The story of Moses (a.s) and Al-Khidr in the Quran – Part 2
Moses’s (a.s) meeting with Al-Khidr (a.s)
In continuation of the previous verses of Surah Al-Kahf God says: “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. Moses said to him, "May I follow you so that you teach me something of what you have been taught of sound judgment?” He said, "Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience. And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?"[Moses] said, "You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in any order. “He said, "Then if you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I make to you about it mention."” (Surah Al-Kahf-verses 65-70)
When Moses and his boy-servant returned to the place they had already been there, (near the rock and “Majma' al-Bahrain”) they suddenly saw a servant from among the servants of God to whom God had bestowed mercy form Him and had taught him from Him a considerable knowledge. Since the term “found” has been used in this verse, it shows that they were seeking the same scholar and finally they found the one they were looking for. The term “a servant from among Our servants” indicates that all people must be proud of being the true servant of God and that the status of slavery can cause the human beings to receive the divine mercy and various knowledge. The term “certain knowledge” also indicates that the knowledge of that scholar was an ordinary knowledge rather it was an awareness of some mysteries of the world and the secrets which was behind some events of the world that only God did know them. It has to be mentioned that the Arabic equivalent for the term “knowledge” had been used with an indefinite article. It shows the greatness and additionally it shows that the scholar had been bestowed upon a considerable knowledge. The commentators have mentioned different exegeses about the verse “we had given mercy from us” Accordingly, some of them have interpreted it as the “prophethood” and some others as “the long life”. But it was also probable that it referred to his great talent and soul and “expansion of his breast with assurance” which had been bestowed upon him by God because he had to be ready for receiving the divine knowledge. At this time, with utmost courtesy, Moses requested from that scholar: “May I follow you so that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgment which can improve my life?” 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?"” Here, the term “sound judgment” indicates that the purpose was not the knowledge itself but it was achieving a knowledge which would give rise to salvation. Such a knowledge is valuable and the one who learns it must be proud of learning it and moreover this knowledge must be learned from a master. Allameh Tabatabaei says that the Arabic equivalent which has been used for the term “sound judgment” is the opposite of the term “deviation”. The former means “going to the correct direction” and the latter means “going to the wrong direction” and generally the verse means that Moses said: “Will you allow me to come with you and to follow you so that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgment in order for it to be an edification for me? Or teach me from what you have been taught by God for edification?” But surprisingly, that scholar said to Moses: “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience.” In this sentence that scholar emphatically believes that Moses will be impatient with what he is going to see and in short he says: “You will never be able to have patience with what you will see in my teachings.” Accordingly, there three reasons for this emphasis:
Firstly, because the word “indeed” has been used. Secondly, because the word “patience” has been used negatively and with an indefinite article and thirdly because Al-Khidr said: “you will never be able to have patience” but not said: “you will never be able to have patience with what I teach you”.
Fourthly, because it rejects the strength for patience with rejecting the cause of this strength which includes having awareness of the truth and its exegesis. Thus, in fact it has rejected an action through rejecting its causes. So, we see that Moses did not object Al-Khidr when he interpreted his actions however, he could not remain patient when he saw Al-Khidr’s action while he was following him so as to learn from him. But he was convinced, when he heard Moses’ statements. Yes, science has a rule but the manifestation of science has the other rule. The story of Moses (a.s) and calf which has been mentioned in Surah Al-'A`raf is an example of this difference in science and its manifestations. Considering the fact that the news which is declared by God is more credible than any other news, when in Miqat, the Almighty God made him aware that after his arrival, his people would astray by Samiri, there he did not get furious. However, when he came to his people and observed the manifestations of the knowledge he had received in Miqat, he got very angry and threw the tablet away and pulled his brother’s hairs. Therefore the sentence “[Al-Khidr] said, "Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?"” means that Al-Khidr believed that Moses would never be able to have patience with the way he taught and with this knowledge.
