open/close slideout menu

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

islam from inside ☰

On A Straight Path

Sura 11, Verse 56

Added October 06, 2012 (written May 2007)

Math as art
“I place my trust in Allah, My Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He has grasp of its forelock. Verily, it is my Lord that is on a straight Path.” (Qur'an 11:56)

There is no one that God has not taken by the forelock. The forelock was sometimes used as an allusion to the forelock of a horse - when one grasps a horse by this forelock one has complete control over the animal's movement, and can lead it where desired. There is no creature that escapes or evades God, no creature that has not been taken by the forelock, and all are drawn through the passage of time, to their destination in a higher reality. The verse states that God is on the straight path, so there is no creature that is not moving inevitably on the path towards its Lord, since none can free their ‘forelock’ from Him. All paths come from God and all paths lead back to God. As the Qur'an says: “To Him all affairs shall be returned...He is upon a straight path” (Qur'an 11:123)

He set everything upon a path that leads inevitably to Him, and that path is a straight path that leads unwaveringly back to Him. And nothing is excluded from following this motion as it is a motion embedded into the substance of this world, and every creature derives its existence and its reality from this substance - every creature journeys through life and encounters death and a destiny in the next world. So all things are on a straight path to Allah. Allah is the all-comprehensive name (al-ism al-jami) which brings together all the properties of all the names of God. When we call upon Allah we call upon Him through different names and properties. So when someone in distress calls upon Allah, He means “O Deliverer or O Rescuer”. When someone suffering illness calls upon Allah, he means “O Healer or O Health Giver”. When someone is being treated harshly and is in distress and calls upon Allah, he may mean “O Merciful” as he seeks relief and mercy.

The straight path takes to Allah in His totality since Allah encompasses all the names. So while everyone is on the straight path to Allah, the mode manifested during the journey to Allah determines what the end of the journey will be. In their mode of action and intention in this world, does the path that a person takes move them towards the names of wrath and punishment or towards the names of mercy and compassion. Does it move them towards the names whose properties rule over hellfire or the names whose properties rule over paradise. So in this meaning the straight path indicates the inevitable journey that each creature takes towards its judgment and final destination.

The specific straight path that Muslims have been commanded to follow is described in various places in the Qur’an. In Sura 6 (verses 152 - 154) there is a description of a straight path (linked to particular actions, characteristics, and ethics) common to the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, after which the verse states: “This is my straight path, so follow it, and follow not diverse paths, lest they scatter you from its road.” (Qur’an 6:154) And in sura fatiha when we ask for guidance on the straight path we are commanded to specify its separation from other paths. “Guide us on the straight path” we ask - but what is the nature of this path we request - it is “the path of those on whom You (God) have bestowed Your favors” - that is the path we seek to follow - “not the path of those upon whom is wrath, nor of those who go astray.” (Qur’an 1:5-7) These others also move inevitably, irresistibly, straight towards a meeting with their Lord but their mode of movement and their final destination is one to be avoided. The mode of felicity and grace are the defining aspects of the straight path that is to be sought.

The verse may also be seen as a spiritual allusion to Allah's bondsmen, those who have truly placed their trust utterly in Him. They are those who have reached a stage where all personal movement is renounced. Their selves (their nafs or souls) are free of the distractions, cravings and desires of one who is bound and attached to this world and its attractions. They put their trust entirely in God and movements of their ego vanish. The image is of a stone which never stirs of its own accord. This person is a pebble in the hand of God. They are therefore carried and their perpetual invocation is “La hawla wa la quwwata illa bi'Llah.” “There is no strength and no power save through Allah.” They give their total being over to God who takes them totally in charge. [1]

They are not those who wander distracted and aimless through their lives, or who are driven by compulsions of the ego, or are driven by myriad fears and hatreds, or by the compulsions of society, or by the compulsion of their appetites and desires, nor by influence of race/tribe/clan/country or sectarian impulses, nor by the compulsion for power and control, moving blindly step by step under the illusion of progress, of superiority. Rather, they are those who give their selves entirely over to God. And God pulls them towards Him. He draws them in the most beautiful (ihsan) modality along His straight path towards a most felicitous meeting.

And it is said that a single attraction from God outbalances all the efforts of Jinn and men.



To be notified when new articles are added to this site, please follow @i_from_i (islam from inside). Or, if you prefer, subscribe to the islam from inside RSS feed.



  • 1 – pg.111-112, “Seal of the Saints” - Michel Chodkiewicz

comments powered by Disqus