Originally Posted by andywelik
The Arabic word used, ihdinaa, translates more specifically, as "guide us" to the straight path.
We constantly seek and want the guidance of God in all aspects of our lives. The part surah you have posted above is from Surah al-Fatiha, the very first surah of the Qur'an , and it's opening, which Muslims will recite and pray at least 20 times a day. We never tire from reading it. We do not feel we need to talk to God only once in our lives. We constantly pray, request, praise, glorify, magnify, give thanks, seek forgiveness, ask to be guided and for mercy and blessings bestowed on us etc. And, God willing will do so until we die.
This does not mean that we are asking to be guided to the straight path because we have no idea what the straight path is, or because we feel that we have thus far not been guided to it. On the contrary, the very next chapter, just four verses on from the one you mentioned, begins:
"This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah" (2:2)
The whole Qur'an is laid before us in answer to our prayer for guidance.
In addition to this, also see the following quote from Tafsir ibn Kathir:
The Faithful ask for and abide by Guidance
If someone asks, "Why does the believer ask Allah for guidance during every prayer and at other times, while he is already properly guided? Has he not already acquired guidance?''
The answer to these questions is that if it were not a fact that the believer needs to keep asking for guidance day and night, Allah would not have directed him to invoke Him to acquire the guidance. The servant needs Allah the Exalted every hour of his life to help him remain firm on the path of guidance and to make him even more firm and persistent on it. The servant does not have the power to benefit or harm himself, except by Allah's permission. Therefore, Allah directed the servant to invoke Him constantly, so that He provides him with His aid and with firmness and success. Indeed, the happy person is he whom Allah guides to ask of Him. This is especially the case if a person urgently needs Allah's help day or night. Allah said,
﴿يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ءَامِنُواْ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَـبِ الَّذِى نَزَّلَ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَـبِ الَّذِى أَنَزلَ مِن قَبْلُ﴾
(O you who believe! Believe in Allah, and His Messenger (Muhammad ), and the Book (the Qur'an) which He has sent down to His Messenger, and the Scripture which He sent down to those before (him)) (4:16).
Therefore, in this Ayah Allah commanded the believers to believe, and this command is not redundant since what is sought here is firmness and continuity of performing the deeds that help one remain on the path of faith. Also, Allah commanded His believing servants to proclaim,
﴿رَبَّنَا لاَ تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ ﴾
(Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.) (3:8). Hence,
﴿اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ ﴾
(Guide us to the straight way) means, "Make us firm on the path of guidance and do not allow us to deviate from it.''
The Qur'an begins "In the name of Allah.." This is followed by praise of God, acknowledgement of His Mercy and Lordship, affirmation that only He is worthy of being worshipped and asked for help, and a prayer to ask for guidance to the right path. The rest of the book contains the guidance asked for, as in the second sentence of the very next Surah.
In the Surah, we ask Allah to guide us to the path of those he favoured:
And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger - those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favour, of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions. (4:69)
Those were the ones upon whom Allah bestowed favour from among the prophets of the descendants of Adam and of those We carried [in the ship] with Noah, and of the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and of those whom We guided and chose. When the verses of the Most Merciful were recited to them, they fell in prostration and weeping. (19:58)
The path of Abraham (peace be upon him):
[He was] grateful for His favors. Allah chose him and guided him to a straight path. (16:121)
The path of Moses and Aaron (peace be upon them):
And We guided them both on the straight path. (37:118)
The path Jesus (peace be upon him) called to:
"Indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path." (3:51 , 19:36 and 43:64)
and the guidance given to, and path of, the following:
And We gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - all [of them] We guided. And Noah, We guided before; and among his descendants, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward the doers of good.
And Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elias - and all were of the righteous.
And Ishmael and Elisha and Jonah and Lot - and all [of them] We preferred over the worlds.
And [some] among their fathers and their descendants and their brothers - and We chose them and We guided them to a straight path.
That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whomever He wills of His servants. But if they had associated others with Allah , then worthless for them would be whatever they were doing
Those are the ones to whom We gave the Scripture and authority and prophethood. But if the disbelievers deny it, then We have entrusted it to a people who are not therein disbelievers.
Those are the ones whom Allah has guided, so from their guidance take an example. Say, "I ask of you for this message no payment. It is not but a reminder for the worlds."(6:84-90)
The last word in the passage is significant, that it is a reminder for all the worlds
, if we look at Surah al-Faatihah, the Lord of all the worlds.
The path we are seeking, is not just a path specific to Prophet Muhammad (peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon him), because that was not a different path from the others. The path has always been the same, but the other prophets teachings got distorted/corrupted/forgotten. Islam is the culmination of the same Ultimate Universal Truth that all the Prophets, peace be upon them, preached; the same message they all brought, from the same God. To worship God alone, without any associates or partners in His Divinity, be those partners in the form of a son, an incarnation of God, or otherwise. Islam is not a new or different religion, but what has always been since the time of Adam (peace be upon him), the only one unchanged, thus the only straight path.
We seek to join all the Prophets mentioned, and their righteous ancestors, descendants and brethren in the guidance given to them. This large company of believers, whom we seek to join in Surah al-Faatihah, is reinforced at the end of the salaat: "Peace be to us and the righteous servants of Allah".
The singularity of God and His Lordship is emphasised throughout, while the supplication or request is made in the plural, even for a Muslim reciting it on his own, showing that he sees himself as part of a brotherhood of believers, and his supplication is not just for him, but for all who seek such a way, namely, the straight path.