Islamic Sufism Spirituality

Moses and AI-Khadir – Stories of the Quran

Posted on: June 18, 2008


Allah, the Almighty says:

{And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his boy-servant: “I will not give up (travelling) until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travelling.” But when they reached the junction of the two seas, they forgot their fish, and it took its way through the sea as in a tunnel. So when they had passed further on (beyond that fixed place), Musa (Moses) said to his boy-servant: “Bring us our morning meal; truly, we have suffered much fatigue in this, our journey.” He said: “Do you remember when we betook ourselves to the rock? I indeed forgot the fish,; none but Shaitan (Satan) made me forget to remember it, it took its course into the sea in a strange (way)!” [Musa (Moses)] said: “That is what we have been seeking;” So they went back retracing their footsteps; Then they found one of Our slaves, on whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us; Musa (Moses) said to him (Al-Khadir): “May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)?” He (Al-Khadir) said: “Verily you will not be able to have patience with me! And how can you have patience about a thing which you know not;” Musa (Moses) said: “If Allah wills, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught;” He (Al-Khadir) said: “Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I myself mention of it to you;” So they both proceeded, till, when they embarked the ship, he (Al-Khadir) scuttled it; Musa (Moses) said: “Have you scuttled it in order to drown its people? Verily, you have committed a thing Imr (a Munkar -evil, bad, dreadful thing); ” He (Al-Khadir) said: “Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?” [Musa (Moses)] said: “Call me not to account for what I forgot,4 and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you);” Then they both proceeded, till they met a boy, and he (Al-Khadir) killed him; Musa (Moses) said: “Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have committed a thing Nukr (a great Munkar prohibited, evil, dreadful thing)!” (Al-Khadir) said: “Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?” [Musa (Moses)] said: “If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me; ” Then they both proceeded, till, when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them; Then they found therein a wall about to collapse and he (Al-Khadir) set it up straight; (Musa (Moses)] said: If you had wished, surely, you could have taken wages for it!” (Al-Khadir) said: “This is the parting between me and you, I will tell you the interpretation of (those)things over which you were unable to hold patience. As for the ship, it belonged to Masakin (poor people) working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective damage in it, as there was a king behind them who seized every ship by force. And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. So we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in righteousness and nearer to mercy. And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord. And I did them not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not hold patience}. (Al-Kahf, 60-82)

Some of the People of the Book said: the one who met Al-Khadir was Musa Ibn Misha Ibn Yusuf Ibn Ya` ub Ibn Ishaq Ibn Ibrahim, father of the Prophets. But, the most authentic view is that he was Musa Ibn `Imran, the Prophet sent by Allah to the Children of Israel.

Narrated Imam Al-Bukhari: I was told by Al-Hamidi after Sufyan after `Amr Ibn Dinar after Sa`id Ibn Jubair as saying: I said to Ibn `Abbas: “Nauf AI-Bakali claims that Moses (the companion of AI-Khadir) was not the Moses of Banu Israel but he was another Moses.” Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) remarked that the enemy of Allah (Nauj) was a liar. Narrated Ubai bin Ka `b: The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Once Prophet Moses stood up and addressed Banu Israel. He was asked: “Who is the most learned man amongst the people?” He said: “I am the most learned.” Allah admonished Moses as he did not attribute absolute knowledge to Him (Allah). So Allah inspired to him, “At the junction of the two seas there is a slave of mine who is more learned than you.” Moses said: “O my Lord! How can I meet him?” Allah Almighty said: “Take a fish in a large basket (and proceed) and you will find him at the place where you will lose the fish.” So Moses set out along with his (servant) boy, Yusha` bin Nun and carried a fish in a large basket till they reached a rock, where they laid their heads (i. e. lay down) and slept. The fish came out of the basket and it took its way into the sea as in a tunnel. So it was an amazing thing for both Moses and his (servant) boy. They proceeded for the rest of that night and the following day. When the day broke, Moses said to his (servant) boy: {Bring us our early meal. No doubt, we have suffered much fatigue in this journey}. Moses did not get tired till he passed the place about which he was told. There the (servant) boy told Moses: {Do you remember when we betook ourselves to the rock, I indeed forgot the fish}. Moses remarked: {That is what we have been seeking. So they went back retracing their footsteps}, till they reached the rock. There they saw a man covered with a garment (or covering himself with his own garment). Moses greeted him. Al-Khadir replied saying: “How do people greet each other in your land?” Moses said: “I am Moses.” He asked: “The Moses of Banu Israel?” Moses replied in the affirmative and added: “May I follow you so that you teach me of that knowledge which you have been taught.” Al-Khadir replied: “Verily! You will not be able to remain patient with me, 0 Moses! I have some of the knowledge of Allah which He has taught me and which you do not know, while you have some knowledge which Allah has taught you which I do not know.” Moses said: “Allah willing, you will find me patient and I will not disobey you in aught. So both of them set out walking along the seashore, as they did not have a boat. In the meantime a boat passed by them and they requested the crew of the boa(. to take them on board. The crew recognized Al-Khadir and took them on board without fare. Then a sparrow came and stood on the edge of the boat and dipped its beak once or twice in the sea. Al-Khadir said: “O Moses! My knowledge and your knowledge have not decreased Allah’s knowledge except as much as this sparrow has decreased the water of the sea with its beak.” Al-Khadir went to one of the planks of the boat and plucked it out. Moses said: “These people gave us a free lift but you have broken their boat and scuttled it so as to drown its people.” Al-Khadir replied: “Didn’t I tell you that you will not be able to remain patient with me.” Moses said: “Call me not to account for what I forgot.” The first (excuse) of Moses was that he had forgotten. Then they proceeded further and found a boy playing with other boys. Al-Khadir took hold of the boy’s head from the top and plucked it out with his hands (i.e. killed him). Moses said: “Have you killed an innocent soul who has killed none.” AI-Khadir replied: “Did I not tell you that you cannot remain patient with me?” Then they both proceeded till when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them. Then they found there a wall on the point of collapsing. Al-Khadir repaired it with his own hands. Moses said: “If you had wished, surely you could have taken wages for it.” Al-Khadir replied: “This is the parting between you and me.” The Prophet (Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) added: “May Allah be Merciful to Moses! Would that he could have been more patient to learn more about his story with Al-Khadir.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Allah the Almighty says: {And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town}, As Suhaili said: they were Asram and Sarim sons of Kashih. {And there was under it a treasure belonging to them}, i.e. the treasure was gold, or some kind of knowledge. However, the most likely view is that it was some kind of knowledge inscribed on a golden board.

