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Lesson 5 From Surah Al-Kahf

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Alhamdulillah, last session,  we were able to complete the story of the people of the cave as it’s mentioned in the Qur’ān. InshAllah, today we’ll discuss some of the many lessons and morals that we can take from it along with verses 27-31.

Lessons from the story of the people of the cave:

There are several lessons, morals, and guidance that can be derived from the story of the people of the cave. I know that we talked about some of them briefly in the last session and I just want to highlight and stress some of the most important ones.

1) This story serves as a consolation, comfort, and support for the Prophet ﷺ, his companions and us as believers. Trials, tests and difficulties and specifically those related to faith and religion. We will be tested in our faith.

2) The story also serves as a proof of Prophethood and the miraculous nature of the Qur’ān – the only way possible for the Prophet ﷺ to know these details regarding their story was through revelation. This is part of the miraculous nature of the Qur’ān.

3) Proof of the infinite might, power, glory, and magnificence of Allah ﷻ and proof of resurrection. It’s amongst the “signs” of Allah ﷻ that indicate towards His Existence, Oneness, and power (strengthens our faith/relationship with Allah)— symbolic parallels between their story, death, and resurrection.

4) Concern for faith and religion.

5) Being dedicated to faith and religion in one’s youth – The famous hadīth of the Prophet ﷺ about seven groups of people who will be shaded on the Day of Judgment (شاب نشأ في عبادة الله). There’s a unique relationship between youth, faith and bringing about change in society.

6) Importance of righteous companionship.

7) Faith, tawakkul (reliance), patience and their relationship with Allah’s mercy, care, and protection.

8) The concepts of Hidāyah and dalalah

9) Parallels between their seeking refuge in the cave and the Prophet ﷺ and Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) seeking refuge in the cave during migration.

10) Speaking truth to power.

11) Avoiding useless discussions that have no relevance or importance to one’s life, salvation, faith or relationship with Allah ﷻ.

12) Not discussing topics without knowledge!

13) The importance of saying InshAllah and recognizing the will of Allah.

According to Syed Qutb: “Every action a human being does or omits to do, indeed every breath a human being takes, is subject to God’s will. The curtains hiding the future are stretched in full so as to hide everything beyond the present moment. Our eyes cannot discern what is behind that curtain, and our minds are finite, no matter how advanced our knowledge may be. Hence a human being must never say that he is definitely doing something tomorrow unless he attaches his intention to God’s will. This is because tomorrow belongs to the realm that lies beyond the reach of human perception. As such, it is known only to God. Hence, we do not make any assertion about it.

This does not mean that man should be fatalistic, giving no thought to the future and making no plans for it. He should not live for the present moment, cutting himself off from his past and future. No, this is not what the directive implies. Rather, what is implied is that every human being must make an allowance for what God may will in his case. He may intend to do whatever he wants, always seeking God’s help, feeling that His will is in full control of everything. It may well be however that God may decide something different to what he intends. Should God help him to put into effect what he intends, then all well and good. But if God’s will moves in a different direction, he should not despair or be sad. All matters belong to God at the beginning and at the end.

What this means in practice is that every person should think and plan as they wish, but they must always remember to rely on God’s help and guidance. They should realize that they only have the faculties of thinking and deliberation God has given them. This should not lead to laziness or disinterestedness. On the contrary, it should give us more strength, confidence, reassurance and resolve. Should events reveal that God’s will has moved in a direction different to what we planned, we should accept this with contentedness and reassurance. We submit to God’s will, because it is beyond our knowledge until God makes it known.”

Now the next set of verses deal with issues of general guidance in a very beautiful way. Allah ﷻ says,

  • Verse 27: Recite what has been revealed to you from the book of your Lord. There is nothing that can alter His words. And you will never find refuge other than with Him.

In this verse, Allah ﷻ is speaking directly to the Prophet ﷺ. He’s instructing His messenger to continue to recite the noble Qur’ān and remain steadfast in conveying its message to his community. To recite what has been revealed to him and follow what is in it in terms of its commands and prohibitions. This was one of the responsibilities of the Prophet ﷺ as a prophet and Messenger; to recite the actual words of revelation to his community. To convey the word of God to his family, friends, neighbors and all of society. And when the Prophet ﷺ would do so he would face all sorts of challenges. Some people would turn away and others would mock and ridicule him. They would even ask him to bring a different Qur’ān or to alter it according to their wishes.