And immediately he explained the reason and said: “And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?” In this verse, the term “knowledge” means being able to distinguish between good and evil and the verse means that: “you will never be patient because you do not have the knowledge of that.” This scholar encompassed the knowledge of the issues which was related to divine mysteries (the depth and truth of the events and phenomena) while Moses was not aware of the divine mysteries. In such cases, it happens a lot that the appearances of the event is totally different from what they really are. They may have a foolish appearance while they are really sacred and reasonable. In such cases, the one who pays attention to the appearance, will not be able to have patience and therefore he will object or sometime will commit an act of aggression. But the master who is aware of the divine mysteries and do not merely pays attention to the appearance of the actions, will coolly continue what he is doing and will not pay attention to the cries and objections rather, he will wait for an appropriate opportunity to tell the truth but the disciple will be impatient and when the truth reveals to him, he no longer objects and hence remains silent. Perhaps, Moses became concerned when he heard that news, because he was worried to lose the honor of meeting with that great scholar. Therefore, he promised him to remain patient with all these events and said: “You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in any order.” Again in this sentence, Moses showed his utmost respect for Al-Khidr. Accordingly, he emphasizes the will of God and does not say to that scholar: “I am patient” but he says: “You will find me, if Allah wills”. Allameh Tabatabaei says that in this sentence Moses promised him “soon you will find me patient and I will not disobey you in any order” but he indicated that his promise is dependent upon the will of God. The reason was that he did not want to be considered as a liar if he could not fulfill his promise. It has to be said that because of the relation of the Arabic equivalent of the term “I will not disobey” with the term “patient”, term “I will not disobey” will also be dependent upon the will of God. So if Al-Khidr opposed to answer the question, indeed the promise of “I will not disobey” would not be breached because this promise had also been dependent upon the will of God. But because it is not easy to remain patient with seemingly unpleasant events that human is not aware of its mysteries, again that scholar asked Moses to promise and he also warned him and said: “Then if you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I make to you about it mention”. The appearance of the sentence shows that the term “about it” refers to the term “mention” and it means that you do not need to request from me but I myself will mention it to you. In general this sentence means that if you are going to follow me, you have to remain patient with any unbearable action you may see but soon I myself will mention it to you. This sentence refers to the fact that soon you will see some actions from me that it will be difficult for you to remain patient. But it is not expedient for Moses to ask him very early but he is better to wait until Al-Khidr himself mentions the reason. Moses again promised him and walked on and followed his master.
Moses’ (a.s) Courtesy and humility towards his master
The strange point which is implied from this story is Moses’ courtesy towards his master, Prophet Al-Khidr. These verses indicate that although, Moses Kalimullah (The one who talked to Allah) had been one of the Ulul 'Azm prophets and he had been the one to whom Torah was revealed, he had been very polite towards the person who taught him. From the very beginning to the end, he was very humble and polite towards him, for example from the beginning, he did not bring up his request for following him as a command, but he made him a request and said: “may I follow you?” Secondly, he did not consider following Al-Khidr as an act of accompanying him but he interpreted it as following and obeying him. Thirdly, he did not say that I follow you on the condition that you teach me but he said: I follow you so that you teach me. Fourthly, he officially declared himself as Al-Khidr’s disciple. Fifthly, he regarded the knowledge of Al-Khidr as a great knowledge and attributed it to an unknown (divine) source. Accordingly, he said: “from what you have been taught” and not said: “from what you know”. Sixthly, he praised his knowledge by the term “sound judgment” and indicated that this knowledge would lead to guidance and true path and not to total ignorance and misguidance. Seventhly, he regarded what Al-Khidr taught him as part of his knowledge and not as all of it. Accordingly he said: “May you teach me something of what you have been taught of sound judgment?” and not said: “May you teach me what you have been taught of sound judgment?” eighthly, he regarded Al-Khidr’s orders as his commandments and said: “I would be disobedient if I opposed you” and so he raised his master’s status. Ninthly, he did not explicitly promise him and did not say that “I assure you that I would do this and so forth” but he said: “if Allah wills, I will do this soon and so forth” and also he showed his respect for God because he stated that “You will find me, if Allah wills, patient and I will not disobey you in any order”. Likewise, Moses did not explicitly refuse to accept him but he implicitly said: “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience when you see my actions” and secondly when Moses (a.s) promised him not to disobey him, Al-Khidr did not order Moses to obey him and not said: “Okay, follow me” but he said: “he was free to choose to follow him if he would like.” Accordingly, he said: “Then if you follow me” and thirdly, he did not absolutely prohibited him from asking question. Hence, he did not prohibited him from asking question because he was merely his master but this prohibition was dependent upon obeying him. Accordingly, he said “if you follow me, do not ask me about anything” in order to make him understand that this prohibition is not merely a request but it is a prerequisite for following him.
To be continued