The Story Of Prophet Musa a.s. In Seeking Knowledge:
Lessons From Surah Al-Kahfi
Blessed Friday Jemaah,
Let us be constantly conscious to the presence of Allah s.w.t. with the highest level of taqwa. Heed Allah’s commands and avoid what He has prohibited upon us.
As a continuation to our appreciation of surah Al-Kahfi, let us learn in more detail about the story of Prophet Musa a.s. and a servant of Allah who was bestowed with knowledge and wisdom mentioned in verses 60 to 83 of surah Al-Kahfi. Some scholars of Tafsir are of the opinion that the person mentioned in the story is Prophet Khidir a.s. There are numerous lessons that can be learnt from this story. More specifically, lessons tied to knowledge and wisdom. Let us reflect upon what Allah s.w.t says in verse 65, surah Al-Kahfi:
Which means: “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.”
From this verse, we can conclude firmly that all knowledge belongs to Allah. Just as how Allah s.w.t blessed Prophet Musa with knowledge or ilm, Allah also bestowed upon Prophet Khidir with specific knowledge, as explained in the earlier verse.
Verily, Allah has the right to grant His knowledge to anyone He wishes. In fact, in this story, the knowledge that Prophet Khidir a.s. had, was not acquired by Prophet Musa a.s.! And Prophet Musa is among the Prophets known as Ulul ’Azmi! Despite this, in the subsequent verses, Prophet Musa a.s. was reminded by Prophet Khidir a.s. to be patient! Hence, these verses remind us that we should never feel that we know everything. Remember that Allah’s knowledge is vast. And there are definitely matters that we do not know of. And the knowledge that we may not have might be something that has been bestowed on somebody else, perhaps a young child or even a youth, or even a student! Beloved Jemaah,
Allah s.w.t. says in the verse that follows:
Which means: “Musa (Moses) said to him, "May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?” [Surah Al-Kahfi, verse 66]
In this verse, Allah shows us the proper adab or etiquette of a student toward a teacher. When he wanted to be Prophet Khidir’s student, Prophet Musa a.s. sought permission from him, a sign of humility. This is sadly, different from some individuals today who refuse to accept or listen to any forms of advice. Especially if the person giving the advise is a person whom he deems to be of lower status or having lesser knowledge than him. Why does this happen? When arrogance overcomes us, it causes one to forget who he really is. A knowledgeable and educated person will assess every feedback received and act on it to improve himself. In fact, a person who is more knowledgeable is more humble, or tawadhu’, and open to all sorts of feedback including criticisms. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said: “And no one humbles himself before Allah but Allah will raise him (in status).” [Hadith reported by Imam Muslim]
In the next verse, Allah s.w.t. described the manners and etiquette of a person seeking knowledge. Allah says in Surah Kahfi, verses 67 to 69:
Which means: “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.” What Allah says is true indeed; to acquire true knowledge requires patience and continuous effort. However, today we see many who rush to acquire religious information, but fail to verify the sources. Information that we gain from the Internet, without learning from a teacher, is not knowledge. It merely remains as information. And there is a possibility that it may be false. And if it is true, one needs to gain a true and insightful understanding, and this requires detailed explanation from a teacher.
Hopefully by understanding and appreciating the lesson and hikmah behind the story of Prophet Musa and Prophet Khidir, we are able to work towards becoming people of knowledge, with good adab and reputable conduct, as how a true knowledgeable person should be. Amin.