Prophet Khidr (Peace be upon him)

"So they found one of Our servants on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our own presence.

Moses said to him: 'May I follow thee, on the footing that thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught?'

(The other) said: 'Verily thou wilt not be able to have patience with me!

And how canst thou have patience about things about which thy understanding is not complete?'" (al-Kahf, 18/65- 68)

 

IS HE A PROPHET OR A SAINT?

Hz. Musa had to stay in the Tih Desert with his people for forty years. During that period, he kept Yusha b. Nun, who believed in him and who was a loyal follower of him, near him and appointed him as his successor when he died. After the death of Hz. Musa, the old people of Children of Israel died and a new generation grew up. Meanwhile, Yusha b. Nun conquered Damascus with the young people that gathered around him.

It is stated that Hz. Yusha is a prophet that ruled Children of Israel based on the decrees of the Torah. He ruled Children of Israel for 22 years and according to a narration, he died at the age of 127 and was buried in Mount Ephraim. 1When Hz. Musa went to see Hz. Khidr, Yusha was with him.

Khidr was a righteous person who worshipped Allah all the time beginning from his youth. It is stated that he got tired of his father's offer, "let me marry you off" and started to travel from one town to another. Once Hz. Musa asked Allah Almighty, “O Lord! Which slave of you is the most beloved to you?” Allah Almighty said, “The one who always mentions my name and never forgets me.”

Hz. Musa asked, “Who is your wisest slave?”

Allah Almighty said, “The one who decrees based on the truth and who does not do what his soul wants.”

Hz. Musa asked, “Is there a slave of You who is more knowledgeable than me on earth?”

Allah Almighty said, “Yes, there is.”

Hz. Musa said, “Where can I find him? I would like You to make me meet him.”

Allah Almighty said, “Near the rock where two sees join and where you will lose the fish.”2

After that, Hz. Musa set off with Yusha b. Nun in order to find this person, who was more knowledgeable than him. They took some salty fish with them in order to eat during the journey. Khidr is an Arabic word meaning green. According to a narration, the reason why this name was given to him was stated as follows by the Prophet (pbuh): “Whenever Khidr sat on a dry place without any grass, that place suddenly became green with grass.”3

Its stated that Khidr's real name was Alyasa and his lineage went back to Sam, the son of Noah (Nuh). According to a narration, Hz. Khidr and Ilyas are brothers. According to the majority of the religious scholars, Hz. Khidr is a prophet. Many aspects mentioned in the story of Khidr in the chapter of al-Kahf are evidence for his prophethood. It is also stated that he is a saint.4

 

HZ. MUSA AND HZ. KHIDR MEET

Hz. Musa said to Yusha b. Nun, “I will walk to the place where two seas join. If I cannot find him there, I will proceed until I find him."5

After a long and tiring journey, Hz. Musa and Hz. Yusha reached the place where two seas joined. In order to rest for a while, Hz. Musa put his head on a stone as if it was a pillow, lay down and slept. Hz. Yusha started to make wudu. Some water splashed onto the salty fish in the basket. As soon as water touched it, the fish revived and jumped into the sea.6

Hz. Yusha was astonished when he saw it and intended to tell Hz. Musa about it when he woke up but then he forgot about it. When Hz. Musa woke up, they went on walking. They walked until the morning of the next day. They felt hungry. Hz. Musa said to Yusha, “Bring us our food; we are very hungry."

Yusha suddenly shivered and remembered that the fish was lost in the sea. He said,

“Did you see? I forgot about the fish when we were on the rock. None but Satan made me forget to tell you about it. The fish revived and took its course through the sea in a marvelous way.”

Hz. Musa said, "That was what we were seeking after." So, they went back on their footsteps, following the path they had come. They met Hz. Khidr, one of the exceptional slaves of Allah.7

Hz. Musa said to Khidr, “May I follow you, on the footing that you teach me something of the truth which you have been taught?”

This effort of learning knowledge shown by Hz. Musa, who was one of the biggest prophets and who had the honor of speaking to Allah Almighty without any intermediaries, shows that he is also unique in sincerity and humbleness.  Hz. Khidr pointed out that it was difficult to follow him by saying, “You will not be able to have patience with me. How can you have patience about things about which your understanding is not complete?

Hz. Musa said, “You will find me, inshaallah a patient person. I promise that I will not oppose you about anything.”

Thereupon, Hz. Khidr stated the condition of being a friend of his and travelling with him as follows: “If you want to follow me, ask me no questions about anything until I myself speak to you concerning it. ”8

 

HZ. MUSA'S JOURNEY WITH HZ. KHIDR

Hz. Musa accepted the condition put forward by Hz. Khidr and proceeded. Hz. Yusha left them alone and returned to Children of Israel. Hz. Musa and Hz. Khidr proceeded along the coast.  

 

SCUTTLING THE BOAT

They embarked a boat on the coast. After the boat sailed for a while, Hz. Khidr started to scuttle it with something sharp. He broke one of the planks touching the sea. The boat almost sank. When Hz. Musa saw it, he could not help opposing. He asked, “What are you doing? Are you scuttling the boat in order to make it sink? You have really done a strange thing. ”

Hz. Khidr reminded him the agreement they have made: “Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?”