Al-Bazzar said: I was told by Ibrahim Ibn Sa’id Al-Jauhari after Bishr Ibn Al-Mundhir ufter Al Harith Ibn ‘Abdullah Al- Yahbasi after ‘Iyad Ibn `Abbas Al-Ghassani after Ibn Hujairah after Abu Dharr as saying: “The treasure mentioned in Allah’s Book (the Glorious Qur’an) was a solid golden board where it was inscribed: I wondered at the one who affirmed faith in the Divine Decree and then he exerted himself; and I wondered at the one who remembered Hell-Fire and then he laughed; and I wondered at the one who remembered death and then he became heedless of the meaning of ‘There is no god but Allah.'” The like was narrated by Al-Hasan Al-Basri, ` Umar the freed slave of `Afrah and Ja`far As-Sadiq.

Allah’s Saying: {And their father was a righteous man}, i.e. their seventh or tenth grandfather. However, this proves that the righteousness of the father benefits his own children and their children.

Allah’s Saying: {as a mercy from your Lord} , this is a textual proof that Al-Khadir was a Prophet and that he did not do anything out of his own desire but as ordered by Allah the Almighty.

Al-Khadir’s Name, Lineage and Prophethood: Is He Still Alive?

The real name, lineage and status of Al-Khadir are controversial. This can be added to the very important question: is he still alive?

Al-Hafiz Ibn `Asakir said: He is said to be Al-Khadir son of Adam. Ibn Qutaibah said: His name was Balya -or Aylya -Ibn Malakan Ibn Faligh Ibn `Abir Ibn Shalikh Ibn Arfakhshdh Ibn Sam Ibn Noah (Peace be Upon him).

Isma`il Ibn Abu Uwais said: His name was Al-Mu`amir Ibn Malik Ibn `Abdullah Ibn Nasr Ibn Lazd.

Others said: He is Khadrun Ibn `Amyaiyl Ibn Al-afiz Ibn AI-`Iys Ibn Ishaq Ibn Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him). There are so many other views pertaining to his name and lineage.

Imam Al-Bukhari said: I was told by Muhammad Ibn Sa’id Al-Asbahani after Ibn Al-Mubarak after Mu`amir after Hammam on the authority of Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Al-Khadir was named so because he sat over a barren white land, it turned green with plantation after (his sitting over It).”

Qabisah narrated on the authority of Ath-Thauri after Mansur after Mujahid as saying: Al-Khadir was named so because everything around him used to turn into green when he stands for prayer. It was stated earlier that Moses and Yusha` (Peace be upon them) went back retracing their footsteps, till they reached the rock. There they saw a man covered with a green garment (or covering himself with his own garment). Moses greeted him. Al-Khadir replied saying: “How do people greet each other in your land?” Moses said: “I am Moses.” He asked: “The Moses of Banu Israel?” Moses replied in the affirmative and added: “May I follow you so that you teach me of that knowledge which you have been taught… etc.”

