View Full Version : Khidr (as) and Fountain of Youth

25-06-2007, 09:24 PM

Can someone tell me if the stories about Khidr (as) drinking from the fountain of youth is true? Also was Qhul Qarnain in search of this same fountain but he could never find it?

25-06-2007, 09:26 PM
As far as I know these are Israeli narrations, not necessarily true.

abu yusuf
25-06-2007, 09:52 PM
As far as I know these are Israeli narrations, not necessarily true.

ancient indigenous Jewish mythology: Book of Kings II, chapter 18 verse 17 (re: the spring of Bethesda)

has about as much truth value as Hanuman, the monkey god.

As for Dhul Qurnayn, if he is indeed a reference to Alex (the not-so-great) butcher of Persepolis, then the fountain of eternal youth myth has its roots the pagan romances of Alex's missions written by the greek poet Calisthenes (circa 310 B.C)...

they're just stupid myths from the ancient world.

nothing to do with Islam.

celt islam
25-06-2007, 09:53 PM
As far as I know these are Israeli narrations, not necessarily true.

Asalaamualaykum, Israeli ? didnt know israelis existed back then? lol anyways eheh i think you meant Jewish tradtions .

Back to the topic of Khidhar [as] , yes many tradtions are about him are pre Islamic but there are also many Islamic ones too here is some infomation that may bring some food for thought.

Khidr in the Islamic Tradition[1]
"In that wilderness I lived for four years. God gave me my eating without any toil of mine. Khidr the Green Ancient was my companion during that time - he taught me the Great Name of God."[2]


Ibn Jarir Tabari (d. A.D. 935), the great Muslim historian, used as a title “The History of Prophets and Kings” for his encyclopedic classic Oevrue for the purpose of emphasizing that Islamic history has a prophetic quality.[3] In Tabari’s view, history has been thus suffused with prophecy, to the extent that it is impossible to extricate the ‘sacred’ from the ‘profane’.

Looking at it with a critical modern perspective, Islamic history revolves around a great many legends and historical events that cannot be proven by modern science. Nevertheless, the great dynamics of Islamic history, in the view of Tabari and other major Muslim historians, has been the Islamic rev*elation and its historical interpretation. The goal of existence in Islam is a prophetic existence. Although prophets are not sinless, they represent the perfect human model, and embody the ultimate human quality in God’s eyes. Because of their unique role as the standard bearers of the divine-human and human-divine relationship, prophets become the special focus of human history.

There are numerous prophets, ‘saints’[4] and other heroes of Islam who have exerted a great influence on aspects of Islamic history. One among them is Khidr.[5] In Islamic folk literature, one finds a variety of names and titles asso*ciated with Khidr. Some say Khidr is a title; others have called it an ephithet.[6] He has been equated with St. George, identified as the Muslim “version of Elijah” and also referred to as the eternal wanderer.[7] Scholars have also called and characterized him as a ‘saint’, prophet-saint, mysterious prophet-guide and so on.

The story, or the ‘legend’ as it is often called, of Khidr finds its source in the Qur’ān, chapter 18 (Sūrat Kahf) verses 60-82,

Then they found one of Our votaries whom We had blessed and given knowledge from Us.[8]

These verses primarily deal with an allegorical story relating Moses’ journey in search for truth. Full of symbolism, the Qur’ānic story introduces the mysterious figure of Khidr, who symbolizes “the utmost depth of mystic insight accessible to man.[9] Khidr is not mentioned in the Qur’ān by name. However, the commentators have generally agreed, partly on the basis of Hadīth literature, that the mysterious person with whom Moses’ meeting takes place, i.e. the meeting mentioned in 18:65, and who is called in the Qur’ān as “one of Our votaries”, is no other than the ‘eternal’ Khidr.[10]

In the context of the above, a number of questions come to mind:

Is Khidr a name or does it represent a title?
Is Khidr a messenger and/or a prophet, or simply a Wali? and
Is he one of the ‘eternal’?
These questions have engaged the minds of many Qur’ān commentators and scholars of Islam. The purpose of this paper is to look at the various ways in which the figure of Khidr is understood by them. The questions most pertinent to our enquiry deal with three different aspects of Khidr:
his identity;
his status; and
his relevance.

Khidr in History

Khidr is one of the four prophets whom the Islamic tradition recognizes as being ‘alive’ or ‘immortal’. The other three being Idris (Enoch), Ilyas (Elias), and ‘Isa (Jesus).[11] Khidr is immortal because he drank from the water of life. There are some who have asserted, however, that this Khidr is the same person as Elijah.[12] He is also identified with St. George.[13] Amongst the earliest opinions in Western scholarship, we have Rodwell’s understanding where he claims that the name “Khidr is formed from Jethro.”[14]

Interestingly enough, there is a link here between Khidr and the classical Jewish legend of the ‘Wandering Jew’. Krappe, in his major work on folklore, says:

it is difficult to dissociate the figure [of the Wandering Jew] from that of Al-Khidr, one of the Arabic prophets. .. With the crusades Europeans became familiar with this legendary figure and out of it developed the character of Ahasuerus or Isaac Laquedem.[15]

Haim supports and even quotes Krappe to provide the link between ‘the Wandering Jew legend’ and the story of Khidr.[16] On the basis of some simi*larities of occupation, Khidr is also identified with the prophet Jeremiah or rather it is the other way around; Jeremiah is likened to Khidr.[17]

As far as the identity of Khidr in Islamic history is concerned, there are as many opinions as there are commentators.[18] Enormous detail is found pertaining to his name, genealogy, appearance, origin and status in the chronicles of Muslim commentators and historians since the beginning of Islamic scholarship.[19] Most of this literature exists either in connection with the commentary of S.18 of the Qur’ān, or it is linked with the tales of the prophets (Qisas al-Anbiyā’).

Historically speaking, Islam inherited the tradition of Khidr from “earlier myths and faiths.[20] Sale has argued that Muslim tradition confounds Khadir with Phineas, Elias, and St. George, saying that his soul passed by a metmpsychosis successively through all three.”[21]

From a critical historical perspective, the legend of Khidr is found to be linked with some of the most ancient legends known to us today—the epic of Gilgamesh, the Alexander Romance, and the Wandering Jew, just to name a few.[22] These, at the same time, are also perceived to be the three main sources of the episode of Khidr, implying, as it were, to be the ‘source’ of the whole Qur’ānic narrative of the story of Moses and Khidr; in fact, of the whole of 8.18 (Kahf).[23] However, a modern commentator has this to say about the his*torical links of Khidr,

The nearest equivalent figure in the literature of the People of the Book is Melchizedek… In Gen. xiv. 18-20, he appears as king of Salem, priest of the Most High God…[24]

However, since the advent of Islamic folk literature, Khidr has become an integral part of Islamic folklore as well as serious Sufi literature. Just as the figure of the ‘Wandering Jew’ became the main allegory of the Jewish people during their diaspora, the figure of Khidr became an allegory for the travelling sufis.

Khidr in the Qur’ān
In the Qur’an the story begins by Moses’ declaration to his servant/companion that “I will not give up till I reach the confluence of two oceans”.[25] Moses and Joshua had begun to search for “a servant of Allah” from whom Moses was to learn the ‘secret knowledge given him by God. As seen above, Muslim tradition identifies this “servant” as Khidr.

Qur’ānic commentators have related several opinions with regard to the status of Khidr. Some say he is one of the prophets; others refer to him simply as an angel who functions as a guide to those who seek God.[26] And there are yet others who argue for his being a perfect wali meaning the one whom God has taken as a friend.[27]

Some commentators who have thought of Khidr as a prophet, have mainly argued on the basis of the Qur’ānic reference to him as rahma. What does this term, rahma, mean in its Qur’ānic context? As related above the Qur’ān re*lates in S.18:65; Khidr is one of those “…whom We had blessed…”. This characterization usually applies to the prophets. Rahma comes from the root RHM meaning ‘womb’. Other translations of S.18:65 include,

And there they found a devotee among Our devotees. We had blessed him with Our grace…[28]

…they found one of our servants unto whom we had granted mercy from us…[29]

Similarly in S.43:32, the Qur’ān, while expounding one of the characteristics of God’s prophets, declares them as “the ones who dispense the favour of your Lord” as against those who are seemingly “wealthy” and hold important po*sitions (chiefs) in this world. Here the Qur’ān argues for the Prophet as the one who embodies God’s rahma due to God’s will alone and not due to any worldly title or position which he did or did not have.

The Qur’ānic usage of rahma here is the same as in 8.18:65. It deals with the quality of being a Rahīm —the “ever-merciful”; the superlative degree of which is applied to God alone. So God being a Rahīm sends His messengers (and prophets) as symbols of His rahma. And as a result they become a chan*nel through which God’s rahma is dispensed among mankind.

