The Basis of Guidance and Its Increase – By Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah]
In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
The Basis of Guidance: Allaah [The Most High] said:
ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
This is the Book [the Qur’an], whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun [the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much [abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden] and love Allah much [perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)]. [Surah Al-Baqarah’ Aayah 2]
This necessitates two affairs:
Firstly, those who avoided Allaah’s anger before the revelation were guided [after revelation arrived], for indeed the people – despite their different [false and adulterated] religions and creeds – affirm and acknowledge that Allaah hates oppression, lewd conduct and corruption in the earth, and that He hates the perpetrator of such deeds; on the other hand, He loves justice, kind treatment, generosity, truthfulness and [sound] rectification in the earth, and loves the person does those deeds. So, after the divine revelation came [i.e. through the Messengers], Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] rewarded the people of righteous conduct by granting them Eemaan due to their righteous conduct and acts of obedience [i.e. Allaah made it easy for them to accept Eemaan due to their good deeds]. On the other hand, He forsook the people of wickedness, lewd conduct and oppression [i.e. due to persisting upon evil deeds and obstinacy after they recognised guidance and turned away].
Secondly: When a person believes in the Book [i.e. the revelation] and is by guided by it in general, accepts its commands and testifies to the truthfulness of what it conveys, it becomes a means to further guidance and leads to more detail [related to the guidance he is upon], because guidance does not have an end even if a person reaches [a high level]. There is [always a second stage of] guidance above his [present state] of guidance, and there is that which is above that [second stage] until it reaches a higher stage.
Whenever a person fears his Lord, he moves up to another level of guidance, so he keeps on increasing in guidance as long as he keeps on increasing in Taqwaa. And whenever he misses some aspects of Taqwaa, he loses some guidance in accordance with the Taqwaa he missed. He increases in guidance whenever he increases in Taqwaa and increases in Taqwaa whenever he increases in guidance. Allaah [The Most High] said:
قَدْ جَاءَكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُّبِينٌ
يَهْدِي بِهِ اللَّهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ السَّلَامِ وَيُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
Indeed, there has come to you from Allah a light [Prophet Muhammad] and a plain Book [this Qur’an]. Wherewith Allah guides all those who seek His Good Pleasure to ways of peace, and He brings them out of darkness by His Will unto light and guides them to a Straight Way [Islamic Monotheism]. [Surah Al-Maa’idah. Aayaat 15-16]
Allaah [The Most High] said:
اللَّهُ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يُنِيبُ
Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills, and guides unto Himself who turns to Him in repentance and in obedience. [Surah Ash-Shooraa’ Aayah 13]
سَيَذَّكَّرُ مَن يَخْشَىٰ
The reminder will be received by him who fears [Allaah].
[Surah Al-A’laa. Aayah 10]
هُوَ ٱلَّذِى يُرِيكُمۡ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ وَيُنَزِّلُ لَكُم مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ رِزۡقً۬اۚ وَمَا يَتَذَڪَّرُ إِلَّا مَن يُنِيبُ
It is He, Who shows you His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and sends down (rain with which grows) provision for you from the sky. And none remembers but those who turn (to Allah) in obedience and in repentance (by begging His Pardon and by worshipping and obeying Him Alone and none else). [Surah Ghaafir’ Aayah 13]
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ يَهْدِيهِمْ رَبُّهُم بِإِيمَانِهِمْ
Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah along with the six articles of Faith, i.e. to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, Day of Resurrection, and Al-Qadar (Divine Preordainments) – Islamic Monotheism], and do deeds of righteousness, their Lord will guide them through their Faith. [Surah Yunus. Aayah 9]
Firstly, Allaah guided them to Eemaan, so, after they believed, Allaah guided them to another level of Eemaan that was an increase in guidance. This is similar to the statement of Allaah [in other Aayaat as follows]:
وَيَزِيدُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا هُدًى
And Allah increases in guidance those who walk aright [true believers in the Oneness of Allah who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden), and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)]. [Surah Maryam. Aayah 76]
And Allaah said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَتَّقُوا اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّكُمْ فُرْقَانًا
O you who believe! If you obey and fear Allah, He will grant you Furqan a criterion.
[Surah Al-Anfaal. Aayah 29]
An aspect of this criterion is that they are given light [i.e. guidance] by way of which they can distinguish between truth and falsehood; given assistance and strength by way of which they establish truth and destroy falsehood.
