The day of Ashura was an absolutely beautiful day. The rites of rising early, depriving oneself of desire, and speaking only good, are made even more beautiful by an acute sense of moving clouds against a blue sky. This aspiration for proximity to the Almighty makes you soar with the clouds, moving rhythmically with them as they brush by. But the day would not be complete without a lesson from the life of Musa Alayhi assalam (Moses, may peace be upon him).
In the story of Musa, I find a parallel with the Sunnah of Allah (swt). The Sunnah of Allah (swt) concerns two matters: 1) His creation (e.g. how the sun rises), and 2) His commands. One of Allah’s ways is that good is always recompensed with good. It can never be that somebody is recompensed unjustly. In the story of Musa, I found a Sunnah of Allah’s way.
Let’s briefly outline this one moment of his life. Nobody tells it better than Allah (swt) so please refer to Surah Qassas (28). Musa flees his land running for his life after having accidently killed a man. Home was no longer safe. He arrived in Madyan, believing “It may be that my Lord guides me to the Right Way.” Upon arrival, he noticed men surrounding a water hole with their flocks, not leaving any openings. You can imagine water holes are rare in the desert (see Planet Earth II :P) and shepherds are hurrying to water their animals, crowding the source. Musa noticed two women standing apart from this crowd, holding their flock back from rushing to the water. He wondered what could be the matter, so he approached them and asked. They informed him that they were waiting for the water hole, and that they were responsible for the animals as their father was elderly. Upon hearing this, Musa AS took their flock and watered them. Only then did he retreat to take rest in the shade, but not without beseeching Allah (swt) for help. His own situation was still no better — he had no home, no income, no direction.
The du’a he made under the shade was: “My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!”
And how was that Du’a answered? Musa got a job, a place to call home, a family, a community… Everything. In one sweep.
Now I invite you to examine this story a little closer with me.
Musa AS had just arrived in this new place after a long and weary journey. He is likely to be thirsty, hungry, and both emotionally and physically exhausted. His first thought upon noticing the water should have been himself. Or at the very least, he could have sat down in the shade for a while. But he chose to assist the women first. Assisting people when you have free time and energy is one thing, but doing so when you are tired and running late is another. Next time you think you don’t have the energy to catch up with someone carrying groceries, just take a deep breath and run. If you think you don’t have time to give someone way on the road because you’re running late, just make your intention for Allah and invite them to go.
Keep your intention for Him and see what happens in your life. Musa AS did not do what he did because he thought it would get him a home, a new community, a family, even a job. He did what he did purely for Allah’s pleasure. And what was that good deed? Being compassionate to women. Out of all his deeds, that is the one Allah swt chose to reward him for with all this. He got a stable income. A family to love. A place to call home when his own home had become inhabitable. A place for his soul to find contentment. All because of Allah’s mercy due to his deeds. He did not pass up the opportunity to do a good deed despite his exhaustion.
These rewards are the general things concerning us now. You’re either asking for: a job; a degree; a spouse; a nice house; a nice car, or all of the aforementioned. When I was reading the surah, it was a profound lesson for me that put my heart at ease. It showed me that I don’t need to worry or take any action. I just need to focus on pleasing Allah (swt) and never pass up the opportunity to do good, and the good will come to me by itself through Allah’s favour. There is so much sakina (peace) in that thought.
Whatever it is you are wishing for and working towards. Whatever good you are in need of, just as Musa was. No matter how dusty and tired you are from your journey. Do good, and good will come to you. Not because you or I deserve it, but because that is the Sunnah of Allah.
I will contrast this story with a modern-day alternative. I attended an Islamic class at a new venue for the first time. During the break, I headed towards the table with tea and biscuits. A crowd of young men surrounded it, so I stood at some distance but with clear intent. I stood for quite some time, wondering if the men would notice and allow me through. None did. It was as if I was invisible. I felt quite sheepish yet determined for a cup of tea, and so continued to stand there, my feet burning a hole into the ground.
After what felt like an eternity (probably 90 seconds), one of the young men behind the table noticed me. He asked if I would like some tea. I smiled with relief and answered in the affirmative. He made me tea and handed it to me, and then politely informed me that if I wanted more, the table for ladies’ refreshments was on the floor below.
…I had been wondering where all the women were!
He did not ignore me. He anticipated my need and fulfilled it. Just as Musa AS did for those women he saw. I wonder what good will come to him. May Allah provide a way out for him from every hardship.
Be compassionate. Even when you are weary.
هَلْ جَزَاءُ الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ
“Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Surah Rahman, Ayah 60)
May Allah grant us the ability to do good and accept it from us.