Another prominent example of this is found in S.21:107, towards the end of Sūrat al-Anbiyā’, wherein referring to Prophet Muhammad the Qur’ān says, “We have sent you as a benevolence to the creatures of the world”, using again the word rahma denoting the sending of the Prophet as “the mercy” from God.[30]

Other verses which bear similar association between the prophets and the rahma are S.11:28 and 63 where Noah and Salih respectively speak of God’s “grace’ and “blessings”.

In the second part of the same verse i.e., 18:65b, we read, “and [Khidr has been] given knowledge from Us.” Sale continues the translation of this verse as, “…and whom we had taught wisdom from before us.” Amir-Ali puts it as “…and endowed him with knowledge from Ourself.”

So Khidr is a “mercy’ from God and he has been given knowledge from God. Here it seems plausible to argue that these qualities certainly allude to his elevated status. To possess divine knowledge is a quality of saints and prophets, but Khidr is evidently more than a saint, since he symbolizes God’s “mercy” which in the Qur’anic sense clearly refers to prophecy.

Commentators are more or less in agreement that the status of Moses is certainly higher than that of Khidr, since he (Moses) is not only a Messenger (rasūl) but also a prophet (nabi),[31] bearer of the divine revelation and provi*sions of the law. Khidr, on the other hand, does not hold these titles, although the Qur’ān calls him a ‘Servant’ of God. Ibn ‘Arabi’s account of this encoun*ter also sheds some light on the nature of their relationship. Netton, for example, points out that there is an

…overwhelming emphasis on rank and knowledge…for al-Khadir is aware that Moses hold the exalted rank of Messenger (rasūl) which he, al-Khadir, does not…[32]

However, to analyze the subsequent verse of Sūrat al-Kahf, verse 66, in this context, we find that it deals with Moses’ request to he instructed by Khidr, which, seemingly at least, puts Khidr at a higher position than that of Moses. This further confirms the status of Khidr as a prophet, as mentioned in the previous verse.

The emphasis here is on two key words which perhaps determine the overall meaning of the verse, atabi’ka and tu’allimanī which may have direct bearing upon the status of Khidr. Ahmed Ali translates it as,

“…May I attend upon you that you may instruct me in the knowledge you have been taught of the right way?’ (emphasis added)

Amir-Ali has translated the key words as,

“…May I follow thee so that thou mayst teach me something of thy wisdom?” (emphasis added)

As we can see here the translation of tu’allimani is ‘instruct me’ or ‘teach me’. Moses, therefore, is requesting Khidr to “instruct” him “in the knowledge…of the right way” (S.18:66b). Since Moses in the Islamic tradition is regarded as a prophet as well as a messenger; bearer of the divine command*ments, and conveyer of God’s truth to his people, his seeking of knowledge from a non-prophet does not fit the criterion of the divine wisdom given to all prophets. A prophet is rahma of God as well as a bearer of the knowledge given to none other than prophets. It can be said that it would not he possible for Khidr, firstly, to have knowledge from God, and, secondly, to “instruct” Moses in that knowledge he is given by God, without being a prophet or for that matter rahma himself. It would be absurd to believe that Moses of all God’s messengers was less in knowledge than a non-prophet. On the other hand, it is also argued that Moses with whom Khidr’s meeting takes place is not the Moses of Banu Israel. In fact there is an hadīth which mentions such a claim while refuting it at the same time on the authority of ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbās.[33]

At this point, however, it must be noted that the concept of rahma is closely linked with divine ‘guidance’ either in the form of revelation given to the prophets or simply by their mere presence and witness unto mankind.[34] The prophecy of Khidr thus is the ‘prophecy of saintship’ (nubuwwatu’l-wilāyat) whereas that of Moses is characterized as the ‘prophecy of institution’ (nubuwwatu’l-tashrī).[35]

Going back to the origin of the story we find a different set of arguments emerging from the rationale behind Moses’ search for and subsequent meet*ing with Khidr. And this sheds further light on an overall understanding of the story. It begins with Moses making a claim about being the most learned of all men in the world.[36]

[Due to this belief]…he no longer tried to acquire more knowledge. So God sought for an occasion to stimulate him to obtain more knowledge…[and one day after his address to his people] one of them asked him: ‘Can there be found anybody more learned than you?’ He replied: ‘No, such a man I never met’. Then God revealed: ‘Yes, such a man does exist. Our servant Khidr is is more learned than you are’…[37]

As we can see, Moses, by holding such a belief, created a necessity of being instructed by someone who surpassed him in knowledge. Although one may argue that the reason for such an ‘instruction’ was the mannerism in which he proclaimed it,[38] the fact remains that Moses was the most knowl*edgeable of all men of his time as he was a prophet of distinction in steadfastness and yet there was a sense of ‘the absolute’ in his tone for which God had instituted his meeting with Khidr.[39]

It is in this context that most commentators regard Khidr as one of the prophets. For as the Qur’ānic concept of rahma, analysed above, also sug*gests the same and moreover indicates that both Moses and Khidr possess “some divine knowledge not possessed by the other.’[40]

On the one hand, Moses is placed above Khidr in rank as a messenger; on the other, it is argued that they both possess different sets of knowledge. This latter position is particularly held by Ibn ‘Arabi, mainly, its order to present the elevated status of the esoteric knowledge and,

of the gnosis that perceives not only the neccessity for and validity of [the] Law, hut also the inescapable validity and necessity of those as*pects of cosmic becoming that elude the Law…[41]

Khidr in Sufism

Dervishes sitting beneath a tree. Isfahan, 17th century
Khidr is associated with the water of life.[42] Since he drank the water of immortality he is described as the one who has found the source of life, ‘the Eternal Youth.’[43] He is the mysterious guide and immortal saint in the popular Islamic piety.

Sometimes the mystics would meet him on their journeys; he would inspire them, answer their questions, rescue them from danger, and, in special cases, invest them with the khirqa, which was accepted as valid in the tradition of Sufi initiation.[44]

In Sufi tradition, Khidr has come to be known as one of the afrād, those “who receive illumination direct from God without human mediation.”[45] He is the hidden initiator of those who walk the mystical path like some of those from the Uwaisi tariqa.[46] Uwaisis are those who “enter the mystical path without being initiated by a living master.” Instead they begin their mystical journey either by following the guiding light of the teachings of the earlier masters or by being “initiated by the mysterious prophet-saint Khidr.”[47]

Khidr has had thus gained enormous reputation and popularity in the Sufi tradition due to his role of an initiator. Through this way come several Sufi orders which claim initiation through Khidr and consider him their mas*ter. It has become yet another possible way of initiation through “a source other than a human master.” Besides the Uwaisis, history records that Ibn ‘Arabi, the great mystical giant from Islamic Spain, claimed to have received the Khirqa from Khidr.[48] Khidr had thus come to symbolize “the third path” to the knowledge of God, purely and constantly supernatural, giving acces to the divine mystery (ghayb) itself.[49] In the writings of ’Abd al-Kartm al-Jili, Khidr rules over ‘the Men of the Unseen” (rijalu’l-ghayb)-- the exalted saints and angels.[50]

Khidr is also claimed by and included among what in the classical Sufism are called the abdāl (‘those who take turns’) or the ‘saints’ (awliya) of Is*lam.[51] In a divinely instituted heirarchy of such saints Khidr holds the rank of their ‘spiritual head. They are called abdāl due to their role of becoming a ‘substitute’ for Khidr and taking turns in “helping in his mission of assisting and saving good men in danger and distress,”[52]

Here one may ask the question how Khidr can relate to a disciple who materially and organically exists in this world of space and time! In other words, as Corbin puts it, is the “disciple’s relation to Khidr similar to the relation he would have had with any visible earthly” master! It seems, as Corbin also suggests, that questioning the nature of such a relationship is to question the historical existence of Khidr himself.[53] Whereas Khidr, as we know, is ‘transhistorical’ and by virtue of being “immortal” transcendant. Further the danger in describing the phenomenon of Khidr is more than real.

If, taking the standpoint of analytical psychology, we speak of Khidr as an archetype, he will seem to lose his reality and become a figment of the imagination, if not of the intellect. And if we speak of him as a real person, we shall no longer be able to characterize the difference in structure between Khidr’s relationship with his disciple and the relationship that any other shaykh on this earth can have with his.[54]

Hence the experience of being a disciple of Khidr “invests the disciple, as an individual, with a transcendant ‘transhistorical’ dimension.”[55] It is an experience which lies beyond the spatio-temporal conditions of our sense perception.

