Ramadan lessons from “Tales of the Prophets”: The value of one cup of water

One day Prophet Moses was passing by a barren hill and noticed a pious man busy in prayer, sitting in a cave of the hill. Prophet Musa felt an urge to meet and talk to this pious man so he went near and greeted him. The pious man asked disinterestedly, “Who are you?” Prophet Musa said, “I am Moses!”

The pious person asked, “Are you the Prophet Moses?”
“Yes!”
“Then ask Allah to grant my wish!”
“What is it that you want?”

The pious man said, “For one hundred years I have been sitting here praying to Allah. I don’t do anything else other than pray. Ask Allah, what He will give me for my efforts?”

“I shall find out about it immediately.” and Moses climbed up the hill and called aloud, “O Sustainer Allah! This person wants to know about the reward for his prayers! Tell me, what I should inform him?”

He heard a Bat Kol-sound, “Musa! Tell him, he shall be informed about his reward tomorrow.”

Prophet Moses returned to the pious man and conveyed this message to him. The pious person said, “Fine. Tomorrow is not such a long time!”

Now the pious man was in the habit of going to a nearby canal early every morning for bathing and fetching some water for his use. So, the next morning he started for the canal, but he lost his way and reached somewhere else. Because of the sun’s heat he became very thirsty and tired. He sat on a boulder and started thinking about his death.

At that time he saw another person coming from the other direction. He waved to the person to come to him. When the person came close, he asked him to help him with some water.

The person passing by said, “Where is any water in this wilderness? Whatever little I have is only for me.”

The pious person started crying. The other person said, “Fine! What will you give me if I give you a cup of water?”

The pious man said, “I don’t have anything to give you. I have been busy every day praying in a cave for the last one hundred years.”

The other person said, “If you agree to transfer to me the rewards for your prayers of one hundred years, I shall give you a cup of water.”

The pious person thought, if he lived, he could pray for a further period to get another reward from Allah. He said, “I am ready to transfer to you my reward for the hundred years’ of my prayers.

The other person gave him a cup full of water and the pious person returned to his cave.

Later in the morning Prophet Moses got a revelation that the pious person had transferred his hundred years of prayer reward, to another person in exchange for a cup of water. “Ask the man to set the value of the cups of water that he had been drinking during the last hundred years!”

So Prophet Moses went to the cave and told to the person that he had a message for him from Allah.

The pious person said, “O Prophet Musa! I have already sold my hundred years of penance!”

“Yes! I know. But God said that when the value of one hundred years of prayer is one cup of water, then you must set the value of all the water you had been drinking over the last hundred years.”

When the pious person heard this, he was shocked and shouted, “O Prophet Musa! Recommend to Allah to forgive my sins! Allah is Beneficent and Merciful!”

Prophet Musa got a Revelation: “Tell this pious person that your penitence of this moment pleased God more than all your prayers of a hundred years; so God has given to you rewards for a thousand years of prayers!”

Three lessons we can learn from this tale.

Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny? Qur’an (55:13)

Imam Ali says: “The sin that makes you sad and repentant, is more liked by Allah than the good deed which turns you arrogant.”

Rabbi Yaakov taught “One hour of repentance and good deeds in this world is better than all the life of the World to Come; and one hour of bliss in the World to come is better than all the (secular pleasure) life of this world” Talmud Avot (4:17)

What other lessons can you derive from this tale.?

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 250 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
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