❝The Story of Mūsā [عليه السلام] and AI-Khidr❞
The story of Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) and Al-Khidr is mentioned in the Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verses 60-82 and in Sahīh Bukharī, Book 6, Volume 60, ḥadīth 249.
This story teaches us very important lessons. Some of these are:
― Human knowledge can never comprehend Allāh’s ways or the reasons for various happenings which Allāh allows to happen
― Human beings are always impatient and seek immediate answers to all the occurrences that defy comprehension
― Faith in Allāh should make us accept His rulings without any questioning
Once, when Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) was addressing Bani ʾIsrāʾīl (children of Israel), he was asked: “Who is the most learned man among the people?”
“I am the most learned.”
Allāh admonished Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) as he did not attribute absolute knowledge to Him (Allāh). So Allāh instructed him to go to the junction of the two seas where he would meet one who was more learned than Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām).
The Qurʾān states:
❝wa-ʾidh qāla mūsā li-fatāhu lā ʾabraḥu ḥattā ʾablugha majmaʿa l-baḥrayni ʾaw ʾamḍiya ḥuquba❞
[And (remember) when Mūsā (Moses) said to his boy-servant: “I will not give up (travelling) until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travelling.]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 60
That learned man at the junction of the two seas was Al-Khidr. When Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) met him and introduced himself, Al-Khidr asked:
“Mūsā of Bani ʾIsrāʾīl?”
Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) replied in the affirmative. The Qurʾān explains further:
❝qāla lahū mūsā hal ʾattabiʿuka ʿalā ʾan tuʿallimani mimmā ʿullimta rushda❞
[Moses said to him, ‘May I follow you for the purpose that you teach me some of the probity you have been taught?’]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 66
❝ʾinnaka lan tastaṭīʿa maʿiya ṣabra❞
[‘Indeed you cannot have patience with me!’]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 67
❝wa-kayfa taṣbiru ʿalā mā lam tuḥiṭ bihī khubra❞
[And how can you have patience about something you are not in the know of?]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 68
Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) assured him that he would be patient and not disobey him in any matter. Both of them set out walking along the seashore. Soon a boat passed by and they requested the crew to take them on board. The crew recognized Al-Khidr and took them on board without fare.
Then a sparrow came and stood on the edge of the boat and dipped its beak once or twice in the sea. Al-Khidr said:
“O Mūsā! My knowledge and your knowledge have not decreased Allāh’s knowledge except as much as this sparrow has decreased the water of the sea with its beak.”
Al-Khidr made a hole on the boat. Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) said:
“These people gave us a free lift but you have broken their boat and scuttled it so as to drown its people.”
❝ʾa-lam ʾaqul ʾinnaka lan tastaṭīʿa maʿiya ṣabran❞
[Did I not say, indeed you cannot have patience with me?]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 72
Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) said (as stated in the Qur’ān):
❝lā tuʾākhidhnī bi-mā nasītu wa-lā turhiqnī min ʾamrī ʿusran❞
[Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you)]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 73
They proceeded further and found a boy playing with other boys. Al-Khidr killed him. The Qurʾān describes that in the following verse:
❝fa-nṭalaqā ḥattā ʾidhā laqiyā ghulāman fa-qatalahū qāla ʾa-qatalta nafsan zakiyyatan bi-ghayri nafsin la-qad jiʾta shayʾan nukran❞
[Then they both proceeded, till they met a boy, he (Khidr) killed him. (Mūsā) said: “Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have committed a thing “Nukra” (a great Munkar – prohibited, evil, dreadful thing)!]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 74
❝ʾa-lam ʾaqul laka ʾinnaka lan tastaṭīʿa maʿiya ṣabran❞
[Did I not tell you, indeed you cannot have patience with me?]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 75
They went farther till they came to a town. They asked the people for food, but they refused. In this town, they found a wall which was on the point of collapsing.
Al-Khidr repaired it with his own hands.
Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) said:
“If you had wished, surely you could have taken wages for it.”
The Qur’ān states this as:
❝fa-nṭalaqā ḥattā ʾidhā ʾatayā ʾahla qaryatin-i staṭʿamā ʾahlahā fa-ʾabaw ʾan yuḍayyifūhumā fa-wajadā fīhā jidāran yurīdu ʾan yanqaḍḍa fa-ʾaqāmahū qāla law shiʾta la-ttakhadhta ʿalayhi ʾajran❞
[So they went on. When they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to extend them any hospitality. There they found a wall which was about to collapse, so he erected it. He said, ‘Had you wished, you could have taken a wage for it.’]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 77
Al-Khidr then replied:
❝hādhā firāqu baynī wa-baynika sa-ʾunabbiʾuka bi-taʾwīli mā lam tastaṭiʿ ʿalayhi ṣabran❞
[This is where you and I shall part. I will inform you about the interpretation of that over which you could not maintain patience]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 78
Al-Khidr then explained all his actions which had astonished Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām) and made him question them. He said that the ship which he had damaged, belonged to a few poor people working in the sea. A king was behind them seizing every ship by force. So by making it defective, he had saved it for its owners.
As for the boy, his parents were believers, and there was a fear that the boy would oppress them by his rebellion and disbelief. So Allāh planned to take him away and give them another child instead, who would be more righteous and kind.
As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town. A treasure was hidden under it which also belonged to them; their father had been a righteous man, and Allāh intended to safeguard their treasure. Building the wall ensured that the treasure would be protected till they reached maturity.
Al-Khidr concluded that he had not done anything of his own accord but had followed Allāh’s instructions.
We can learn from this incident about the weakness of human mind and limitations of human understanding. The example should make us remember and resolve never to have any misgivings, surprise or regrets about occurrences in our life that might temporarily inconvenience us or thwart our desires. After all, it is Allāh, Who Knows what’s best for us and He, The Most Merciful, plans everything for our benefit which is not immediately visible to us.
Who was Khidr?
A number of people have wondered whether khidr was an angel, a Messenger, a Prophet or a wali.
P.S ― The following is completely my understanding. If I’m wrong, may Allāh forgive me!
❝fa-wajadā ʿabdan min ʿibādinā ʾātaynāhu raḥmatan min ʿindinā wa-ʿallamnāhu min ladunnā ʿilman❞
[(There) they found one of Our servants whom We had granted a mercy from Ourselves, and taught him a knowledge from Our own.]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 65
From the general meaning of the Qurʾān verses it appears that he was a prophet.
it may be understood from some verses that the mercy mentioned here was the mercy of prophet hood, and that this knowledge which came from Allāh was the knowledge of revelation (wahy). One of the indications that the mercy and knowledge with which Allāh blessed His slave al-Khidr came by way of prophet hood and revelation is the following verse:
❝wa-mā faʿaltuhū ʿan ʾamrī❞
[And I did them not of my own accord]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 82
and the verse:
❝qāla lahū mūsā hal ʾattabiʿuka ʿalā ʾan tuʿallimani mimmā ʿullimta rushdan❞
[May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)?]
― Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Kahf (The Cave), Chapter 18, Verse 66
and Allāh knows best!
Jazāk’Allāh Khayr for reading!