The immortality of Khidr is a symbol of the immensity of his knowledge and providential wisdom. By virtue of being immortal and counted among the four immortal prophets (mentioned above), he is revered in the Muslim tradition and looked upon by the Sufis in great veneration. But Sufis have also used Khidr’s symbolism in another way. ‘Attar, in his long allegorical poem Mantiq al-Tayr, presents Khidr as the opposite of what a Sufi may desire. In a dialogue with a “fool of God” and Khidr, Khidrian life style is shown to be that of an antinomy to the ‘Way’. In this dialogue Khidr asks the ‘fool of God’, “Oh perfect man, will you be my friend?” And the reply from the one, in the Way of God, is,

You and I are not compatible, for you have drunk long draughts of the water of immortality so that you will always exist, and I wish to give up my life.[56]

Symbolism of Khidr
Khidr literally means ‘The Green One’, representing freshness of spirit and eternal liveliness, green symbolizing the freshness of knowledge “drawn out of the living sources of life.”[57] It implies regeneration as Schwarzbaum has pointed out.[58] The color green has also been related to Khidr’s disappearing ‘into the “green landscape’ after departing from Moses.[59] It is a sort of ‘be*coming green’, or by way of disappearing and teaching a lesson, making knowledge ‘afresh’ for the one who is being taught. It is afresh because it is “drawn from Allah’s own knowledge.”[60]

It could also be taken to imply the connection with the wilderness, fields etc. where Khidr is most likely to meet the lost and troubled whence he could guide them. Whatever the source for this green may he, it has come to symbolize the benign presence of the divine wisdom as imparted by the Divine Himself to Khidr and to Prophet Muhammad—hence the inseparable association be*tween the prophetic love and praise in pious Muslim religious ceremonies and the color green. It is also well known that the cloak of the Prophet is associated with either white or green.[61] Interestingly, however, not all ac*counts of Khidr’s appearance describe him in green. Nicholson, in his classical work on Islamic mysticism reporting about Abu Sa’id ibn Abi’l-Khayr’s self-imposed exile, says:

... he [Abdul Khayr] would flee to mountains and wilderness, where he was sometimes seen roaming with a venerable old man clad in white raiment... [who as] he declared [later] was the prophet Khadir.[62]

Besides the symbolism which revolves around the figure of Khidr him*self, the story of Moses and Khidr is full of other imageries and divine allusions. First of all there is a mention of the fish which is a symbol of knowledge;[63] then there is mention of water, a symbol of life, as well as the sea, symbolizing the limitless immensity and vastness of knowledge, especially esoteric knowledge.

Further, the symbolism reaches its height in the fish’s disappearance in a ‘parting of the sea’, symbolizing the meeting of the two domains of knowledge, viz., the esoteric and the exoteric. Now this fish (wisdom) was to be Moses’ breakfast, which is precisely what Moses needed before he understood the subtlety of the events which occurred while he was with Khidr. The fish was dead when it was with Moses and Joshua, only to become alive soon after, thus suggesting the need for them to follow its ‘way to knowledge.’

The reason why Joshua may have forgotten to tell Moses about the disap*pearance of the fish is yet another sign alluding to the divine mystery. Regarding this Shāfi’ says: Maybe he (Joshua) forgot due to the reason that his thoughts wandered away thinking about his homeland, since he is in travel.[64] The twist here is in the link between the symbolism of the ‘fish’ (a way of knowledge) which is being carried during the travel (jihād: one of the means of knowl*edge) in order to arrive (understand) the ‘meeting of the two oceans’ (the perfect knowledge). The two oceans, once again, are parallel to the two kinds of knowledge, the exoteric (that of Moses) and the esoteric (that of Khidr); ‘perfect knowledge’ is the coming together of the two.[65] Furthermore, travel is inevitably linked with the attainment of divine wisdom. Hence another aspect of Khidr, as patron-saint of travelers, is highlighted in the tradition. However, whatever may be the reason for Joshua’s forgetfulness, it certainly seems to contain yet another moral for the humankind.

In his case the ‘forgetting’ was more than forgetting. Inertia had made him refrain from telling the important news. In such matters inertia is almost as bad as active spite, the suggestion of Satan. So new knowl*edge or spiritual knowledge is not only passed by in ignorance, but sometimes by culpable negligence.[66]

Overall, the episode of Khidr in the Qur’ān is a reflection and representa*tion of the paradoxes of life. Above all, it symbolizes the delicate balance between ‘patience and faith as they were enjoined”[67] on Moses after he understood the meaning of those paradoxes explained to him by Khidr himself.

What is implied by the story is that such wisdom is only attainable by the will, mercy, and grace of God, and that even the prophethood and bearing of the divine law could not bring that “most subtle knowledge” because it is “only known to him who has become the instrument of God.”[68]

[Moses was shown these events] to illustrate the manner in which God may provide contrivances or reconditionings for the benefit of his creatures. Then God uses one of His servants as an instrument for the accomplishment of an intended operation…[69]

Thus is Moses given a lesson by God about the infinitude of knowledge, with subtle but momentary knowledge belonging to Khidr, but universal knowledge to Moses.

(The fact of the matter is that) provisions of the law bear on universal principles...whereas contrivances bear on affairs conducive to a particular prudence…All this is a most subtle knowledge…[Thus Moses] comes to understand precisely the underlying idea of events…[70]

As it may be said here, there is a sense of Khidr being ‘superior’ to Moses. Based on that, one may suggest that there are “glimmerings of a theophany” in the personage of Khidr who as God’s servant is as human as Moses, yet seems to be embodied with the divine attributes of “God’s mercy [rahma] (eternal salvation) and...Divine knowledge (eternal prescience).”[71] Symboli*cally it may imply that Moses’ encounter with Khidr is actually his encounter with the aspects of the Divine in an attempt to equip him (i.e. Moses) with the infiniteness of knowledge. As Netton has rightly said, it may all be summed up as a Divine Testing of Moses.[72]

The legend of Khidr is an excellent example of the fact that human beings constantly need to seek the union with God in Whom all knowledge rests. Since there is no end to the divine knowledge, it is unwise to assume, as Moses did, that one may know it all.

The episode in the story of Moses is meant to illustrate four points… that wisdom [does] not comprehend everything, even as the whole stock of the knowledge of the present day, in the sciences and the arts, and in literature…[is accumulated] (if it could be supposed to be gathered in one individual). (2) Constant effort is necessary to keep our knowledge square with the march of time. (3) There is a kind of knowledge [like the one Khidr represents] which is in ever in contact with life as it is actually lived. (4) There are paradoxes in life: apparent loss may be real gain; apparent cruelty may be real mercy...[and that] Allah’s wisdom transcends all human calculation.[73]

In conclusion, it is to be noted that the symbolism of Khidr has traveled far and beyond the geographical as well as ideological boundaries of its origin. The legend has truly lived up to its universal quality as it spreads across a variety of cultures and civilizations around the world. In the subcontinent folklore Khidr has appeared “as a substitute for the Hindu gods of the water and is particularly revered by sailors and fishermen.”[74] It is in connection with Khidr being a patron-saint of sailors that his name is invoked down to this day by the sailors every time a boat is being launched in parts of the Middle East and Northern India.[75]

Today Khidr can be found in the verses of Iqba1,[76] in the poems of Rumi, and ‘Attar. He has immensely influenced the lives of many a mystic, ascetic and man of God throughout the history of Islam, such as ’Abd al-Karim al-Jili, Ibn ‘Arabi, Mansur al-Hallaj and so on. In the Muslim tradition Khidr is alive and well and continues to guide the perplexed and those who invoke his name.

Irfan Omar
Duncan Black MacDonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations
Hartford Seminary
Hartford, Connecticut


End Notes
[1] I am indebted to Dr. Ibrahim Abu-Rabi and Dr. Willem A. Bijlefeld of Hartford Seminary for their invaluable comments and suggestions in the formation of this essay.

[2] Sufi Ibrahim abn Adham quoted in the article on ‘Khidr’ in Cyril Glasses The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam (San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc., 1989), 224-25.

[3] Cf. Mahmoud M. Ayoub. Islam: Faith and Practice (Markham, Ontario: The Open Press Limited. 1989), 33-34; 65b.

[4] Although this is the common translation of Wali, Pir and other related Islamic terms, it nevertheless obscures the considerable diversity underlyimg these terms. See PM. Currie, The Shrine and Cult of Mu’in al-Din Chishti (Delhi: Oxford, 1989), 1.

[5] Khidr is spelled in several ways: al-Khadir (in Oriental/German scholarship), Khezr and Khizr (in Persian and Indian accounts) and so on.

[6] See note 73 in Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur’an (Gibralter: Dar al-Andalus, 1980). 449; c.f. A.J. Wensinck. ‘Khadir’ in The Encyclopedia of Islam no. 29 (Leyden: E.J. Brill. 1925), 861.

