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Lessons and social points of the story Moses and Al-Khidr (a.s)
A- Finding a wise leader and using his knowledge is so important that even an Ulu'l azm Prophet like Moses travels a long distance in order to meet with him. Therefore, such a person is regarded as a role model for all human beings at every level and in every condition and age.
B- As it has been mentioned in Surah Al-Kahf, the divine knowledge originates from believing in the fact that we are the slaves of God: “And they found a servant from among Our servants to whom we had given mercy from us and had taught him from Us a [certain] knowledge.” (Surah Al-Kahf-Verse 65).
C- As Moses says to his knowledgeable friend: “of sound judgment” (teach me a knowledge which guides me to achieve my goal and objective), you must always acquire knowledge for itself. It means that I do not intend to acquire knowledge for itself but for achieving my objective.
D- Since many affairs require an appropriate opportunity, we must not rush to do our tasks. “Works must be performed in its due time”. (Especially the important issues and that is why the scholar mentioned to Moses the secrets of his actions in an appropriate opportunity).
E- Another important issue that we can learn from this story is related to the appearance of the affairs and events. Therefore, we should not judge hastily about the unpleasant events in our lives. Because there are many events which are thought to be unpleasant but later it becomes clear that they had been of the secret grace of God.
The same concept has been mentioned in the Quran: “And perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (Surah Al-Baqarah-Verse 216). Paying attention to this fact, cause people not to become disappointed when they are encountered by adverse events. Here, an interesting Hadith from Imam Sadiq (a.s) has been narrated. Accordingly Imam Sadiq (a.s) said to the son of Zorareh: “Say hello from me to your father and tell him that the reason why I backbite you somewhere is that our enemies are waiting to see to whom we are expressing our love, so as to harass them due to our love, on the contrary if we reproach someone, they will praise him, hence the reason why I sometimes backbite you is that you have become renowned as the person we have always loved” The Quran says: “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.” (Surah Al-Kahf-Verse 79). You must correctly percept this story. You are of the most popular companions of our father, either those who are alive or dead. You are of the best ships in the rough sea and there is after you a king who seizes all the good ships by force. God may have mercy upon you during your life and after your death.
D- Confessing to the realities and deciding how to deal with it, are another lessons that we can learn from this story. When Moses unintentionally breached what he had promised to that scholar, he found out that he could no longer stay with him and follow him. Although the parting between Moses and the scholar was so hard for him, he was not obstinate and fairy admitted that the scholar was right. As a result he parted with him very friendly and set out although during the short period of staying with this friend, Moses learnt a lot about the reality from the scholar. Human beings must not test themselves a lifetime and change their life into a laboratory, for a future that will never come. Hence, when they test something for several times they must accept the results.
E- The result of fathers’ righteousness for their children-Due to their righteous father, Al-Khidr supported his two sons as far as he could. It means that the faithfulness and righteousness of a father can give rise to the salvation of his children and accordingly they can make profit of its good results. In some narrations, it has been mentioned that the righteous man had been the grandfather or grand grandfather the orphans (of course, it is the results of good deeds). One of the indications of the righteousness of this man was that their sons inherited a treasure from him which included the spiritual words of wisdom.
F- Having short lifetime due to harassing the parents- When a son deserves death due to the fact that he is going to harass his parents in the future or overburden them by transgression and disbelief or deviate them from the divine direction, then what the condition of the person who is now committing this sin before God will be? According to Islamic Hadiths, there is a close relationship between having short lifetime and not visiting the parents (Especially harassing parents).
G- People oppose to what they do not know. It happens a lot that someone does you a favor but you regard it as your enmity because you are not aware of the essence of his action and therefore, you become angry. Especially, you are not able to have patience with what you are unaware. It is almost natural that people be not able to have patience with what they only regard one of its aspects, however, the above mentioned story tells us that we must not rush to judge rather before any judgment we should examine the various aspects of an issue. In a Hadith from Amir al-Mu'minin Ali (a.s) we read that: “People oppose to what they do not know”, therefore the more people’s awareness increase, the more reasonable they will deal with different affairs. In other words, the prerequisite for having “patience” is awareness! Although, from one aspect, Moses had the right to become angry, because he observed that in the last three events a great part of Sharia had been endangered. The first event is related to the immunity of the property, the second event is related to the safety of people's lives and the third event is related to the legal issues or in other words it is related to reasonably dealing with people’s right. Hence, it is no surprise that he become so angry that he even forgot what he had promised to that great scholar. But once he became aware of the essence of that action, he became calm and no longer objected to him. It indicates that being unaware of the essence of issues is very worrisome.
H- Politeness of the disciple and the master. In the conversations between Moses and the scholar, there are interesting points regarding the politeness of the disciple and master. In this regard the Quran says: “Moses said to him, "May I follow you so that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgment?" He said, "Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience.” (Surah Al-Kahf-Verse 66-67). These points are as follows:
1- Moses introduces himself as the follower of Al-Khidr. (I follow you)
2- For following him, Moses allowed him. (May I follow you?)
3- He confessed that he needed to be learned and that his master was knowledgeable. (From what you have been taught)
4- As humility, he regards the knowledge of his master as an extensive knowledge and he introduces himself as the person who desires to learn part of that knowledge. (From what)
5- He called his master’s knowledge a divine knowledge. (What you have been taught of)
6- Moses requests that he guide him. (Sound judgment)
7- In secret, he reminds him that as God has done you a favor and has taught you, you do me a favor too and teach me. (Teach me from what you have been taught of)
8- The sentence “May I follow you” indicates this fact that a disciple must follow his master and this is not the master’s duty to follow his disciple. (Except in specific cases)
9- In spite of his high status, Moses (an Ulu'l azm Prophet who owned a Divine Book) is very humble. It means that when you want to learn a knowledge, you have to be humble, and it is not important who you are and what your status is.
