The Straight Path


Imam Dr. Shaheed Coovadia

12/30/20222 min read

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد:

ٱهۡدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٲطَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِيمَ (٦) صِرَٲطَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ غَيۡرِ ٱلۡمَغۡضُوبِ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا ٱلضَّآلِّينَ (٧)

“Guide us along the Straight Path. The Path of those You have blessed - not those You are displeased with, nor go astray.” (1:6-7)

Principled Moderation is alluded to in the Quranic paradigm of “the straight path” (الصراط المستقيم), a path that is at once wide and direct, easy and practical to follow, and - most poignantly - traverses the middle. This is the very same path we repeatedly ask Allah Almighty (at least seventeen times a day in Salah as we recite Surat al-FaatiHa) to be guided onto, a path we must adopt wholly to fulfill our roles and responsibilities, and thereby attain the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and the love and respect of all people.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (SAW) illustrated “the straight path of Allah” by drawing a line in the sand for his companions. Then he drew other lines to the right and left and said: “These are the other paths, and there is not a path among them but that a devil is upon it calling to its way.” (هذه السبل وليس منها سبيل إلا عليه شيطان يدعو إليه)

Then the Messenger of Allah (SAW) recited this verse (6:153):

وَأَنَّ هَـٰذَا صِرَٰطِى مُسْتَقِيمًا فَٱتَّبِعُوهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلسُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَن سَبِيلِهِۦ ذَٰلِكُمْ وَصَّىٰكُم بِهِۦ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“Indeed, this is My Path, perfectly straight, so follow it and do not follow other ways, for they lead you away from His Way. This is what He has commanded you, so perhaps you will be conscious (of Allah and your duties).”

The above references were used by Allah’s Messenger (SAW) and our scholars in subsequent generations as a basis for moderation in our Deen-Dunya (Sacred-Profane) balance. The principle of moderation was directed at the SaHaaba (Companions) and to our predecessors to bring them back from excesses in their worship and maintain a balance in their spiritual duties and the duties of their worldly life.

But alas, the tables have turned! A large majority of the Muslim ummah today are so deeply engrossed in their worldly - often times vain - pursuits that we have lost sight of the seminal and sacred. There is a great imbalance as we have become victims of our own excesses and neglect.

Moderation in all our affairs, and worship in particular, and returning towards the center is critical when we move away from it. This balance (tawaazun) of rights, roles and responsibilities in one’s life is the basis of establishing peace in our hearts and justice ('adl) to our souls, the springboard for peace and justice for all and indeed the bedrock of Islam!

I leave you with two quotes to ponder over and help you with your self assessment and, more importantly, your self improvement. These quotes demonstrate to us that the Straight Path helps us as perhaps the exclusive way to bridge the divide and to attain Divine help and success.

Wahb ibn Munnabih the great scholar, (may Allah have mercy on him), said:

إِنَّ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ طَرَفَيْنِ وَوَسَطًا فَإِذَا أَمْسَكْتَ بِأَحَدِ الطَّرَفَيْنِ مَالَ الآخَرُ وَإِذَا أَمْسَكْتَ بِالْوَسَطِ اعْتَدَلَ الطَّرَفَانِ ثُمَّ قَالَ عَلَيْكُمْ بِالأَوْسَطِ مِنَ الأَشْيَاءِ

Verily, everything has two ends and a middle. If you hold one of the ends, the other will be skewed. If you hold the middle, the two ends will be balanced. You must seek the middle ground in all things.

The Prophet’s Companion Hudhaifa, (may Allah be pleased with him), said:

اسْتَقِيمُوا فَقَدْ سُبِقْتُمْ سَبْقًا بَعِيدًا فَإِنْ أَخَذْتُمْ يَمِينًا وَشِمَالاً لَقَدْ ضَلَلْتُمْ ضَلاَلاً بَعِيدًا

O people, remain straight upon the path and you will have taken a great lead, but if you swerve right or left then you will be led far astray.

And Allah knows best. May He, the Mighty and Supreme, imbibe in us the principle of moderation in our lives. May He guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of the noble Prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous, and may He unite us within them as companions in Paradise. Ameen