[7] Extensive literature and references on al-Khidr are included in Haim Schwarzbaum’s Biblical and Extra-Biblical Legends in Islamic Folk-Literature (Waldorf-Hessen Verlag fur Orientkunde, 1982), 17-18.

[8] S.18:65 in the Qur’ān, tr. Ahmed Ali (Princeton. NJ: Princeton University Press, paperback edition, 1988). 256.

[9] Asad, The Message of the Qur’ān, 449.

[10] Yusuf Ali translates it as “one of Our servants.” The Holy Qur’ān (Lalmore: Shaikh Muhammad Ashraf, 1938), 748.

[11] Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 1975), 202.

[12] “Muslim version of Elijah” George K. Anderson. The Legend of the Wandering Jew (Providence: Brown University Press. 1965), 409; Exhaustive material on Khidr’s resemblance with Elijah is presented in Friedlaenders “Khidr” in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915), 693-95.

[13] Peter L. Wilson, “The Green Man: The Trickster Figure in Sufism”, in Gnosis Magazine 1991, 23.

[14] On Rodwell, see W.M. Thackston Jr.. The Tales of the Prophets of al-Kisai /(Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978), xxiv.

[15] Alexander H. Krappe. The Science of Folklore (New York: Barnes and Noble Inc., 1930), 103.

[16] However, he refers to the Wandering Jew as Ahasver. See Haim Schwarzbaum. Biblical and Extra-Biblical Legends, 17.

[17] Schwarzbaum mentions several references to it in his excellent work Biblical and Extra-Biblical Legends. For instance Tabari’s Tatsir (Cairo: 1373). v. III, 28-29; and Tha’labi’s ‘Ara’is al-Majalis (Cairo: 1324), 126. It is the intermingling with the wild beast which links Khidr to the prophet Jeremiah. I. Friedlaender has further linked it back to the legend of the ‘Wandering Jew.’ See Schwarzbaum, 167-68.

[18] Historical identity here does not mean determining the actual person of Khidr in history but as it is related in the “divergent sources” such as prophetology, folklore, etc. See Henry Corbin. Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1969). 55.

[19] See Wensinck “al-Khadir” in The Encyclopedia of Islam. 861-865

[20] Peter Wilson, “The Green Man…” Gnosis. 22.

[21] George Sale. The Koran, (London: William Tegg. 1961), 244.

[22] See A.J. Wensinck for his valuable analysis of these links in his long article on “al-Khadir” in The Encyclopedia of Islam, 862.

[23] Ibid

[24] The Holy Qur’ān edited by The Presidency of Islamic Researches, IFTA. (Madinah: King Fahd Holy Qur’ān Printing Complex. 1410 A.H.), 840.

[25] S.18:60 Qur’ān. translation of Ahmned Ali. 255.

[26] Sultan Hasan, ‘Irfan al-Qur’ān (Agra: Maktaba ‘Irfan. n.d.). 113.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Hashim Amir-Ati, The Message of the Qur’ān: Presented in Perspective (Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1974), K-30. Sec. 328-330.

[29] George Sale, The Koran, 244.

[30] Note that here Ahmed Ali translates rahma as ‘benevolence’; cf. A. Yusuf Ali’s translation as ‘mercy’.

[31] See Hifzur Rahman. Qisasul Qur’ān, (Delhi: Nadwatul Musannifin, 1975), pt. l, 545; cf. lan Richard Netton. “Theophany as Paradox: Ibn ‘Arabi’s Account of al-Khadir in his Fusus al-Hikam” in the Journal of the Muhiyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society XI: (1992), 18.

[32] Nettoms. Ibid.

[33] Hifzur Rahman. Qisasul Qur’ān 538; cf. Thackston, The Tales of the Prophets, 208.

[34] Moses received the ‘guidance’ (revelation) as well as the ‘mercy’ from God whereas Mary received only the blessings and the ‘mercy’. Cf. 6:154. 7:52: 19:21.

[35] R.A. Nicholson. Studies in Islamic Mysticism (Cambridge: The University Press. 1921), 141.

[36] Muhammad Shafi. Ma’arif al-Qur’ān (Karachi: Dar al-Ma’arif. 1978). vol. V: 591.

[37] J.M.S. Baljon. (tr.). A mystical Interpretation of Prophetic Tales by an Indian Muslim: Shah Wali Alla’s Tawil al-Ahadith (Leiden: E.J. Brill. 1973). 39-40.

[38] Muhammad Shafi. Ma’arif al-Qur’ān. 591.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Netton. “Theophany as Paradox”, 18.

[41] R.WJ. Austin, The Bezels of Wisdom (New York: Paulist Press. 1980). 250.

[42] Cf. Schimmel. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. 106.

[43] Corbin, Creative Imagination. 56.

[44] Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, 106.

[45] Wilson. “The Green Man, in Gnosis, 23.

[46] They are called Uwaisi after time name of Uwais al-Qarani, a contemporary of the Prophet who “lived in Yemen amid converted to Islam without ever meeting the Prophet.’ Since Uwais had no visible human guide, he became the model for those who are content with a ‘hidden’ master; one of the most famous was Abu’l-Hasan Kharraqani. See Schimmel, And Muhammed is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1985), 22; and Corbin. Creative Imagination, 32, 53-54.

[47] Schimmel, And Muhammed is His Messenger, 22: Cf. Vollers, K. “Chidher.” A.R.W. (Archiv fur religiose Wissenshaft), XII (1909), 252ff.

[48] Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, 105-6; See also Corbin, Creative Imagianation 63-67, for a detailed exposition of this.

[49] Louis Massignon, The Passion o fal-Hallaj, Herbert Mason tr., II (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 54.

[50] Nicholson Studies in Islamic Mysticism, 82.

[51] Not a Qur’anic doctrine but mentioned in hadith, the abdal are first mentioned in Imam Ibn Hanbal’s Musnad. See Virginia Vacca, “Social and Political Aspects of Egyptian and Yamani Sufism”, in the Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society 8:4 (October 1960) 233-34.

[52] Louis Massignon quoted in Vacca, Ibid. note 1.

[53] Corbin. Creative Imagination, 54-55.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Farid al-Din ‘Attar, Mantiq Uttair (The Conference of the Birds). S.C. Nott. tr. (London: The Janus Press, 1954). 17.

[57] Holy Qur’ān (Madinah: 1410 AH). 840 n. 2411.

[58] Schwarzbaum, Biblical and Extra-Biblical, 18.

[59] Jan Knappert. Islamic Legends: Histories of the Heroes Saints and Prophets of Islam, (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1985). 116.

[60] Holy Qur’ān (Madinah: 1410 AH). 840, n. 2411.

[61] See Schimmel. And Muhammad is His Messenger, 39.

[62] Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism, 13.

[63] “Fish is the emblem of the fruit of secular knowledge” A. Yusuf All, Holy Qur’ān (Lahore: 1938), 747 n. 2408.

[64] Shāfi’, Ma’arif al-Qur’ān, 592.

[65] “The salt sea of this world represents, like Moses, exoteric knowledge, whereas the Waters of Life are personified by al-Khidr.” See Martin Lings. Symbol and Archetype: A Study of the Meaning of Existence (Cambridge: Quinta Essentia, 1991), 75.

[66] Yusuf Ali, Holy Qur’ān (Lahore: 1938), 748 n. 2410.

[67] Ibid. See summary on p. 727.

[68] Baljon, Mystical Interpretation of Prophetic Tales, 41.

[69] Ibid. 40-41.

[70] Ibid. Similarly, for Vollers the main issue is theodicy: What may seem wrong to us (in Khidr’s actions) can be right in God’s judgement.

[71] Netton, “Theophany as Paradox.” 12.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Holy Qur’ān (Madinah: 1410 AH.), 838; A. Yusuf Ali, Holy Qur’ān, (Lahore: 1938). 747.

[74] Currie. The Shrine and Cult, 10; cf. Friedlaender, “Khidr” Encyclopedia of Religions and Ethics, 695.

[75] Friedlaender, op cit.

[76] As in “Asrar-i-Khudi” and other poems.

Taken from : http://khidr.org/khidr.htm

26-06-2007, 09:24 PM
I'm not reading that, I need information from valid scholars. :jazak: though.

abu yusuf
26-06-2007, 09:25 PM

your article says that Al Khidr is likened or may be sourced in the 'wandering Jew' - thats a proven myth, as the legend of the wandering Jew is that of a man mocking Jesus as he carried the cross en route to the crucifixion that the man was cursed to wander the earth until the second coming..

this myth doesn't have any scriptural backing from canonical sources...it was made up by Christians in the 12-13th century..

celt islam
26-06-2007, 09:33 PM

your article says that Al Khidr is likened or may be sourced in the 'wandering Jew' - thats a proven myth, as the legend of the wandering Jew is that of a man mocking Jesus as he carried the cross en route to the crucifixion that the man was cursed to wander the earth until the second coming..

this myth doesn't have any scriptural backing from canonical sources...it was made up by Christians in the 12-13th century..

