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Hazrat Musa (A.S.) meets al-Khidhr; an Account of al-Khidhr

Hayat Al-Qulub Vol. 1,
By: Allamah Muhammad Baqir Al-Majlisi

Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, “And when Musa said to his servant: I will not cease until I reach the junction of the two rivers or I will go on for year” (17:60)
Some have said ‘Huqubaa’ means a span of 80 years and some have said of 70 years. The first saying is attributed to Imam al-Baqir. It should be kept in mind that in this verse Musa means Musa bin ‘Imran and his companion is Yusha‘ ibn Nun the legatee of Musa. hadiths of common and distinct groups agree on this meaning. A weak saying of the People of the Book has also been noted according to which here Musa is the son of Yashaa bin Yusuf. He had lived prior to Musa bin ‘Imran and it is popularly understood that the said two rivers are Faaris and Room. Some have said that here it means the rivers of knowledge i.e.. The apparent river of knowledge was Musa and the hidden river of knowledge was al-Khidhr.
‘Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated that when Almighty Allah conversed with Musa and sent down the tablets that contained many sciences, Musa returned to The Israelites and informed them that Allah had given him Torah and had conversed with him a thought passed through his mind that Allah has not created anyone wiser than him. Allah informed Archangel Gabriel about Musa that such pride might soon destroy him therefore tell him that where the two rivers meet there is a man sitting on a rock who is wiser than him. That he should acquire some knowledge from him. Archangel Gabriel descended and conveyed the divine message to Musa. Musa felt ashamed and was frightened of his mistake and said to his legatee Yusha‘, “Allah has ordered me to go to a man who lives at the junction of the two rivers and to learn from him.” So Yusha‘ took a whole salted fish with him (in his Tiffin) and both started on their journey. When they reached the appointed spot, they saw that al-Khidhr was fast asleep. Musa did not recognize him. Yusha‘ brought out the fish, washed it in water and put it on a rock. The fish became alive and slipped away into the water because that water (with which it was washed) was the water of life (nectar). Then they carried on their journey. When they grew tired they sat at a place and Musa asked Yusha‘ to take out the tiffin so that they could eat as they were tired of the journey. Yusha‘ told him about the fish. On hearing this Musa said, “The man we are looking for is the same one who was asleep at that rock.”
So they returned taking the same path. When they reached that point they saw that al-Khidhr was praying. So they sat down waiting. When al-Khidhr concluded his prayers they saluted him. It is mentioned in some narrations that Almighty Allah revealed to Musa that the desired person will be found where the fish disappears. Musa said to Yusha‘, “Inform me when the fish disappears.” So when Musa and his companion reached the confluence of two rivers (they forgot or left their fish). Musa did not ask about the fish but Yusha‘ told him, “The fish turned towards the sea and went into the water.” Some have said that Musa had fallen asleep and the fish became alive and went into the river due to the miracle of al-Khidhr. Some say that Yusha‘ performed ablution, its water touched the fish and it became alive and jumped into the river.
But when they had gone further, he said to his servant, “Bring to us our morning meal, certainly we have met with fatigue from this our journey.” The servant said, “Did you see when we took refuge on the rock, the fish took its way into the river. I forgot about the fish and nothing except Satan has made me forget to tell you about it.” “What a wonder!” said Musa. “This is what we sought for.” So they retraced their footsteps. There they found “One from among Our servants whom We had granted mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves.” Musa said to him, “Shall I follow you on condition that you teach me right knowledge of what you have been taught?” He said, “Surely you will not have patience with me. How can you have patience in that which you have not got comprehensive knowledge?”
Musa replied, “If Allah pleases, you will find me patient and I shall not disobey you in any matter.” He said, “If you follow me do not question me about anything until I myself speak to you about it.” So they went on (their way) until when they embarked from a boat he made a hole in it. Musa said, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its inmates? Certainly you have done a grievous thing.” He said, “Did I not say that you would not be able to have patience with me?” He said, “Blame me not for what I forgot and do not constrain me to a difficult thing in my affair.” So they went on until when they met a boy, al-Khidhr slew him. Musa said, “Have you slain an innocent person other than for manslaughter? Certainly you have done an evil thing.”
He said, “Did I not say to you that you will not be able to have patience with me?” He said, “If I ask you about anything after this don’t keep me \ in your company. Indeed you shall have (then) found an excuse in my case.” So they went on until they came to a certain town (they say it was the town of Antakiyah, Basra or Armenia). They asked the people of that town for food but they refused to entertain them as guests. Then they found there a wall that was on the point of falling so al-Khidhr put it into a right state. (al-Khidhr began to repair it or he propped up a pillar or he just stroked it with his hand and it was repaired miraculously).
