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The Supplication Series: Seeking Rightful Guidance

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Written by ibn Riaz

In our previously discussed supplication, we observed the concise speech of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam). The following narration provides another example of that.

`Imrān b. Ḥuṣayn narrated: “The Prophet (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said to my father: ‘O Ḥuṣayn, how many deities do you worship now?’ He said: ‘Seven. Six in the earth, and one above the heavens.’ He said, ‘So which of them do you take for your ardent requests and fears?’ He said: ‘The one above the heavens.’ He said, ‘O Ḥuṣayn, if you would but accept Islām, I would teach you two phrases that would benefit you.’”

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He said: “So when Ḥuṣayn accepted Islām, he said: ‘O Messenger of Allāh, teach me the two phrases you promised me,’ so he (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Say:

اللّهُمَّ أَلْهِمْنِي رُشْدِي وَأَعِذْنِي مِنْ شَرِّ نَفْسِي

Transliteration:
Allāhumma alhimnī rushdī wa a`idhnī min sharri nafsī

Translation:
O Allāh, inspire me to be rightly guided and protect me from the evil of myself.’”[1]

Audio

Listen to the du’ā’: [audio:http://muslimmatters.org/audio/5.mp3]

Download it here.

Selected Word Analysis

Alhimnī (أَلْهِمْنِي): Ilhām (إلهام) means “inspiration; instinct; enlightenment”. It is mentioned in the Qur’ān in the context of Allāh, the Most High, describing the human soul:

فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا
“And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness”[2]

Ar-Rāghib al-Aṣfahānī (raḥimahullāh) defines ilhām as “something placed in the heart, specifically bestowed upon by Allāh, the Most High, or the exalted assembly (angels).”[3]

Rushdī (رُشْدِي): Rushd (رُشد) means to have “steadfastness upon the path of truth whilst having strong resolve.”[4]

You may come across this word, rushd[5], every Friday when reading Sūrah al-Kahf along with another similar word in meaning, rashad[6] (رَشَد). Some scholars have said that rashad is more specific than rushd. Rushd is used in matters related to this life and the Hereafter whereas rashad is used specifically for matters of the Hereafter.[7] In this supplication the Prophet (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) uses the word rushd which is more comprehensive.

Brief Explanation

In this supplication, one is asking Allāh to instill his soul with guidance. What is true guidance in this context? It is everything that leads to obedience to Allāh and His messenger, just as the Prophet (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) once addressed in a sermon, “Whoever obeys Allāh and His messenger is rightly guided, and whoever disobeys Allāh and His messenger has gone astray (from the right path).”[8]

One is essentially saying with this supplication, “O Allāh, the One with the most beautiful Names and perfect Attributes, place guidance, uprightness, and righteousness into my soul and protect me from the evil of myself as it is persistent in enjoining evil (an-nafs al-‘amārah bis-sou’).” The evil of the self is one of the sources of evil in general, and serves as a means of leading to eternal ruin if Allāh does not protect one from it. This is alluded to in the Qur’ān:[9]

إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلَّا مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّي إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
“…Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.”[10]

Points of Benefit

  • Imām ash-Shawkāni (raḥimahullāh) says, “This ḥadīth is an example of Prophetic concise speech because seeking to be inspired by rushd is a means of safeguarding one’s self from misguidance. Seeking refuge from the evil of one’s self is a safeguard from the majority of sins, as much of it originates from the soul that is a persistent enjoiner of evil.”[11]
  • Shaykh Muḥammad b. Ṣaliḥ al-`Uthaymīn (raḥimahullāh) says, “If one were to be bestowed with right guidance, then he is successful and prosperous. This is the goal of the Believers of whom Allāh described in the verse:

وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ

‘…but Allāh has endeared to you the faith and has made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance and disobedience. Those are the [rightly] guided.’[12][13]

