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Lessons from the Koran on the need to exercise patience

By Mohammed Guleid | April 5th 2018

In the Koran we read about Moses requesting God to teach him some wisdom and knowledge. "You can’t handle my wisdom," God answers Moses... "but if you are so interested, I will link you up with my messenger."

The setting of this narrative is in Chapter 18, verses 65–82 titled Al Kahf, meaning the café. Moses meets the servant of God, referred to in the Koran as “one of our slaves whom we had granted mercy from us and whom we had taught knowledge from ourselves” Muslim scholars identify him as Nabi Khadar.

Now, the encounter between Kadhar and Moses is very interesting. The Koran says they met at the junction of the two seas and Moses asks for permission to accompany the Servant of God, so Moses can learn “right knowledge of what [he has] been taught.

The Khadar informs Moses sternly that their knowledge is of different nature: “Surely you [Moses] cannot have patience with me.

And how can you have patience about things of which your understanding is not complete?” Moses promises to be patient and obey him unquestioningly, and they set out together.


After they board a ship, the Servant of God damages the vessel. After seeming forgetting his oath, Moses says, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its inmates? Certainly, you have done a grievous thing.”

The Khadar reminds Moses of his warning, “Did I not say that you will not be able to have patience with me?” and Moses pleads not to be rebuked.

Next, the Servant of God kills a young man. Moses again cries out in astonishment and dismay. And again, the servant reminds Moses of his warning, and Moses promises that he will not violate his oath again, and that if he does he will excuse himself from the servant’s presence.

They then proceed to a town where they are denied hospitality. This time, instead of harming anyone or anything, the Servant of God restores a decrepit wall in the village.

Yet again, Moses is amazed and violates his oath for the third and last time, asking why the servant did not at least exact “some recompense for it.”

The Servant of God replies, “This shall be separation between me and you; now I will inform you of the significance of that with which you could not have patience. Many acts which seem to be evil, malicious or somber, actually are merciful.

The boat was damaged to prevent its owners from falling into the hands of a king who seized every boat by force.

And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them.

God will replace the child with one better in purity, affection and obedience. As for the restored wall, the Servant explained that underneath the wall was a treasure belonging to two helpless orphans whose father was a righteous man.


As God’s envoy, the servant restored the wall, showing God’s kindness by rewarding the piety of the orphans’ father, and so that when the wall becomes weak again and collapses, the orphans will be older and stronger and will take the treasure that belongs to them.”

In Kenya today, many things happen that scare us but when we reflect about God's wisdom, we will learn that what appears to be a disadvantage, in God's wisdom, it is the opposite.

Every day we see tumultuous events that break our hearts. The last election broke the hearts of many people. Many got angry. And out of anger, insults and abuse were thrown around. Reflecting now, I wonder whether all those insults and bad blood were worth it.

A few weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga shook hands. That gesture could only mean that our tribulations today can be turned into a fortune.

But most important of all is faith. Faith that predicaments have a purpose and sooner or later those predicaments can be transformed into beautiful things.

The story of Moses above is a clear illustration that what we see as disasters are at times hidden fortunes for us. It is important to remain calm even in the face of calamity.

Mr Guleid is a governance consultant and the chairman, FCDC Secretariat

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