The Story Indicated His Prophethood in Four Aspects:

First: Allah the Almighty says: {Then they found one of Our slaves, on whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us}. (Al-Kahf, 65)

Second: Moses says to Al-Khadir: {Musa (Moses) said to him (Al-Khadir): “May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)?” He (Al-Khadir) said: “Verily you will not be able to have patience with me! And how can you have patience about a thing which you know not.” Musa (Moses) said: “If Allah wills, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.” He (Al-Khadir) said: “Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I myself mention of it to you”). (Al-Kahf, 66-70) So, were he not a Prophet, Moses would not address him that way, and he would not answer Moses that way as well. Moses sought his company because he wanted to get some of the knowledge Al-Khadir was given by Allah and that which Moses did not get. Were Al-Khadir anything but a Prophet, he would not be infallible. Thus, Moses would not be keen to accompany him because Moses himself was an honorable Prophet and an infallible Messenger. Were Al-Khadir anything but a Prophet, Moses would not take the trouble of searching for him for eighty years. When Moses met with Al-Khadir, Moses highly respected him and followed him submissively to gain as much as possible of his divine knowledge.

Third: Al-Khadir intentionally killed the boy. He would not do that without an inspiration from Allah Almighty ordering him to. This incident can stand as a separate proof that Al-Khadir was a Prophet. It can stand as well, as a proof that he was infallible. Al-Khadir killed the boy because he was inspired that the boy would be a disbeliever when he grows up and that his parents would follow him due to their earnest love for him. So he killed him to save the faith of the parents. This indicated that he was an infallible Prophet.

Fourth: When Al-Khadir interpreted and explained for Moses the actions he took and clarified everything to him he added: {As a mercy from your Lord. And I did them not of my own accord}, i.e. I did not do that out of my desire, instead, I was ordered to by divine inspiration. All these indicated his Prophethood and infallibility.

Is Al-Khadir Still Alive?

The majority of scholars said: “Al-Khadir is still alive because he was the one who buried Adam (Peace be upon him) after the Deluge and thus he was affected by the invocation of Adam that he who buries him will live long.” Some people said: “he is still alive because he drank of the spring of life.”

There are so many narrations and stories on which those who viewed the existence of Al-Khadir today based their opinion. But, all the narrations and Hadiths pertaining to that issue are weak and invented and those who narrated them are not infallible.

‘Abdur Razzaq said: I was told by Mu’ amir that Abu Sa’id AI-Khudri said: “One day Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) narrated to us a long narration about Ad-Dajjal and among the things he narrated to us, was: ‘Ad-Dajjal will come, and he will be forbidden to enter the mountain passes of Medina. He will encamp in one of the salt areas neighboring Medina and there will appear to him a man who will be the best or one of the best of the people. He will say: ‘I testify that you are Ad-Dajjal whose story Allah’s Messenger has told us. ‘Ad Dajjal will say (to his audience): ‘Look, if I kill this man and then give him life, will you have any doubt about my claim?’ They will reply: ‘No.’ Then Ad Dajjal will kill that man and then will make him alive. The man will say: ‘By Allah, now I recognize you more than ever! ‘Ad-Dajjal will then try to kill him (again) but he will not be given the power to do so. “, Mu’amir said: I was told that the man who stands against the Dajjal is Al-Khadir and that his neck on that day would be covered with brass.

Sheik Abu Al-Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzi refuted all these Hadiths and proved them all to be invented, and he proved the Chains of Transmission of the narrations and stories of the Prophet’s Companions and followers to be weak and fallible. Indeed, Ibn Al-Jawzi was very powerful and authentic in doing so.

As for those who claimed Al-Khadir to be dead such as Imam Al-Bukhari, Abu Al-Husain Ibn Al-Munadi and sheik Abu Al-Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzi, they held as their textual proofs what follows: Allah the Almighty says: {And We granted not to any human being immortality before you (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him»: then if you die, would they live forever?}. (Al-Anbyia’, 34) So if Al-Khadir was a human being, he would be affected by this ruling: he is mortal, he must die. Allah the Almighty says: {And (remember) when Allah took the Covenant of the Prophets, saying: “Take whatever I gave you from the Book and Hikmah (understanding of the Laws of Allah), and afterwards there will come to you a Messenger (Muhammad (Peace be upon him» confirming what is with you; you must, then, believe in him and help him.” Allah said: “Do you agree (to it) and will you take up My Covenant (which I conclude with you)?” They said: “We agree.” He said: “Then bear witness; and I am with you among the witnesses (for this)”). (Al ‘Imran, 81) Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: Allah took the Covenant of all the Prophets to believe in Muhammad and support him if he appears during their lifetimes. In addition, they should take the Covenant of all their own nations to believe in him and support him in the same way. Thereupon, were Al-Khadir a Prophet or a Wali (protector or guardian), he would be involved in that Covenant and that were he alive during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), he would follow him and present himself before him paying allegiance and absolute faith.

