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The Straight Path Is One, All Other Paths Lead to Destruction

Imām ibn al-Qayyim, Imām Ibn ʿUthaymīn, Imām Ibn Bāz, al-ʿAllāmah Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān

A reminder that only the straight path is the path of Allāh, as well as various reasons as to why one may stray away from this straight path.

Ibn Masʿūd (رضي الله عنه) said: The Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) drew a line for us [using a stick in the sand]. He said: “This is the path of Allāh.” Then, he drew further lines on its right and left sides. He said: “These are other paths. At the head of each there is a shayṭān that calls to it.” Then he recited the saying of the Most High:

وَأَنَّ هَٰذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ ۖ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُم بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This, He has ordained for you that you may become Al-Muttaqūn .”1
(Al-Anʿām, 6:153)

The Reflection of Imām Ibn al-Qayyim:

This is because there is but one path which reaches Allāh. It is the path clarified by the messengers He has sent and the books He has revealed. None shall reach Him except by traversing this path. Even if people were to take every other path, opening every other door before them, they would find themselves prevented from all other ways. The doors closed before them. All save for this one path. It connects one directly to Allāh, allowing one to arrive before Him. As Allāh—the Most High—said:

قَالَ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ عَلَيَّ مُسْتَقِيمٌ

“(Allāh) said: ‘This is the Way which will lead straight to Me.’”2
(Al-Ḥijr, 15:41)

The Reflection of Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn:

This is the tenth piece of advice proffered which is comprehensive of legislation in its entirety. He says: “This is my straight path, so follow it.” The path of Allāh—the Most High—is His religion with which he has sent His messengers, and the religion of the Prophet Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is the last religion. It is, therefore, incumbent upon everyone to follow his way, abandoning all other paths that allow one to separate from the path of Allāh, leading to misguidance and destruction. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) warned us against this separation and following other paths as narrated in the ḥadīth [mentioning the aforementioned ḥadīth]. In this verse, Allāh has described His—the Most High—path as singular because the truth is one, but he has pluralised the other paths indicating their separation from one another, their constant branching, and their great multitude.3

The Reflection of Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz:

The path of Allāh is fulfilment of His commands and abandonment of His prohibitions. This is the path of Allāh. The greatest of His commands is to uphold His oneness, carrying out religious deeds sincerely for His sake. The greatest of His prohibitions is to associate others with Him in worship. So the straight path of Allāh is to uphold his oneness, carrying out deeds with sincerity to Him, never associating partners with Him in worship, carrying out His orders and abandoning what He has prohibited. This is the straight path of Allāh. “This is the straight path of Allāh, so follow it”, that is, remain upon it, holding steadfast to it. “Do not follow other paths” that is: innovations and disobedient acts, both of which are forbidden by Allāh. [Mentioning the aforementioned ḥadīth], these other paths represent innovation, disobedience and all objectionable matters, all of which have been prohibited by Allāh for His servants. It is, therefore, obligatory to be cautious of these other paths. The straight path is the one that upholds Allāh’s oneness, His obedience, and is comprehensive of Islām and īmān. It represents guidance and the worship for which you have been created.4

The Reflection of al-ʿAllāmah Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān :

So whoever chooses to turn away from the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is accosted with these other paths of misguidance and innovations. The means and avenues that lead to the appearance of innovation may be summarised in the following matters: ignorance of religious rulings, following false desires, blind imitation of opinions and personalities, and seeking resemblance to the disbelievers and imitation of them. We shall elaborate upon each of these reasons:

  1. Ignorance of Religious Rulings

    With the passage of time, people become ever more distant from the message of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and its impact; their knowledge becomes ever more miniscule; their ignorance increasingly widespread. Just as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) related in his saying: “Whomever is given long life shall experience a plethora of disputes”.5 He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also said: “Allāh does not seize knowledge, grasping and pulling it away from His servants. Rather, knowledge is seized with the demise of the scholars. To the extent that when no scholar remains, the people take ignorant leaders who when asked, provide edicts without knowledge. Thus, they themselves are misguided and they misguide others.”6 Thus, innovation is not opposed except with scholars and knowledge. If knowledge and the scholars are removed, the opportunity is ripe for the appearance and dissemination of innovation. Subsequently, its people are able to increase their activity.

