In the exegesis of the words of Allah Ehdinas Siratal Mustaqeem (“Keep us on the Straight Path”), Imam as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said that this means, “Guide us to the path whose result is Your love and which reaches to Your Deen (complete code and way of life) and which would prevent us from following our lower desires or which we would take views and opinions (over Yours) which would result in our destruction.” (Masnad al-Rida, vol. 1, p. 314)
Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi
Commentary of the Hadith
In the exegesis of this verse of the Qur’an which we read ten times within a 24 hour period, Imam as-Sadiq has stated the following points:
1. The first sign of the Straight Path is that this is the path which leads to the love of Allah. If day by day our love for Allah increases, then this is a sign that we are on the Straight Path (the Sirat al-Mustaqim).
2. The Straight Path is the thing which makes us reach to the Deen of Allah and the truth of the teachings of Allah. If day by day, we see that we are becoming closer to the truths of the faith, then it should be clear for us that we are on the Straight Path.
3. The Straight Path is that road which prevents us from following our lower, base desires, and our own personal opinions and our own personal judgments. If we see that we have all of these within ourselves, then we should know that we are definitely on the Straight Path.
If we see that there is no effect of the love of Allah in our essence, or that year after year, our sincerity and presence of heart in the Salat is becoming less and less, then it is clear that we have gone astray from the Straight Path.
In addition, if we see that, in relation to the Deen of Allah whether this be in the Usul (fundamental beliefs) or the Furu (practical matters), there is no increase in our knowledge of these two branches, then it is perfectly clear that we have lost out direction from the Straight Path.
We seek refuge in Allah that a person, due to his base and lower desires, destroys the color of the faith and his religious responsibilities, as this is something very dangerous! When we stand for the Salat, we must seek from Allah guidance onto the Straight Path with our entire presence and essence and an increase in love for Him.
For those people who are traveling the path of Islamic studies seeking to become religious scholars, this is something as a show of pride that there is a purpose to their life that they are given more insight into their Deen and that their love and affection for Allah is increased.
At this point, the first question that comes up is, what is the Straight Path? And secondly, if we are constantly seeking guidance to the Straight Path from Allah, does that mean we are currently misguided? Furthermore, supposing that these words of ours are true, then what about the Prophet and the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them all), who are the examples of the perfect human being? What does it mean in relation to them?
Firstly, the Straight Path is the path of purity and goodness, the path of justice and equality, and the path of true faith and righteous actions.
Secondly, in response to the question raised, we must state that while a person is traversing upon the path of guidance, there is a fear that at any moment, he may slip off of the path and become misguided, and it is because of this fact that we must give ourselves up to our Lord and implore Him that he keep us firm and steady on the Straight Path.
In addition, traveling upon the path of guidance is the path towards perfection upon which, stage by stage, a person passes through the stages of difficulties so that he can reach to a higher level.
We also know that the paths towards perfection are limitless, and they lead to the Limitless Entity. The path can be achieved by following the Ahl ul Bayt (the thoroughly purified members of the family of the Holy Prophet), as Allah promises in the Holy Quran
[Quran 33:33] … Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.
Imams used to ask Allah for guidance to show us the way of Straight Path, as we can travel upon their path, which has been defined in the Quran.
[Quran 1:6] Keep us on the right path.
[Quran 1:7] The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors.