Khidr and prophet Moosa (a.s)

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Human beings do not have full picture of the implications of things happening around them. With no knowledge of future, we can not be sure of what happens to us, is actually good or bad for us in the long term. For example, a young man who desires so much for his first fancy sports car, when he gets it believes it to be the best thing that could ever have happened to him. Then shortly afterwards gets into an unfortunate car accident and looses his limbs. Looking back retrospectively, the guy would think that getting this car after all, was not the best thing that happened to him, and he would be better off without his dearest wish fulfilled.

People, without full picture of working of the universe and the future which is in store for them, cannot comprehend implications of things happening around them. There is a story mentioned in Al-Quran about prophet Moosa (a.s) and a servant of God, which can be related to answer questions like ‘Why God allows terrible things to happen to innocent people in the world’. These ayahs indicate that there could be truly worse things (from the perspective of having future knowledge from God) that could have happened, but were prevented from happening by divine intervention, however, people don’t realize that. We can not comprehend these happenings because we have a very limited view of the complete picture of the grand scheme of the universe.

18:65-68  فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا  قَالَ لَهُ مُوسَىٰ هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَىٰ أَن تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا   قَالَ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا  وَكَيْفَ تَصْبِرُ عَلَىٰ مَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ خُبْرًا

So they both (Moosa and his companion) found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our nearness. Moosa said to him. “May I follow you, in that you teach me something of the wisdom which has been taught to you?”. He said. “Verily you will not be able to bear with me”. “And how can you have patience about which your understanding is not complete?”

People cannot comprehend the logic of things whose understanding they haven’t grasped. So in order for them not to despair in adverse situations, they can take solace from the fact that God will help them in the long term if they persevere and keep faith. If they are prevented from a dear thing and put in difficult circumstances at some time in life, this situation could actually be beneficial for them in the long run.

18:69-70  قَالَ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاءَ اللَّهُ صَابِرًا وَلَا أَعْصِي لَكَ أَمْرًا  قَالَ فَإِنِ اتَّبَعْتَنِي فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِي عَن شَيْءٍ حَتَّىٰ أُحْدِثَ لَكَ مِنْهُ ذِكْرًا

Moosa said. “You will find me, if Allah so wills, patient, and I shall not disobey you in orders. He said. “If then you would follow me, then don’t ask me about anything until I myself speak to you about it.”

The below ayahs have certain interpretations. They should be related in terms of the message they convey:

18:71-73  فَانطَلَقَا حَتَّىٰ إِذَا رَكِبَا فِي السَّفِينَةِ خَرَقَهَا ۖ قَالَ أَخَرَقْتَهَا لِتُغْرِقَ أَهْلَهَا لَقَدْ جِئْتَ شَيْئًا إِمْرًا  قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا  قَالَ لَا تُؤَاخِذْنِي بِمَا نَسِيتُ وَلَا تُرْهِقْنِي مِنْ أَمْرِي عُسْرًا

So they both proceeded, until, when they boarded in the boat, he made a hole in it. (Moosa) said,  “Have you made a hole in it in order to drown those in it? Truly you did a strange thing!” He answered. “Did I not (already) tell you that you can’t have patience with me?”. (Moosa) said. “Please don’t hold me for forgetting, nor overwhelm me with difficulty in my case.”

18:74-76  فَانطَلَقَا حَتَّىٰ إِذَا لَقِيَا غُلَامًا فَقَتَلَهُ قَالَ أَقَتَلْتَ نَفْسًا زَكِيَّةً بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ لَّقَدْ جِئْتَ شَيْئًا نُّكْرًا  قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكَ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا  قَالَ إِن سَأَلْتُكَ عَن شَيْءٍ بَعْدَهَا فَلَا تُصَاحِبْنِي ۖ قَدْ بَلَغْتَ مِن لَّدُنِّي عُذْرًا

Then they both proceeded, until, when they met a boy, he slew him. (Moosa) said. “Did you slay an innocent nafs without a nafs? Truly you came up with a repugnant thing”. He answered. “Did I not tell you that you can not have patience with me?”. (Moosa) said. “If I ask you about anything after this, don’t keep company with me. Verily, you have received (full) excuse from my side.”

18:77-78  فَانطَلَقَا حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَتَيَا أَهْلَ قَرْيَةٍ اسْتَطْعَمَا أَهْلَهَا فَأَبَوْا أَن يُضَيِّفُوهُمَا فَوَجَدَا فِيهَا جِدَارًا يُرِيدُ أَن يَنقَضَّ فَأَقَامَهُ ۖ قَالَ لَوْ شِئْتَ لَاتَّخَذْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا  قَالَ هَٰذَا فِرَاقُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنِكَ ۚ سَأُنَبِّئُكَ بِتَأْوِيلِ مَا لَمْ تَسْتَطِع عَّلَيْهِ صَبْرًا

Then they both proceeded, until when they came to the inhabitants of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused them hospitality. They found there a wall on the point of falling down, but he set it up straight. (Moosa) said. “If you had wished, surely you could have got some compensation for it!” He answered. “This is the parting between me and you. Now, I will tell you the interpretation of (those things) over which you were unable to hold patience.

The incidences mentioned above have  interpretations attached to them which are explained below:

18:79  أَمَّا السَّفِينَةُ فَكَانَتْ لِمَسَاكِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ فِي الْبَحْرِ فَأَرَدتُّ أَنْ أَعِيبَهَا وَكَانَ وَرَاءَهُم مَّلِكٌ يَأْخُذُ كُلَّ سَفِينَةٍ غَصْبًا

“As for the boat, it belonged to some poor people who worked in the sea. Thus I  planned to put some blemish on it, for there was after them a king who seized on every boat by force.”

The interpretation of him making a hole in the boat was to protect the interests of the poor people whose boat if found unblemished would have been seized by the king. Earlier without knowing, it had appeared to Moosa (a.s) that his action was intended to harm the people riding in the boat.

18:80-81  وَأَمَّا الْغُلَامُ فَكَانَ أَبَوَاهُ مُؤْمِنَيْنِ فَخَشِينَا أَن يُرْهِقَهُمَا طُغْيَانًا وَكُفْرًا  فَأَرَدْنَا أَن يُبْدِلَهُمَا رَبُّهُمَا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُ زَكَاةً وَأَقْرَبَ رُحْمًا

“As for the boy, his parents were believers, and We feared that he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them, So We desired that their Lord would give them in exchange better in purity and closer in grace”.

Some people are born with limited and less than normal mental capability. Their parents some times question God, why they are burdened with this life time task of taking care of them. The interpretation of the above ayahs point out that it is possible that if God had not changed the original nafs/psychology of the child with that of an innocent and pure psychology, there was a possibility that this offspring would have caused them to transgress and rebel.

18:82  وَأَمَّا الْجِدَارُ فَكَانَ لِغُلَامَيْنِ يَتِيمَيْنِ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ وَكَانَ تَحْتَهُ كَنزٌ لَّهُمَا وَكَانَ أَبُوهُمَا صَالِحًا فَأَرَادَ رَبُّكَ أَن يَبْلُغَا أَشُدَّهُمَا وَيَسْتَخْرِجَا كَنزَهُمَا رَحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ ۚ وَمَا فَعَلْتُهُ عَنْ أَمْرِي ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَأْوِيلُ مَا لَمْ تَسْطِع عَّلَيْهِ صَبْرًا

“As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan youths, in the town; there was, beneath it, a buried treasure, to which they were entitled. Their father had been a righteous man. So your Lord desired that they should attain their age of full strength and get out their treasure – a mercy (and favour) from your Lord. I did it not of my own accord. This is the interpretation of (those things) over which you were unable to hold patience.”

God keeps on helping righteous people in divine ways, who keep their patience and their trust in God.

The name khidr is not mentioned in Quran. Quran mentions him as ‘servant of God’. Quran does not give further details about him to be a bashar/human or an angel.





Hadith of Moosa (A.S) and Hoot (Whale)

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Hoot (حوت) means big fish in Arabic. Normally the word is used for whales and dolphins. There is an incident mentioned in Al-Kitab about a Hoot/Whale swallowing prophet Yunus A.S. There is another incident mentioned in Al-Kitab about Prophet Moosa (A.S)and a youth who went on an expedition. The indication they had of their quest was to follow a Hoot/whale uptil the point of merging of two oceans.

18:60  وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِفَتَاهُ لَا أَبْرَحُ حَتَّىٰ أَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ أَوْ أَمْضِيَ حُقُبًا

And when, Moses said to his attendant, “I will not give up until I reach the junction of the two seas or even If I have to spend a long time in travel.”

18:61  فَلَمَّا بَلَغَا مَجْمَعَ بَيْنِهِمَا نَسِيَا حُوتَهُمَا فَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِي الْبَحْرِ سَرَبًا

But when they both reached the Junction, they forgot (about) their Whale, which took its course in the sea freely.

18:62  فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَا قَالَ لِفَتَاهُ آتِنَا غَدَاءَنَا لَقَدْ لَقِينَا مِن سَفَرِنَا هَٰذَا نَصَبًا

When they had passed on (some distance), Moses said to his attendant. “Bring us our supper; truly we have suffered much fatigue at this (stage of) our journey.”

18:63  قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِذْ أَوَيْنَا إِلَى الصَّخْرَةِ فَإِنِّي نَسِيتُ الْحُوتَ وَمَا أَنسَانِيهُ إِلَّا الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ أَذْكُرَهُ ۚ وَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِي الْبَحْرِ عَجَبًا

He replied. “Did you see (what happened) when we betook ourselves to the rock? I did indeed forget (about) the Whale. none but Satan made me forget to tell (you) about it. it took its course through the sea in a marvelous way!”

18:64  قَالَ ذَٰلِكَ مَا كُنَّا نَبْغِ ۚ فَارْتَدَّا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمَا قَصَصًا

Moses said. “That was what we were seeking after.” So they went back on their footsteps, following (the path they had come).

18:65  فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا

So they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our own Presence.

The conventional story associated with above Ayas in Quran is that Moosa and his attendant were on land. They had a cooked fish with them as their meal. After walking for a long time Moosa was tired and asked the attendant to bring the fish for their meal. At that time the attendant told him that when they passed over the rock, the dead fish suddenly became alive and made its way into the water. Moosa told him that was the place they were seeking and they turned back to find that place.

In the above conventional story beside the problem of a cooked fish suddenly becoming alive and jumping in water, another point is that the word Hoot (حوت) is used for big fish like whale and dolphin which people don’t carry for lunches.  The small fish which are eaten are called Samak( سمك) in Arabic. If we ponder over the Ayas only, the scenario which builds up is that Moosa and the youth must be travelling on a boat or ship. They are following a whale or dolphin. Whales do season migration on known routes. They are following the whale which is destined to go to a specific place as part of whale migration. The likely place which fulfills the conditions of the meeting place of two seas is the ‘Strait of Jibralter’. The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow body of water between Spain and Morocco that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean.

The points which indicate likely hood of Strait of Jibraltar to be the Moosa’s intended place are given below:

  1. This place has to be the meeting place of two seas or oceans. Strait of Jibralter is the meeting place of Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea
  2. For the term Majma al Beharain (مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ )The Quran states that there are two large bodies of flowing water (Bahr-ain in Arabic) that meet but do not intermingle because of a “barrier” between them, a barrier that doesn’t prevent meeting but prevents intermingling (Al-Quran 55:19-20). THE ATLANTIC AND THE MEDITERRANEAN MEET BUT DO NOT INTERMIGLE OVER THE GIBRALTAR BECAUSE OF THE “BARRIER”. These two waters keep their distinct salinities separate over the junction.
  3. Another point to indicate the place is the Sakhra (الصَّخْرَةِ ) / Rock mentioned in 18:63. Moosa’s youth told him that the Whale made its way near the Rock, at that point he was distracted. Rock (صَّخْرَةِ) of Jibraltar is an interesting tourist place and a land mark, and a likely candidate to have distracted the youth who was following the whale upto that point.  See link
  4. This place is visited by a lot of whales and dolphins and many tourist companies now a days run whale watching tours in this place. See link,