  2. Following False Desire:

    Whoever opposes the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has indeed followed his desires. As the Most High said:

    فَإِن لَّمْ يَسْتَجِيبُوا لَكَ فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّمَا يَتَّبِعُونَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ ۚ وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنِ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ بِغَيْرِ هُدًى مِّنَ اللَّهِ

    “But if they answer you not (i.e. do not believe in your doctrine of Islamic Monotheism, nor follow you), then know that they only follow their own lusts. And who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, without guidance from Allāh?”
    (Al-Qaṣaṣ, 28:50)

    The Most High also said:

    أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّهِ

    “Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilāh (god), and Allāh knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after Allāh?”
    (Al-Jāthiyah, 45:23)

  3. Blind Imitation of Opinions and Personalities

    This prevents a person from following the evidence presented to him and adopting the truth due to his blind imitation of opinions and personalities. The Most High said:

    وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالُوا بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا

    “When it is said to them: “Follow what Allāh has sent down.” They say: “Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.”
    (Al-Baqarah, 2:170)

    Such is the state of the modern-day blind imitators of the madh`habs among those who ascribe themselves to Ṣūfīyyah and Qubūrīyyah (grave-worshippers). When they are called to adoption of the Book of Allāh or the Sunnah, and abandonment of their current way which opposes it, they use the madh`habs, mashāyikh, their fathers and grandfathers as evidence to support themselves.7

  4. Resembling the Disbelievers

    It is among the most severe means by which one falls into innovation. As narrated in the ḥadīth of Abī Wāqid al-Laythī (رضي الله عنه): “We went on an excursion with the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to Ḥunayn after having recently been in a state of disbelief. The polytheists used to have a lotus tree which they would worship, upon which they would hang their weapons. They termed it ‘the tree of suspended [weapons]’. Upon traversing the lotus tree, we said: “O Messenger of Allāh! Specify for us a hanging tree just as they have specified this one.” The Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) replied: “Allāh is the greatest! It is but a perpetual practice of the people! You have requested—by the One in whose hands my soul resides—as the Children of Israel requested from Mūsá:

    اجْعَل لَّنَا إِلَٰهًا كَمَا لَهُمْ آلِهَةٌ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ قَوْمٌ تَجْهَلُونَ

    “Make for us a god as they have gods.” He said: “Verily, you are a people who know not (the Majesty and Greatness of Allāh and what is obligatory upon you, i.e. to worship none but Allāh Alone, the One and the Only God of all that exists).”
    (Al-Aʿrāf, 7:138)

    You shall indeed adopt the practices of the people before you.”8 In this ḥadīth, seeking resemblance to the disbelievers is the reason that spurned the Children of Israel to make such a contemptible request that a god be specified for their worship. It is also what had caused the companions of Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to seek from him the specification of a tree from which they could seek blessings instead of Allāh. This is the very same practice of the people today. As most of the Muslims have sought resemblance to the disbelievers in terms of their innovations and actions of shirk. This is inclusive of their celebration of birthdays, specifying particular days for certain actions [e.g. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentines Day, etc.], or celebrating their religious occasions [e.g. Christmas], hanging pictures and raising monuments for remembrance, obsequies and other innovative funeral practices, erecting large structures upon graves, and other things.9

[1] Authentic: narrated by Aḥmad: 4142 and al-Dārimī: 206 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in al-Taʿlīqāt al-Ḥisān: 7.
[2] Source: Madārij al-Sālikīn 1:20.
[3] Source: Majmūʿ Fatāwá 7:308
[4] Source: Majmūʿ Fatāwá 24:167
[5] Authentic: narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 4607 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Takhrīj Mushkilah al-Fiqar: 92.
[6] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 100.
[7] See article: Refuting the Errors of the Muqallidīn and Madh`habīin (Blind Imitators and Blind Following of the Madh`habs) by Imām al-Shawkānī, Imām Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī, Imām Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī, Imām Muḥammad al-Amīn al-Shanqītī, Al-ʿAllāmah Muḥammad Taqī al-Dīn al-Hilālī , and Al-ʿAllāmah Ḥammūd al-Tuwayjirī.
[8] Authentic: narrated by al-Tirmidhī: 2180 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī. See Sunan al-Tirmidhī edited by Aḥmad Shākir.
[9] Source: Kitāb al-Tawḥīd: 149-153.

Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: May 31, 2024
Edited: May 31, 2024

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