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Hadrat Musa ( - Peace Be Upon Him) and al-Khidr ()

Musa was a very wise and knowledgeable person, but there were many things which he did not know. He was instructed to seek out a servant of Allah, who would give him further knowledge. He was told to take with him a fish which would disappear when he had arrived at the place where he was to meet his teacher.

Musa vowed to his servant, as he set out on his journey, that he would travel to the place where the two seas met, or would spend many years traveling, in search of his teacher. When they at last reached the junction of the two seas, the fish which they had been carrying slipped away into the water and swam off. Musa did not see this happen and the servant, who had seen the fish's escape, forgot to mention it to Musa .

They continued on their journey but Musa grew tired, so he called for an early meal. It was then that the servant thought to tell Musa that the fish was gone. Musa realized that this was the sign for which he had been waiting. They retraced their steps to the place when the fish had slipped away and there they found the teacher, al-Khidr .

Musa asked al-Khidr’s permission to follow him, in order that Musa might learn some of the greater knowledge which Allah had imported to al-Khidr . al-Khidr agreed, provided that Musa would be patient and would not question anything which he saw happen until al-Khidr chose to speak about it.

They boarded a boat, and while they were in it, al-Khidr made a hole in it so that it would not be seaworthy. Musa was concerned at such an action and asked al-Khidr if he was trying to drown everybody. Al-Khidr reminded Musa of his promise not to ask questions and Musa apologized for forgetting himself.

They continued on until they met a young man, whom al-Khidr killed. Musa questioned why an innocent person had been killed. Al-Khidr asked what had happened to the patience which Musa was supposed to be exercising. Musa again apologized and declared that if he asked anything more, then al-Khidr would be right to dismiss him.

They entered a town and asked for food, but no one offered them any hospitality. In spite of this shabby treatment, al-Khidr repaired a wall which was on the verge of falling down. Musa , forgetting himself once again, exclaimed that at least al-Khidr should have been paid for fixing it. At this third infraction of their agreement, al-Khidr declared that it was time for them to part, but first he would explain his actions to Musa .

The boat, he explained, belonged to men who needed it to earn their living. But a king was about to seize it from them by force, so al-Khidr damaged it to keep it out of the king's grasp. Later it could be repaired and put to use again by its rightful owners.

The young man who was killed was the son of righteous parents, but he himself had gone astray. In order to spare his parents the grief of seeing their son go bad, al-Khidr killed him, knowing that the parents would have another son who would be more loving and obedient.

The wall belonged to two young orphans in the inhospitable town. The orphans were the children of a righteous man. Beneath the wall was a buried treasure, which would now be safe, under the strengthened wall, until the orphans were old enough to claim their inheritance.

Thus Musa learned how limited was his human knowledge. What had appeared to be the loss of a possession had actually been the preservation of it. What had seemed to be the loss of a son had been an act of mercy on behalf of the parents. The rebuilt wall had not been merely a generous act for undeserving recipients, but rather insured that justice would be done to deserving orphans. Only Allah has the full knowledge to understand the seemingly unfair aspects of human life and human suffering. We must accept that all that is good and all that is bad comes from Allah. In his infinite wisdom and mercy, Allah knows what is best for us.

The story of Musa and his teacher can be found in al-Quran 18: 60-82.


Published: December 1992

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Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756