As a response, Allah reminds them, “There is nothing that can alter His words.” The Qur’ān is divinely protected. No one can change, alter or distort its meanings and no one can add or delete anything from the Quran. If someone were to try to do so then they would find no one to help them or protect them. “And you will never find refuge other than with Him.” This is the first instruction found in this passage; to recite the Qur’ān and act upon it.

Next Allah ﷻ reminds the Prophet ﷺ to stay in the company of those who are sincere and have faith despite their economic status.

Verse 28: Make your soul patient with those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, desiring His Face. Don’t turn your eyes away from them, desiring the adornment of the life of this world, nor obeying one whose heart We have made heedless of the remembrance of Us and who follows his caprice and whose affair exceeds the bounds.

This verse has a specific background or context in which it was revealed. One day ‘Uyaynah, one of the chiefs of Makkah, came to the Prophet ﷺ while he was sitting with some of the less well to do Muslims. One of them was Salman Al-Farsi who was wearing clothes made of wool and a turban filled with sweat. Others amongst the poorer companions were luminaries like Bilal, Suhaib, ‘Ammār, Khabbāb and ibn Mas’ūd. So ‘Uyaynah being arrogant and prideful asked the Prophet ﷺ, “Aren’t you bothered by their smell? We are the leaders of Makkah. If we accept Islam then people will follow and accept as well. The only thing preventing us from following you is your closeness to these people. Leave them so we can follow you, or at least make separate gatherings for us.”

In response Allah ﷻ revealed this verse, telling the Prophet ﷺ not to follow the advice of the rich leaders of Makkah. Don’t pay attention to what they’re saying and don’t be influenced by their idea or suggestion. Meaning, keep the company of those who remember Allah ﷻ, praise Him, glorify Him and ask only Him day and night regardless of whether they are rich or poor. Their only intention is to seek and earn the pleasure of Allah ﷻ. Allah then further emphasizes this point by telling the Prophet ﷺ, “and let not your eyes overlook them, seeking the splendor of the worldly life.” Meaning, don’t look towards others for help and support besides them. Don’t seek to replace them with people who have wealth and status. The Prophet ﷺ wanted ‘Uyaynah and the leaders of Quraysh to accept Islam so that the others would follow them. But Allah is reminding him that their acceptance or rejection won’t affect the cause. Although outwardly it seems like the rich and wealthy accepting Islam would strengthen the cause, in reality there’s no need for them. True strength comes from the strength of the faith of your followers; not from material means.

Allah then further emphasizes this point by saying, “And do not obey the one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, and who has followed his desire and whose behavior has exceeded the limits.” Don’t pay attention to those people who are heedless and lost, who have preferred this world over religion. Those people who follow their desires and exceed all the limits set by Allah ﷻ. This is a very comprehensive description of those people who exceed the limits of Allah. Meaning, exceeding the limits set by Allah is the end result. It starts with heedlessness, which turns into following desires, which then results in disobeying Allah.

Lesson: Islam is the religion of equality. It doesn’t differentiate between rich and poor, powerful and weak in any aspect. Everybody is equally held accountable and responsible in the sight of Allah. Islam places all human beings on the same level, in front of God. They do not claim a position on the basis of their wealth, lineage or social standing. All these are transient. The real criterion to distinguish people is their standing with their Lord, which is determined by their sincerity in seeking His pleasure and their dedication to His cause. As the Prophet ﷺ told us, “Truly Allah doesn’t look at your appearances or your wealth. Rather He looks at your hearts and your actions.” Another narration mentions that as soon as this verse was revealed, the Prophet ﷺ stood up looking for these people, the poor Muslims. He found them at the back of the Masjid busy in the remembrance of Allah ﷻ. When he found them he said, “All praise is for Allah, who has not taken my life until he commanded me to remain content with men from my nation. With them is life and with them is death.”

