Allah (Almighty) says in Surah al-Faatihah (1:6-7): “Guide us to the Straight Path. The Path of those whom You have blessed…”
Every day, at least 17 times, every Muslim invokes Allah to guide him or her to the Straight Path. What is the Straight Path? Allah tells us in the next verse that it is the Path of those whom He has blessed. Who are the ones whom Allah has blessed? The scholars of tafseer said that the answer to this question lies in Surah An-Nisa (4:69):
“And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) shall be with those WHOM ALLAH HAS BLESSED: the Prophets, the Truthful ones, the Martyrs and the Righteous. And what an excellent fellowship are they.”
Therefore, the pre-condition for being a member of this elite group is obedience to Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). But what happens in a world when everyone claims to obey Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him)- how does one ascertain whether or not one is on the Straight Path? The following example illustrates the answer to this dilemma.
Imagine a man sets out on a journey to a particular destination and follows a particular path. Then another man wants to reach the same destination and so he tries to follow the same path as the first man. How do we know if the second man took the same path as the first? We compare what they experienced on their respective journeys. Therefore, if the first man saw a particular stream, a particular rock, a particular tree, etc. and then the second man saw those same landmarks, we can say that they most probably followed the same path. However, if the second man did not see any of these milestones, or the things he saw differed from what the first man saw, then we can say that something went wrong.
If we look at the lives of the Prophets ('alayhimus-salaam) who are the first group whom Allah has blessed, and then we look at the Prophet (peace be upon him), then the Companions (peace be upon him), then those who followed them, then the famous classical scholars, all the way until today, what do we find? What is common to all of the above? Prophet Nuh ('alayhis-salaam) was ridiculed. Prophet Ibrahim ('alayhis-salaam) was thrown in the fire following which he had to leave his wife and son in the barren valley of Makkah. Musa ('alayhis-salaam) fled from Firoun and lived a life in exile for many years. Prophet Yusuf ('alayhis-salaam) was imprisoned unjustly for seven years. They tried to crucify Isa ('alayhis-salaam). The Prophet (peace be upon him) was abused, assaulted, evicted from his homeland, etc., etc. We know from the Qur'an that some Prophets were even killed by their followers. These people are the most beloved to Allah. If there were anything bad, shameful or dishonourable about these trials, then Allah would not have allowed them to happen to the best of His Creation.
Likewise, if we look at some of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him): Abu Bakr and Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) beaten physically; Bilal, Khabbab, Yasir, Sumayyah and Ammar (may Allah be pleased with him) tortured; Khubaib executed, etc. This means that the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) were following the same path as the Prophet (peace be upon him) because they experienced the same things. In the same way, we find the early scholars: Abu Haneefah imprisoned, Imam Malik tortured and ridiculed, Imam Shafi kicked out, Imam Ahmad imprisoned and publicly lashed. This means that these scholars were also following the same path as the Prophets (peace be upon him) because they experienced the same things.
Therefore, if you are seeing the same scenery, milestones and landmarks as they saw, then that means that you are also on the same path inshaa'Allah. And being on the same path means that you will reach the same destination, inshaa'Allah.
"O you who believe! If you help (in the cause of) Allah, He will help you, and make your foothold firm." (Surah 47:7)