Asalaamualaykum ,

I thought the artical was interesting to say the least although many things cannot be proven but it is an interesting view.
Ibn al Arabi also relates the story of al Khider in his book Fusus al hikam which is a nice read, ma salaama

(Fusus al-Hikam)
by Muhiyyi'd-din Ibn al-'Arabi

The Seal of the Wisdom of Sublimity in the Word of Musa (Moses)

The wisdom of the killing of the male children in respect to Musa was in order to give him the support of the life of each of those killed for his sake because each of them was killed for being Musa. There is no ignorance, so the life of the one killed for his sake had to return to Musa. It is pure life in the natural state (fitra). The desires of the self have not soiled it; rather, it is in its natural state of "Yes (bala)." 1 Musa was the sum of the lives of those killed for being him. All that was prepared for the murdered ones in the way of the predisposition of their spirits was in Musa, peace be upon him. This is a divine favour to Musa which no one before him had.

The wisdoms of Musa are numerous. If Allah wills, I will enumerate them in this chapter according to what the divine command puts into my mind. This is the first about which I shall speak in this chapter.

Musa was only born being a synthesis of many spirits. He was a concentration of effective forces since the young have an effect on the old. Do you not see how the child has an effect on the older person by the special quality the child has? The older person descends from his leading position to play with the child and rock him in his arms and to show himself at the child's level of intellect – he descends to the level of the child's intellect. He is under subjugation even though he is not aware of it. He occupies himself with instructing and protecting the child, seeing to his needs and consoling him so that the child is not distressed.

All this is part of the effect of the young on the old. That is due to the strength of his station. The young has a new covenant with his Lord because he has newly come into being. The old person is further from Him. Whoever is nearer to Allah subjects whoever is further away from Him, just as the elite of the near angels subject the further ones. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to expose himself to the rain when it came down and to uncover his head so that it would fall on him. He said that it has a new covenant with Allah. Look at this recognition of Allah on the part of this Prophet! What is more glorious, more sublime and clearer than this? The rain subjected the best of men due to its proximity to its Lord. That is a likeness of the Messenger on whom the revelation descends. The rain called him by its own state,2 and so he exposed himself to the rain in order to receive from it what it brought from his Lord. If he had not received this divine benefit from it by the rain, he would not have exposed himself to it. This is the message of water from which Allah has fashioned every living thing 3 - so understand!

As for the wisdom of Musa being put into the ark and then cast into the river, the ark (tâbût) is his human nature (nâsût). The river is what he received of knowledge through his body by what the power of discernment and the sensory imaginative faculties accorded him. Only by the existence of this elemental body does the human self have these faculties or their like. When the self comes to this body and is commanded to freely dispose of it and manage it, Allah gives it these faculties as instruments by which it obtains what Allah wills that it obtain in the management of this ark which contains the sakina 4 of the Lord. Musa was cast into the river in order to receive various knowledges by these faculties. Thus Allah taught him that the spirit which manages him is the ruler. He is only managed by it. It gives him the command of these faculties of phenomenal being which are in this nâsût that is designated by the ark in the field of indications and wisdoms.

Allah manages the universe in the same way, and it is only managed by it or by its form. It is only managed by Him inasmuch as the arrival of the one begotten depends upon its being brought into existence by the begetter. Caused things depend on their causes, proven things depend on their proofs, and true things depend on their realities. All of this is part of the universe, and it is Allah's management of it, and he only manages by it.

As for our statement, "or by its form," I mean the form of the universe, and by it I mean the Most Beautiful Names and sublime attributes by which Allah is named and described. Nothing of a name by which He is called has reached us but that we found the meaning and spirit of that name in the universe. The universe is also only managed by the form of the universe.

For that reason, the Prophet said in respect of the creation of Adam who is the blueprint which gathers all the attributes of the Divine Presence which is the essence, the attributes and the actions: "Allah created Adam in His form." His form is only the Divine Presence. In this noble epitome, which is the Perfect Man, He brought into existence all the Divine Names and the realities of that which is outside of him in the Macrocosm separate from him. He made Adam a spirit (rûh) for the universe, and so He subjected to him the high and the low through the perfection of his form. As there is nothing in the universe that "does not glorify Allah's praise," 5 in the same way, there is nothing in the world which is not subject to this man according to what the reality of his form accords him. Allah says, "He has made everything that is in the heavens and the earth subservient to you. It is all from Him." (22:65) All that is in the universe is subject to man. He who knows that from his knowledge is the Perfect Man. He who is ignorant of that is the Animal Man.

The form of casting Musa into the ark and then casting the ark into the river is outwardly a form of destruction. Inwardly, it was his rescue from being killed. He was brought to life as the self is brought to life by knowledge from the death of ignorance as Allah says, "Is someone who was dead (i.e. by ignorance) and whom We brought to life (with knowledge) and supplied with a light by which to walk among the people (which is guidance) the same as someone who is in utter darkness (in being astray) unable to emerge from it (i.e. will never be guided)?" 6 In itself the matter has no end at which it stops.

Guidance is that man is guided to bewilderment (hayra). He knows that the business is bewilderment. Bewilderment is being unsettled and movement. Movement is life. There is no non-movement nor death. There is existence and not non-existence. It is the same with the water which gives life to the earth. Its movement is His word, "so it quivers" and conceives, "and swells" with pregnancy, "and sprouts plants in beautiful pairs." 7 It only gives birth to what resembles it, i.e. has a nature like it. It has being linked in pairs (zawjiya) which is the state of being doubled by what is born from it and what appears from it.

Similarly, the existence of Allah has multiplicity and the many Names. It is this or that according to what appears from it of the universe which demands the realities of the Divine Names by its development. They are doubled by it and stand in opposition to the unity of multiplicity. It is one by source in respect to its essence, as the primal substance (hayûla) is a single source in respect to its essence, while it has many forms which it supports by its essence. It is the same with Allah through the forms of tajalli which are manifested from Him. So the locii of the tajalli are the forms of the universe, in spite of the intelligible unity (ahadiyya). Look at the excellence of this divine instruction which Allah gives by granting its recognition to whoever He wishes among His slaves.

When the family of Pharaoh found him in the river by the tree, Pharaoh called him Musa. Mu is water in Coptic and sha is tree. He named him by where he found him, for the ark stopped by the tree in the river. Pharaoh wanted to kill him. His wife, speaking by divine articulation in what she said to Pharaoh about Musa – since Allah had created her for perfection as Allah said about her when He testified that she and Maryam, daughter of 'Imran, have the perfection which men have 8 - said, "he may be a source of delight for me and for you." (28:9) She would be consoled by him with the perfection which she received as we have said.

The consolation of Pharaoh was with the belief Allah gave him when he was drowning. So Allah took him pure and purified. There was no impurity in him since He took him in his belief before he had acquired any wrong actions. Islam effaces what was before it. He made him a sign of His concern so that none might despair of the mercy of Allah, for "no one despairs of solace from Allah except for the unbelievers." (12:87) If Pharaoh been of those who despair, he would not have embarked on belief. Musa, peace be upon him, was, as the wife of Pharaoh said, "a source of delight for me and for you. Do not kill him. It may well be that he will be of use to us." That is what happened. Allah gave them use of Musa, although they were not aware that he was a prophet who would destroy the kingdom of Pharaoh and his family.

When Allah protected him from Pharaoh, his mother's heart was freed of the anxiety which had befallen her. Then Allah forbade him to be suckled until he had received his motherÕs breast, so she suckled him that Allah might complete her joy. The knowledge of the roads (sharâ'i) is like that. It is as Allah said, "to each We have made a road," (5:48) i.e. a path (tariq), "and a direction (minhaj)" from that path. This statement is an indication of the root from which he came (minhu ja). It is his food as the tree has branches and yet is only nourished by its root. What is haram in one Shari'a can be halal in another Shari'a - I mean in a certain form it can be halal, while in the heart of the matter it is not really the same as what passed because the matter is new creation, not repetition. This is what we instruct you! It is referred to in connection with Musa when the wet-nurses were made haram.

In reality, the one who suckled him, not the one who bore him, is his mother. The mother of birth carried him in regard to the trust. He is formed within her and fed by her menstrual blood without any volition on her part in that, so that does not come from her benevolence towards him. He is only fed by what would destroy her or make her ill had he not been nourished on it, or had that blood not gone out of her. The embryo is a gift to its mother since it feeds on what would cause her harm had that blood remained with her and not gone out of her, or had not the embryo been nourished on it.

