Another simple example is our heart. Allah (SWT) created our heart but also guided this heart to beat, in order to perform certain functions in our bodies.

And one can look at the rest of the systems in operation in our bodies through the functions that our various organs fulfill, because it is there by default and cannot be disobeyed. This type of guidance is also present in us, human beings and we thus share this with ALL other creations of Almighty Allah (SWT).


All other creations of Almighty Allah (SWT) only have the material aspect to their existence. However, human beings have the material aspect AND the spiritual aspect to their existence. Animals and plants, for example, do not have a spiritual aspect to their existence.

This spiritual aspect of our existence originates from the faculty of thinking which Almighty Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon us, namely our intellectual capacity of comprehension. Again, this exists ONLY in us human beings, and due to this quality we have the spiritual aspect to our creation. We can think of something beyond matter and again, we are the ONLY creation of Almighty Allah (SWT) capable of capturing concepts beyond matter.

Almighty Allah (SWT) has placed within us a natural desire to strive for perfection. As a result of this natural desire, we sometimes mistake what perfection is. A millionaire will thus strive to become a billionaire, and when he becomes a billionaire he still feels empty and feels he still needs to continue!

This is because it is only Almighty Allah (SWT) who is perfect, and if human beings travel through this basic instinct to seek perfection which is directed in the proper way, it will direct you to Almighty Allah (SWT) who is THE PERFECT! When you draw closer and closer to Almighty Allah (SWT) you will reach satisfaction rather than emptiness.

This desire for perfection in us is also guidance from Allah which is natural or “fitri” and thus ulama say that faith of human beings in Almighty Allah is something natural. This is similar in concept to a mother’s love for a child. It is natural. Nobody needs to teach her to love her child.

We must remember that this guidance which is in our nature, does guide us toward truth and Almighty Allah (SWT), but unfortunately, it does not give us the complete answer. All that it confirms is that we are seeking to achieve perfection.

The question is: How to travel towards achieving this perfection? Indeed there is the inner voice pushing you to go for it, but the inner voice does not say how. Therefore, this natural guidance is not sufficient on its own.


Thus another type of guidance from Allah to all mankind exists which is a distinguished type of guidance called the intellect (Akl). The Quran refers to this type of guidance repeatedly and on over 60 occasions challenges human beings to employ their intellectual capacity and asks:

– “Why don’t you apply your intellect?”

– “Why don’t you ponder?”

– And so on…..

So the intellect is an EXTREMELY important source of guidance, along with nature. However, even this intellect is insufficient for 2 reasons:

– Intellect can tell you that there is a God who created this world. Intellect can also tell you that you must worship that God. But the capacity of the intellect is limited and will not tell you HOW TO worship that God.

– Intellect can also make mistakes. Intellect can make horrendous mistakes. It is a crucial faculty though, compulsory in fact! This is narrated in Hadith that “whoever does not have intellect has no religion”. Religion is not about blind following! The problem is that Intellect cannot take you very far on its own.


Therefore, as a result of these limitations we just discussed, we need legislative guidance. And Almighty Allah makes it His responsibility to provide this guidance.

Thus Almighty Allah say in Surah Layl Verse 12:

إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا لَلْهُدَى

“Verily We take upon Ourselves to guide”.

Or in Surah Insan Verse 3 Almighty Allah says:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا

“Surely We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (is up to him).”

The choice is up to the human being, but the clear guidance is from Allah. Thus Almighty Allah also says in Surah Balad Verse 10:

وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ

“And showed him the two ways (of good and evil)?”

This verse indicates that human beings were clearly shown which path is the path of salvation and which path is the path of destruction.

This Legislative Guidance is due to us having Free Will as human beings combined with the fact that our existence is a composite of material and spiritual which are constantly competing for control over ourselves. This free will offers us the choice of direction we can take. We can do as we please. We human beings are the ONLY creation of Almighty Allah (SWT) who have been blessed with this complete Free Will. To a certain extent Free Will is present in animals but can only be found in human being in its most complete form.

The question now arises how to use this Free Will. Our Free Will requires guidance because we have a choice to go in whatever direction we want to go. There should be guidance to direct us to the correct path of what to do and what not to do. This is called legislative guidance.

Almighty Allah (SWT) commits His responsibility to guide, through the verses of revelation.