The Two Paths Through Which a Person Is Benefited and Guided– [Patience and Gratitude]
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّكُلِّ عَبْدٍ مُّنِيبٍ
Verily, in this is a sign for every faithful believer that [believes in the Oneness of Allah], and turns to Allah [in all affairs with humility and in repentance]. [Surah Sabah’ Aayah 9]
تَرَ أَنَّ الْفُلْكَ تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِنِعْمَتِ اللَّهِ لِيُرِيَكُم مِّنْ آيَاتِهِ
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ
See you not that the ships sail through the sea by Allah’s Grace? that He may show you of His Signs? Verily, in this are signs for every patient, grateful (person). [Surah Luqmaan. Aayah 31]
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا مُوسَىٰ بِآيَاتِنَا أَنْ أَخْرِجْ قَوْمَكَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَذَكِّرْهُم بِأَيَّامِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ
And indeed We sent Musa (Moses) with Our Ayat (signs, proofs, and evidences) (saying): “Bring out your people from darkness into light, and make them remember the annals of Allah. Truly, therein are evidences, proofs and signs for every patient, thankful (person).” [Surah Ibraaheem. Aayah 5]
فَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا بَاعِدْ بَيْنَ أَسْفَارِنَا وَظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَحَادِيثَ وَمَزَّقْنَاهُمْ كُلَّ مُمَزَّقٍ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ
But they said: “Our Lord! Make the stages between our journey longer,” and they wronged themselves, so We made them as tales (in the land), and We dispersed them all, totally. Verily, in this are indeed signs for every steadfast grateful (person). [Surah Saba. Aayah 19]
إِن يَشَأْ يُسْكِنِ الرِّيحَ فَيَظْلَلْنَ رَوَاكِدَ عَلَىٰ ظَهْرِهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ
If He wills, He causes the wind to cease, then they would become motionless on the back (of the sea). Verily, in this are signs for everyone patient and grateful. [Surah Ash-Shooraa’ Aayah 33]
In these verses [in Surah Luqmaan’ Aayah 31, Surah Ibraaheem’ Aayah 5, Surah Saba’ Aayah 19 & Surah Ash-Shooraa’ Aayah 33], Allaah informed us that the signs He created [i.e. such as the heavens, the earth, mountains, the sun, the moon, night and day etc] – which can be seen with the naked eye – only benefit those who have insight and are grateful, just as Allaah informed us that His [divine revelations, commands, prohibitions etc]- which He has revealed in the Qur’aan -only benefit the people of Taqwah – those whose fear of Allaah is based on sound knowledge regarding Allaah’s perfect sovereignty and dominion, those who return to Him in repentance, obedience and submission, those whose intention is to seek after His pleasure- and that the divine revelation is a reminder for the one who fears Him, just as He [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] said:
مَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لِتَشْقَىٰ
إِلَّا تَذْكِرَةً لِّمَن يَخْشَىٰ
Taa-Haa. We have not sent down the Qur’an unto you (O Muhammad) to cause you distress; but only as a Reminder to those who fear (Allah). [Surah Taahaa’ Aayaat 1-3]
And Allaah stated regarding the day of judgement:
إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُنذِرُ مَن يَخْشَاهَا
You (O Muhammad) are only a warner for those who fear it.
[Surah An-Naazi’aat. Aayah 45]
As for the one who does not believe in the day of judgement- neither fears it nor hopes for reward on that day- he is not benefited by Allaah’s signs [i.e. the amazing creation in the universe] nor by Allaah divine revelation. Therefore, after Allaah mentioned -in Surah Hud- regarding the punishment that [sent against] the nations of past – those who belied the Messengers – and the ignominy that [came to them] in the life of this world, He said:
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّمَنْ خَافَ عَذَابَ الْآخِرَةِ ۚ
Indeed, in that (there) is a sure lesson for those who fear the torment of the Hereafter.
[Surah Hud. Aayah 103]
Allaah stated that the punishment that was sent [against those] who belied the Messengers is a lesson for those who fear the Aakhirah, but as for the one who neither believes in the Aakhirah nor fears it, such punishment is not a sign for him; [rather] when he hears about it, he says: ‘’Good and evil have not ceased to occur throughout time, [likewise] bliss, severe poverty, happiness and misery!” And he might even attribute that to affairs related to the celestial bodies etc.
As for patience and gratitude, they are both a means through which a person is benefitted by Allaah’s divine revelation, because Eemaan is built on patience and gratitude – half of it is built on patience and the other half on gratitude. The strength of a person’s Eemaan depends on the level of his patience and gratitude. Allaah’s created signs [in the universe] and His divine revelation only benefits the one who believes in Allaah, His created signs [in the universe] as well as His divine revelation. A person cannot accomplish Eemaan, except through patience and gratitude, because the pinnacle of gratitude is to single out Allaah in worship and the pinnacle of patience is that one abandons evil [or vain] desires [i.e. everything Allaah has forbidden]. If a person is a Mushrik and a follower of his [evil or vain] desires, neither can he be a person of patience nor gratitude, therefore, neither will Allaah’s created signs in the universe nor His divine revelation benefit such a person, nor have an effect in bringing about Eemaan for him.
Al-Fawaa’id. pages 194-197. Slightly paraphrased