Suckling is not the same. By her suckling, she intends to give him life and to sustain him. Allah gave that to Musa in the mother who bore him. No woman outside of his mother by birth had any right over him that she also might find consolation in bringing him up and watching him grow in her room, and so she was not sad.

Allah saved him from the grief of the ark, so he pierced natural darkness by what Allah gave him of divine knowledge, while he did not depart from nature. He tested him with many trials 9 and gave him experience in many places so that he might realise patience in himself in the trials Allah gave him.

The first of Allah's trials was the killing of the Copt which Allah inspired him to do and gave him success in his secret – yet he did not know this. However, Musa did not feel any anxiety over killing him, although he was unsure until the command of his Lord told him, since the Prophet is inwardly protected without being aware of it until he is informed, until transmission comes to him. For this reason, al-Khidr showed him the killing of the boy,10 so Musa criticised the killing but did not remember how he had killed the Copt. Al-Khidr told him, "I did not do it of my own volition," (18:82) and he informed him of his rank before he told him that his movement was protected in reality, but he was not aware of it.

Al-Khidr also showed him the piercing of the ship. Outwardly it was destruction, but inwardly it was rescue from the hand of the tyrant. He made that an analogy of the ark which was in the river– its outward aspect was destruction, while inwardly it was rescue, for his mother did it fearing the hand of the tyrant, who was Pharaoh, that he might not kill Musa in captivity. She looked at him with the revelation Allah had inspired in her while she was not aware of it. She felt in herself that she would suckle him. When she feared for him, she cast him into the river because, as the proverb says, "What the eye does not see does not afflict the heart." She did not fear for him with the fear of the witnessing of the eye, and she was not sad with the sorrow of seeing him. It came over her thoughts that perhaps Allah would return him to her, for she had a good opinion of Him. She lived by this thought in herself and by the hope which was opposite fear and despair. When she was inspired to do this, she said, "Perhaps he is the Messenger who will destroy Pharaoh and the Copts." She lived and took joy in this, which was illusion and thought in respect of herself, but, in the heart of the matter, it is knowledge.

When they searched for Musa (after he had killed the Copt), he left in flight, fearful outwardly and in the meaning, it was love of deliverance – for movement is always by love, but the onlooker is veiled from it by other causes, which are not the movement. This is because the root is the movement of the universe from non-existence which was immobile in existence. That is why it is said that the matter is movement from immobility. The movement which is the existence of the universe is the movement of love. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, quoting Allah, "I was a hidden treasure, therefore I wanted (lit. loved) to be known."11

If it had not been for this love, the universe would not have appeared in its source. Its movement from non-existence to existence is the movement of the love of the One who brings into existence for this purpose. The universe also loves to witness itself in existence as it was witnessed in immutability. Thus by every aspect, the movement from immutable non-existence to the existence of the sources is a movement of love, both in respect of Allah and in respect to itself.

Perfection is loved for itself. Allah's knowledge of Himself is His, since He is independent of the worlds. It belongs only to Him. The perfection of the rank of knowledge only remains by the in-time knowledge which comes from these sources. When the sources of the universe exist, then the forms of perfection appear with timeless and in-time knowledge. Thus the rank of knowledge is perfected by two aspects.

In the same way, the ranks of existence are perfected. Existence from it is before-time and not before-time, which is in-time. Pre-temporal (azali) time is the existence of Allah by Himself, and non-pre-temporal-time is the existence of Allah by the forms of the immutable universe. It is called in-time because it manifests some parts to others. He is manifest to Himself by the forms of the universe, and so existence is perfected.

The movement of the universe is by love of perfection, so understand! Do you not see how what the Divine Names bring into existence is breathed from the absence of the manifestation of their effects in a entity called the universe? It loves rest 12 which is only reached by the existence of form, high and low. Thus it is confirmed that movement occurs by love. The only movement in the entire cosmos is by love.

Among the 'ulama' are those who know that and those who are veiled by the nearer cause because it rules their state (hâl) and overpowers them. Musa was aware of his fear by what occurred through his killing the Copt. That fear implied love of deliverance from killing. So he fled by fear. In the meaning, he fled when he loved deliverance from Pharaoh and his deeds. He mentioned the nearest cause which he was aware of at that moment, which is like the form of the body of man, and love of deliverance is contained in it as the body contains the spirit which manages it.

The Prophets had the language of the outward with which they addressed people in general and on which they relied to make the one who listened understand what was said. The Messengers make allowances for people in general by their knowledge of the rank of the people of understanding. It is as the Prophet, peace be upon him, said about gifts, "I give to this man, while another man is more beloved to me than him for I fear that Allah might throw him down into the Fire." He made allowances for those whose intellect and discernment are weak and who are overcome by greed and nature.

Similarly, what they brought of knowledges, they brought wearing a a robe 13 which nearer to the understanding, so that the one who has no "diving" might stop at the robe and say, "How excellent this robe is!" and he will see it as the limit of rank. Because of what this robe from the king demands, the one with subtle understanding, the one who dives for the pearls of wisdom, looks at the quality of the robe and its type of material. By it, he knows the degree of the one it covers, and so he stumbles onto a knowledge which no one else has obtained from those without knowledge of such matters.

Then the Prophets and Messengers and heirs knew that in this world and in their communities, there are those who, in this manner, express themselves in the outward language which the elite and common share. The one who is elite understands of it what the common understand, and more, inasmuch as it is valid that he be called elite. He is distinguished from the blind. Those who have obtained knowledges are content with this. This is the wisdom of his words, "I fled from you when I was in fear of you," 14 but he did not say, "I fled from you by love of safety and well-being."

Musa came to Madyan and found two women and got water for them without being paid for it. Then he turned away to the divine shade and said, "O my Lord, I am truly in need of any good You have in store for me." (28:24) He made the source of his getting water the same as the good which Allah sent down to him, and he described himself as being in need of Allah in the good which he had. Al-Khidr showed him the setting-up of the wall without wage, but Musa chided him for it. So al-Khidr reminded him of his drawing water without wage, and other things which were not mentioned. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, wished that Musa had remained silent and had not left him so that Allah would have related more about them.

Al-Khidr alerted Musa to the fact that what had come to him and would come to him was by the command of Allah and His will which it is impossible to contradict. Knowledge of that is one of the prerogatives of wilaya. As for the Messenger, He might not acquaint him with it, for it is the secret of the decree.15 If He had acquainted him with that, it might have been a reason for his lassitude in conveying what he was commanded to convey. Allah withholds the knowledge of this from some of the Messengers as a mercy to them from Him. He did not withhold it from our Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, because of the strength of his state. This is why our Prophet said, "I call on Allah by inner sight." (75:14)

By this he knew what Musa had succeeded in had been without knowledge on his part. If it had been from knowledge, Musa would not have criticised what al-Khidr did, since Allah had testified before Musa as to al-Khidr's purity and justice. In spite of this, Musa was heedless of the fact that Allah had made him pure, and of the conditions set down for following him. This was a mercy for us if we forget the command of Allah. If Musa had known that, al-Khidr would not have said to him, "What you have never encompassed in your knowledge," meaning I have a knowledge which you have not received by tasting as you have a knowledge which I do not know. He was just.

As for the wisdom of his parting from him, it is because Allah said of the Messenger, "Take what the Messenger brings you, and avoid what he prohibits you." (59:7) The 'ulama' of Allah who recognise this quality of the Message and the Messenger stop at this statement. Al-Khidr knew that Musa was the Messenger of Allah. He regarded what came from him to preserve the adab which is due to the Messengers. Musa said to him, "If I ask you about anything after this, then you should no longer keep me company." So he forbade al-Khidr to keep his company. When that occurred for the third time, al-Khidr therefore said, "This is where you and I part company," Musa did not tell him, "Do not do it," nor did he seek to keep him company for he knew the level of the rank he was in when he spoke of the prohibition against keeping him company. Musa was silent, and the parting took place.

Look at the perfection of these two men in knowledge and the completion of divine adab as right, and the justice of al-Khidr, peace be upon him, in what he acknowledged to Musa when he said, "I have a knowledge which Allah has taught me which you do not know, and you have a knowledge which Allah has taught me which you do not know." This information which al-Khidr imparted to Musa was a remedy for the wound inflicted on him in his words, "How indeed could you bear with patience something you have not encompassed in your knowledge?" (18:68) although he knew the sublimity of his rank with the message, and al-Khidr did not have this rank.