Musa said, “If you had pleased you might certainly have taken a recompense for it.” He said, “This shall be the time of separation between you and me. Now I will inform you of the significance of that which you could not have patience. As for the boat, it belonged to (some) poor men who worked on the river. I wished to damage it as there was behind them a king who seized every boat by force. As for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest his disobedience and ingratitude comes upon them. So we desired that the Lord might give them in his place one better than him in purity and nearer to having compassion. As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city. There was beneath it a treasure belonging to them. Their father was a righteous man so the Lord desired that they should attain their maturity and take out that treasure. A mercy from your Lord and I did not do it of my own accord. This is the significance of that with which you could not have patience.”[1]
‘Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from reliable reporters that Yunus and Husham bin Ibrahim disputed in their opinion about the learned man to whom Musa had gone. Did he know more than Musa? Is it permissible (and believable) that someone can be a hujjah or Imam above Musa who himself was the hujjah of Allah over the creation. Finally they wrote about this dispute to Imam al-Ridha who replied: When Musa went in search of the A’alim and found him on the island, he was sometimes sitting, sometimes sleeping and sometimes reclining. When Musa said Salaam to him that man felt it strange because he was in a land where ‘Salaam’ did not exist. He asked, “Who are you?” Musa said that he was Musa. He asked, “Are you the same Musa bin ‘Imran with whom Allah had conversed with?” “Yes,” replied Musa. Then that person asked what he wanted. Musa said “I have come so that you may teach me from god-given knowledge.” He replied, “Allah has appointed me for jobs which are beyond your power nor do I have the strength for the works entrusted to you.”
Then that A’alim described the calamities that would befall the family of Muhammad. Both of them wept profusely. Thereafter he described the greatness of the family of Muhammad to Musa that the latter repeatedly expressed his desire to be from the household. Then he described the appointment of the Prophet of Allah on their community and how they would deny him and oppress him and gave the explanation of this ayah, meaning: We will overturn the hearts and eyes of those who do not believe on the first occasion. He said, What was meant by the first occasion was the Day of Covenant when Almighty Allah had taken an oath from all the souls before creating their bodies. Anyway, Musa requested the A’alim to let him stay with him. He refused saying, “You have no patience to observe my deeds.”
But when Musa insisted he took a promise from him that he would not object to his work nor create any hindrance to anything he did until he himself explained the cause. Musa agreed. So Musa, Yusha‘ and that A’alim proceeded together and reached the bank of a river. There they saw a ship full of men and goods, which was about to sail when the ship owners said, “Let us take these three persons also with us as they look like gentlemen.
So they also rode the ship. When it reached midstream al-Khidhr rose, went to a corner of that ship, made a hole in it and filled it with old cloth and mud. Seeing this Musa became angry and said, You made a hole in this ship to drown the inmates; you have done a strange deed indeed. al-Khidhr said, “Did I not tell you that you will not be able to bear with me and that you do not have the patience to observe my jobs?” Musa said, “Please pardon this breach of oath and do not put me in difficulty.” Then when they alighted from the ship, al-Khidhr saw a boy playing with other boys. He was handsome lad. There were two earrings of pearls in his ears. al-Khidhr looked at him for a while then caught him and killed him. Seeing this Musa rushed to al-Khidhr and flung him to the ground saying, “How did you kill an innocent child though he had not murdered anyone? You have done a very bad deed indeed.” al-Khidhr said, “Did I not tell you that you would not be able to have patience with my actions.”
Musa ashamedly asserted, “If I ask you henceforth about anything you may separate me from you because then you shall have a cause.” Anyhow, they went further and by the evening reached a village called Naasirah and the people of that village were called Nasaaraa. These people had never before entertained anyone as a guest nor had they ever fed the hungry. The three asked for food but they neither came out of their homes nor fed them. Then al-Khidhr saw a wall nearby, which had become dilapidated. He approached it, put his hand on it and said, “Be repaired by the command of Allah.” It was repaired instantly. Musa said, “It was not proper on your part to repair the wall unless they had fed us and allowed us to lodge in their houses.”
This is the meaning of Musa’s words, “You might certainly have taken a recompense.” al-Khidhr said, “This is the time of parting. Now I will inform you of the significance of that with which you could not have patience. As for the boat, it belonged to some poor men who worked on the river. I damaged it as there was behind them in another boat a king who seized every (good) boat by force. I damaged it so that he may not usurp it and it may remain with these poor people.” This verse is like one in the Qur’an of the Ahl al-Bayt meaning. He said, It was descended like this. It means regarding that boy, his parents were Mu’min (faithful) and he was inclined towards unbelief. al-Khidhr said, “When I saw him I saw the words meaning: It is in the knowledge of Allah that if he remains alive he will be a disbeliever. I feared that his blasphemy might engulf his parents therefore I wished that Allah may give them in place of this boy a child who may be spiritually better and nearer to his parents.” Allah gave them a daughter in place of that boy who later gave birth to a Prophet. According to other narrations, seventy Prophets of The Israelites were born in the progeny of that girl.
It is narrated from Imam ‘Ali, Zayn al-‘abidin, al-Baqir, as-Sadiq and al-Ridha that in the treasure which was beneath that wall belonging to the two boys, was a golden plate on which were written the words: I wonder how the man who knows that death is a true fact remains happy and I wonder how the person who has faith in act of God remains fearful. It is mentioned in other narrations how he becomes gloomy due to calamities. And I am surprised how he remembers Hell and still laughs; and it is surprising that a man sees the world and also how it changes from one state to another and yet he loves it. In another tradition, it is mentioned: I wonder how a man believes in the accounting of the Day of Judgment and yet commits sins. Does it befit a man who had been given wisdom by Allah to understand that whatever is provided to him is from Allah to which he should testify and he should not complain against the delay in getting his provision.
