Quranic Reflection No. 358 Āyat 18:10 – Seeking the True direction

رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا

Rabbanā ātinā min ladunka rahmatan wa-hyyi’ lanā min amrinā rashadā
Our Lord! Grant us mercy from Yourself and help us on to rectitude in our affair.
(Sūratul Kahf, No.18, Āyat 10)

When the youths of Ashābul Kahf (People of the Cave) sought refuge in the cave they prayed to Allah asking for two things. They wanted Allah to grant them mercy from Himself as they did not rely on anyone else. And they asked for rushd in their affairs, which would be possible once the Divine mercy is there. According to Tafsīr Majma‘ul Bayān, the youths were seeking the causes that would guide them to that which was the best thing to do. Allāmah Tabātabā’ī in Tafsīr al-Mīzān explains it as wanting to find the direction to the desired goal. They were in a particular situation and wanted to know the best thing to do in that specific situation.

The word rashadā in this verse comes from rushd, meaning that which take you to the True direction, and the path that is straight, and upright. It refers to reaching the correct goal, to have a right judgement, scrupulous thinking and appropriate behavior. The word has been used 19 times in the Quran in different forms.

The human being instinctively seeks perfection and has the desire to pursue the path that will lead towards it. But because of limited awareness and hastiness to reach it he often strays from that path. He may seek perfection and success in the wrong places Thus believers pray for True direction in their pursuit of al-sirāt al-mustaqīm and the proximity to the Lord.

The Quran talks about different ways of gaining the True direction. The following verses all use various forms of the word rushd:

1. Supplication – Seeking help from Allah constantly sets the grounds for seeing things correctly and pursuing the True direction. Allah says: When My servants ask you about Me, [tell them that] I am indeed nearmost. I answer the supplicant’s call when he calls Me. So let them respond to Me, and let them have faith in Me, so that they may fare rightly (yarshudūn) (Q 2:186). Moreover, supplication also attracts Divine Mercy, that which was sought by the People of the Cave.

2. Seeking knowledge – Knowledge and awareness are the most important tools of gaining the True direction. They feed the mind and soul and direct it towards that which is most upright. When Prophet Moses (a) asks to accompany Khidr (a) he says: May I follow you for the purpose that you teach me some of the probity (rushdā) you have been taught? (Q 18:66).

3. Understanding the transience of this world. The believer among the people of Pharaoh advises his community thus: O my people! Follow me, I will guide you to the way of rectitude (al-rashād). O my people! This life of the world is only a [passing] enjoyment, and indeed the Hereafter is the abiding home (Q 40:38-39).

Rushd is a precious gift from Allah for those who wish to reach their goal and who seek it ardently. It allows them to discern the path correctly and procures the means that enables them to follow it. Recite this verse often to remind you of the importance of seeking the True direction so you can do the correct things in life.

Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma‘ul Bayān; ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; https://article.tebyan.net/127977