The Qur’an is not a storybook of wondrous tales and ancient fables, isolated from the realities and complexities of real life. Each verse, in fact, each letter is miraculously endowed with the precision of meaning, succinctness of message and purity of sound.
The life lessons that can be taken from any surah are amazing, but Surat Ṭa-Ha in particular is unique in this regard.
Here I will reflect on the life lessons that can be derived from Surat Ṭa-Ha (the 20th chapter of the Qur’an which chronicles the life of Musa. Commentators point out that apart from two short references to Musa in earlier surahs: “Or, has he not been informed of what is in the scriptures of Musa?” (Al-Kahf 53:36) and “The scriptures of Abraham and Moses” (Al-A`la 87:19), the narrative appearing in Surat Ṭa-Ha, particularly the verses 9–98, is undoubtedly the earliest Qur’anic exposition of the story of Musa.
Life lessons from the Qur’an are infinite. The more you look into the Qur’an and approach it with a sincere heart, give it your attention while assuming its magnificence, the more your heart connects with the Al-Mighty.
Has the story of Moses come to you (Prophet)? He saw a fire and said to his people, “Stay here – I can see a fire. Maybe I can bring you a flaming brand from it or find some guidance there”. (Al-Kahf 20:9-10)
These two verses contain many important lessons that I think we can all benefit from. In particular we can focus on ten important lessons that impact our family life. This does not limit, of course, business and management applications, educational considerations, and other professional dimensions.
1- Family Comes First
Musa (peace be upon him) seeks to ensure his family’s safety and comfort by asking them to wait for him in the cold darkness of the night while he departs to investigate the source of fire at a distance from them. Never compromise your family and lead them into the unknown.
2- Present Danger is Better Than Hidden Danger
Musa knows it is dangerous to leave his family in the dark expanse of the desert that they lost their way in. Yet, that is less a danger than walking into a campfire of what could possibly be a group of brigands who would harm him and his family. The known danger is clear and evident, but at least it is predictable.
3- Danger to One Is Better Than Exposing Many
Musa instinctively decides that the danger faced by him, alone, is worth the risk of warmth and guidance to safety. Judgment is imperative when a preponderance of danger exists. The less exposure, whether financially, psychologically, spiritually and physically, the better.
4- One Person Takes the Final Decision
In trying circumstances, defined, clear and unambiguous directions can be the difference between life and death, health and sickness, safety and tragedy. In all decisions, especially within the household, a unified singular voice needs to provide leadership and direction.
5- Leaders Consult & Explain Their Decision Making Process
Musa explains, in detail, why he has made the decision to investigate the fire and to leave his family behind. It is reasoned, rational and explicit. Often, complaints arise about a decision being made without consultation and explanation. That contradicts the established prophetic model. Decisions are not demands and the authority to make them is not inherent to one party over another except by virtue of trust. Trust is lost not by poor decisions but by poor consultation.
6- Speak to All Whom Your Decision Impacts
Musa spoke to all his family/people, not just his wife. Taking counsel with your sons and daughters in important decisions is a way of ensuring reciprocation when they reach an age of decision making ability for themselves. If you ignore their voices, then expect them not to share it with you.
7- Don’t Promise What Is Not Assured
Musa says, “Maybe/perhaps I can bring you” (Al-Kahf 20:10) and does not speak in definite. Nothing undermines credibility of a parent with their children more than unfulfilled promises. The greatest wedge between a husband and wife are vows that are not maintained and assurances not met. Speak the truth and do not embellish.
8- Maximize Your Benefit from Assumed Danger
Musa calculates what he stands to gain; warmth, light, guidance out of the desert, return with a flaming brand and more. Always seek maximum benefit, even from precarious situations that others may view as a complete loss.
Musa speaks about warmth and a flaming brand to return with and provide comfort and light for his family, before he speaks about finding their way. He understands the greatest need and seeks to fulfill it before other essentials.
10- Take Responsibility
Musa says “I can” (Al-Kahf 20:10) to legitimize his decision. He assumes responsibility for the decision and intends a positive outcome, even though he does not guarantee it. Families disintegrate due to a lack of responsibility. Standing up and assuming leadership equally necessitates being responsible when things go bad.
The Qur’an alludes to all human experience and seeks to enrich the finite time we spend on earth before our return to our Maker the Most High.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was commanded to follow his predecessors and take heed from their trials while finding inspiration in their eventual divinely ordained triumph.
Allah, the Most High, encourages us to look into the final Word and take heed of its lessons and parable:
And We have certainly diversified in this Qur’an for the people from every (kind of) example; but man has ever been, most of anything, (prone to) dispute. (Al-Kahf 20:54)