It is recorded through reliable reporters from Imam al-Baqir that, “By Allah! That treasure did not contain gold or silver. It was a plate with the following inscription: I am the God besides whom there is no God and Muhammad is My Messenger. I wonder how a man who has faith in the Day of Judgment shows his teeth while laughing and it is astonishing how the one who has faith in destiny becomes sorrowful when his provision or sustenance is delayed and how is it that a man who sees this world denies the Hereafter.”
It is mentioned in another reliable tradition that the companion of Musa on his journey to confluence of two rivers was Yusha‘ ibn Nun. It is said that the reason why Musa objected to the deeds of al-Khidhr was that the former hated oppression and the deeds that he observed were apparently oppressive.
Authentic narrators mention that al-Khidhr was a Mursal Messenger. Allah had appointed him over a community and he was calling them towards Tawhid (Monotheism) and inviting them to Prophets and divine books. His miracle was such that whenever he sat on earth that piece of earth became green and grass grew on it. If he sat on a wooden plank or inclined over a dry piece of wood that wood would also become green and leaves would sprout from it as well as buds. That is why he was called al-Khidhr (green). His name was Taaliyaa and he was the son of Malkaan bin Ghaabar bin Arfahshad bin Sam ibn Nuh.
When Allah conversed with Musa and scribed every kind of command and wisdom on the slabs for him (Musa) and gave him the miracles of the gleaming hand, staff, locust, bugs, lice, flood of blood, splitting of the sea and drowning the Pharaoh and his community (to help Musa), Musa felt sort of proud (which is natural to man). He thought that Allah has not created anybody more knowledgeable than him. So before pride might destroy him Allah sent Archangel Gabriel to Musa with a revelation, “Go to a worshipper who lives at the confluence of the two rivers and acquire some knowledge from him.”
Archangel Gabriel conveyed Allah’s command to Musa. Musa understood that this revelation was due to the thought he had entertained in his heart. He went to that junction with his young companion Yusha‘ ibn Nun. He found al-Khidhr praying to as Allah says, “Then they found one from among our servants whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves.” Musa said to him, “I shall follow you on condition that you teach me knowledge of what you have been taught?” He said, “Surely you cannot have patience with me. How can you have patience in that which you have no comprehensive knowledge?” He said, “If Allah pleases you will find me patient and I shall not disobey you in any matter.” He said, “If you would follow me, do not question me about anything until I myself speak to you about it.” So they went (their way) until when they embarked from a boat al-Khidhr made a hole in it. Musa said, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its inmates? Certainly you have done a grievous thing.”
He said, “Did I not say that you will not be able to have patience with me?” He said, “Blame me not for what I forgot and do not constrain me to a difficult thing in my affair.” Imam says, Here ‘forgot’ means giving up or leaving and not escaping the memory. That is ‘do not catch hold of me for the first preferable thing which I gave up.’ So they went on until they met a boy and al-Khidhr slew him. Musa became angry. He took hold of al-Khidhr by the collar and said, “Have you slain an innocent person other than for manslaughter? Certainly you have done an evil thing.” al-Khidhr told him, “Minds cannot comprehend Allah’s affairs, rather divine affairs must command minds. It is compulsory to obey the Divine Wishes even if minds do not comprehend them.”
He said, “Did I not say to you that you will not be able to have patience with me?” He said, “If I ask you about anything after this keep me not in your company; indeed you shall have (then) found an excuse in my case.” Then they went on until they reached the village of Nasirah and asked for food from the residents of that village. They refused to feed them nor lodge them. Near that village Musa and al-Khidhr saw a crumbling wall. al-Khidhr went to that wall and repaired it with his power. Musa took objection to this deed as is mentioned in the Qur’an.
Then al-Khidhr said, “This is the time of separation between you and me. I will now enlighten you on the causes for which you did not have patience. Listen! As for the boat, it belonged to some poor laborers who toiled on the river. I wished to make a hole in it to make it defective so that it may remain with them because a king was arriving (in his ship) confiscating every working boat. So I did this deed for their benefit.” al-Khidhr said, “I wished to damage it so that the deed (of damaging the boat) may not be attributed to Allah. Allah wanted improvement not harm. As regards the boy, his parents were faithful and the boy was born a disbeliever. Allah knew that when he grew, his parents too, due to their love for him would become unbelievers as he would misguide them. So Allah ordered me to kill him as Allah desired that they should reach the point of His forgiveness so that He may improve their future (hereafter).”
Imam said, “At this point al-Khidhr said, ‘I feared that he will make them disbelievers so I wished that Allah may bestow on them in place of this boy, another one who may be better than this one.’ This was the type of human talk that had influenced him because he had become the teacher of a Prophet like Musa. Hence respect demanded that he should attribute fear to himself instead of saying that “We (al-Khidhr and Allah) feared” because fear cannot be felt by Allah. Rather he was fearful that perhaps Allah might cancel the order of killing the boy or some other hindrance may come up from the creation due to which he might not be able to carry out Allah’s command about killing that boy. Thereby he would be deprived of the reward of that deed and also not succeed in obeying the Divine order.
Thus, it was desirable that he should attribute the opposite of it to Allah without including himself in it as he had said “I wished” and would have said “Allah wished” to give a child to them in lieu of him. It was not that al-Khidhr was given the status of a teacher for Musa. Musa (being a Prophet) was superior to al-Khidhr but Allah wished that He should make it known to Musa that knowledge is not limited only to what he knew and also that if he was not to continue getting knowledge from the Lord he would remain ignorant and unaware.
