How can we understand fate? Whether you are a Muslim or not, maybe this is one of the most crucial questions that come to our minds. Philosophically speaking, this is called the question of good and evil. It is simply: Why has God created evil, poverty, misery, wars, and diseases?! Why are children killed during wars? Why are children starving to death in Africa? Isn’t God the Most Merciful and the Most Wise? So how is the world full of all these tragedies and calamities?
Of course, it would be wonderful if we could understand these contradictions that make our souls exhausted. Although this may seem impossible right now, this actually happened almost thirty-three centuries ago with Prophet Moses.
Prophet Moses, peace and blessing upon him, had a lot of philosophical questions like seeing God; he said,
My Lord, show me [Yourself] that I may look at You.” (Quran.com/7:143).
But our focus in this article will be on the time when Moses asked God about fate or destiny and how it works. And I think a lot of us have this specific question today.
Prophet Moses met a man called Al-khidhr. Some people say that he was just a wise vitreous man, but in fact, this man represents fate itself. This man represents the hand of God that changes people’s destiny. And what is so beautiful in the stories is that fate is speaking. So now we are going to know the stories and read a dialogue between prophet Moses (human being) who is exactly like us and who has the same questions that we have, and the Fate of God who is talking (Al-Khidhr). Let’s read the dialogues and know these three stories as told in the Quran from a new perspective.
The first story: People of the ship
The first story and the first dialogue is the description of Al-khidhr “the talking fate”.
Allah Almighty said,
… a servant from among Our servants to whom we had given mercy from us and had taught him from Us a [certain] knowledge.” (Quran.com/18:65).
This means that this fate is merciful and knowledgeable. And this is an essential point. Then Prophet Moses (human) said to him,
– “May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgment?” (Quran.com/18:66).
= Al-Khidhr (Fate) replied, “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience.” (Quran.com/18:67). He added, “And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?” (Quran.com/18:68).
This answer is very deep and crucial. Actually, understanding fate is something beyond our human mental abilities. Fate said to Moses that he couldn’t stand the contradictions that he would see. But Moses replied with all the curiosity that a human could have
– “You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in [any] order.”(Quran.com/18:69).
= Then fate answered: “Then if you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I make to you about it mention.” (Quran.com/18:70).
So they set out until when they had embarked on the ship of poor people working at the sea, Al-Khidhr tore it open. And it was clear that the owner of the ship suffered a lot form Al-khidhr’s action. That’s why Moses asked strongly about this evil action just like what we do all the time.
– [Moses] said, “Have you torn it open to drown its people? You have certainly done a grave thing.” (Quran.com/18:71).
Moses here is blaming fate just as we do! Did you leave me without children to make people mock me? Did you fire me from the job in order to be poor? The same questions! But Al-khidhr kept silent and continued his journey with Moses. It is clear in the scene here that the people of the ship suffered severely. They were about to drown. The ship, which was their source of income, was broken. But after Al-khidhr left them, an unjust king came and they discovered that the evil was good for them as this king seized every good ship by force. Al-Khidhr had caused minor damage to the ship to protect it from greater harm.
As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every [good] ship by force.” (Quran.com/18:79).
Let’s continue… Prophet Moses was still confused but he continued his journey with this man (Fate) who is confirming to him repeatedly,
…Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?” (Quran.com/18:75).
As if he is saying: oh human, didn’t I tell you that you are so little to understand fate!
The second story: Killing the boy
The two men continued their journey… And Al-khidhr, whom we described by mercy and knowledge, killed a boy and left. Moses became very furious. He blamed Al-khidhr in a very sharp voice.
– ” …[Moses] said, “Have you killed a pure soul for other than [having killed] a soul? You have certainly done a deplorable thing.”(Quran.com/18:74).
Can you imagine that these words are coming from a prophet with a revelation? But he is a human like us. He is living the same state of confusion. But Al khidhr again told him,
= “Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?” (Quran.com/18:75).
At this point, I would like to assert that anyone who reads the Quran will see the big picture of the story. We will know from the verses of the Quran that Al-khidhr did this action because if the boy weren’t killed, he would commit evil actions to his parents.
And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief. So we intended that their Lord should substitute for them one better than him in purity and nearer to mercy.” (Quran.com/18:80-81)
But the question here is: Did the mother know that?
Did Al-khidhr tell the boy’s mother the whole matter?
The answer is “No.”
Certainly, her heart was broken and she stayed long dark nights in great grieve because she lost her son whom she brought and loved so much and then a strange man came and killed him suddenly and left. And of course, she couldn’t know that her second child was a substitution for the first one and that the first would be very evil if he lived. So she thought that this was a very evil action and she couldn’t understand.
The third story: Restoring the collapsed Wall
“So they set out, until when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to offer them hospitality. And they found therein a wall about to collapse, so Al-Khidhr restored it.
– [Moses] said, “If you wished, you could have taken for it a payment.” (Quarn.com/18:77)
Moses was again very surprised and confused by Al-khidhr’s action. why did he build for them a wall without taking money although they refused to offer them hospitality?!
= “[Al-Khidhr] said, ‘This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.’” (Quran.com/18:78).
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.” (Quran.com/18:82).
Did the two orphan boys (The children of the righteous man) know that Allah sent to them a man to build the wall for them to protect their treasure till they grow up? Did they see the hidden mercy of God?
The answer is definitely “NO.”. Did Moses understand the secret behind building the wall till Al-khidhr explained to him and to us the whole matter? In fact, “No.”.
We conclude from these three stories that evil is something relative and the concept of evil is so limited as we can’t always see the full picture. what seemed evil to the people of the ship turned to be good at the end and this is the first type of fate: Evil that you see and you think that it is evil while God reveals to you at the end that it is the ultimate good for you. We see this example a lot in our daily life. The second type is like the killing of the boy. It is an evil that you see as an evil, but in fact, it is good; but Allah does not reveal the whole picture for you and you live your life thinking of it as evil, just like the mother of the boy. She didn’t know why her child was killed. The third type which is a very important one. It is an evil that God keeps away from you and you never know it! It is the hidden mercy and wisdom of God. And the good that God sends like building the wall to the children of the righteous man. In brief, we human beings must believe in Al-khidhr’s first words:
Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience.” (Quran.com/18/67).
Oh human being, you cannot understand all God’s fate and actions. The picture is much bigger than you and me. Many incidents are beyond our human mental abilities. You may live and die thinking that you were treated in an unjust way in a specific part of your life, but the truth is totally different from what you think. Maybe Allah protects you from a greater evil that you will never know. Maybe Allah will reward you with something better. Maybe Allah sends you good from another path that you never think of. Allah has a plan. A plan far greater than you can imagine.
Stop worrying, stop stressing, and trust Fate; trust God.