It’s one of those days. The alarm doesn’t go off. You’re late for an urgent meeting. There’s no edible food in the fridge and you’re out of coffee. You stomp your feet on the way out and maybe rip your pants. The car won’t start so you take a cab with a chatty driver who takes a wrong turn and you end up stuck in traffic for what seems like a whole week!
You just want to scream: “Why do BAD things happen to GOOD people?”
I remember feeling the same way when my son’s school closed down and with his autism, a change in routine was no walk in the park! Being a single mom, I honestly broke down, thinking Allah was testing me at my weakest, and then I learnt about Prophet Musa’s story with Al-Khidr, and why we read about it in Surat Al-Kahf every Friday. Since then, a blessed light cleared my vision, and nothing was ever the same again.
Recap? Okay, but let’s make it brief.
A man asks Prophet Musa who is the most knowledgeable person alive and the blessed Prophet automatically answers that he was, since he’s the Messenger of God. But Allah shows Prophet Musa there’s someone else (a man named Al-Khidr) with even more knowledge. Prophet Musa humbly embarks on a long journey to find him and learn from him.
Al-Khidr instructs the Prophet not to ask any questions during the learning process, and he tries to oblige, expect it was very difficult not to wonder why the wise Al-Khidr would wreck the poor people’s ship, kill a young boy and fix a wall in a town where he was obviously not welcomed. Prophet Musa’s legitimate curiosity got the best of him, and Al-Khidr finally explained that each act he did might have seemed horrible or confusing on the outside, but in reality it was for a very good cause [Sahih Al-Bukhari].
I guess this story is the origin of the phrase ‘blessings in disguise’.
What does this have to do with productivity, though?
I’ll let the following golden lessons answer this question.
Lesson One: The Only Way To Get More Is To Give More
Before I start with the first story of the poor people on the ship, can I just pause to admire Prophet Musa for a little bit? Do you understand who he was? The chosen one! Yet he travelled a long way to learn from someone else. He could have easily went up to Al-Khidr and said: “Hey! I spoke to Allah Himself. Can you top that?” But instead he asked politely to follow him! That kind of humility is the first step to achieving any goal. In order to learn and get ahead in life, you need to be humble enough to listen and absorb information from others.
The journey has a lot of action and movement. Al-Khidr did not sit Prophet Musa down and then scribble words on the white board to teach him. No, he took his student out on live experiences. The first was on board of a ship that belonged to a group of poor people, and they were kind enough to welcome Al-Khidr and Prophet Musa and help them reach their destination. Al-Khidr made a hole in the ship because he knew from Allah there was a king behind them about to forcefully seize it. The very same ship these people used to help others, Allah preserved it for them.
Now it all makes sense; when you give help, money, time or service from the heart, you’ll only get more, never lose.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad was so right when he said: “Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives Allah adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).” [Sahih Muslim]
Lesson Two: Nothing Is Lost, Only Replaced
This story is a hard pill to swallow. I mean, killing a child? Seriously? It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and here he is Al-Khidr murdering an innocent soul because the boy might grow up and disobey his parents. How do we know if the heartache of losing a child isn’t worse than him misbehaving?
Well, Allah knows.
And if you’ve ever watched a young man hit his dad or become an atheist or a young Muslim girl eloping with her boyfriend and causing a huge scandal, or becoming a drug addict, you will totally understand that sometimes death is a mercy when compared to other constantly draining disasters.
The murdered boy will most probably go to Jannah and his parents will only have the sweetest memories of him before having a new child, who will fill their lives with joy.
“Never does Allah (swt) take anything away without giving back something better.”
Lesson Three: Our Goodness Survives Even After We Are Gone
Prophet Musa and Al-Khidr set out to a town of inhospitable people, the kind who wouldn’t hand you a glass of water if you were in a burning building. Imagine what these people would do once they find a buried treasure? Would they really give it to its rightful owners? Definitely not! Al-Khidr built a wall that was about to collapse to preserve the treasure under it until the orphan boys grow up, because that’s when they will need it the most. He explained his actions later, saying he did that for the sake of their father, who was a righteous man.
Oh, how we worry and pile the money up fearing our children will struggle after we pass away. All the trust funds and life insurances to secure the future hold nothing next to how we choose to live before we die. Allah promises us many rewards if we stay on the right path, and one of them is financial security for our families when we can no longer provide for them.
Islam is anything but self-centered; it teaches us we are all connected, and every little good deed we do will have a ripple effect to benefit our loved ones and many others.
Do you feel the sentiments in this beautiful chapter? Do you see how Allah cares for our feelings and softly soothes our hearts? In the first story, He takes away the fear and anger of losing the ship. In the second, He takes away the sadness and disappointment in a rebellious child, and in the third, He takes away the anxiety of worrying about the future. This is our Lord, The Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate. If we really knew Him, or allowed ourselves that honor of learning about Him, we will never think that bad things could happen to His good people. They’re only hidden blessings.
I found out later my son’s previous school shut down because the teachers used to hit the kids with special needs and abuse them, knowing they can never report back to their parents. My son now goes to a new school, where the teachers are angels sent to us from heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this happy, and I’m grateful for everything he’s learning and for who he’s becoming now. The blessing is clear and vivid now, no longer in disguise!
This holy chapter teaches us so much more than what meets the eye: how assumptions toy with our minds and lead us to the darkest of places; how giving others the benefit of the doubt is a forgotten ‘sunnah’ and shows us why we panic and breakdown, because we have zero knowledge of what the future beholds, and that’s the third trial the Anti-Christ will come with. The Dajjal will test our faith, blind us with wealth and impress us with his knowledge. He will be able to bring back the dead for God’s sake! The only way to survive this tribulation is to remain humble and sincere. The power of knowledge is in knowing there’s a lot we don’t know; it’s in true submission to the Great Lord and trusting in His will and timing.
Hey! What about the title and the three strikes? I forgot to mention we only get a number of chances and we must learn from our mistakes and that patience is the key to every good!
Now, please use the comments section below to share your thoughts on this part of the amazing Surat Al Kahf.