Then al-Khidhr described the reason of repairing the wall. He said that the treasure (belonging to the boy) was not of gold and silver; that it was a golden plate and on it was written: It is astonishing that man, who is sure of his death, remains happy and it is surprising that one who believes in the Day of Judgment commits oppression and it is very wonderful that a man sees the world changing from one state to another and yet is inclined towards it and attached to it. Then he said that there was a time gap of seventy years between those two boys and their parents. Allah (due to their father being pious), preserved the honor of the two boys.
Thus al-Khidhr said, ‘Your Lord desired that when the two boys reached puberty they should obtain their treasure.’ Here he separated his desire and mentioned Allah’s wish as this was the last story and that thereafter it would be known to Musa that nothing else remained about which he had to speak and that Musa might hear him carefully. al-Khidhr wished that he should remove the effects of whatever he had said in the first and the middle parts of the story that he attributed to himself (because of human nature or in order to caution Musa. So now he separated his slavery (of Allah) from his wishes and presented himself like an honest slave of Allah and in doing so descended to the status of an apology from the claim of his intention of which he was while performing his affairs and said, ‘This was a mercy from your Lord that I did not do anything of my own accord but only carried out my Lord’s orders.’
Imam as-Sadiq said that when Musa wished to part from al-Khidhr he requested al-Khidhr to give him some parting advice. So among his admonishments were these words also: Never be obstinate, never walk or travel without need, do not laugh without appropriate reason, remember your errors and do not pay any attention to the sins of others.
It is mentioned in reliable tradition that Imam Zayn al-‘abidin said, “al-Khidhr’s last will to Musa was: Do not reproach others for their sins and that Allah likes three things most i.e.. To behave moderately when rich, to forgive while having power to revenge, to treat Allah’s slaves (people) kindly and mercifully and that if a person behaves nicely with another person Allah surely becomes kinder to the former on the Day of Judgment and that the secret of wisdom is the fear of Allah.”
It is reported in authentic traditions from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that al-Khidhr said to Musa, “O Musa, your best day is yet to come i.e.. The Day of the Resurrection Day. So think of how it will be for you and be prepared for giving replies when you are made to stand for accounting. Get admonition from the changes you observe in the condition of the world and understand that the worldly life (age) is long for the one who does good deeds and it is short for the one who wastes it.
So act in such a way as if you are seeing the reward of your deeds with your own eyes It is narrated with evidences that Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq said, “When Musa was commanded by Allah to meet al-Khidhr, Allah sent him a basket that contained a salted fish. Allah revealed to Musa that the fish would show him al-Khidhr near a stream, whose water makes the dead, alive. It was called the life-giving stream. Musa and Yusha‘ embarked on their journey and reached that stream and the rock. Yusha‘ went to the bank of the stream and washed the fish therein. The touch of that water made it come alive and it began to move in his hands. It struggled so much that it injured his hand and jumped off into the water. He forgot to tell this event to Musa (or did not narrate it deliberately) and they continued on their journey.
Since Musa had passed the venue which was fixed by Allah he became tired soon after walking some distance (he did not feel tired until he had reached the appointed place). He said to Yusha‘, “Bring our tiffin as we have toiled and are tired much with this journey.” Yusha‘ narrated to him the story of the fish. So Musa and Yusha‘ returned to that stream and when they reached the rock they saw the passage of the fish was still visible in the water.
Then they saw al-Khidhr on an island of that rivulet. He was sitting there covered by a sheet of cloth. Musa greeted him with a ‘Salaam’. al-Khidhr responded to the Salaam but wondered at it because he was living in a land where salaam was not used. al-Khidhr asked him who he was and Musa replied, “I am Musa.” He inquired, “Are you the same Musa (son of ‘Imran) with whom Allah had conversed with?” He replied in the affirmative. al-Khidhr asked him why he had come. Musa replied, “That I may acquire some knowledge from you.” al-Khidhr told Musa, “I am entrusted with jobs that you cannot bear.” Then al-Khidhr narrated to Musa the events and the calamities to befall Muhammad and his progeny. Both of them wept much. al-Khidhr described the nobilities and grace of Muhammad, ‘Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn and of the Imams from their progeny to such an extent that Musa repeatedly said how nice it would have been had he too been born in the Ummah of Muhammad.”
Then Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq described the story of the boat and the boy and the wall and said that had Musa been patient, al-Khidhr would have shown him seventy astonishing events. It is mentioned in another hadith that: May Allah have mercy on Musa, he made haste before al-Khidhr. Had he shown more patience he would have seen many more such events, the like of which he had never witnessed.
so that it may increase your longing for the reward in the Hereafter. Verily the one who goes there from this world is like the one who passes away. From that which has passed away nothing remains except your good deeds and this will continue henceforth too.”
According to another reliable tradition, he said, “When al-Khidhr repaired the wall of the orphans for the well-being of their parents, the Almighty revealed to Musa, “I give reward to children for the efforts made by their forefathers i.e.. good for good and bad for bad. Do not indulge in adultery with the wives of others so that others may not indulge in adultery with your wives. If anybody steps in the bed of the wife of a Muslim, the latter too steps in the bed of his wife with a bad motive. Thus you will certainly get the recompense of your deeds.”
