AI Khidr

At this juncture, Al Khidr declared that it was time for them to part ways, for, as he had predicted, Musa (AS) was not able to be patient in his company. Musa (AS) had not kept his word to remain silent.

"This is the parting between me and you, I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to hold patience." (Al Qur'an 18:78)

The Wisdom Behind The Actions

Before they parted, Al Khidr explained the reasons behind his actions.

The ship belonged to poor people who depended on the ship for their income. At that time, Al Khidr knew that there was a tyrant king who confiscated every working ship by force. Because the ship of the poor people was in good condition, it would also have been seized. To avoid that, Al Khidr deliberately caused damage on the ship so that it would sink and be out of view until the king had passed by.

The boy whom he killed had devout parents. However, the boy was fated to be a disbeliever and would oppress his parents in his adulthood, leading his parents into disbelief also. Therefore, Al Khidr was commanded by the Lord to change the boy for them for one superior in righteousness and nearer to His mercy.

The crumbling wall belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and beneath it lay a treasure belonging to them, which was their inheritance from their righteous father. By repairing the wall, Al Khidr helped to conceal the treasure until the time was right for it to be discovered. Allah intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from their Lord.

Al Khidr also explained that he did not take those actions of his own accord, but rather that these were orders from Allah. However, Musa (AS) was too hasty, and did not have the patience to observe silently and continue his education with Al Khidr. Of this, Muhammad (SAW) said: "May Allah be Merciful to Musa! Would that he could have been more patient to learn more about his story with Al-Khidr." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Lessons to be learnt

The Value of Knowledge

Knowledge is something that we are all strongly encouraged to seek. Knowledge in this context is not ordinary material knowledge, but knowledge that brings us closer to Allah. Such knowledge is precious, and both the act of learning and teaching are actions that are given a high status in Islam. Messengers and Prophets did not leave money, but they left behind knowledge to benefit mankind.

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "Allah makes the way to Jannah easy for him who treads the path in search of knowledge.'' [Muslim]

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) also said, "The superiority of the learned over the devout worshipper is like my superiority over the most inferior amongst you (in good deeds)." He went on to say, "Allah, His angels, the dwellers of the heaven and the earth, and even the ant in its hole and the fish (in water) supplicate in favour of those who teach people knowledge." [At-Tirmidhi]

The Adab of Knowledge

The acquisition of knowledge has a certain adab or manner. The first protocol in Islam is to be humble and patient. When one cannot understand and comprehend, one lacks patience. We want to learn, but we want to hurry the process and skip the steps.

One should be patient, which includes being patient with the teacher and his lessons. This is our calamity today: where people do not have the patience. The above story demonstrates that in the learning process, things may be puzzling at the beginning, but instead of reacting hastily, questioning or contradicting, the student should finish the course of his studies and only then can he understand the wisdom behind the actions of the teacher.

The learned are valued by Allah, and in seeking knowledge, they should be obeyed. The respect of the person is also a means of respecting Allah for giving him (the teacher) such knowledge. This is unless the manner of the teacher is poor and contrary to the knowledge that he is spreading, which is another common phenomena in the ummah today. For such people, the knowledge will be evidence against them on the Day of Judgment.

Musa (AS) approached Al Khidr for him to teach by making a humble and polite request. The strict hierarchy between teacher and student was recognized, even if Musa (AS) was one of the mightiest Prophets and Messengers. There is no room for arrogance on the part of the student who genuinely seeks knowledge.

Knowledge is always obtained by obedience. This is a fundamental teaching in Islam, and the exception is if the teacher commands the student to do something evil or contrary to Islam. Again, it is the calamity of the ummah today. Even in mainstream schools, the student now dictates and the teacher obeys, and this accounts for the declining quality of education.

Musa's (AS) disobedience led to his teacher refusing to continue the lessons. Musa (AS) did not have the required qualities of being a good student, even though he was one of the mightiest Messengers.

What about us today? We claim to seek knowledge, but we go against the advice of our teachers and simply do whatever we feel like doing.

The Depth of Knowledge

Knowledge comes with comprehension and understanding, which has multiple layers. According to Allah's opening to a person, the knowledge may be the same, but the comprehension and understanding can have different layers and depths. Musa (AS) failed to comprehend this point.

The message of Allah SWT to all of us is that what we see with our eyes and what we think we know, is not true or absolute. Beyond each level of knowledge is another level, and beyond that is another and so on. The message from Allah is that we should not be arrogant and believe that we understand any knowledge comprehensively. Maybe someone else understands the same knowledge but in a much deeper way.

May Allah make us all honoured students or teachers of His divine knowledge, amen.

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