Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Search for Truth | Al-Risala April 1988
There is a saying of the Prophet, that “the best thing in your religion is True Understanding.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 3116) On one occasion the Prophet was moved to pray for Abd Allah Ibn Abbas: “O God, give him True Understanding in religion and teach him its correct interpretation.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith No. 2397)
The following Tradition is related in Bukhari and Muslim:
That guidance and knowledge with which God has sent me to the world is like the rain falling on land which in separate areas is fertile, barren or sloping. The fertile part absorbs the rain water and produces an abundance of grass and foliage. The barren part holds the water and its inhabitants benefit from it, because they can drink it, water their flocks and irrigate their land with it. But the sloping part neither holds the water nor produces any greenery. No one benefits from it. The first examples are like those who are blessed with true understanding in God’s religion and who benefit thereby, learning from it and teaching it to others. The latter example is like one who is bereft of his share in it for he does not accept the guidance with which I have been sent. (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 2282)
Clearly, rain can benefit the land only in so far as the land is capable of absorbing it. The same is true of God’s guidance. People can benefit from it only if their hearts and minds are open to receive it, their wills are strong enough to take hold of it. It should not just slip away from them like water running down a slope. God’s guidance may be available to all men in equal measure at all times, but the extent to which individuals can benefit from it will vary according to their differing degrees of receptiveness. When a man receives true guidance in full measure and, in consequence, comes to know his Maker, that is the greatest gift that such guidance can bestow upon him.