It is mentioned in other authentic narrations that he said, “I swear by the Lord of Ka‘bah! Had I been between Musa and al-Khidhr I would have told them that I knew more than both of them and surely I would have enlightened them on matters which were not in their knowledge because Allah had adorned Musa and al-Khidhr with knowledge of the matters of the past whereas we have knowledge of future events until the Resurrection Day which has reached us as heritage of the Prophets.”
It is recorded through Imam al-Baqir that when Musa questioned al-Khidhr he replied, Musa saw abaabeel (a martin bird of the swallow family) flying in the middle of the stream. al-Khidhr asked Musa, “Do you know what this bird is saying.” Musa replied in the negative and asked, “What does it say?” al-Khidhr said, “It says ‘By the Lord of the heaven and the earth and the sea, your knowledge compared to the knowledge of Allah is only equal to the quantity of water which I can take in my beak from the sea or even less than that.’”
It is mentioned in yet another narration that when Musa came back to his people after meeting al-Khidhr, Harun asked him about the knowledge Musa had obtained from al-Khidhr and about the wonders he had observed in the river. Musa said, “al-Khidhr and I were standing on the banks of the river when suddenly we saw a bird come to the river from the air, take a drop of water in its beak and throw it in the east, then it threw another drop towards the west, then one drop towards the sky and one to the earth. Then it took a drop from the sea and threw it back in the river. I asked al-Khidhr the cause of these actions of the bird, but al-Khidhr did not know. Suddenly I saw a hunter fishing on the banks of the river. He looked towards me with surprise and asked, ‘What makes you wonder?’ I said, ‘This bird’s gesture makes us wonder.’
He said, ‘I am only a hunter and I know the cause of these actions of the bird. How is it that despite being Messengers of Allah you two do not comprehend it.’ We said, ‘We know only that which Allah has taught us.’ The hunter said, ‘This is a bird which is known in the river by the name of ‘Muslim’ because it utters ‘Muslim” whenever it twitters. What it points out by its gestures is that Allah will send a Messenger after you whose followers will rule over the east and the west throughout the world, will go up in the sky and will be buried in the ground and that in the sight of that Prophet the knowledge of other scholars will be just like a drop of water of this river (in proportion) and his knowledge will reach his cousin and his legatee as heritage.’ O Harun! At that time, our knowledge felt little in our own eyes and then the hunter disappeared. So we understood that he was an angel sent by Allah to discipline us.”
In a reliable hadith it is recorded that Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq said, “Musa knew more than al-Khidhr and it is mentioned in another authentic hadith that al-Khidhr and Dhu’l-Qarnayn were scholars but not Prophets.”[2]
It is mentioned in another reliable tradition that one day Musa went up the pulpit (which had three legs). At that time, a thought crossed his mind that Allah had not created anyone wiser than him. So the Archangel Gabriel approached him and said, “This pride has destroyed you and has put you in the divine field of trial. So get down from the pulpit because there is a man on this earth who knows more than you. Go and search for him.” Musa informed Yusha‘, “Allah has put me on trial, so prepare a tiffin for me and let us both go in search of that scholar as commanded by Allah.” Yusha‘ purchased a fish, fried it and put it in their basket and began their journey towards Azerbaijan. They reached the banks of a river in that direction. Suddenly they saw a man lying on his back. He had covered his face with a sheet and had put his staff by his side. When he pulled the sheet towards his face, his legs became bare and when he covered his feet, his face was exposed. Musa engaged himself in prayers (prayer) and asked Yusha‘ to take care of their tiffin. Suddenly a drop of water from the sky fell on their basket. The fish began to move and dragged itself to the river. Then came a bird who sat on the bank of the river, took a drop of water in its beak and said, “O Musa! You have not obtained from Allah knowledge equal even to this little drop of water that I have taken from this vast river.” Musa arose and started on his journey along with Yusha‘.
After walking for a while, he became tired though he had traveled longer distances before that without getting tired. That was because a Messenger never gets tired in reaching the venue destined for him. Anyway when Musa heard the story of the fish (i.e.. its disappearance) he understood that they had passed the meeting place fixed by Allah. So they traveled back to that place and saw that man sleeping as before. Musa said to him, “Peace be upon you, O scholar!” al-Khidhr replied, “And upon you be peace, O scholar of The Israelites!” He jumped up took up his staff as if to go away at once. Musa told him, “Allah has asked me to remain with you so that you may teach me from your knowledge.”
After the conditions and promises as mentioned earlier Musa and al-Khidhr proceeded until they reached a boat. The boatmen considering them gentlemen seated them in their boat gratis. When they reached the middle of the river al-Khidhr made a hole in the boat there was a dialogue between Musa and al-Khidhr that has been quoted above. Then they came out of the boat and saw a boy on the bank of the river playing with other children. He was wearing a dress of green silk and earrings of pearls. al-Khidhr pressed that boy under his feet and beheaded him. Then they reached the village of Nasirah on the banks of the river. The residents of that place did not make them their guests though the two were hungry. When al-Khidhr repaired a wall in that village despite being hungry Musa exclaimed, “Had you obtained some remuneration for this job we would have least purchased bread.”
