رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا
Rabbanā ātinā min landuka rahmatan wahayyi’ lanā min amrinā rashadā
Our Lord! Grant us a mercy from Yourself, and provide for us a right course in our affair.
(Sūrat al-Kahf, No 18, Āyat 10)
When the companions of the cave sought refuge from being persecuted for their belief in Tawhīd, they prayed to Allah ‘azza wajall for two things: mercy and guidance. These two blessings would help them face their challenges. They needed mercy to escape the King and his people who were looking for them and to help them through the difficulties they were facing. And they needed guidance to know the right decisions to make at that time.
Rahma is the mercy of Allah subhānahu wata‘āla, a quality most associated with the Creator. The Arabic word ‘rahma,’ which is translated as compassion, mercy, tenderness, pity, etc, and its various derivatives occur more than 326 times in the Quran. The attribute of Divine mercy plays a central role in the Islamic concept of spirituality. As Dr. Shomali says in his article ‘Understanding God’s mercy’:
Indeed, the entire story of creation can be summarized in a few sentences: The Most merciful God wanted to show His mercy. Therefore, He created this world. He gave His mercy to human beings so that they would become His vicegerents on earth and become a means of His mercy.
Hope in the mercy of Allah (swt) makes a human being stay strong in this world and helps him in the Hereafter. Were it not for the mercy of Allah, it would be easy for the human being to perish! Imam Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a) said, ‘It is no small wonder if man is given salvation [on the Day of Resurrection], rather what is a wonder is how he manages to end up in eternal damnation in spite of Allah’s all-encompassing mercy.’[Bihār al-Anwār, v. 78, p. 153, no. 17]
The second blessing the companions of the cave asked for is rushd. ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī in Tafsīr al-Mīzān says that ‘rushd’ is to understand the actual reality of a matter. It is to know how to get to the right path. Sometimes a human being realizes the right path, but he needs rushd to help him attain it. Rushd strengthens him so he can do what is necessary for his success.
In all matters which seem confusing we need to pray to Allah (aj) for these two blessings. Mercy makes the path easy to attain and rushd helps us travel that path. Recite this Du‘ā of the Companions of the Cave, quoted by the holy Quran, to ask for the blessings that will illuminate the path ahead and give you strength to travel on it.
Sources: Tafsīr al-Mīzān, ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī;