Straightness literally means; continuous progression towards the target without any doubt and fear. However, in Sufi terminology it corresponds to the ability of maintaining the innocence and purity of our nature (as we are created on) without damaging and destruction.
As a result of the protection of the spiritual life of the heart, nafs (self) attains adab (etiquette) while heart approaches to the perfection of ahlaq-i Muhammediyyah (Muhammadan morality). Mysteries starts to become evident. Allah -the Almighty- becomes the very goal of goals. All else besides Allah (masiva) lose its significance. The believer enters into a state where he can reach to divine Presence.
Despite the fact that the Prophet, who is the best example of perfection in morality, has been commanded by God to keep firm in the straight path.
“Therefore stand firm (in the straight Path) as thou art commanded.” (Hud, 112)
That shows how difficult it is to be continuos in the straight path. Therefore, the prophet (pbup), who has inferred this meaning from the verse, said:
“- The chapter of Hud made me older…”
The companions asked him: ” O Prophet! Is it the stories of the prophets that made you old?”. Prophet replied: “- The verse of.. “Therefore stand firm (in the straight Path) as thou art commanded.” (Hud, 112).
Truly after the revelation of this ayah there seemed some whiteness in the hairs of the messenger of Allah which were jet black without any white hair before.
Commentators explain this ayah shortly as: “O Prophet! You must be a model of straightness through behaving in accordance with Qur’anic morals and principles so that there would not be any doubt about you! Do not mind hypocrites’ and pagans’ words, leave them to Allah! Be thoroughly in straight in your private and public duties as you have been commanded, and do not depart from the right path! However difficult it is to be in the straight path, do not be daunted by any hindrance in the way of carrying out and application of this command! Your Lord will be your helper.”
In this connection Abdullah bin Abbas said: “There is no other commandment which is heavier to the prophet then this verse in the Qur’an.”
This verse addresses to the totality of the Muslim community (ummah) in the personality of the Prophet. As a matter of fact, what is making prophet older is his anxieties about his ummah since this command is relating to them.
Because the righteousness of the Prophet is guaranteed in the following verse: “(O my beloved Prophet! You) are on the straightpath!” (Yasin, 4).
Therefore there is no more difficult command other than to be on the straight path in order to reach Allah It is also the highest station in the Sufi path; protecting the straightness in every matter.
It is because of this difficulty that this command has been repeated in Surah Fatihah, and recited by the Muslims 40 times a day.
The straight path has been described in the Qur’an as the path of Allah, the proper way, the book of Allah, the faith, Islam and shariah, the path of the Prophet Mohammed and sahabis, the path of righteous, martyred people, the road of happiness in the world and hereafter, the path of jannah (paradise).
So the straight path, is the path of the chosen people who has been favoured by Allah. These people are the prophets, then the truthful (siddik), the martyrs and the righteous people. The followers of them are also the people of straight path.
The straight path is the way that takes you to Allah. It is the best of the paths. Allah -the Almighty- says:
“The Way of Allah, to Whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Behold (how) all affairs tend towards Allah!”
To be on straight path is only possible through worshipping and serving Allah.
“Surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore serve Him; this is the right path.” (Al-i Imran, 51)
“Whoever holds firmly to Allah will be shown a way that is straight.” (Al-i Imran, 101).
The straight path is defined in Surah An’am as: “Say: Come I will recite what your Lord has forbidden to you — (remember) that you do not associate anything with Him and show kindness to your parents, and do not slay your children for (fear of) poverty— We provide for you and for them— and do not draw nigh to indecencies, those of them which are apparent and those which are concealed, and do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except for the requirements of justice; this He has enjoined you with that you may understand.
And do not approach the property of the orphan except in the best manner until he attains his maturity, and give full measure and weight with justice— We do not impose on any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability; and when you speak, then be just though it be (against) a relative, and fulfil Allah’s covenant; this He has enjoined you with that you may be mindful;
And (know) that this is My path, the right one therefore follow it, and follow not (other) ways, for they will lead you away from His way; this He has enjoined you with that you may guard (against evil).” (An’am, 151-153)
Man cannot attain the straight path properly unless he prefers the love of Allah (muhabbatulah) over every love. In order to attain to this station man needs to know God as he deserves to be known. Hence it can be said that the straight path necessitates marifetullah. Because whoever attain this knowledge and arrange his life in accordance with it, escapes from the evils of his nature and from the tricks of Satan. A man at this stage opens a window to the secret worlds, he becomes a great book, full of wisdom.
Ebu Said el-Haraz -may Allah bless him- narrated: A man from the people of marifet, has seen Satan in his dream and tried to hit it with his stick. Iblis said: “O Ebu Said! I do not fear your stick. For this stick is visible. What I fear from, is the spiritual luminous lights of the sun of spiritual knowledge that arises from the heaven of the gnostics’s (arif) heart and destroy all the masiva.”
