Friday 30 November 2018

Short Stories from the Holy Quran: Prophet Moses and Khidr

A lot many stories appear in the Holy Qur'an which teach us many lessons for living our lives as per the dictates of Allah to be blessed. In the on going series of Short Stories from the Holy Qur'an, today we are sharing the story about the interaction of Prophets Muse (Moses) and Khidr (may Allah's blessings be on both).

Before relating the story, let us quote averse from Holy Qur'an which gives an insight for all of us to understand the wisdom of very word that is contained therein for us:
"It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the foundation of the Book - and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah . But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding." [Surah Aale'Imran 3:7]
While many of us know Prophet Musa very well, some may not have listened about Khidr, a mention of whom is made not only in the Holy Qur'an but in other scriptures and history books as well. The majority of Islamic scholars are of the opinion that Khidr was a Prophet.  The Quran refers to him as one of Allah’s servants who was granted knowledge, comprehension and mercy.
“Then they found one from among Our servants to whom We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves.” (Quran 18: 65)
Many scholars believe that since Khiḍr was Moses’s guide and teacher so he must be superior to Moses; only a prophet can be superior to another prophet; therefore Khiḍr was a prophet.  The name Khidr is taken to mean “the green one” colloquially associated with the Arabic word for green, al-akhdar.  Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has been quoted as saying: “He was named Khidr because he sat on a dry, barren piece of land and it suddenly became green under him.”

Now coming to the stories of meeting of Moses and Khidr in the Holy Qur'an. However, as a prelude, it would be pertinent to quote a passage from Hadith in which Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) described the circumstances which led Moses to embark upon the journey to meet Khidr.:
‘Moses got up to deliver a sermon before Bani Israel and he was asked, 'Who is the most learned person among the people?' Moses replied, 'I (am the most learned).' Allah then admonished Moses for he did not ascribe all knowledge to Allah only (Then) came the Divine Inspiration:-- 'Yes, one of Our slaves at the junction of the two seas is more learned than you.'
Thus Moses embarked upon the journey along with his companion. Moses was asked to carry a fish in a container and where the fish leaves the container would be the place where he would meet a man wiser than him. The details appear as below in the Holy Qur'an [Surah Al Kahf 18:60-82]:

(v. 60) And when Moses said unto his servant, “I shall continue on till I reach the junction of the two seas, even if I journey for a long time. (v. 61) Then when they reached the junction of the two, they forgot their fish, and it made its way to the sea, burrowing away. (v. 62) Then when they had passed beyond, he said to his servant, “Bring us our meal. We have certainly met with weariness on this journey of ours.” (v. 63) He said, “Didst thou see? When we took refuge at the rock, indeed I forgot the fish—and naught made me neglect to mention it, save Satan—and it made its way to the sea in a wondrous manner!” (v. 64) He said, “That is what we were seeking.” So they turned back, retracing their steps. (v. 
Tired of the long journey, Prophet  Moses decided to stop and take rest. However while Moses was taking a nap, his companion saw the fish wriggle out of the container and slipped into the water. But the companion did not make a mention of this to Moses when the commenced their journey. It was only after when they had already traveled quite far ahead that Prophet Moses realized he had moved much past the destined point. So retraced his steps to the place where the fish had entered the water. 

Now here is a lesson for us to learnProphet Moses did not scold his companion nor lament about having gone off course, or wasting time and effort.  What had happened had happened; it was the will of God.  Prophet Moses’ behaviour is that of a person satisfied with God’s decree.  Once he learned that he had stepped away from the correct path he took the necessary action to return to the right way.  This is a lesson for all of us.  In this life, so many of us choose the wrong path but are afraid or too embarrassed to rectify their mistakes!  Once a person realizes that he has committed a mistake, they should immediately set about to head in the right direction. This should never be considered a defeat; rather, it is a victory.