Imam Ahmed narrated: I was told by Shuraih Ibn An-Nu’man after Hashim after Mujalid after AshShi’bi after Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! Were Moses alive, he would do nothing but follow me.” This is the decisive view which the earlier Qur’anic Verse indicates that all Prophets -if they happen to live during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad -are ordered to follow him and practice his own Shari `ah. On the Night Journey, he (Peace be upon him) was raised far above them all.5 When they descended to Jerusalem and the time for Prayer was due, he (Peace be upon him) was ordered to lead them all (in Prayer). This showed that he is the greatest Imam and the last Prophet who is most honored and respected (May Allah grant him and them all mercy).

Thereupon, if Al-Khadir were alive, he would be joining forces with Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and he would follow his religion in every minute detail. This is Prophet `Isa (Jesus (Peace be upon him)) when he will descends by the end of time, he will rule over the whole world in accordance with this honorable legislation of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). However, there is nothing to certify that Al-Khadir has met together with Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in a single day or even witnessed any fight with him against the polytheists or the infidels. On the day on which the Battle of Badr was fought, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) cast a glance at the infidels, and they were one thousand (1000) while his own Companions were three hundred and nineteen (319). Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon him) turned (his face) towards the Qiblah. Then, he stretched his hands and began his supplication to his Lord: ‘O Allah! Accomplish for me what Thou hast promised to me. 0 Allah! Bring about what Thou hast promised to me. 0 Allah! If this small band of Muslims is destroyed, Thou will not be worshipped on this earth.’ He (Peace be upon him) continued his supplication to his Lord, stretching his hands, facing the Qiblah, until his mantle slipped down from his shoulders. So Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) came to him, picked up his mantle and put it on his shoulders. Then he (Abu Bakr) embraced him from behind and said: 0 Prophet of Allah! This prayer of yours to your Lord will suffice you, and He will fulfil for you what He has promised you. So Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, revealed (the Qur’anic verse): {(Remember) when you sought help of your I.e. Near Sidrat-ul-Muntaha (a lote-tree of the utmost boundary over the seventh heaven beyond which none can pass). (Translator)

Lord and He answered you (saying): I will help you with a thousand of the angels each behind the other (following one another) in succession}. (Al-Anfal, 9) So Allah helped him with angels.” (Sahih Muslim) However, this’ small band of Muslims’ consisted, then, of the chiefs from among the Muslims and the angels, foremost among whom was Jibril (Gabriel (Peace be upon him)). Thus, if Al-Khadir were alive, his presence, then, would be the best thing he could ever do. Narrated Al-Qadi Abu Ya`la Muhammad Ibn Al-Husain Al-Fara’ Al-Hanbali: Some people asked some of our companions about Al-Khadir, was he dead? They answered: “Yes.”

Some people claim that Al-Khadir was present during all these past events but no one could see him because he was invisible. Obviously, this claim is groundless and is based only on illusions. Indeed, if he was still alive during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), he would certainly join him in his fight against the polytheists of the tribe of Quraish. See the following Hadith: Narrated Sa’d (May Allah be pleased with him): “On the Day of Uhud I saw on the right side of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) and on his left side two persons dressed in white clothes and whom I did not see before nor after that, and they were Gabriel and Michael (may Allah be pleased with both of them).” (Sahih Muslim)

In addition, ‘Abdullah Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with both of them) said: “Once the Prophet (Peace be upon him) led us in the `Isha’ (Night) Prayer during the last days of his life and after finishing it (the Prayer) (with Taslim, i.e. final salutation) he said: ‘Do you realize (the importance of) this night? Nobody present on the surface of the earth tonight will be living after the completion of one hundred years from this night. “, (Sahih Al-Bukhari) And, `Abdullah Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with both of them) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) led us in the `Isha’ (Night) Prayer at the latter part of the night and when he had concluded it by salutations he stood up and said: ‘Have you seen this night of yours? At the end of one hundred years after this (night) none would survive on the surface of the earth (from among my Companions).’ Ibn `Umar said: People were (not understanding) these words of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) which had been uttered pertaining to one hundred years. Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) in fact meant (by these words) that on that day none from amongst those who had been living upon the earth (from amongst his Companions) would survive (after one hundred years) and that would be the end of this generation.” (Sahih Muslim) And, Jabir Ibn `Abdullah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: “I heard Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) as saying this one month before his death: ‘You asked me about the Last Hour whereas its knowledge is with Allah. I, however, take an oath and say that none upon the earth, the created beings (from amongst my Companions), would survive at the end of one hundred years.” This Hadith has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Juraij with the same chain of transmitters, but there is no mention of the words: “one month before his death.” (Sahih Muslim) So, even if Al-Khadir were alive during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), he would, then, be dead in accordance with these above-mentioned Hadiths. And, Allah knows best!

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