وَلَمَّا وَرَدَ مَاءَ مَدْيَنَ وَجَدَ عَلَيْهِ أُمَّةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ يَسْقُونَ وَوَجَدَ مِن دُونِهِمُ امْرَأَتَيْنِ تَذُودَانِ ۖ قَالَ مَا خَطْبُكُمَا ۖ قَالَتَا لَا نَسْقِي حَتَّىٰ يُصْدِرَ الرِّعَاءُ ۖ وَأَبُونَا شَيْخٌ كَبِيرٌ
And when he came to the well of Madyan, he found there a crowd of people watering [their flocks], and he found aside from them two women driving back [their flocks]. He said, “What is your circumstance?” They said, “We do not water until the shepherds dispatch (their flocks); and our father is an old man.” [al Qasas: 23]
When Musa (as) arrive in Madyan after he fled Egypt, he took shelter near a well. He observed a crowd of people watering their flock of animals and he also noticed two women standing aside, holding their flock back, away from the crowd of men. Musa (as) was someone who was very conscious of his surroundings. So when he saw these two women, he knew something was not right. And right away he went up to them and made some inquiries, “what is your circumstance?”
This shows the concern that Musa (as) had for the people around him. He himself was in need – he had just arrived after a very long journey, he had gone through so much – but that didn’t stop him from helping others.
And so the women mentioned their situation to Musa (as) – that the reason they were there in the first place was because their father was an old man, unable to physically carry out this task himself.
From this we realize that it is permissible for women to work, as long as they abide by certain limits:
1. A woman should not be alone among men. Here we see that these two women were together. So similarly, when a woman has to deal with men, she should be accompanied by other women and not put herself in a situation where she and a man are alone together.
2. A woman should not mingle amongst men. These women were keeping away and not throwing themselves into the crowd of men. And this demonstrates their utmost level of modesty. Modesty and bashfulness are not just in clothing, but also in manners, in how a person carries himself and in how he behaves and socializes. There’s no confidence or boldness in violating one’s haya. Rather, what is praiseworthy is that a woman should be decent in her mannerisms – in the way she talks, walks and behaves.
3. A woman may speak to a man if necessary. However the way she talks and what she says, should be relevant and to the point. She should refrain from unnecessary chit chat, laughing or giggling as this goes against the concept of haya.
So out of his kindness, Musa (as) watered their flock.
فَسَقَىٰ لَهُمَا ثُمَّ تَوَلَّىٰ إِلَى الظِّلِّ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ
So he watered [their flocks] for them; then he went back to the shade and said, “My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.” [al Qasas: 24]
He had no intention of doing this work for any worldly payment, rather he was doing this solely for the sake of Allah alone. And after he had helped them, he didn’t hang around and indulge in unnecessary chit-chat. He did what he had to do and went back to the coolness of the shade. There, Musa (as) turns to Allah and makes this eleoquent dua:
رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ
Musa expresses his utmost neediness before Allah. He describes himself as ‘Faqeer’ – in utter need. He is showing his humility and expresses his total and absolute dependency on Allah. And this is who we are. We are needy in front of our Lord.
Musa didn’t ask the women for a wage or any form of compensation. No, he did it for the sake of Allah, and then He asks Allah (swt). When a person is alone, and there is no one who can help him, then calling upon Allah in such a situation brings a delight that is unmatched. The more we express our neediness and dependency on Allah, the more the chance of our du’as being answered!
Musa showed mercy to the creation of Allah, and now he is hoping of Allah’s Mercy on himself.
After getting their flock watered, the two women went to their father and mentioned what had happened. And so their father sent one of them to Musa with a message:
فَجَاءَتْهُ إِحْدَاهُمَا تَمْشِي عَلَى اسْتِحْيَاءٍ قَالَتْ إِنَّ أَبِي يَدْعُوكَ لِيَجْزِيَكَ أَجْرَ مَا سَقَيْتَ لَنَا ۚ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُ وَقَصَّ عَلَيْهِ الْقَصَصَ قَالَ لَا تَخَفْ ۖ نَجَوْتَ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ
Then one of the two women came to him walking with shyness. She said, “Indeed, my father invites you that he may reward you for having watered for us.” So when he came to him and related to him the story, he said, “Fear not. You have escaped from the wrongdoing people.” [al Qasas: 25]
One of the two women came to him walking, and the way she does so reflects her utmost haya (modesty). Haya is such a noble characteristic to possess. If a woman wants to draw closer to Allah, then she must adopt this quality.
Musa never demanded a wage, but the women and their father were also very dignified people. They didn’t take help for free, so they wanted to return the favour. And here we see how Allah answered the du’a of Musa (as). He helped these women without seeking anything in return, and now Allah is helping him through this family. He resolved someone’s difficulty, Allah resolved his difficulty.
The Prophet (saw) said, “Whoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Resurrection. And whoever alleviates the need of a needy person, Allah will alleviate his needs in this world and the Hereafter. Whoever shields [or hides the misdeeds of] a Muslim, Allah will shield him in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah will aid His slave so long as he aids his brother.” [Muslim]
The Prophet (saw) said, “Of the best deeds is to put a smile on the face of a believer, pay off his debt, fulfil some need of his, or remove some hardship from him.” [al-Silsilah al-Saheehah]
If we want Allah to resolve our affairs and bring an end to our problems, then seek out those who are in distress and help them. Because when you help others, Allah will help you.