What I am trying to say is that natural guidance, basic instinct, and intellectual capacity are all very important sources of guidance. But these 3 pillars can only stand on a firm foundation called Wahi (Divine Revelation).

Divine revelation therefore enables a COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM of guidance. Guidance requires a system to take effect, and if it requires a system then it requires a leader of that system. And if it requires a leader of that system, which will bring this guidance of Almighty Allah (SWT) to be materialized, then you have to believe in a SYSTEM OF LEADERSHIP!


So we see that from Almighty Allah’s side, there is 2 broad types of guidance that is being offered (Takwiniyyah and Tashri’iyyah). And from the human perspective, there are various levels of guidance being received.

Thus the Quran refers to Almighty Allah providing guidance to human beings in general. These are people who do not even believe in Allah but are receiving guidance from Allah.

Then those who have accepted Islam and the initial guidance from Almighty Allah, they still need guidance.

And then those who accepted Islam, and follow Islam practically as much as possible, they still need guidance and thus the Quran refers to this as “guidance for the God Conscious”.

Someone asked Imam Ali (a.s) saying “we are Muslim, and Mu’min. So why do we still pray in our salaah each day “guide us to the straight path”? The Imam replied “the meaning of “guide us to the straight path” is “keep us on the straight path”.

Thus even muttaqeen continuously require guidance to keep going. If they are disconnected from guidance, they will be lost.

And even if God Conscious people achieve great degrees of spiritual development, they still need guidance which is now a very special guidance. This is when Allah leads you to a level that is not possible for average people to understand.

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ

“And those who strive in Us – We will certainly guide them to our Paths”. (Surah Ankabut Verse 69).

Most of the time we read in Quran of people striving in the “path of Allah”, but this Verse is saying they “strive in Us”….that’s a very different striving. They are “annihilated in Allah”. Such people are guided by Allah to Allah’s highways!

Thus Imam Zainul Abideen wants to enjoy “righteous guidance” which he does not want to replace.


So after the Imam prays for “righteous guidance”, he requests as follows:

وَطَرِيقَةِ حَقٍّ لا أَزِيْغُ عَنْهَا،
“a path of truth from which I swerve not”

Just being on the right path is not enough. More challenging than this is to remain steadfast on this path. “Zaygh” means something that “lost it’s shine”.

The Imam is thus asking for “Istiqamah” or “perseverance/steadfastness” to remain on this path.

The Quran on more than one occasion refers to the issue of “Istiqamah”.

In Surah Fussilat Verse 30 it says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنْتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ

“Indeed, those who say: “Our Lord is Allah,” and then they remain steadfast, on them the angels will descend (saying): Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!”

Remaining steadfast is very difficult.

We have in the history of Islam, amazing examples of people who remained steadfast.

There is a family with a father, mother and 2 sons. This whole family accepted Islam. Even though thousands accepted Islam, how many remained steadfast is a very different question!

This family were captured and tortured so badly that the father whose name was Yasir, was brutally killed and the mother whose name was Sumayya was also tortured to death.

Abu Jahl harmed her so much that she died but she did not give up her religion.

They also had a son called Abdullah who was also killed and only Ammar survived.

When the Prophet (sawa) saw them in this situation and brutally massacred and mutilated he said “Be patient/steadfast, be patient O family of Yasir, for the promised place for you is Paradise.”

And even after this event, though Ammar survive, how firm did he not remain on truth?!


The “Istiqamah” we referred to earlier is an even deeper meaning.

Imam Reza (a.s) was asked regarding the meaning of the verse referred to earlier “Indeed, those who say: “Our Lord is Allah,” and then they remain steadfast”. He replied “those who remain on the wilayah of us Ahlul Bait (a.s)!”

Wilayat of Ahlul Bait (a.s) is the continuation of the genuine path of Islam.

And how steadfast were people on the Wilayah of Ahlul Bait (a.s)?

People like Ammar, Abu Zar, Salman, Kumayl, Maytham Tammar and others are just some examples.

Maytham used to sell dates. One day they said to him why won’t he disown Imam Ali (a.s). They asked him does he know his destiny due to this love of Imam Ali (a.s)? He said he already knows as his Maulaa Ali (a.s) told him that he will be killed and hanged from this date tree.

This steadfastness enraged them and caused them to kill him in the exact manner forecast by Imam Ali (a.s).

To be continued……………..