Blessed with Hidayah
This world is a place of tests and the afterlife is the place where one reaps what he sows. Allah, who is the owner of both this world and the afterlife, has shown mankind the righteous path and left people to their own choices between thankfulness and ungratefulness:
“Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful.” (Insan, 3)
Those who choose to be grateful and live their lives according to the intended purpose of their creation succeed in the tests of this world and rejoice in the afterlife while those who choose ingratitude towards all of the blessings that they have been given, with iman being the foremost of these, fail in these tests and great woe befalls them.
Those who realize that this world is fleeting and make use of this transient life in a way that pleases Allah (subhanahu wa taala) and strive to walk the straight path under the guidance of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) have chosen the path of hidayah (guidance to the straight path). Those who give in to their wants and desires and succumb to the ephemeral pleasures of this world are the ones who have gone astray.
Those who have been guided to hidayah
Mentioned in many verses throughout many Qur’an, the term hidayah is defined as “the straight path, entering, showing or inviting to the straight path.” This righteous path that divine revelations and prophets call people to is the path of Islam, the path of obedience and the path of servitude. It is the straight path that Anbiya (the prophets), siddiqs (the steadfast people of truth), shuhada (martyrs) and salihs (the righteous people) follow.
In these end times that we are in, the greatest feat and the most important matter is to be able to remain within hidayah. The fact that we ask Allah to guide us to the “straight path” and to keep us from going astray in each rakat of every salah, which is the most prominent sign of our iman, stands as an immense point of significance in our understanding of the gravity of this matter. Let us remember the dua that we repeat at least forty times every day:
“Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.” (Fatiha, 6-7)
The same supplication exists within the dua of Qunut which we recite during our salahs.
“O Allah! We ask you for help, forgiveness, and guidance…”
“O Allah! Guide me with those whom You have Guided…”
While the Qur’an describes itself as a guide to and a source of hidayah in approximately twenty verses (Baqara, 2, 185; Yunus, 57; Naml, 77), it also lets us know that only those of the believers who have the following qualities can benefit from this guidance:
“As guidance and good tidings for the believers who establish prayer and give zakah, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith].” (Naml, 2-3)
Again, in the Qur’an, the prophets disclosing the revelations are described as imams (leaders) that call people to hidayah:
“And We made them leaders guiding by Our command. And We inspired to them the doing of good deeds, establishment of prayer, and giving of zakah; and they were worshippers of Us.” (Anbiya, 73)
Similarly, it is made clear in various other verses that Rasulallah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) is sent with hidayah and that he conveys people to hidayah (calls them, invites them to it):
“It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although those who associate others with Allah dislike it.” (Saf, 9)
“…And indeed, [O Muhammad], you guide to a straight path…” (Shuraa, 52)
Hidayah and Dalalah (Guidance and Corruption)
Another one of the topics emphasized in the Qur’an regarding hidayah is that it belongs solely to Allah (subhanahu wa taala). The prophets giving hidayah should be interpreted as calling people to the path of hidayah and guide them on the path that leads to Heaven. Our Beloved Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) deeply and truly wanted his uncle Abu Talib to finally believe and have iman during his passing, and the following verse was revealed regarding this:
“Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.”
The vigorous efforts of Rasulallah to direct people to hidayah and the ordainment of Allah is mentioned in another verse:
“[Even] if you should strive for their guidance, [O Muhammad], indeed, Allah does not guide those He sends astray, and they will have no helpers.” (Nahl, 37)
An explanation needs to be given here:
It may appear to be the case that Allah guides some people to the straight path while leaving others to go astray and that His servants have no freedom of choice. However, in reality, when all of the verses regarding hidayah and dalalah are assessed and the tafsir of the relevant verses are examined, it becomes apparent that Allah (subhanahu wa taala) has opened up the ways of hidayah and dalalah and left the choice between the two to His servants. He holds fast on the course of hidayah those who choose it and heed the warnings concerning this matter while He leaves those who choose to turn a deaf ear to His truth and go down the path of dalalah to their own choices. It should also be mentioned that every person retains the ability to make their choices in favor of the truth. Allah leaving certain people to their dalalah is only through these individuals making their own choices to remain so and through Allah knowing their ultimate fates with his eternal knowledge. Some of the verses related to this are as follows:
“Those are the ones who have purchased error [in exchange] for guidance, so their transaction has brought no profit, nor were they guided.” (Baqara, 16)
“Those will have lost who killed their children in foolishness without knowledge and prohibited what Allah had provided for them, inventing untruth about Allah. They have gone astray and were not [rightly] guided.” (An’am, 140)
Likewise, those who ignore the call of hidayah and remain in dalalah are described as blind and deaf (A’raf, 198; Yunus, 43; Kahf, 57; Naml, 81; Zukhruf, 40) while, in another verse, the reason for being deprived of hidayah is explained as not having faith in the afterlife:
“…Those will have lost who denied the meeting with Allah and were not guided.” (Yunus, 45)
Calling to Hidayah
The first and foremost mission of the prophets is tabligh, to bring His message to the people. Tabligh is carried out to set an example for the people regarding living this life according to the religion of Allah, reminding them of the truth, the reality ordained by Allah, bringing them the good news of the blessings they will receive in Heaven and warn them of the suffering in Hell. In other words, tabligh is calling the people to the path of hidayah.
While this mission is mainly ascribed to the prophets, it is also the duty of every Muslim, especially the ulama (Islamic scholars) who are the heirs of the prophets. Good tidings are given in a hadith for those by whose hand another is delivered from dalalah to hidayah and introduced to tawbah, dhikr and good deeds:
“By Allah, if one man is guided on the right path (in other words, converted to Islam) through you, it would be more auspicious (khayr) for you than (a great number of) red sheep.” (Bukhari, Fadhailu’l-Ashab, 9)
Let us supplicate our Almighty Creator, the owner of hidayah, with the prayers that He teaches us so that He constantly holds us fast to hidayah:
“Our Rabb, indeed we have heard a caller calling to faith, [saying], ‘Believe in your Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord, so forgive us our sins and remove from us our misdeeds and cause us to die with the righteous.” (Ali ‘Imran, 193)
“Our Rabb, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.1” (Ali ‘Imran, 8)
 Bestower: Wahhab