Right Guidance and Right Actions: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

Allah begins surah al-Najm with the following oath:

وَالنَّجْمِ إِذَا هَوَىٰ * مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ

By the star when it descends * your companions had not gone astray, nor has he erred. [53:1-2]

Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen brings a brief benefit in discussing the second ayah:

ـ {والنجم إذا هوى} النجم اسم جنس يُراد به جميع النجوم، وقوله {إذا هوى} : لها معنيان، المعنى الأول: إذا غاب، والمعنى الثاني: إذا سقط منه شهاب على الشياطين التي تسترق السمع وهو مقسم به {ما ضل صاحبكم وما غوى} هذا جواب القسم، أي المقسم عليه {ما ضل صاحبكم} أي: ما جهل، {وما غوى} أي: ما عاند، لأن مخالفة الحق إما أن تكون عن جهل، وأما أن تكون عن غي، قال الله تعالى: {لا إكراه في الدين قد تبين الرشد من الغي} فإذا انتفى عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم الجهل، وانتفى عنه الغي تبين أن منهجه صلى الله عليه وسلم علم ورشد، علم ضد الجهل وهو الضلال، {ما ضل صاحبكم} ورشد ضد الغي {قد تبين الرشد من الغي} إذاً النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام كلامه حق وشريعته حق، لأنها عن علم ورشد

al-Najm – literally “the star” – a singular word for the entire class referring to all stars, and His statement:

إِذَا هَوَىٰ

when it hawaa

has two meanings:

  1. When it disappears from view
  2. When a shooting star comes down after the shayaateen that try to surreptitiously listen to news of the Unseen

and this is an oath about

مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ

Your companion has not gone astray, nor has he erred

this is what is being sworn about.

مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ

Your companion has not gone astray …

i.e., he is not wrong out of ignorance

وَمَا غَوَىٰ

…  nor has he erred

i.e. nor is he intentionally wrong

Because opposing the truth is either due to ignorance or due to being in error. Allah said:

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ

There is no compulsion in religion. Right guidance has become clear from error [2:256]

So once Allah has negated the Prophet being ignorant or in error, then it becomes clear that his way is one of knowledge and right guidance. Knowledge is the opposite of ignorance, which is misguidance

مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ

Your companion has not gone astray …

and right guidance is the opposite of being in error

قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ

Right guidance has become clear from error

So then, the speech of the Prophet is the truth and his sharee’ah is the truth, for he is acting on knowledge and right guidance.

[Tafsir al-‘Uthaymeen: al-Hujurat – al-Hadeed pg. 205]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr mentioned a related point regarding these ayaat in one of his lectures:

ولما ذكر الخلفاء وصفهم بصفتين : ((الرَّاشِدِينَ الْمَهْدِيِّينَ )) ؛ الرشاد والهداية ، وبهذين الوصفين وصف الله نبيه في أول سورة النجم قال {ما ضل صاحبكم وما غوى} [النجم: ٢] ؛ نفي الضلال فيه إثبات الهداية ، ونفي الغواية فيه إثبات الرشاد . فوصَف النبي خلفاءه بهاتين الصفتين اللتين وصفه لله بهما في القرآن الكريم . والمهتدي : هو من عرف الحق ، والراشد : هو من عمل به . ـ

Why did the Prophet mention the Khulafaa’ with these two descriptions: al-Raashideen al-Mahdiyyeen? That is: al-Rashaad and al-Hidayah. We also find that Allah described His Prophet with these two traits in the beginning of surah al-Najm:

مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ

Your companion has not gone astray, nor has he erred

Negating astray-ness entails a confirmation of his hidayah, and negating error entails a confirmation of his rashaad. So the Prophet described his Khulafaa’ with these two traits and Allah also described him with these two traits in the Qur’an.

al-Muhtadi is one who knows the truth, and al-Raashid is one who acts according to it.

وقوله: ((الخُْلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ الْمَهْدِيِّينَ )) فيه تنبيه على صلاح العلم وصلاح العمل ؛ صلاح العلم بوصفهم بالاهتداء ، وصلاح العمل بوصفهم لرشاد ، فالمهتدي هو من عرف الحق وهُدي إليه ، والراشد هو من لزم الحق وعمل به : فوصفهم بهاتين الصفتين : صلاح العلم ، وصلاح العمل . ـ

The Prophet’s statement “al-Khulafaa’ al-Raashideen al-Mahdiyyeen” serves to alert us to the uprightness of their knowledge and the uprightness of their actions. The uprightness of their knowledge comes in his describing them as guided, and the uprightness of the actions comes in his describing them as rightly-guided. So the muhtadi is one who recognizes the truth and is guided by it, and the raashid is one who holds fast to the truth and acts according to it. So he described them with these two traits: upright knowledge and upright actions.

[Lesson #8 of his explanation of the book Fadl al-Islam by sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab]

See also: Beware of Opposing the Prophet’s Command: Tafsir ibn Kathir

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