In the Sufi path the efforts of a disciple without straightness do not benefit him.
Therefore standing firm in Allah’s path is considered as the biggest miracle.
According to another definition, the straight path is to maintain the moderation in all actions without going to extremes (like spending too much or too little) and persevere in the right path, to obey the divine commands as they have been commanded. The messenger of Allah commanded them moderation.
It should be known that the Prophet lived all his life in accordance to this rule, and in the limits of a human being in order to become an example for them. His life has been the best example of worshipping to Allah, respecting the rights of the family members and all other social interactions. The messenger of Allah (pbuh) has arranged all these in the best way and presented them to his ummah.
Therefore it not true to loosen and to neglect some of our duties and to behave in an extreme way hence departing from the teachings of Prophet. In other words, we must arrange our life in accordance with the norms of the Prophet as he has offered to us, not in accordance to our subjective desires.
Abdulhalik Gucduvani explains this point clearly. He has been asked once: “- Shall we do what our nafs (self) desire or shall we do what it did not?”
Hadrat Pir replied: “- It is very difficult to determine whether the desires of the nafs has divine or satanic origin. Nafs usually misleads people whether the desires are divine or infernal. Because of this, it is enough to follow the commandments of Allah and to refrain from his prohibitions. This is the real worship.
Allah states that: “Say: This is my way: I call to Allah, I and those who follow me being certain, and glory be to Allah, and I am not one of the polytheists.” (Yusuf, 108).
In the ages of darkness and ignorance (jahiliyyah), when people submitted to the material power and to the desires of the ego, some exceptionally pious men has been charged with the duty of prophecy. These distinguished people who are the model for their communities has been charged with these three duties:
a. To recite the verses of Allah and announce them,
b. To teach the book and wisdom,
c. To purify their natures i.e. to give people the true guidance (istiqamah).
Starting from Adam, this holy chain of prophethood arrived to the maturity with Prophet Mohammed.
In order to be able to keep firm in the Straight path, there are two conditions.
1. To obey the command in humility and properly
2. To love and be generous to all creatures for the sake of their creator.
In other words, straightness is to love the Messenger of Allah and to get a share from his model personality and to get his morality, to live in accordance with the spiritual light of the Qur’an and Sunnah, to quit nature’s base. A human being, therefore, should always control his internal world in order not to lose the state of truth and straightness.
Even Omar was in worried with regards to the preservation of sincerity and straightens in his life. When he came to the power he said:
“- O People! If I deviate from the path of Allah, or I incline to wrongdoing what would you do?!.”
Then a Bedouin stood up and said: “- O Caliph! Do not worry, if you incline to wrongdoing we would straighten you with our swords!” The Caliph Omar pleased of this behaviour and thanked to Allah:
“Thank to you my Lord! You have blessed me with a community if I deviated they would straighten me!”
The holy Prophet informed Huzayfa of those who have the sign of hypocrisy in their heart for the safety of Muslim community. Omar heard this and one day asked the matter Huzayfa: “- O Huzayfa! For God’s sake, tell me, is there any sign of hypocrisy in me?”
Huzayfa replied saying: “O Caliph! I can only guarantee to you that you do not have any signs of hypocrisy!..”
Hasan al-Basri said to his disciple Tavus: “- O Tavus! If you take pride in teaching hadith give up teaching this science!”
al-Gazzali, when teaching three hundred students, worried about himself: “-Am I on the God’s approval when teaching these students or am I in danger?
After that Gazzali gave up all his wealth, gave up teaching for a while and lived in seclusion. Consequently, Prophet’s spirituality manifested to him and he attained to high states of Sufi path, transforming completely.
Sultan Yavuz Selim on the way of returning from his Egypt campaign learned that people in Istanbul is waiting him with a great love. Because of this, though came very close to the city, he encamped his army at the foots of Chamlica and did not enter into Istanbul. He became anxious of being defeated by his nafs and said his friend Hasan Jan:
“Let the air get dark and everybody go home. We enter to Istanbul after a while. Do not let the compliments and applause of people, and the pride of victory knock us down!..”
Finally he entered to Istanbul secretly hence avoiding the people’s applauds. All these teach us that we should stand firm in the straight path in all circumstances, and purify our hearts from all kinds of dirt.
The heart is the locus of divine manifestation.
“The day on which property will not avail, nor sons. Except him who comes to Allah with a heart free (from evil).” (Shura, 88-89)
Likewise the Prophet said: “Truly Allah do not look at your appearance nor your works; but he looks into your heart.”
I pray to God that he gives us the power and will to stand firm in the straight path.