There are many stories pertaining to a prophet in Islam by the name of Al-Khidr. For which he has been known to be a man wiser than Prophet Musa, or Moses (Alayhi as-Salam).
Here are the things we know of:
The name Al-Khidr is never mentioned in the Qur’an. The name was given to this wise man later on by Muslim scholars. Despite the fact that tales have been spun to illustrate that he wasn’t just a wise man, but also an immortal, a trickster and a mystic, there is no allusion to him of being any of those in the holy texts.
He is most famously known as the acquaintance of Prophet Musa (AS) and this is where the most concrete story of Al-Khidr is found; Surah 18, the Chapter of Al-Kahf, of the Holy Qur’an.
Prophet Musa meeting with Al-Khidr
According to a hadith, narrated by Sa’id bin Jubair, it was mentioned that Prophet Musa (AS) delivered a great sermon to the Israelites. One of them asked the prophet, “Who is the most learned man among the people?” and inquired if there was anyone who was more knowledgeable than Prophet Musa (AS)
The Prophet responded, “I am the most learned.”
His answer led to having received a revelation from Allah (SWT), in which He admonished Prophet Musa (AS) for not attributing absolute knowledge to Allah (SWT).
Thus, He commanded Prophet Musa to meet with a more learned, wise man, who could be found at the junction of two seas.
The wise man was none other than Al-Khidr.
Prophet Musa (AS) travelled to the junction and met with Al-Khidr and introduced himself. He asked Al-Khidr if he was able to follow him on his journey so that he could gain more knowledge from Al-Khidr.
Musa said to him (Khidr) “May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)?” (Surah 18: Ayat 66)
Al-Khidr responded that Prophet Musa (AS) wouldn’t be able to have enough patience with him and warned him with a condition that the prophet would not question Al-Khidr’s actions when they travel together.
Prophet Musa (AS) reassured him that he would be patient and not disobey him in any circumstances. Walking along the seashore, they passed by a ship. Invited on board for free, Al-Khidr damages a part of the vessel.
In the eyes of Prophet Musa (AS), Al-Khidr had done a terrible deed and confronted him, forgetting the condition he promised earlier.
He said to Al-Khidr, “Have you scuttled the ship in order to drown its people? Verily, you have committed a dreadful deed.”
Khidr then replied, “Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?”
Prophet Musa (AS) apologised and promised that he wouldn’t violate the wise man’s requirements next time.
Yet, as they left the seashore where the ship anchored, the two men saw a boy playing. Al-Khidr took hold of the youth and killed him. Feeling disturbed by the sight and action, Prophet Musa (AS) voiced out his concern.
“Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have committed a dreadful thing!”
“Did I not tell you that you cannot remain patient with me?” replied Al-Khidr and proceeded to counsel the prophet that if he couldn’t remain tolerant and understanding without asking questions, Al-Khidr would leave.
Prophet Musa (AS) apologised, once again.
They both travelled on their journey and reached a village, where the two men were denied entry and food. They accepted their fate, but not without having Al-Khidr doing something which made Prophet Musa (AS) question him again.
Instead of harming anyone or anything, Al-Khidr had repaired a broken wall near the village. Prophet Musa (AS) asked him why he had done such a thing despite the fact that the villagers earlier had refused to give them any hospitality. He also added that by repairing the broken wall, he could have taken wages for his work.
“This is the parting between you and me,” Al-Khidr finally said, reminding the prophet that he had broken his promise.
Before Al-Khidr left, he took his time to explain the reasons behind the actions that he had intended earlier.
The reasons behind Al-Khidr’s actions
He had broken the ship that had belonged to the poor, working in the sea. Eventually, there would be a king that would see every ship by force. By making the vessel defective, it would prevent the king from taking the faulty ship and save it for the poor people.
The reason for Al-Khidr’s second action of killing the young boy was because his parents were believers. However, the boy was extremely disobedient towards his parents and that Al-Khidr feared that the youth would oppress them by his own rebellion and disbelief. Allah (SWT) planned to have the parents birth a better child who was more obedient and had more affection.
The reparation of the broken wall, Al-Khidr explained, was to hide a treasure belonging to two helpless orphans, whose father had been a pious and righteous man. At the same time, hiding the treasure was to help the orphans so that when they reach maturity, they would be able to claim their treasure when the wall becomes weak and collapses.
In conclusion, Al-Khidr stated that he hadn’t done all of these deeds on his own accord, but had been following Allah (SWT)’s instructions.
Lessons to be learned
The morality behind the meeting and journey of Prophet Musa (AS) and Al-Khidr is a lifelong relatable lesson. There is weakness of the human mind and there are also limitations of human understanding. Sometimes there are circumstances in which human knowledge can never fully understand the depth of Allah (SWT)’s actions and what He has fated it to be.
We are constantly seeking for immediate answers that it regularly makes us an impatient being. We aren’t made to know the exact consequence of a long-term action. Thus, it is always a nice reminder that any doubts, surprise as well as regrets about any circumstances in our life that at that moment in time which may be huge inconvenience for us, is only temporary.
After all, Allah (SWT) would know what is best for us and plans everything ahead, which might not be visible to us at first. This interweaves with the fact that we must exercise patience and forbearance; a virtue and a characteristic of enlightenment that is regularly being reminded and ingrained in the heart and mind of every Muslim.