Sura Al-Fatiha (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-06



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The Second Degree of Guidance
Unlike the first, the second degree of guidance is not general but particular. It is limited to those creatures which are considered to be rational, that is, men and jinns. This kind of guidance comes to every man through prophets and revealed books. Some accept this guidance, and become believers (Muslims): some reject it and become disbelievers (Kafirs).

The Third Degree of guidance
The third degree of guidance is still more particular, being special to true believers (Mu'minin) and the God-fearing (Muttaqin). Like the first degree, the third kind of guidance too descends directly to the individual from Allah, and it is called, Tawfiq. That is to say, Allah's grace provides a man with internal and external means and circumstances which should make it easy, and even pleasant for him to accept and act upon the guidance of the Holy Qur'an, and difficult to ignore or oppose it. The scope of the third degree of guidance is limitless, and its levels indefinite.5 Here is the sphere in which man, not only can, but is required to make a progress in the veritable sense of the term. The agency of this progress is the performance of virtuous deeds6. All increase in virtuous deeds brings with it an increase in divine guidance. The Holy Qur'an itself gives us the promise of such increase:
وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَآتَاهُمْ تَقْوَاهُمْ
As for those who follow the straight path, Allah will increase their guidance. (47:17)
وَمَن يُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ
And whoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart. (64:ll)
وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا
Those who strive for (literally, 'in') Us, We will surely guide them in Our paths. (29:69)

It is in this field of progress that we see even the greatest prophets and men of Allah striving, and it is an increase in divine guidance and help that they keep seeking to their last breath.

A Cumulative view of guidance
Keeping in mind the three distinct degrees of guidance, one can easily see that guidance is a thing which everyone does possess in some way, and yet no one, not even the greatest, can do without wishing to attain more of its advanced and higher stages. Hence, of all the prayers man can address to Allah, the most important is the prayer for guidance, which has been taught to us in the very first Surah of the Holy Qur'an; and this prayer is as necessary for the greatest of prophets and men of Allah as for an ordinary Muslim. That is why the Siirah Al-Fath (Victory), in enumerating the material and spiritual benefits of the conquest of Makkah in the last days of the Holy Prophet (SM) also says, وَيَهْدِيَكُمْ صِرَاطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا (and to guide you on the straight path) (48:20) When these verses were revealed, the Holy Prophet (SM)  had already received guidance and was a source of guidance for others. The good tidings of receiving guidance can, in this situation, have only one meaning that he attained some very high station of guidance at the time.

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