Hz. Musa apologized to him saying that he had forgotten about the agreement: "Do not rebuke me for forgetting, nor grieve me by raising difficulties in my case.”9

 

THE CHILD THAT WAS KILLED

When they reached the other side of the sea, they got off the boat and started to walk. They saw some children playing on the street. Hz. Khidr grabbed one of those children and killed him.  Hz. Musa opposed to this unbelievable deed and said, “How can you kill an innocent person who has not killed anyone? You really did a foul thing.”

Hz. Khidr reminded him that he violated the agreement again:  

“Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?”

Hz. Musa apologized again: “If I ever ask you about anything after this, do not keep me in your company. Then you will be right to leave me.”10

 

STRENGTHENING THE WALL THAT WAS ABOUT TO FALL DOWN

Then they proceeded. They reached a town whose inhabitants refused them hospitality. Hz. Musa and Hz. Khidr asked for food but they did not give them any food. Hz. Musa and Hz. Khidr found there a wall on the point of falling down. Hz. Khidr set it up straight. Hz.Musa objected again,

"If you had wished, surely you could have exacted some recompense for it and we would have bought something to eat with it." This time, Hz. Khidr spoke firmly:

"This is the parting between me and you. Now I will tell you the interpretation of those things over which you were unable to hold patience."

 

THE WISDOM BEHIND WHAT HZ. KHIDR DID

“Now listen to me. The wisdom behind them is as follows: As for the boat that I scuttled, it belonged to certain poor men who made their living through that boat. I wished to render it unserviceable because there was after them a certain king who seized on every sound boat by force. I made it unserviceable in order to save the boat from that cruel king.

As for the child I killed, his parents were believers. However, this child was of unbelieving nature. I feared that this child would lead his parents to unbelief and denial. Therefore, I killed him. So, we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange a son better in purity and closer in affection."

It is stated in narrations that these parents had a daughter afterwards and that their daughter married a prophet and became the mother of another prophet.11

Hz. Khidr went on explaining:  “As for the wall that was about to fall down, it belonged to two orphans in the town. There was a buried treasure beneath it. Their father had been a righteous man. Your Lord desired that they should attain their age of full strength and get out their treasure."

Thereupon, Hz. Khidr made the following explanation:

“They are all a mercy from your Lord. I did not do them of my own accord. Such is the interpretation of those things over which you were unable to hold patience.”12

 

IS HZ. KHIDR ALIVE?

It is accepted among people that Hz. Khidr is alive and helps those who are in real trouble. Most of the religious scholars accept that he is alive. They even said that he was seen in some places. The following people are said to have seen Hz. Khidr: Umar Ibn Abdulaziz, Ibrahim bin Adham, Bishr al-Hafi, Maruf al-Karhi, Junayd al-Baghdadi, Ibrahim Hawwab.

It is mentioned in the translation of Qamus that a sign of Hz. Khidr is that his index finger and middle finger are attached.13

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi is among those who accept that Hz. Khidr is alive. However, he states that he is not in a level of life that are restricted with many limitations like us and that he lives in a level of life whose conditions are different from that of ours. He clarifies the issue in a brief answer he gives to a question as follows:

"Is Hazrat Khidr alive? If he is alive, why do some important religious scholars not accept this?"

"The Answer: He is alive, but there are five degrees of life. He is at the second degree. It is because of this that some religious scholars have been doubtful about it."

"The First Level of Life is that of our life, which is very restricted."

The Second Level of Life is that of the lives of Khidr and Ilyas, which is free to an extent. That is to say, they can be present in numerous places at the same time. They are not permanently restricted by the requirements of humanity like us. They can eat and drink like us when they want to, but are not compelled to like us. The saints are those who uncover and witness the realities of creation, and the reports of their adventures with Khidr are unanimous and elucidate and prove this level of life. There is even one degree of sainthood which is called ‘the degree of Khidr.’ A saint who reaches this degree receives instruction from Khidr and meets with him. But sometimes the one at that degree is mistakenly thought to be Khidr himself.”14

That Hz. Khidr and Ilyas are alive, that they are seen by some saints and that they talk to them are not contrary to the meanings of verse 34 of the chapter of al-Anbiya and verse 144 of the chapter of Aal-i Imran. For, they passed from the first level of life and were transferred to the second level of life like martyrs not knowing that they are dead and being in a different level of life.   

 

FOOTNOTES

1 Köksal, ibid. p. 121-122.

2 Hamdi Yazır, 4:3256.

3 Tajrid Translation, 9.144.

4 ibid. 9:145.

5 al-Kahf, 60.

6 al-Kahf, 61.

7 al-Kahf, 62-65.

8 al-Kahf, 66-70.

9 al-Kahf, 71-73.

10 al-Kahf, 74-76.

11 al-Kahf, 79-81. Kur’an-ı Kerim ve Açıklamalı Meali, p.301.

12 al-Kahf, 82.

13 Tajrid Translation, 9:145.

14 Mektubat (Letters), 5-6. Those who want to know the other levels of life can refer to this book.

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