10- Regarding his promise to his master, Moses did not assure him that he won’t breach his promise but he said: “if Allah wills” This sentence shows Moses’ respect for his Lord and his master, because if he possibly breached his promise, his master would not be disrespected. It is also necessary to note that this divine scholar was very patient when he was teaching Moses and whenever Moses forgot his promise and objected to Al-Khidr due to his excitement, Al-Khidr just calmly said: “Did I not say that with me you would never be able to have patience?”
The social results of the story of Moses and Al-Khidr
Ayatollah Motahhari says: “there is an issue in the Quran that form the beginning only its mystical interpretation has been regarded, but its social and historical interpretation has not been considered. If the social and historical aspect of this issue was also considered, a great historical philosophy of Islam would be revealed. It is related to the story of Moses (a.s) and Al-Khidr (a.s) which is one of the beautiful and meaningful stories of the Quran. Moses who really believes in Sharia as well as obligatory, recommended and offensive actions, is told that you have been commissioned to meet with one of Our servants to whom we had taught him from Us a certain knowledge. So Moses sets out with Joshua and politely says to Al-Khidr: “Moses said to him, "May I follow you so that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgment?"” (Surah Al-Kahf-Verse 66). According to this verse Moses does not intend to say, teach me from what you know, but he humbly says: “from the divine knowledge you have been taught”. Al-Khidr also explicitly says: “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience.” (Surah Al-Kahf-Verse 67). Accordingly, Al-Khidr said to a prophet that you are not able to have patience and that you do not have enough capacity for observing my actions. But Moses replies that “You will find me patient if Allah wills”. Then they embarks on the ship. Moses sees that Al-Khidr is scuttling the ship, since he believes that Seizure of property of others is Haraam (forbidden) and it is something against the Sharia and additionally, there is the danger of drowning, he asks: “Have you torn it open to drown its people?” (Surah Al-Kahf-Verse 71). Al-Khidr says: “Did I not say that with me you would never be able to have patience?!” Moses finds out that he has breached his promise and therefore says: “Do not blame me for what I forgot and do not cover me in my matter with difficulty.” On the way, Moses sees an innocent boy but Al-Khidr kills him. Moses then cries out and says to him: “Have you killed a pure soul for other than having killed a soul?! Why did you do that?!” Al-Khidr says: “Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?” Then, they reaches a town while they are hungry and thirsty. So he asks its people for food, but they refuse to give them food. They leave there and they see a wall which is about to collapse. Al-Khidr says that we have to serve this people, roll up your trouser leg in order to make clay and repair this wall. Moses says to himself, “When he reached an innocent boy, he killed him, then he is making clay and says that I am going to repair this wall, despite the fact that these mean people refused to offer us hospitality! As a result for the third time, Moses objects to him. Al-Khidr says: “Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?” “This is parting between me and you” (Surah Al-Kahf-Verse 78). Then Al-Khidr describes those events one after another. Accordingly he says: “As for the ship, I knew that there was after them a king who seized every good ship by force it so I intended to cause defect in it as in order to save the people. Hence I served them but it seemed to them as a betrayal. And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief. In fact I did help his parents. But that wall belonged to those two children whose parents were righteous and so I wall responsible to do them favor and serve them, and it was their reward for the righteousness of their parents. All Al-Khidr’s actions were presumably grave actions but indeed behind them were great objectives which justified these actions. Nevertheless, for those who were not aware of essence of these actions, they were not justifiable and these people had to obey the related law. But for the person who is aware of the future, there may be a justification to break this law. Some actions are allowed for some people, whereas for others they are not allowed. That is why in some cases, the duty of the prophet and Imam is different and it does not mean that the law is different for a prophet and other people. The law is always the same, either is it related to a prophet and Imam or it is related to other people. If we could see the future, we had the same duty. In this regard, the law will be normally changed for the person who can see the future and outcomes of actions. From the outset, the focus has been on ethical and mystical issues as well as on the justification of this story. It has to be said that when there is a leader who can recognize the right direction, he can break the reality of Sharia in order to achieve the right direction itself, however this issue is mostly regarded for social leadership. When we study the history of the life of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, we observe that all his life is like the story of Moses and Al-Khidr. When the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) believes that he must do something for the humanity, he won’t pay attention to what people may say. When he recognizes that the enemy must be weakened and that the first step must be weakening him in terms of economic issues, he orders to destroy their convoy in order to prevent them from being strengthened. Because when the enemy is strengthened, the money will be turned into weapon and it is used for killing Muslims or if he believes that the Jews are the source of corruption, he will accordingly order to kill them as he ordered to kill seven hundreds of them. But these issues are not justifiable for a person who is not aware of the future. For instance, if Genghis Khan was decapitated when he was a four or five year old boy, everybody would say that a crime had been committed. But when Genghis Khan grew up and killed millions of people they said that “it would be so good if someone decapitated and killed him when he was four or five years old”. At that age everybody believed so, because they were not aware of the future but the person who was aware of the future, could do that. However, no one should misuse the awareness as an excuse for committing the crime, and no one has the right to do so except the leader who is able to recognize the reality.
1 - Tafsir Nemooneh, vol. 12, pp. 518-523
2 - Noor ul Saqlain, Vol. 3, p. 289
3 – Philosophy of the history, pp. 195-197
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