This appeared in the community of Muhammad in the hadith regarding the fertilisation of the date tree. The Prophet, peace be upon him, told his Companions, "You know more about the matters of your daily life."16 There is no doubt that the knowledge of the thing is better than ignorance of it. Allah praises Himself, saying,"He has knowledge of all things." The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, acknowledged to his Companions that they knew more about the exigencies of this world than him because he had no experience of them. It is knowledge of tasting (dhawq) and experience, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, had not occupied himself with this sort of knowledge. Rather, he was occupied with what was more important. I have informed you about a great adab by which will benefit you if you occupy yourself with it.

MusaÕs statement, "My Lord gave me right judgement," (26:21) means the khalifate, "and made me one of the Messengers," means the message. Not every Messenger is a khalif. The Khalif has a sword, duties and governance. The Messenger is not the same – rather, he transmits what he has been sent to transmit. If he does battle and defends with the sword, then he is both khalif and Messenger.

As for the wisdom of Pharaoh's question regarding divine whatness (mâhiya) when he said, "What is the Lord of the worlds?" (26:23) that question did not arise from ignorance, but it was posed in order to test Musa and to see what answer he would give when he claimed that he had a message from his Lord. Pharaoh knew the rank of the Messengers in knowledge of Allah and he wanted to test Musa's answer to ascertain the validity of his claim. In order to inform those present, he invited an answer which would have been misleading as far as they were concerned since they did not know what Pharaoh himself knew about the question.

Musa answered him with the answer of those who have knowledge of the matter. Then Pharaoh, in order to preserve his position, asserted that Musa had not answered his question. So because of the inadequacy of their understanding, it seemed clear to those who were present that Pharaoh knew more than Musa. For this reason, when Musa answered him with what was not appropriate – and outwardly it is not an answer to what he was asked about – and Pharaoh knew that he would only give that answer, Pharaoh then said to his companions, "Your Messenger" who was sent to you "is mad" since the knowledge of what I question him about is veiled from him 17 since it is inconceivable that it be known at all.

The question is valid. The question of the what-ness is a question about the reality of what is asked about - it must be real in itself. As for those who make definitions which consist of category and genus, these are matters shared by various things. Whoever has no category must have a reality in Himself which belongs to no other. The question is invalid in the school of the People of Allah, sound knowledge and sound intellect. The only answer to it is the answer Musa gave.

Here is a great secret! He mentioned the "act" in giving the answer to the one who asked for a definition of essence. He made the essential definition the source of the attribution to what appeared of Him in the forms of the universe, or what appeared in Him of the forms of the universe. In answer to, "What is the Lord of the worlds?" he said that He is the One in whom the forms of the universe are manifest on high – which is the heaven - and below - which is the earth, "if you but have certainty," 18 or He who is manifest by them.

When Pharaoh told his companions that Musa was mad, (majnûn) in the sense that he was possessed, Musa added to the elucidation in order to inform Pharaoh of his rank in divine knowledge because he knew that Pharaoh already knew that. Musa said, "The Lord of the East and the West," bringing what was manifest and what was hidden, in the outward and the inward, "and what between them is" which is Allah's words, "He has knowledge of everything," "if you have intellect," 19 i.e. if you possess qualification since this comes from from intellect.

The first answer is for those who are certain, and they are the people of unveiling and existence. Musa said, "If you have certainty," i.e. if you are the people of unveiling and existence. I have given you knowledge of what you are already certain about in your witnessing and existence. If you are not of this category, I have answered you in the second answer: if you are among the people of intellect and qualification, and you limit Allah according to what the proofs of your intellects accord.

Thus Musa manifested both aspects in order to inform Pharaoh about his question and his veracity. Musa knew that Pharaoh knew that because he asked about the what-ness of Allah. He knew that his question was not couched in the language the ancients used in their questioning by means of what. That is why he answered him. If he had known anything else from him, he would have been mistaken in the question. Musa treated that about which he was asked as the source of the universe, and Pharaoh addressed him by this language 20 although the people present were not aware of that.

Pharaoh said to him, "If you take any god other than me, I will certainly make you one of the imprisoned." (26:29) The letter sin in prison (sijn) is one of the letters of increase, 21 meaning I will veil you, for you answered by what supported me so that I might say the same to you. If you say to me, "O Pharaoh! I do not I do not recognise your threat to me while the source is but one, so how can you separate?" Then Pharaoh replied, "The ranks are separate, but the source is not separate and it is not divided in its existence. My rank right now is power over you by actual fact, O Musa! I am you by the source and other than you by rank!"

When Musa understood that from him, he gave him his due in respect to himself and told him, "You will not be able to do that." Pharaoh's rank gave him power and influence over Musa because Allah is in the rank of Pharaoh in respect of the outward form which has authority over the rank in which Musa appeared in that assembly.

Therefore Musa told him that Allah had manifested a barrier to his hostility against Musa. He said, "Even if I were to bring you something undeniable?" Pharaoh could only reply, " Produce it then, if you are someone telling the truth" so that Pharaoh would not appear to be unjust among those of his nation who were weak-minded. They had doubts about him, and they were the group Pharaoh made unsteady. However, they obeyed Pharaoh because they were a corrupt people; 22 that is, lacking sound intellects' rejection of taking Pharaoh's claims literally. The intellect stops at a certain limit, and only those of unveiling and certainty can cross that limit. This is why in his answer, Musa first addressed those of certainty and then address those of the intellect.

"So he drew down his staff ('asa)" (26:32) which is the form with which Pharaoh defied 23 ('asa) Musa when he refused to answer his call. "And there it was, unmistakeably a snake," i.e. an evident snake. Thus rebellion, which is evil, changed into obedience, which is good, as Allah says, "Allah will transform their evil deeds into good deeds," (25:70) meaning in judgement. Here the judgement manifested a differentiated source in a single substance (jawhar) – so it is a staff, a snake, and a manifest serpent. It devoured its likes among the snakes in the form of a snake, and the staffs in the form of a staff. The proof of Musa overcame the proofs of Pharaoh in the form of staffs, snakes and ropes. The sorcerers had ropes, but Musa did not have a rope. The "rope" is the small hill; 24 that is, their powers in relation to the power of Musa is as the hills are to the lofty mountains.

When the sorcerers saw that, they recognised Musa's rank in knowledge and they saw that he possessed a power which was not mortal. If it had been within the the power of a mortal, it would only belong to someone who could distinguish sure knowledge from imagination and illusion. So they believed in "the Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Musa and Harun" - that is, the Lord to whom Musa and Harun summoned them because they knew that the people understood that they were not being called to Pharaoh. Pharaoh was in the position of authority, and he was the master of the moment since he was the Khalif with the sword, even though he broke the customary divine laws when he said, "I am your Lord most high" - i.e. since all are lords, 25 I am the highest of them through the power which you have outwardly given me over you. The sorcerers knew that he spoke the truth in what he said, and they did not deny it. They affirmed that to Pharaoh, and said, "You only judge in this passing life, so judge as you like, for the kingdom is yours." So the statement of Pharaoh, "I am your Lord most high," was valid. Although the source is from Allah, the form is Pharaoh's. He cut off the hands and feet, and crucified through a real source in false form in order to attain the ranks which are only attained by that act.

There is no way to neutralise causes because the source-forms necessitate them. They only appear in existence by the form on which they are based at the source since "there is no changing the words of Allah." (10:64) The words of Allah are not other than the sources of existent things. Timelessness is ascribed to Him in respect to their permanence, and in-timeness is ascribed to them in respect of their existence and appearance. Thus we say, a certain man or guest happened 26 to be with us today." That does not mean that he did not have any existence before this event. For that reason, Allah says about His Mighty Word which is timeless, "No reminder (dhikr) from their Lord comes to them lately renewed 27 without their listening to it as if it were a game," (21:2) and "but no fresh 28 reminder reaches them from the All- Merciful, without their turning away from it." (26:5) The Merciful only brings mercy, and whoever turns away from mercy advances the punishment which is the absence of mercy.

As for the words of Allah, "but their belief when they saw Our violent force was of no use to them. That is the pattern Allah has always followed with His slaves," 29 (40:85) that did not mean that it did not profit them in the Next World through His exception, "except for the people of Yunus." He meant that that did not prevent them being punished in this world. For that reason, Pharaoh was seized in spite of the existence of his belief even though his affair was that of someone who is certain that his death is approaching. The circumstances accord that he was not certain that he was going to die because he saw the believers walking on the dry path which had appeared when Musa struck the sea with his staff. Pharaoh was not certain that he would perish since he believed that he would not die until the moment actually reached him. He believed in the One in whom the Tribe of Israel believed, in certainty of his deliverance.