Throughout the Prophetic tradition, we find narrations that encourage us to honor and respect the weak and poor; to treat them with kindness, compassion, sympathy, generosity. But most importantly to spend time with them and interact with them. As a matter of fact Imām Al-Nawawi in his famous collection of hadīth has almost two entire chapters dedicated to this subject. For example, Abu al-Darda raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say, ‘Seek me among the poor and weak. Truly, you are given victory and provided for on account of the poor and weak among you.” [Abu Dawud] The Prophet ﷺ didn’t just honor the weak and poor, he loved them and wanted to be among them. He used to supplicate: “O Allah! I ask You for the means to do good, to avoid evil, and to love the poor, and I beseech You to forgive me and have mercy on me.” (Tirmidhi)

Our beloved Prophet ﷺ lived by his values. He was given the choice to live a life of ease and comfort or the life of hardship and difficulty. And the Prophet ﷺ chose a life of hardship and difficulty; a life of extreme simplicity. His simplicity is awe-inspiring. Whoever reads about the lifestyle of the Prophet ﷺ can’t help but be moved and have their hearts softened. His wife, Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that after he made this choice, the Prophet ﷺ never ate while reclining, saying: “I eat like a servant eats and I sit like a servant sits.” We know that he could have lived the life of a millionaire, but rather he was more generous than the free blowing wind.

Next, Allah ﷻ directs the Prophet ﷺ to declare that the truth has come from Allah and that it is absolutely clear.

Verse 29: And say, “The truth is from your Lord. Now, whoever so wills may believe and whoever so wills may deny.” Verily We have prepared for the wrongdoers a Fire whose canopies will encompass them. And if they will beg for help, they shall be helped with water like molten lead that will scald the faces. Vile is the drink, and how a resting place.”

In the first part of this verse Allah ﷻ tells His messenger ﷺ to announce that the truth has come from Him and that it is absolutely clear and straightforward. Meaning, O Muhammad! Tell the people that what you are preaching is the truth from your Lord; there is no doubt about it whatsoever. This truth, Islam, is the best way of life. So you can choose to believe in it or choose not to believe in it. Everybody will be held accountable for their own decisions on the Day of Judgment. Some of the commentators mention that this verse was also revealed in connection to the previous incident.

The statement, “Now, whoever so wills may believe and whoever so wills may deny,” is meant as a severe warning. The Prophet’s ﷺ responsibility is simply to convey the message. Once the message has been conveyed he’s no longer responsible. The individual who receives the message must make the conscious decision to either accept or reject the truth. And whatever they choose to do they will bear the responsibility of their choice.

The last part of the verse that describes some of the unimaginable torments of hell shows that the first part is meant to be a warning. “Surely, We have prepared for the wrongdoers a fire…” The fire of hell is described as taking the form of canopies that will surround them. They will be surrounded on all sides above and below. “And if they will beg for help, they shall be helped with water like molten lead that will scald the faces. Vile is the drink, and how evil a resting place.”

Then Allah ﷻ describes His promise of reward to those who believe.

Verse 30-31: “As for those who believe and do righteous deeds, -of course, We do not waste the reward of those who are good in deeds. Those are the ones for whom there are eternal gardens, rivers flowing beneath them. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they will be dressed in green garments, made of fine silk and thick silk, reclining therein on couches. Excellent is the reward and beautiful is Paradise as a resting-place.”

Faith and action are always mentioned together; they are inseparable… Our faith, our iman, has to be something that’s real; something that translates into action. And it’s this faith coupled with action that will earn us the mercy of Allah ﷻ. “Gold jewelry, fine silk garments, and raised couches would all have signified immense luxury, particularly in the context of Arabian desert life, where rough woolen garments and sitting on the ground were the norm.”

 

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi serves as the Director of Religious Education at the Institute of Knowledge in Diamond Bar, CA. He regularly delivers khutbahs and lectures at various Islamic Centers and events in southern California.

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What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

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The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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Lesson 11 From Surah Al-Kahf

Tafsir Verses 72-81

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Alhamdulillah last session we were able to explore the meanings and lessons of verses 60-70. InshAllah, we’ll try our best to cover the meanings of verse 71-82. As we learned in the last session, this passage of the Surah deals with a very unique and interesting episode from the life of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). It’s the story of his encounter and journey with a man of God known as Khidr or Khadir. We reached the point in the story where Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) finally finds Khidr and asks with the utmost humility and respect to allow him to be his student. This highlights Musa’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) sincerity in seeking knowledge, his lack of pride and his willingness to humble himself in front of Khidr despite his own status as a Prophet.