It is mentioned in a reliable tradition that Imam as-Sadiq said, “One day Musa was sitting with the nobles of The Israelites. Suddenly a man came and said to Musa, “I don’t think there is anybody who knows more about Allah than you.” Musa said, “I think so too.” Allah sent to him a revelation, “al-Khidhr is more knowledgeable than you Go and search him out. You will find him where your fish will disappear.”
In a reliable tradition Imam as-Sadiq said, “When Musa and al-Khidhr reached the boy playing with other children, al-Khidhr hit him with his hand and he died. When Musa objected to it, al-Khidhr put his hand on the body of that boy and separated his shoulder and showed it to Musa. On it was written: He is a disbeliever and his naturally disposed to disbelief. al-Khidhr said, ‘I killed him because his parents were virtuous. I was afraid he would draw his parents towards disbelief after growing up and that they will fulfill his wish because of their love for him and in this way become infidels.’” Imam said, “The Almighty gave the parents a daughter in lieu of the boy. Seventy Prophets were born in the progeny of that girl. There was a time gap of 700 years between the two orphan boys (for whom al-Khidhr repaired the wall) and their father.” (perhaps several generations had passed-Tr.).
It is mentioned in another hadith that Almighty Allah, as a reward of one good deed done by a virtuous man, grants salvation to his sons and grandsons and his family members and also to his neighbors. Thus, all of them get protection due to the greatness of that faithful person. Then he said, ‘Did you not observe that as a reward for virtuous parents Allah sent al-Khidhr so that he may repair the wall for their benefit.[3]
Ibn Babawayh has said that his name was Khizruya and that he was the son of Qabil bin Adam. Some have said that his name was Khizroon and some have called him Khaleeaa. He is called al-Khidhr because wherever he sat the ground became green and grassy. His age is more than all the children of Adam. The correct information is that his name is Taaliyaa son of Malkaan son of Aabir son of Fahshad son of Sam son of Nuh.[4]
It is reliably narrated that Imam as-Sadiq said, “When the Prophet of Allah went for Me’raj he felt a fragrance of musk in his path. He asked Archangel Gabriel about it who replied that the fragrance was coming from a house in which people were tortured and killed for worshipping the One, Allah. Archangel Gabriel informed him that al-Khidhr belonged to the progeny of kings. He believed in Allah and lived alone in one of the rooms of his father’s house and was busy in worship. He was the only issue of his father. People advised the king that as al-Khidhr was his only son he should get him married so that maybe Allah will give him a son and then the kingship might continue in their progeny.
Finally the king married al-Khidhr with a virgin girl. But on the wedding night al-Khidhr did not pay any attention to her. Next day he said to his wife to keep the night affair a secret and that if you are asked whether al-Khidhr approached you at night then say ‘yes’. She did what al-Khidhr asked of her and said ‘yes’. However, the people did not believe her and told the king that this woman tells a lie so have her examined to see if she is still a virgin. When the women saw that she was intact, they taunted the king saying: You have joined two fools. Neither of them is aware of what is expected of married couples. So give him as a wife who has already been married so that she may teach him. When such a woman was brought to al-Khidhr he paid no attention to her and requested her also to keep the matter hidden from his father. She agreed to do so but when the king questioned the woman, she replied that: Your son is a woman. Have you ever heard of a woman getting pregnant by another woman? Hearing this, the king became very angry with al-Khidhr. He imprisoned him and sealed its door with earth and stone. But the next day his paternal love overcame him and he ordered the doors to be opened. When the people opened the door they did not find al-Khidhr there. Allah gave him such a power whereby he was able to take any form of his choice and also remain hidden from the public eye. Then he joined the army of Dhu’l-Qarnayn and became its vanguard until he drank the water of life. The one who drinks that water (nectar) remains alive until the day the bugle of destruction will be blown by Divine Order.
In the meantime, from his father’s city two men boarded a ship and set out for trade. On their way, the ship got wrecked and they landed on an island. There they saw al-Khidhr, busy in prayers. When he concluded his prayer, he called the two men and inquired about their condition.. When they described their accounts, he told them, “If I send you back to your place will you keep my story a secret?” They agreed. But only one of the two had really intended to keep the matter a secret while the other one had already thought of informing the father of al-Khidhr of his whereabouts.
al-Khidhr called a cloud and commanded it to carry the two men right up to their homes. The cloud took them up and carried them to their city that very day. One of the traders kept his promise but the other revealed it to the father of al-Khidhr. The king asked him, “Who will give witness that whatever you say is true.” He replied, “The trader was with me.” The king called for that man and asked him but he denied it saying that he did not know anything about it and that he did not even know this fellow.” The former then said, “O King! Send an army with me so that I may go and bring al-Khidhr back here from that island. Also arrest this fellow so that I may prove him a liar.” The King sent an army with that man but released the trader who had kept the story hidden. Then the residents of that city indulged in many sins so Allah destroyed them and overturned that city.
All of them were annihilated except the man and woman (the woman was the first wife of al-Khidhr towards whom al-Khidhr had not inclined on the marriage night and whom he had asked the next morning to keep the night affair a secret) who had kept the story of al-Khidhr hidden from his father. Both of them got out of the devastated city separately but in one direction. Then when they met one another they told their stories to one another and were convinced that they got salvation only because they had kept the secret of al-Khidhr. Then both of them put faith in the Allah of al-Khidhr. They got married and went to live in another king’s kingdom. The woman gained access to the royal palace and got a job of dressing and beautifying the royal princesses. Once while combing the hair of the princess the comb fell down from her hand and she exclaimed; “There is no power, except of Allah.”
