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Padkos (food for the Journey) Print

Q. The Quraan mentions two Nabis (prophets) taking "padkos" with them. Do you know who they are?

A. Sûrah al-Kahf [18:59-82] describes a journey of Musa (alayhis salaam) - Moses (peace be upon him).

The Children of Israel asked him who was the most knowledgeable on earth. Being the prophet of his time he had the most knowledge on religious law. He therefore correctly replied, "Me." Allah preferred that he display modesty and reply, "Allah knows best." He therefore ordered him to set out on a journey to meet a slave of Allah who had more knowledge than him. His attendant Yusha (alayhis salaam) - Joshua (peace be upon him), who later became a prophet accompanied him. They took a fish with as travel provision.

They stopped to rest at a place where two oceans meet. (While the Quraan does not specify which oceans, it should not prevent us from appreciating the majesty of Allah in His signs such as our own Cape Point. There two oceans meet and, as Surah ar-Rahmaan states, "There is a barrier between them which they do not traverse.") Musa (alayhis salaam) slept. Allah resurrected the fish and it leapt into the sea. It formed a tunnel in its passing. Yusha (alayhis salaam) witnessed this but forgot to mention it to Musa (alayhis salaam).

Musa (alayhis salaam) then requested the fish for lunch. When he heard what had happened he realized that that was the sign for the meeting. They returned and followed the tunnel to an island where they met Khidr (or Khadir). Khidr is Allah's special slave who is given special missions in matters of Takween (running of the cosmos). In this he has more knowledge than Musa (alayhis salaam) who had more knowledge in Shariah (law). He refused to let Musa (alayhis salaam) accompany him, "You not have the patience to accompany me." Musa (alayhis salaam) insisted. He relented on condition, "If you follow me you may not ask me anything until I inform you about it."

They journeyed and crossed the sea on a ship owned by poor people. Khidr (alayhis salaam) proceeded to damage the ship. Musa (alayhis salaam) was enraged, "Do you want to drown these people?" He was reminded of his promise and remained silent. When they landed they found a boy playing. Khidr (alayhis salaam) killed the boy. Musa (alayhis salaam) could not control himself, "Do you kill an innocent soul?" Another reminder silenced him. Musa (alayhis salaam) promised, "If I question you on anything hereafter you need not keep me in your company." They reached Antioch which refused them hospitality. Khidr (alayhis salaam) began repairing a wall which was about to collapse. Musa (alayhis salaam) remarked, "Had you wished you could have taken remuneration for it."

Khidr (alayhis salaam) said, "This is the departing between me and you." He explained that everything he did was per the command of Allah. A tyrant was confiscating all ships. He therefore damaged it so that the tyrant would not be interested in it. The boy was evil in nature and would lead his pious parents to evil. Allah therefore saved them and replaced him with pious offspring. The wall of Antioch concealed the inheritance of two orphans of a pious father. Had it collapsed the greedy people of Antioch would have stolen the treasure.

Commentators have discussed many points on this story. The most pertinent are:

  1. Importance of humility.
  2. Obedience to the teacher.
  3. A student should only ask questions to understand something. The trend today is to question 'Ulama (scholars) in order to challenge, not to understand.
  4. Only Allah has complete knowledge on all fields. A lesser person may surpass a great person in a certain field.
  5. Making material preparation is not contrary to reliance on Allah. Musa (alayhis salaam) took fish with him relying upon Allah to nourish him not the fish. He realized it to be a bounty of Allah.
  6. Great people may forget or err.

May Allah grant us understanding and ability to practice.

sk/2007-10-31 13:07:18

 
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