But Khidr initially declined his request telling him, “Truly you will not be able to bear patiently with me. And how can you be patient with that which you have no knowledge?” Khidr recognized that he would do things that Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) would find to be illogical, irrational and even impermissible. Things that on the surface level seem to be horrible and despicable. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was sent as a Prophet of Divine Law, while Khidr had been entrusted with some unique knowledge and actions that seemed to be contradictory to that law. So he explained to Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) that he wouldn’t be able to be patient with him and his actions. But Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was extremely eager to learn. He resolved to be patient and obedient while relying upon the will of Allah ﷻ.

He tells Khidr, “You will find me patient, if Allah wills, and I shall not disobey you in any matter.” Khidr finally gave in and both of them set off on their way. This is where we’ll pick up the story again. Allah ﷻ says,

Verse 71: So they both went on till, when they had embarked upon a ship, he made a hole in it. He said, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its people? Certainly, you have done a grave thing.”

They set out walking together along the shore looking for a ship to ride. As they were walking a ship of sailors passed by them and Khidr asked for a ride. The sailors knew Khidr so they let both him and Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) come on board without any charge. After traveling for a while Khidr got up and pulled out one of the planks from the bottom of the ship using an ax making a hole in it. This placed everyone on the ship in danger of drowning. Obviously, this seemingly absurd and cruel behavior surprised Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). He was literally in shock. He couldn’t understand why Khidr would do such a thing to someone who helped him out. This went against his moral compass of what’s right and wrong. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) forgot about the conditions of his teacher and objected. These people gave us a free ride and you’re pulling a plank to drown their ship. You’ve done something bad. “Have you made a hole in it to drown its people? Certainly, you have done a grave thing.” Khidr then reminded him gently with patience.

Verse 72: He said, “Did I not say that you can never bear with me patiently?”

Didn’t I tell you that you wouldn’t be able to be patient with me and my actions? The way he says this shows that he was willing to overlook and tolerate Musa’s (as) impatience. Musa (as) felt a sense of regret and apologized to Khidr telling him that he completely forgot about his deal.

Verse 73: He (Musa) said, “Do not hold me responsible for what I forgot, and do not make my course too difficult for me.”

Basically he apologized. He said please don’t hold me responsible for what I forgot and allow me to continue travelling in your company. While telling the story the Prophet ﷺ says, “the first (question) was out of forgetfulness. While this conversation was taking place a bird came and sat on the side of the boat and took a sip of water from the ocean. Khidr said to Musa, ‘my knowledge and yours combined in comparison to the knowledge of Allah is like the sip of water compared to the ocean.’” Khidr accepting his apology and they continued travelling on their way.

Verse 74: So, they moved ahead until when they met a boy, he killed him (the boy). He (Musa) said, “Did you kill an innocent soul while he did not kill anyone? You have committed a heinous act indeed.”

“So they continued…” They both got off the ship and started walking along the shore until they came across a young boy playing with his friends. Khidr went up to this young boy and killed him by either strangling him to death or striking him on his head. This was too much for Musa (as) to handle. He objected even more vehemently. How can he kill an innocent young boy for no reason whatsoever? To Musa (as) this seemed absolutely absurd, cruel and unjustified. It was too much for him to tolerate patiently despite his promise not to question anything that he saw. So he said, How can you kill a pure innocent child for no reason whatsoever? You have done something unjustified and have committed a heinous act. Once again Khidr reminds him of the condition that he made and the promise that Musa (as) had given.

Verse 75: He said, “Did I not tell you that you can never bear with me patiently?”

Didn’t I warn you that you wouldn’t be able to handle what I would do? Didn’t I tell you that you wouldn’t be able to remain silent when I do certain things? In this reminder, Khidr added the word “laka” to show that this time his reminder is more severe and clearer. The first time someone forgets and makes a mistake it’s overlooked. The second time it’s also overlooked but with a sense of hesitation. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) again feels a sense of regret for breaking his word and not sticking to the conditions of Khidr. He’s now done this twice so he apologizes by saying,

Verse 76: He said, “If I ask you about something after this, do not keep me in your company. You have had enough excuses from me.”