It was indeed certain, but it was in a form other than the one he wanted. He was saved from the punishment of the Next World in himself and his body was saved as Allah says, "Today We will save your body that you might be a sign for those after you," (10:92) because, if his form had vanished, his people might have said that he had gone into occultation. His known form appeared as a corpse that it might be known that it was really him. Deliverance was encompassed both in the senses and in the meaning.

The one who has the word of the punishment in the Other World realized for him 30 will not believe, even if every ayat had been brought to him, "so that they might see the painful punishment," that is, taste the punishment of the Next World. Pharaoh left this class of people. This is the literal meaning of what the text of the Qur'an brought us. We say, and the matter belongs to Allah, that the fixed idea which the common people have regarding the wretchedness of Pharaoh is not based on anything in the divine text. As for his family, that is another judgement. This is not the place to mention it.

Know that Allah only takes someone while he believes – that is, affirms what divine transmissions bring, and I mean those who are consciousness at death. This is why dislikes sudden death and being killed while unaware is disliked. The definition of sudden death is that the incoming breath goes out and the outcoming breath does not come in. This is sudden death and when that happens, one is not conscious of death.

It is the same if a man is killed unawares by a blow from behind on the back of the neck. He is then taken with whatever belief or disbelief he possesses at that moment. For that reason, the Prophet said, "One will be gathered in the state in which one dies," as one is taken in whatever one is doing at the time. The one who is conscious of death is only the one who sees it coming. He believes what he sees. He is only taken in what he is doing because that is an existent expression connected to time by the circumstances. We distinguish between the unbeliever who is conscious at death and the unbeliever either killed while unaware or who dies suddenly as we have said in the definition of sudden death.

As for the wisdom of tajalli and the discourse on the form of the fire, this was because it was the object of Musa's desire. Allah gave him a tajalli in what he was searching for so that Musa would turn to Him and not turn away. If Allah had given the tajalli in other than the form which he was seeking, Musa would have turned away because his interest was concentrated on a particular goal. If he had turned away, his action would have rebounded on him, and Allah would have turned away from him. Musa was the chosen one and the one brought near. When Allah brings someone near to Him, He gives him a tajalli in the object he desires, without him knowing it.

Like the Fire of Musa

which he saw as what he needed.

It was Allah,

but he did not perceive it.

1. "Yes, we testify." Qur'an 7:172. Before the selves were created, Allah asked them, "Am I not your Lord?" They replied. "Yes, we testify."

2. In the form of knowledge and life descending from Allah.

3. See Qur'an 21:30.

4. Calmness, tranquillity, but also refers to the Ark of the Covenant, and the invisible Sakina (Shechina) which descended on it. 2:249: "The sign of his kinship is that the Ark will come to you, containing a Sakina from your Lord, and certain relics left by the families of Musa and Harun left. It will be borne by angels."

5. Qur'an 17:44.

6. Qur'an 6:122.

7. Qur'an 22:5.

8. Qur'an 66:11: "Allah has make an example for the believers - the wife of Pharaoh when she said, 'My Lord, build a house in the Garden for me in Your Presence, and rescue me from Pharaoh and his deeds."

Also the hadith in al-Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Musa, "Many men have been perfect, but among women only Maryam, daughter of 'Imran, and Asiya, wife of Pharaoh, were perfect."

9. See Qur'an 20:40, "We rescued you from trouble and tested you with many trials."

10. See the story in the Qur'an 18:65-82.

11. Hadith qudsi.

12. i.e reaching the perfection of love. This is called or love or yearning after the parting.

13. khil'a, a robe of honour.

14. Qur'an 26:21.

15. Sirr al-Qadar.

16. Hadith found in Muslim.

17. Madness "junun" is related to veils.

18. "The Lord of the heavens and the earth and what is between them is you have certainty." Qur'an 26:24.

19. Qur'an 26:28.

20. of unveiling.

21. Zawa'id, the augmenative letters, i.e. the ten letters which are added to the radical letters in Arabic words sin, hamza, alif, lam, ta', mim, waw, nun, ya' and ha'. If you take away the sin from sijn (prison), you get "jinn" meaning veil.

22. See Qur'an 43:54, "In that way he swayed his people and they succumbed to him. They were a people of deviators."

23. 'Asâ as a noun means "staff", and 'Asâ as a verb means "to rebel against against, oppose."

24. Habl meaning "rope" also means mound or small hill.

25. Lord being a relative name, demanding a subject, also because it means owner, so one says the lord of the house, the "lord" of a herd, etc. Also one who looks after, the "lord" of a child.

26. Huduth means coming into existence for the first time. It also means an event or occurence.

27. Muhdath.

28. Muhdath.

29. It like is in Qur'an 10:98, where the punishment is removed from the people of Yunus after they believed.

30. cf. Qur'an 39:71.


abu yusuf
26-06-2007, 09:53 PM
i remember reading accounts of Khidr in Tadhrakat ul Auliyah as well as a mention in a bio of Ibn Al Arabi called the Sufis of Andalucia (Ruh Al Quds)....where Ibn Al Arabi describes an instance when the Khidr lead him and his travelling companions in jamaat, where he levitated while reciting a surah.


You also cite two possible sources of the Khidr legend as being the legends of Gilgamesh and the Alexandrian Myth....

The Gilgamesh legends, i know provided the source material for the development of the semitic deluge myth, culminating in Noah's Ark and it first makes mention of a deva called Gavrel, which subsequently morphed into Gabriel which found its way, via the Jewish exile in Babylon into their myths in the book of Daniel...

so its plausible that Khidr may be sourced in those traditions..

As for the Alexander Romances, they were Greek, so they found their way into middle eastern cultures through Persian contact....its interesting to note that the Quran refers to Dhul Qurnayn (presumably Alex) as the 'two horned one' - this has been regarded as a reference to the two horns of Ammon, the Egyptian God that Alexander modelled himself on and imprinted on coins...and as we know the Egyptian also had prominent myths of fountain of eternal life...

so this thing was at least 4,000 years in the making.

26-06-2007, 10:03 PM
The Gilgamesh legends, i know provided the source material for the development of the semitic deluge myth, culminating in Noah's Ark and it first makes mention of a deva called Gavrel, which subsequently morphed into Gabriel which found its way, via the Jewish exile in Babylon into their myths in the book of Daniel...

so its plausible that Khidr may be sourced in those traditions..

Are you a Muslim?

abu yusuf
26-06-2007, 10:12 PM


26-06-2007, 10:20 PM
how come you referred to the story of Nuh `alyhissalam as a myth? Or did you mean something else?

Forgive for being paranoid, I just banned someone for posting Quran desceration who had been posting here with "Madhhab: don't know"

26-06-2007, 10:25 PM
You also cite two possible sources of the Khidr legend as being the legends of Gilgamesh and the Alexandrian Myth....

The Gilgamesh legends, i know provided the source material for the development of the semitic deluge myth, culminating in Noah's Ark and it first makes mention of a deva called Gavrel, which subsequently morphed into Gabriel which found its way, via the Jewish exile in Babylon into their myths in the book of Daniel...

so its plausible that Khidr may be sourced in those traditions..


As for the Alexander Romances, they were Greek, so they found their way into middle eastern cultures through Persian contact....its interesting to note that the Quran refers to Dhul Qurnayn (presumably Alex) as the 'two horned one' - this has been regarded as a reference to the two horns of Ammon, the Egyptian God that Alexander modelled himself on and imprinted on coins...and as we know the Egyptian also had prominent myths of fountain of eternal life...

so this thing was at least 4,000 years in the making.

Dhul Qarnayn is not Alexander

abu yusuf
26-06-2007, 10:50 PM

The story in Genesis of a global semi-apocalyptic flood, prompting the world to be saved by salvaging pairs of animals in a giant boat is almost certainly a myth - it has an uncanny resemblance to the Sumerian myth of Ziusudra, this was written some 3,700 years ago.

There is NOTHING in the Quran that compels me to believe in it as an article of faith. The Quran makes mention of a local flood which lead to a turmoils among the people of Nuh (a.s) and the resulting favour that was bestowed on him because of his faith in Allah.


Since many accept that certain elements of the legend are alien to Islam, i was just pointing out that that a likely source, like must of the indigenous legends in the mid-east are of Babylonian origin.

As for Dhul Qarnayn not being Alexander, thats a recent contention....most people had identified the refernce as either Alexander or a prominent Persian ruler.

26-06-2007, 11:02 PM
There is NOTHING in the Quran that compels me to believe in it as an article of faith. The Quran makes mention of a local flood which lead to a turmoils among the people of Nuh (a.s) and the resulting favour that was bestowed on him because of his faith in Allah.

Jazakumullah for making clear your position. My apologies for the suspicious questions.

26-06-2007, 11:37 PM

Dhul Qarnayn is not Alexander

There were more than one Alexander's.