Once back to the point where the fish had slipped into the water, Prophet Moses found the man he was looking for: Read as described in the Qur'an:
65) There they found a servant from among Our servants whom We [End Page 209] had granted a mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Our Presence. (v. 66) Moses said unto him, “Shall I follow thee, that thou mightest teach me some of that what thou hast been taught of sound judgment?” (v. 67) He said, “Truly thou wilt not be able to bear patiently with me. (v. 68) And how canst thou bear patiently that which thou dost not encompass in awareness?” (v. 68) He said, “Thou wilt find me patient, if God wills, and I shall not disobey thee in any matter.” (v. 70) He said, “If thou wouldst follow me, then question me not about anything, till I make mention of it to thee.” (v. 71) So they went on till, when they had embarked upon a ship, he made a hole therein. He said, “Didst thou make a hole in it in order to drown its people? Thou hast done a monstrous thing!” (v. 72) He said, “Did I not say unto thee that thou wouldst not be able to bear patiently with me?” (v. 73) He said, “Take me not to task for having forgotten, not make me suffer much hardship on account of what I have done.” (v. 74) So they went on till they met a young boy, and he slew him. He said, “Didst thou slay a pure soul who had slain no other soul? Thou hast certainly done a terrible thing!” (v. 75) He said, “Did I not say unto thee that thou wouldst not be able to bear patiently with me?” (v. 76) [Moses] said, "If I should ask you about anything after this, then do not keep me as a companion. You have obtained from me an excuse." (v. 77) So they set out, until when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to offer them hospitality. And they found therein a wall about to collapse, so Khidr restored it. [Moses] said, "If you wished, you could have taken for it a payment." (v. 78) [Khidr] said, "This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience. (v 79) As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every [good] ship by force. (v. 80) And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief. (v. 81) So we intended that their Lord should substitute for them one better than him in purity and nearer to mercy. (v. 82) And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience."
This story has been mentioned in Qur'an not only to please us who are more interested in listening to stories at bed time or otherwise to amuse ourselves and our children. After telling a story, we never try to invoke questions in our minds as to the why to such events and how we should relate our lives to the lessons contained in a story or an incident that happens in our lives.

Concluding the Prophet Moses and Khidr story, we would see that:
  • Whatever Khidr did was in accordance with the instructions from Allah. He was to show three lesson-able incidents to Prophet Moses and he did not go beyond. This shows complete obedience to Allah, for Khidr acted exactly he was told to. 
  • Khidr was given knowledge of the incidents to show Moses how to have firm and unquestionable belief in Allah. The prophets do not question Allah when they are given a commandment, for it is Allah alone who knows the outcome and the philosophy behind. It is thus incumbent upon us all to have a firm belief in Allah, His book and the Messengers including the last of the Messengers Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). And we should never be found questioning our beliefs.
  •  The story of Moses and Khidr tells us to be patient and trust in the mercy and wisdom of Allah, for Allah’s decree stems from His supreme and absolute wisdom. It tells us that Allah does not treat anyone unfairly and that His decree for us is most just and inherently generous. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) once said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer.  If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him.  If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” 
  • While following the commandments of Allah, our personal judgment should never ever overtake the commandment of Allah and the way how a particular commandment is to implemented as explained and even practically manifested by the the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).
  • It is important to understand that Allah does not create evil for its own sake, but rather it is often the forerunner of good.  These three events illustrate this point.  When we understand this we will never feel victimized or treated unfairly.  Sometimes the good in a difficult situation does not become clear until a long time afterwards, at other times it is apparent immediately.  
Always remember that The life of a human being is sometimes beset by trials, tragedies or calamities that appear to make no sense but in retrospect we see them for what they really are, lessons from the Most Wise designed to take us closer to the supreme reward, Al-Jannah, or Paradise. 

May Allah grant us wisdom to obey His commandments without hesitation and grant us patience to await the outcome from a situation which may seemingly be to our loss. For Ever loss, there awaits a big reward, if not in this world but surely in the hereafter when we would most hard pressed for Allah's blessing. Aameen.

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