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)(as) again apologizes but this time gives himself one last chance. He said if he questions Khidr one more time then Khidr can choose to part ways with him. Once again Khidr accepts his apology and they set off on their way. After commenting on this part ibn Kathīr narrates a hadīth from the Prophet ﷺ. He writes, “Ibn Jarir narrated from Ibn `Abbas that Ubayy bin Ka`b said: “Whenever the Prophet ﷺ mentioned anyone, he would pray for himself first. One day he said:

  • «رَحْمَةُ اللهِ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى مُوسَى لَوْ لَبِثَ مَعَ صَاحِبِهِ لَأَبْصَرَ الْعَجَبَ، وَلَكِنَّهُ قَالَ:
  • ﴿إِن سَأَلْتُكَ عَن شَىْءٍ بَعْدَهَا فَلاَ تُصَاحِبْنِى قَدْ بَلَغْتَ مِن لَّدُنِّى عُذْراً﴾»

May the mercy of Allah be upon us and upon Musa. If he had stayed with his companion he would have seen wonders, but he said, (`If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.’))” That brings us to the third and last adventure they had together.

Verse 77: Then, they moved on until they came to the people of a town and sought food from them. But they refused to show them any hospitality. Then, they found there a wall that was about to fall down. So he (Khidr) set it right. He (Musa) said, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.”

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Khidr continued traveling until they came upon the people of a town that most commentators identify as the ancient city of Antioch. Being tired and hungry they asked them for some food but they refused to give them any or show them any hospitality whatsoever. As they were leaving the city they came across a wall that was about to fall down. Khidr stopped by it and repaired it. Now, this situation is also bizarre; Khidr is a complete stranger in a town that refused to give them food or host them yet he still stops and fixes their wall for nothing in return. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) finds the situation full of irony. Why should a stranger exert so much effort in rebuilding a wall in a town where they were denied even a little food and all hospitality? He should have at least demanded some money for his labor and then they could have bought some food to eat.

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) couldn’t hold himself so he objected, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.” And that was the end of their relationship. Khidr responded,

Verse 78: He said, “This is the parting between me and you. I shall inform you of the meaning of that which you were unable to bear with patiently.”

Meaning, this is the end of our relationship and this is where we’ll part ways. But before we go our separate ways I’ll explain to you the wisdom and hidden meaning behind everything I did. Up till this point in the story, we’ve probably been just as impatient as Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him); we have no clue why Khidr did the things he did. But he then explains everything is detail; why he pulled a plank out of the bottom the ship, why he killed an innocent child and why he rebuilt the wall without taking anything in return.

Verse 79: As for the ship, it belonged to some poor people who worked at sea. I wanted to damage it, for just beyond them was a king who was seizing every ship by force.

Khidr is explained that his act of damaging the ship was, in reality, a means of saving it. It comes in a narration that these poor people were ten brothers, 5 of them were handicapped while the other five worked. The ship was their only source of income. The king was a cruel, tyrannical oppressor who would take ships by force. The damage done to the ship made it undesirable for the king and ultimately saved it for its owners. Had it been seaworthy, it would certainly have been confiscated by the tyrannical king. Perpetrating some small damage to the boat saved it from the greater harm and ruinous injustice which was certain to take place without it. Hence, causing such damage was a good and kindly action. So damaging the ship actually turned out to be a good thing.

Verses 80-81: And as for the young boy, his parents were believers and we feared that he would make them suffer much through rebellion and disbelief. So we desired that their Lord give them in exchange one who is better than him in purity, and nearer to mercy.

Although the young child seemed to be pure and innocent in reality the seeds of disbelief and wickedness were entrenched in his heart. If he had grown up he would have been a source of grief and sorrow for his parents who were believers. Their love for this child would have led them towards evil and wickedness as well. They would suffer because of the rebellion and disbelief. So Allah told Khidr to kill this boy to spare them that grief and to replace him with a child that would be better and more dutiful. Now obviously the parents weren’t aware of this at this time so to them this was a huge loss and tragedy. They weren’t aware of the future difficulties that they were saved from by his death.

Qatādah said, “His parents rejoiced when he was born and grieved for him when he was killed. If he had stayed alive, he would have been the cause of their doom. So let a man be content with the decree of Allah, for the decree of Allah for the believer, if he dislikes it, is better for him than if He were to decree something that he likes for him.” That’s why in connection to these verses ibn Kathīr رحمهم الله quotes the hadīth, “Allah does not decree anything for a believer, save that it is better for him.”

