Al-Khizr

Posted on 05/19/2012 by marina

AL-KHIZR الخذر
Lit., “The green one.” The Maulawi Muhammad Tahir says the learned are not agreed as to whether he a prophet or not. His real name is, according to al-Baizawi, Balya ibn Malkan. Some say he lived in the time of Abraham, and that he is still alive in the flesh, and most of the religious and Sufi mystics are agreed upon this point, and some have declared that they have seen him and they say he is still to be seen in sacred places, such as Makkah or Jerusalem. Some few traditionists dent his existence. Others say he is of the family of Noah, and the son of a king. (Majma’u ‘l Bihar, p. 250.)
His name does not occur in the Qur’an, but Husain, Jalalu ‘d-din, al-Baizawi, and nearly all the commentators, believe that al-Khizr is the mysterious individual referred to in the following narrative in the Qur’an:-
Surah xviii. 58-81: “Remember when Moses said to his servant, ‘I will not stop till I reach the confluence of the two seas (i.e. the sea of Greece and the sea of Persian), or for years will I journey on. But when they reached their confluence, they forgot their fish, and it took its way in the sea at will. And when they had passed on, said Moses to his servant, ‘Bring us our morning meal; for now have we incurred weariness from this journey.’ He said, ‘What thinkest thou? When we repaired to the rock for rest I forgot it, so as not to mention it; and it hath taken its way in the sea in a wondrous sort.’ He said, ‘It is this we were in quest of.’ And they both went back retracing their footsteps. Then found they one of our servants to whom we had vouchsafed our mercy, and whom we had instructed with our knowledge. And Moses said to him, ‘Shall I follow thee that thou teach me, for guidance of that which thou too hast been taught?’ He said, ‘Verily, thou canst not have patience with me; how canst thou be patient in matters whose meaning thou comprehendest not?’ He said, ‘Thou shalt find me patient if God please nor will I disobey thy bidding.’ He said, ‘Then, if thou follow me, ask me not of aught until I have given thee an account thereof.’ So they both went on till they embarked in a ship, and he (the unknown) staved it in. ‘What!’ said Moses, ‘hast thou staved it in that thou gayest drown its crew? A strange thing now hast thou done!’ He said, ‘Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not have patience with me?’ He said, ‘Chide me not that I forgat, nor lay on me a hard command.’ Then went they on till they met a youth, and he slew him. Said Moses, ‘Hast thou slain him who is free from guilt of blood? Now hast thou wrought a grievous thing!’ He said, “Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not have patience with me? Moses said, ‘If after this I ask thee aught, then let me be thy comrade no longer; but now hast thou my excuse.’ They went on till they came to the people of a city. Of this people they asked food, but they refused them for guests. And they found in it a wall that was about to fall, and he set it upright. Said Moses, ‘If thou hast wished, for this thou mightest have obtained pay.’ He said, ‘This is the parting point between me and thee. But I will first tell three the meaning of that which thou couldst not await with patience. As to the vessel, it belonged to poor men who toiled upon the sea, and I was minded to damage it, for in their rears was a king who seized every ship by force. As to the youth, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should trouble them by error and infidelity. And we desired that their Lord might give them in his place a child, better than he in virtue, and nearer to filial piety. And as to the wall, it belonged to two orphan youths in the city, and beneath it was their treasure; and their father was a righteous man; and thy Lord desired that they should reach the age of strength, and take forth their treasure through the mercy of thy Lord. And not of mine own will have I done this. This is the interpretation of that which thou couldst not bear with patience.”
In some Muslim books he seems to be confounded with Elias, and in others with St. George, the patron saint of England. In the above quotation he is represented as the companion of Moses, and the commentator Husain says he was a general in the army of Zu ‘l-Qarnain (Alexander the Great). But as al-Khizr is supposed to have discovered and drunk of the fountain of life, he may be contemporary with any age!

Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam