The Straight Path
We ask Allah ta’ala at least 17 times a day to guide us on the straight path, siraatal mustaqeem. What does siraatal mustaqeem mean? Is the definition only limited to “straight path”?
The Arabic language is a deep ocean which we cannot even comprehend unless we know the language. Allah ta’ala chose this language for a reason, and we can see the depths of this language from the previous post on tasbeeh: two Arabic words – subhan and Allah – require paragraphs to explain in English.
We ask Allah ta’ala to be guided on siraatal mustaqeem multiple times a day, everyday, and now that we are in the month of Ramadaan–we are asking for this guidance many more times ( may Allah ta’ala accept our prayers and fasting, Ameen), so it is incumbent upon us to know what we are asking for.
Siraat (صراط) is from saad-ra-ta (ص-ر-ط) and it means path. The root saad-ra-ta, sarata, means to walk quickly. Siraat is that which the act of sarata is done: a path where one walks.
There are many words in the Qur’an that are used for path, such as siraat, sabeel, tareeq…but why do we ask for Siraatal Mustaqeem, and not Tareeqal Mustaqeem or Sabeelal Mustaqeem? Check it out:
- Siraat is used for a path that is wide enough for everyone to walk on.
- Siraat is a path that goes straight to the destination.
- Siraat is a path that is smooth, with no ups or downs, bumps or hills, but a path where one can see completely straight.
So siraat is a path that is easy to walk upon, it has enough room for everyone (not a one lane road) and it takes everyone to the destination.
Mustaqeem comes from qaaf-wow-meem or qaum and it means one that is straight. Mustaqeem is something that is straight, correct, balanced and not uneven.
So with these meanings in mind, what does Siraatal Mustaqeem mean?
Imam Sa’dee rahimahullah in his tafseer defines Siraatal Mustaqeem, he says: it is the clear path that connects one to Allah, and to Jannah and it guides one to recognize the truth and act upon it.
Siraatal Mustaqeem is a path that is balanced and straight. It leads straight to Allah and to Jannah. It is easy to be begin walking on it and to remain on it.
There is a hadeeth that gives us a parable of a siraat:
Imam Ahmad recorded in his Musnad that An-Nawwas bin Sam`an said that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said,
«ضَرَبَ اللهُ مَثَلًا صِرَاطًا مُسْتَقِيمًا، وَعَلَى جَنْبَتَيِ الصِّرَاطِ سُورَانِ فِيهِمَا أَبْوَابٌ مُفَتَّحَةٌ، وَعَلَى الْأَبْوَابِ سُتُورٌ مُرْخَاةٌ، وَعَلَى بَابِ الصِّرَاطِ دَاعٍ يَقُولُ: يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ادْخُلُوا الصِّرَاطَ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَعْوَجُّوا، وَدَاعٍ يَدْعُو مِنْ فَوْقِ الصِّرَاطِ، فَإِذَا أَرَادَ الْإِنْسَانُ أَنْ يَفْتَحَ شَيْئًا مِنْ تِلْكَ الْأَبْوَابِ قَالَ:وَيْحَكَ لَا تَفْتَحْهُ فَإِنَّكَ إِنْ فَتَحْتَهُ تَلِجْهُ فَالصِّرَاطُ: الْإِسْلَامُ وَالسُّورَانِ: حُدُودُ اللهِ وَالْأَبْوَابُ الْمُفَتَّحَةُ مَحَارِمُ اللهِ وَذَلِكَ الدَّاعِي عَلَى رَأْسِ الصِّرَاطِ كِتَابُ اللهِ، وَالدَّاعِي مِنْ فَوْقِ الصِّرَاطِ وَاعِظُ اللهِ فِي قَلْبِ كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ»
Allah has set an example: a Siraat that is surrounded by two walls on both sides, with several open doors within the walls covered with curtains. There is a caller on the gate of the Siraat who heralds, ‘O people! Stay on the path and do not deviate from it.’ Meanwhile, a caller from above the path is also warning any person who wants to open any of these doors, ‘Woe unto you! Do not open it, for if you open it you will pass through.’ The straight path is Islam, the two walls are Allah’s set limits, while the doors resemble what Allah has prohibited. The caller on the gate of the Siraat is the Book of Allah, while the caller above the Siraat is Allah’s admonishment in the heart of every Muslim.
May Allah ta’ala guide us on siraatal mustaqeem. Ameen.