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This week is the second in our series entitled "Where can we find Wisdom?"  The story this week is from the Muslim tradition and helps us to see the importance of patience when trying to understand a complex situation.
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Where can we find Wisdom? - Islam
In the Qur’an, Moses is one of God’s greatest messengers. He was sent to the people of Israel and did many great things, but he told the people that he was the most learned amongst them.

God was displeased with what Moses had said, because he did not ascribe absolute knowledge to God. God told Moses that there was someone more knowledgeable than him.
Moses was eager to meet him, and so God told him that he should journey to the place where two seas meet and look for a fish. There he would find someone who would help him to find wisdom.

Moses and the Wise Man

One day Moses was with his servant, and said to him, ‘I will not rest until I reach the place where the two seas meet, even if it takes me years!’ After some time travelling, Moses said to his servant, ‘let's have our lunch- this journey is very tiring.’ The servant looked for some fish but could not find it. He replied, ‘Remember when we were resting by the rock? I think I forgot the fish– Satan distracted me and made me forget to pay attention to it– and it must have made its way into the sea!’ ‘How strange!’ Moses said, ‘Then that was the place we were looking for.’ So, the two turned back, retraced their footsteps, and found one of Our servants– a man to whom God had granted knowledge.
Moses said to the man, ‘May I follow you so that you can teach me some of the right guidance you have been taught?’ The man said, ‘There are matters beyond your knowledge and you will not be able to remain patient with me.’ Moses replied, ‘God willing, you will find me patient. I will not disobey you in any way.’ The man said, ‘If you follow me then, do not question anything I do before I mention it to you myself.’
So, they travelled on. Later, when they got into a boat, and the man made a hole in it, Moses said, ‘How could you make a hole in it? Do you want to drown its passengers? What a strange thing to do!’ He replied, ‘Did I not tell you that you would not remain patient with me?’ Moses said, ‘Forgive me for forgetting. Do not make it too hard for me to follow you.’ They travelled on and reached a town where they asked the inhabitants for food but were refused hospitality. They saw a wall there that was at the point of falling down and the man repaired it. Moses said, ‘But if you wished you could have asked them to pay you for doing that and we could have eaten something.’
The man said to Moses, ‘This is where you and I part company. I will tell you the meaning of the things you were impatient about: the boat belonged to some needy people who made their living from the sea and I damaged it because I knew that there was a king coming after them who was seizing every boat by force. The wall belonged to two young orphans in the town and there was treasure buried beneath it which belonging to them. Their father was a righteous man, so your Lord intended them to reach maturity and then dig up their treasure as a mercy from your Lord. These are the explanations for those things you could not bear with patience.’
(Adapted from chapter 18 of the Qur’an)
Follow up questions:
  1. How did the wise man know Moses would not be able to remain patient with him?
  2. How would you have reacted if you were Moses in this story?
  3. What does this story tell us about how wisdom can be different depending on the situation?
  4. Would you describe yourself as a patient person? How do you react when things do not turn out the way you hoped?
  5. What can you learn about wisdom from this story?
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