Republished with kind permission from Understand Quran
Moses said to him, “May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?” (Quran 18:66)
The Beauty of Knowledge
When I came to Islam what moved me deeply was the importance of knowledge in Islam. Islam is a treasure chest of wisdom totally relevant to the daily life you live. Yes, you! I found it amazingly beautiful that Allah made seeking knowledge (‘ilm) an obligation upon every Muslim. The Prophet said:
The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim. (At-Tirmidhi)
At a stage in my life I found myself in different situations all pushing me in one direction: Islam. I was someone who had said: “I will never become a Muslim!” Little did I know.
I made this decision: “I’m going to study Islam to prove it’s nothing for me.” That’s what I did and this was the most thought-provoking, heart-shaking, life-changing journey of my life. Because as I started reading books, listening to those with knowledge, studying the seerah and the Book, I became convinced it was all logical.
So I could do nothing else but submit. And there I stood, one day, in the kitchen and I raised my head to the sky and said the shahadah. And there and then Allah Al-Hadi, The Guide, guided me from the darkness of disbelief to the light of faith.
The beauty of seeking knowledge and its importance in Islam changed my life forever after. When I read this hadith, my heart was sold.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
God, His angels and all those in Heavens and on Earth, even ants in their hills and fish in the water, call down blessings on those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge. (Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 422)
I strongly believe all of us have the capability to apply this ultimate combination: learning and teaching someone else something about Islam. So here are some lessons on how to be a productive student and teacher!
Lesson 1: Thank Allah for the knowledge you have.
Before we start with a selection of the verses from the story of Moses and Al-Khidr, look at the crucial lesson the Prophet (peace be upon him) told us:
Once Prophet Musa stood up and addressed Bani Israel. He was asked: “Who is the most learned man amongst the people?” He said: “I am the most learned.” Allah admonished Moses as he did not attribute absolute knowledge to Him (Allah). So Allah inspired to him, “At the junction of the two seas there is a slave of mine who is more learned than you.” Musa said: “O my Lord! How can I meet him?” (Al-Bukhari)
There is no one who knows everything. Allah gives certain knowledge to whoever He wills. Moses didn’t link his knowledge to Allah. All the knowledge that we have is from Allah and we need to thank Him.
Tip: Half of wisdom is the ability to say “I don’t know”. Some speak about Allah without any knowledge is worse than shirk. So by saying “I don’t know” you’re actually saving yourself!
Lesson 2: Recognize the Importance of Determination.
And [mention] when Moses said to his servant, “I will not cease [travelling] until I reach the junction of the two seas or continue for a long period.
When Moses found out there was someone more learned than himself he was determined to find him. As a seeker of knowledge you should have a strong determination. Moses said he wouldn’t stop until he got to the place where he would meet al-Khidr.
Abu Hurayrah was determined to get knowledge and wouldn’t eat until he found it!
Lesson 3: Recognize the Importance of Seeking Companions in Knowledge.
So when they had passed beyond it, [Moses] said to his boy, “Bring us our morning meal. We have certainly suffered in this, our journey, [much] fatigue.
Realize the importance of companionship when seeking knowledge. Help each other.
Lesson 4: Know that Shaytaan will Try to Block Knowledge.
He said, “Did you see when we retired to the rock? Indeed, I forgot [there] the fish. And none made me forget it except Satan— that I should mention it. And it took its course into the sea amazingly.”
This is a reminder that seeking knowledge is not an easy task, and it’s a given that you’ll face difficulties. Shaytaan will always come and try to block you from gaining knowledge. If you forget something good it is from Shaytaan.
Lesson 5: Students Must Have Good Manners.
Moses said to him, “May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?”
The seeker of knowledge always asks politely. Moses asked his question in a gentle way, and this is how you should address your teacher or a scholar.
Lesson 6: Teachers Must Also Have Good Manners.
Verse 67 & 68:
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?”
The teacher knows his student; Al-Khidr knew his student well. The teacher should also advise his student; sometimes the teacher knows what is best for the student better than the student does.
Another etiquette of the teacher with the students is being able to speak to the student according to the student’s level. Al-Khidr is saying that he has knowledge of Allah’s wisdom that Moses can’t see, but he doesn’t humiliate Moses.
Lesson 7: Be Patient and Obedient.
Verse 69 & 70:
[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.”
Moses didn’t give up, and he had the intention to be patient.
Hastiness is one of the main problems of students. How many times do we start studying something but don’t have the patience to continue? If you tell yourself from the start “I’m going to be patient,” your mindset will be just right!
One of the conditions for you as a seeker of knowledge is patience, and the other is obedience to the way your teacher set out for you. The teacher is like a parent for his or her student; whenever you teach anyone, you should do so with love and mercy.
Lesson 8: Move from Knowledge to Productivity.
And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.”
The Prophet said:
Knowledge from which no benefit is derived is like a treasure out of which nothing is spent in the cause of God. (At-Tirmidhi)
If knowledge brings you closer to Allah and gives you taqwa then this is a blessing from Allah. Knowledge can also be a trial; you can use it in the wrong way or not practice what you learn at all!
How can knowledge make you more productive? Knowledge about certain deeds and their immense reward can bring you closer to Allah. An example is the two rak’at sunnah you pray before fajr. Some people don’t have the knowledge and therefore leave it. So study, practice what you learn, and teach your knowledge to others!