  • It is incumbent upon the servant to have complete faith and assurance in Allāh and to not solely depend upon himself—even for the blink of an eye!
  • The need of the servant for guidance and success from Allāh is above any other need.
  • If a servant is not inspired with guidance, he will remain astray and lost. “He whom Allāh guides is the [rightly] guided, but he whom He leaves astray – never will you find for him a protecting guide.”[14]
  • The Prophet (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) focused on protecting one from the evil of his self such as riyā’ (being ostentatious), sum`ah (desiring for people to hear one’s goodness), jealousy, and having poor judgment of others. If these diseases are uprooted, it will protect one from falling into greater evils such as backbiting, slandering, stealing, betrayal, et cetera.
  • The wisdom of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) when dealing with new Muslims. He (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) kept his promise after enticing Ḥuṣayn with what would benefit him after accepting Islam. He (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) also did not overwhelm him with too many religious matters. Rather, he (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) took a gradual approach in teaching Ḥuṣayn two simple, comprehensive phrases that would facilitate his spiritual growth.
  • The emphasis that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) placed in teaching the Ummah to rely upon Allāh first in all matters through supplication. He (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) could have easily told Ḥuṣayn, a new Muslim, to go sit with righteous people or attend such-and-such gatherings of knowledge (which, of course, there is nothing wrong with!). Nevertheless, he (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) chose to teach the Ummah this comprehensive supplication first, in order to highlight the status of supplication in one’s life instead of using it as a last resort.
  • Finally, this supplication hones in on a very critical point: if a servant does not actively seek guidance with a desiring heart, actions showing it, and deeply supplicating his Creator for it, then his claims may never be validated. Allāh, the Most High, says:

إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ ۖ فَمَن شَاءَ اتَّخَذَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ سَبِيلًا
“Indeed, this is a reminder, so whoever wills (wants, seeks it) let him take a Path to His Lord.”[15]

This is how the Prophet (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) encouraged Ḥuṣayn and instilled in him a yearning for guidance.  When he was ready for it by accepting Islām, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) taught him this supplication which would nourish what was in Ḥuṣayn’s heart—connecting to the Divine by leaving one’s desires. And Allāh knows best.


[1] Narrated by Aḥmad and at-Tirmidhī. This is the latter’s wording. Scholars have differed in the authenticity of this narration. The authenticators of al-Musnad have said that its chain of narration is ṣaḥīḥ (authentic) based upon the conditions of Imām Muslim. Ibn al-Qayyim graded it as authentic and ibn Ḥajar graded it as ḥasan (good). Al-Albānī graded this particular narration as weak but said that the last sentence has another chain of narrators which is authentic. And Allāh knows best.

[2] Sūrah ash-Shams: 8. This English translation of the meaning of the Qur’ān and any subsequent verse quoted is based upon Ṣaḥīḥ International.

[3] Al-Mufradāt fī Gharīb al-Qur’ān

[4] Al-Qāmūs Al-Muḥīṭ

[5] Sūrah al-Kahf: 66

[6] Sūrah al-Kahf: 24

[7] Al-Mufradāt fī Gharīb al-Qur’ān

[8] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim

[9] Sharḥ ad-Du`ā’

[10] Sūrah Yūsuf: 53

[11] Tuḥfatu adh-Dhākirīn

[12] Sūrah al-Ḥujurāt: 7

[13] Sharḥ Riyāḍ aṣ-Ṣaliḥīn

[14] Sūrah al-Kahf: 17

[15] Sūrah al-Muzzammil: 19

 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Fezz

    December 23, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    Mashallah; its very useful having the audio link included for the dua. Nicely done!

  2. Abu Ibrahim Ismail

    December 23, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Jazakallah. I like how MM gives these beneficial duas with translation and transliteration. But the most beneficial part is the explanation, imho.

    Please continue to give the good news. These reminders are needed and worthwhile.

  3. Leyla

    December 28, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    Jazakallah khayr!!!!!

    Beautiful dua, with wonderful explanation. Mashallah!

    May Allah swt reward you

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