  • «لَا يَقْضِي اللهُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ مِنْ قَضَاءٍ إِلَّا كَانَ خَيْرًا لَه»

It is mentioned in a narration that the parents were blessed with a pious daughter who gave birth to a Prophet. So the murder of this child actually turned out to be something good in the long run.

Verse 82: And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and beneath it was a treasure belonging to them. Their father was righteous, and your Lord desired that they should reach their maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I didn’t do this upon my own command. This is the meaning of that which you couldn’t bear with patiently.

Khidr explained to Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) that the wall that was about to fall that he rebuilt was covering a treasure that belonged to two orphan boys. If the wall had fallen down the treasure would be exposed and the orphan children would’ve been deprived of their wealth. By rebuilding the wall Khidr made it possible for them to access their treasure when they grew up. This was done partially because their father was a righteous and pious man. Khidr then explains to Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) that he didn’t do any of these things based on his own accord or understanding. Rather he did them according to the Divine command, decree, and will of Allah ﷻ. “And I didn’t do this upon my own command.” He concludes by saying, “This is the meaning of that which you couldn’t bear with patiently.” Meaning, this is the explanation of my actions that you didn’t understand and weren’t able to be patient with.

Lessons:

1) One of the most powerful and profound lessons we learn from this entire episode is that oftentimes a tragedy is a blessing in disguise. Everything that happens in this world, whether good or bad, happens according to the Divine will and decree of Allah ﷻ. There’s some deep divine wisdom behind every single thing that happens in this world. When something good happens we recognize it as a blessing. For example, if we get a good job, get a raise at work, purchase a new car or are blessed with the birth of a child. All of recognize this as something positive. On the other hand whenever we face setbacks, difficulties, hardships and tragedies we tend to lose patience.

This incident is teaching us that difficulties, tests, trials, and hardships are oftentimes blessing in disguise. The first thing to understand is that Allah isn’t sending these difficulties our way to break us or destroy us. Rather he’s sending them our way to test our patience and faith, as a source of mercy and a reminder. As a way of nurturing and training us. He’s reminding us to turn back to Him, to hold on to our faith, to be steadfast, patient, strong, and to persevere. When we’re struggling and going through difficult times we shouldn’t assume that somehow Allah is displeased with us. Similarly, when we’re comfortable and enjoying life we shouldn’t assume that Allah is pleased with us. The opposite can be true. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

  • « إِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الْخَيْرَ عَجَّلَ لَهُالْعُقُوبَةَ فِى الدُّنْيَا وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الشَّرَّأَمْسَكَ عَنْهُ بِذَنْبِهِ حَتَّى يُوَفَّى بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

“If Allah wants good for his servant, He hurries on His punishment in this world, and if He wills ill for a servant, he holds back punishing him for his sin so He can give it to him in full on the Day of Resurrection.”

Everything we face in this world is actually a source of blessing for us. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

  • «مَا يُصِيبُ المُسْلِمَ مِنْ نَصَبٍ،وَلاَ وَصَبٍ، وَلاَ هَمِّ، وَلاَ حُزْنٍ، وَلاَ أَذًى، وَلاَ غَمِّ، حَتَّىالشَّوْكَةِ يُشَاكُهَا؛ إِلاَّ كَفَّرَ الله بِهَا مِنْ خَطَايَاهُ»

“No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his sins by it.”

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us that the main tool, the key to deal with the world and all the problems it contains is through patience and turning towards Him. When we’re dealing with our problems we should turn to Allah. We should make dhikr, read Quran, spend time in prayer and reflection and try to be around good company. We should try to focus our attention, our spiritual and emotional energy on our relationship with Allah instead of our problem. By doing so we’ll find peace and comfort. True contentment. Part of patience is recognizing that whatever we’re going through is something that we can handle. Whatever we’re going through will not last forever. That’s why throughout the Quran whenever Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) consoles and comforts the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) He reminds him to be patient and to turn to him. “So be patient over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord.” (20:130) “So be patient. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth.” (30:60) “So be patient, [O Muhammad], over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting.” (50:39)

2) Being content with the Divine decree of Allah ﷻ.

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Heart Soothers: Salim Bahanan

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