The princess asked her what she had uttered.
“I have One Allah who has the might of ruling everywhere,” “Have you any other Allah besides my father?”
“Yes, He is the God of you and your father too.”
The princess went to her father and related the conversation. The king called the lady and ordered to take back her words but she refused. The king asked who her companion coreligionist was. She said, “My husband and my children.” The king called all of them and put severe pressure on them to give up the worship of only One Allah. But they defied him firmly. The angry king boiled water in a big vessel and threw all of them in it and then broke the house on them. After describing this story Archangel Gabriel said, “O Prophet of Allah, this fragrance which you are smelling now is emanating from the house in which those worshippers of only One Allah were killed.”
An authentic tradition from Imam al-Ridha says that al-Khidhr drank elixir of life and will remain alive until the time of the blowing of Bugle and that those who are dying are coming to us and they salute (say salaam) us; then we hear the voice of al-Khidhr but do not see him. He reaches wherever his name is mentioned. So it is necessary that anyone who remembers him should also say Salaam to him. He comes to Makkah in every hajj, performs hajj and stands in ‘Arafat and says ‘Amen’ to the prayers of the faithful; that very soon Almighty Allah will make al-Khidhr confidante of al-Qa’im (aj) the family of Muhammad; that when he (al-Qa’im) will be hidden from the public eye he (al-Khidhr) will be his companion in solitude.
It is narrated with reliable evidence from Imam al-Baqir that when Dhu’l-Qarnayn heard that there was a stream of water of life and that whoever drinks from it remains alive until the day of blowing of the bugle, he went in search of it. al-Khidhr was the commander-in-chief of his army. Dhu’l-Qarnayn loved him most. Finally, they reached a place where there were 360 streams. Dhu’l-Qarnayn called 360 persons from his army. al-Khidhr was one of them. All of them were given a salted fish and told, “Bring them separately to me after washing it in different streams.” When al-Khidhr put his fish in the water it became alive and slipped from his hands.
al-Khidhr took off his clothes and jumped into the water and dived several times in search of that fish and in the process drank that water but that fish could not be found. He came out and went to Dhu’l-Qarnayn. When Dhu’l-Qarnayn counted the fish, he found that one was missing. After inquiry, it came to be known that al-Khidhr had not brought back his fish. When asked al-Khidhr told his story. Dhu’l-Qarnayn asked, “Then what did you do.” He said, “I jumped into that stream to find the fish and also dived many times but could not catch it so I came out.” Dhu’l-Qarnayn asked, “Did you also drink the water of the stream?” “Yes,” he replied. Then Dhu’l-Qarnayn made many efforts to find out that stream but failed. Finally he said to al-Khidhr you were created for that stream and that stream for you.
It is mentioned in many reliable traditions through the holy Imams that when the Prophet passed away from this world and calamities came down on the holy Ahl al-Bayt at that time Amir al-Mu’minin, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn were present in the room in which the holy body of the holy Prophet was laid. Suddenly there came a voice, “Assalaamu alaikum O Ahl al-Bayt! Every living being will taste the taste of death. Your reward will be given fully to you in the Resurrection Day. If anyone dies, verily, Allah is his substitute and successor Who provides patience in every calamity and He is the remover of its harm. He compensates every loss. So rely only on Him because the (real) loser is he who loses the reward of Allah.” Amir al-Mu’minin said, “He (the invisible speaker) is my brother al-Khidhr. He has come to condole you on the death of your Prophet.”
It is mentioned in reliable traditions that Masjid e Sahla is the place where al-Khidhr descends and it is stated at many places in the books of Mazarr etc. That a group of pious people met al-Khidhr in Masjid Sahla and so also Sahsaah etc. in blessed places. Its description will be too lengthy for this book.
Ibn Tawus has related that al-Khidhr and Ilyas meet one another in every Hajj season and that they recite this prayer while departing from one another: Maasha allaho wa laa h’awla wa laa quwwata illa billaah. Maasha allaho kulle ne’matin. Maasha allahul khaire kullehi be yadillaha a’zza wa jalla. Maasha allaho laa yasrifus-soo-o illallaah.
Many events of al-Khidhr have been mentioned in the chapter concerning Dhu’l-Qarnayn.
[1] This is the translation of the verses was according to the commentators. Explanations of Ahl al-Bayt will follow.
