The Story of Prophet Moses and AI-Khidr from the Quran

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SHAFAQNA – The story of Moses and Al-Khidr is mentioned in Surah Al-Kahf (verses 60-82) and in Sahih Bukhari, Book 6, Volume 60, Hadith 249. This story teaches us very important lessons. Some of these are:

  • Human knowledge can never comprehend Allah’s ways or the reasons for various happenings which Allah allows to happen
  • Human beings are always impatient and seek immediate answers to all the occurrences that defy comprehension
  • Faith in Allah should make us accept His rulings without any questioning

Once when Prophet Moses was addressing Banu Israel (children of Israel), he was asked: “Who is the most learned man among the people?”

He said:

“I am the most learned.”

Allah admonished Moses as he did not attribute absolute knowledge to Him (Allah SWT). So Allah instructed him to go to the junction of the two seas where he would meet one who was more learned than Moses.

The Quran states:

And (remember) when Musa(Moses) said to his boy-servant: “I will not give up (travelling) until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travelling.” (Quran, Surah Al-Kahf:60)

That learned man at the junction of the two seas was Al-Khidr. When Moses met him and introduced himself.

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.

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