Above we saw the request of the prominent disbelievers rejected wherein they sought the removal of the poor believers from the Prophet’s teaching area (صلى الله عليه وسلم). In the upcoming verses this rejection is further clarified with one story of Sayidna Musa (عليه السلام). He saw no shame at all in making one lower than him a teacher in certain specific matters of knowledge. You on the other hand feel ashamed of merely having these poor people as classmates.
In addition to the above purpose, the story also indicates on his Prophethood (صلى الله عليه وسلم), as is quite evident.
The story of Musa (عليه السلام) with Khadir (عليه السلام)
And remember that time when Musa (عليه السلام) said to his servant, whose name was Yusha [narrated by al-Bukhari], I will continuously move forward in this journey until I reach the place where the two seas meet. Otherwise, I will keep going for a substantially long time. This meaning is similar to:
دست از طلب ندارم تا کارمن برآید
یا تن رسد بجاناں یا جاں زتن برآید
I will not stop my praying until he accepts my prayer
Either he accepts my body or he accepts my soul
The circumstances behind this journey are as follows. Once Musa (عليه السلام) was exhorting the people and someone asked, Who at this time is the most knowledgeable? Musa (عليه السلام) replied, I am. That is to say, as far as that knowledge is concerned which draws one near to the Almighty, there is no one equal to me. This was a valid thing to say since he was an ulu al-’azam prophet, and evidently none can reach ulu al-’azam anbiya in this category of knowledge.
However, since the apparent words spoken were general, Allah Most High decided to educate Sayidna Musa (عليه السلام) to be more cautious when speaking. Hence he was informed that a servant of ours resides where the two seas meet who has more knowledge than even you; meaning he possesses a higher degree of certain specific points of knowledge, though that knowledge does not contribute to the acquisition of qurb ilallah, as will become clear shortly. Nevertheless, based on this, caution should have been exercised when replying. Describing oneself as being the most knowledgeable in general terms was not appropriate. Thereupon, Musa (عليه السلام) became desirous of meeting him. So he asked how to reach him. He was told to take with him a dead fish on the journey. This person will be found at the location where the fish is lost. Musa (عليه السلام) then set off on the journey with his servant Yusha’ and said what is mentioned in the above verse.
So, while walking, when the two reached the meeting place of the two seas, they fell asleep leaning against some boulder. The fish, by Allah’s permission, came to life and jumped into the sea. Upon waking Yusha’ (عليه السلام) found the fish missing. The intent was to inform Musa (عليه السلام) when he awoke but he totally forgot. Perhaps thoughts of his home and family preoccupied and overwhelmed him to the point where he forgot to mention. Otherwise, forgetting something this amazing is quite unlikely. However, for one who observes miracles all the time, it is not too difficult to conceive such a person occasionally forgetting an odd supernatural event of the lower kind due to becoming preoccupied with other thoughts. Musa (عليه السلام) also did not remember to ask. In this manner the two forgot that fish of theirs; the fish, having come to life prior to this, adopted its path in the sea and departed. Then when they went further from there, leaving it far behind, Musa (عليه السلام) said to his servant, Do bring us our breakfast. We have indeed experienced in this journey of ours, meaning today’s travel, great fatigue. Contrary to this, they had not become tired while travelling in any of the days prior to this. The reason for this is apparently crossing over the destination. The servant said, Here you go. You see, something amazing happened. When we rested near that boulder, something happened to the fish and my intention was to inform you of this story, but I got distracted with some other thoughts, and I forgot to mention that fish, and it was only Shaytan who made me forget to mention it; and that story was that the fish after becoming alive took a path in the sea in an amazing way. One aspect of this amazing way was its very coming to life. The second was that the area of the sea where it penetrated miraculously opened to form the like of a tunnel. (Most probably, it later reverted to its original state.)
Upon hearing the story, Musa said, This was the very place we were in search of. We should definitely return back to it. Then the two returned back following their footsteps. The path was probably not a road which is why they needed to follow their footsteps. Then upon reaching there they found from Our servants a servant, meaning Khadir, to whom we had granted Our special Mercy, meaning acceptance. The meaning of acceptance holds the possibility of both wilayah and nabuwwa; and We had taught him especially from Us, without conventional means of acquisition, a special type of knowledge. This knowledge is referring to certain secrets of creation (asrar kawniya) as can be understood from the upcoming incidents. This knowledge has no bearing on attaining nearness. That which does in fact pertain to attaining nearness is knowledge of divine secrets (asrar ilahiya). Musa (عليه السلام) was superior in this type.
Returning back to the story, Musa (عليه السلام) greeted him with Salam and said to him, May I remain with you, meaning do you allow me to stay in your company, on the condition that from the beneficial knowledge which you have been taught (directly from the presence of Allah) you also teach me? The Sheikh replied, While in my company you will not be able to exercise patience upon my actions. That is to say, you will begin criticizing me and a student criticizing his teacher in matters of teaching makes companionship difficult; and tell me how will you be able to restrain yourself from criticism regarding those matters which are out of your realm of understanding? In other words, due to the objectives not being known, apparently, it will seem that these actions are contrary to sacred-law. You will not be able to maintain silence upon such unlawful matters. Musa (عليه السلام) said, No. Allah willing, you will find me to be patient and restrained, and I will not rule against you in any matter. That is to say, for instance if you prohibit questioning, I will refrain from this. Similarly I will not confront you in other matters. He (the Sheikh) said, Fair enough. So if you choose to remain with me, simply keep in mind that you are not to ask me about any matter until I do not first disclose to you regarding its reality.
There are multiple places where two seas meet. This was one such place. No important matter is dependent upon ascertaining this particular place.
If doubt arises that once the place of the two seas meeting was told to them, why did they proceed beyond it? And although they missed the incident of the fish coming to life, they did know that Majm’ al-Bahrain has now arrived. The reply would be: Majm’ al-Bahrain does not need to refer to a particular geographical point. Rather, it is possible for the surrounding area spanning over a considerable area to be called Majm’ al-Bahrain. Due to this very vastness, the story of the fish was made a sign. Hearing this sign, the addressee would surely understand the place to be vast, although according to the speaker it may very well be specific.
Even though the fish regaining life might have occurred upon contact with the water, it was purely as a result of divine intervention because this was determined to be the sign. From it does not follow that the water was the cause, or even if it was, continuous causation does not follow.
If doubt arises that since Yusha’ (عليه السلام) was a prophet, how was it possible for Shaytan to influence him into forgetting? The reply will be as follows that the influence which leads to disobedience is what prophets are established to be protected from. Other types of influence are similar to how a Kafir may throw a rock at a prophet which may result in the prophet becoming wounded.