[2] Maybe what is meant by this is that al-Khi¤r was not a Prophet when he was with Dhu’l-Qarnayn). It is mentioned in yet another tradition that Imam al-Sadiq said, In this Ummah the example (or likeness) of us (i.e.. ‘Ali and me) is like Musa and al-Khi¤r. When Musa met with him and talked with him he wished to remain with him. Thereafter what happened is as mentioned by Allah in the holy Qur’an that the Lord revealed to Musa that: I have made you superior to other people with My Messengership and by My talking with you. So now take up whatever I have given you and remain thankful to Me. He also said: We have written for Musa the description of everything in the tablets and have inscribed admonitions. And certainly al-Khi¤r did possess the knowledge which was not written in tablets for Musa and Musa had imagined that all the things required by man are there in the Torah and that the tablets contained everything. It is similar to the claim of the group which says that they themselves are faqihs (jurisprudents) and scholars (Ulama) of this Ummah and that everything required by this Ummah and this religion is with them and that they have got it from the Prophet and they have imagined all this though they are lying. They do not know all that the Prophet knew nor have they understood everything. There are many problems wherein they do not know what is permissible (Halaal) and what is prohibited (haram) and they do not like that people should approach them for clarification lest they be called ignorant. This is because they do not seek knowledge from the real treasure and they interfere in Allah’s religion through their personal guessing. They have left the Prophetic signs and worship Allah through self-made rituals even though the Messenger of Allah has said that every innovation is ignorance and deviation. Enmity towards us and jealousy has prevented them from seeking knowledge from us. By Allah! Musa despite his high status did not entertain jealousy towards al-Khi¤r and his great knowledge also did not prevent him from asking questions to al-Khi¤r. When Musa desired from al-Khi¤r that he may teach him knowledge and since al-Khi¤r knew that the former did not have the patience required for his company nor was he able to observe events (coolly), he told him (Musa): How can you be patient at observing those things over which you have no power and which are beyond your circle of knowledge. Musa tried with total humility to make al-Khi¤r kind to him and to allow him his company. So he said, Allah willing, you will find me patient and I will not disobey you in any matter. al-Khi¤r did know that Musa had no strength to know those things (which he was to see) nor was he able to attain that power. Accordingly Musa did not remain patient at the knowledge of that A’alim when he saw the jobs that he did not like though Allah like them. Similarly our knowledge is disliked by the ignorant but it is liked by the Lord of the worlds.
[3] Satan has many ways to misguide those who are less intelligent concerning this strange story). But an honest believer must not try to delve deep into its cause especially into everyone of them lest they may slip. He should from the beginning tell Satan that it has been proved on the basis of sound arguments that whatever Allah says is justice and wisdom and strategy and that whatever the Messengers of Allah do is correct and appropriate even if our intelligence fails to understand some of their special affairs. Regarding the detailed replies to doubts, the first doubt is that a Messenger must be the wisest person of his time then how can it be that Musa who is a Messenger should need the guidance of anybody else? Its reply is that a messenger must be the most knowledgeable person of his time and al-Khi¤r was a messenger of Allah. Maybe he was not in the Ummah of Musa. Further the knowledge in which a messenger must not need anyone else’s help is the knowledge of religious laws and rulings. There should be no objection if Allah teaches a messenger some such things through a man as He does through an angel. So it is not to be imagined that al-Khi¤r was superior to Musa if the latter needed guidance of the former in some matters. It is possible that a kind of knowledge was exclusively with Musa and it was not known to al-Khi¤r and vice versa as is mentioned in some reliable traditions. Secondly how did al-Khi¤r kill a boy who did not commit any crime. The reply is that maybe he had attained puberty and might have opted for Kufr. It is also possible that he might have been called a boy in the holy Qur’an as he was just entering the age of puberty and hence might have drawn the punishment of killing. Above all, even if he had not become a major Allah had the right of taking back the life which He had given in view of some strategy (known only to Him) just as even today the angel of death has the authority to retrieve the souls of people. But the apparent Prophets have normally been assigned (by Allah) to deal on the basis of apparent things. However, intelligence does agree that Allah may appoint some of them (messengers) with the factual (though unseen) knowledge and that they may act according to that knowledge. Thus they may kill some disbeliever on the basis of the knowledge which they possess because it is as a matter of fact only in the interest of the one who is killed not to go to Hell by committing blasphemy. Moreover it is better for others also so that they may not misguide others. The third point is that how did Musa make haste in objecting to the acts of al-Khi¤r when he already knew the supremacy of the former and how did he tell al-Khi¤r that ‘you have committed a sin?’ The reply is that possibly Musa was made responsible only for apparent (visible) knowledge because it so happens that a deed which is a sin apparently, and as the main factual cause behind it is not known to one, he abhors it. When Musa told al-Khi¤r that: You have committed a Munkar (detestable deed) what he meant was that you did a thing that apparently is a Munkar. Some have said that the words of Musa were conditional to express that you have done a thing that astonishes and confuses the mind. The fourth objection is that when Musa had given a promise that he would not take any objection nor ask any questions until al-Khi¤r mentioned the causes, how did he make a breach of that word of promise. It reply is that it is not known for sure and that the keeping of the word was obligatory, especially when it might have been based on the Will of Allah. When he had in the beginning said Inshallah it was not obligatory to keep the word under all circumstances. Hence it is no sin if it was not kept.. Fifth, how did Musa say LAA TU AA KHIZ NEE BI MAA NA SEETU, because ‘Nisyaan’ means forgetting and according to the Shi‘ah Ulama a Prophet cannot forget anything. Reply to this objection is that It is mentioned in traditions that at this place and also when Yusha‘ has said IN NEE NA SEETUL HOOT the meaning of ‘Nisyaan’ is giving up or leaving and the meaning of this word is found in the Arabic vocabulary also. All other replies to these objections and doubts have been mentioned in the book Behaarul Anwaar and as this book has no room for including all those replies I have not written them here. Now I am writing all events of al-Khi¤r. Most of it has been included here in this story so I have not formed a separate chapter for al-Khi¤r.
[4] Some have said his name was Yalbaa and according to some others al-Yasa‘. Others say it was Ilyas.

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