Surah Al-Khaf Ayat 66-91

{66. Musa said to him: “May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge which you have been taught (by Allah)?” 

67. He said: “Verily, you will not be able to have patience with me!” 

68.”And how can you have patience about a thing which you know not?” 

69. Musa said: “If Allah wills, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.” 

70. He said: “Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I myself mention of it to you.”}

Musa meeting with Al-Khidr and accompanying Him

Allah tells us what Musa said to that learned man, who was Al-Khidr. He was one to whom Allah had given knowledge that He had not given to Musa, just as He had given Musa knowledge that He had not given to Al-Khidr. “Musa said to him: “May I follow you…” This is a question phrased in gentle terms, with no sense of force or coercion. This is the manner in which the seeker of knowledge should address the scholar. “I follow you” means, I accompany you and spend time with you. “so that you teach me something of that knowledge which you have been taught” meaning, teach me something from that which Allah has taught you so that I may be guided by it and learn something beneficial and do righteous deeds. At this point, “He said” meaning, Al-Khidr said to Musa, “Verily, you will not be able to have patience with me!” meaning, ‘You will not be able to accompany with me when you see me doing things that go against your law, because I have knowledge from Allah that He has not taught you, and you have knowledge from Allah that He has not taught me. Each of us has responsibilities before Allah that the other does not share, and you will not be able to stay with me,’ “And how can you have patience about a thing which you know not” ‘For I know that you will denounce me justifiably, but I have knowledge of Allah’s wisdom and the hidden interests which I can see but you cannot.’ “He said” meaning, Musa said: “If Allah wills, you will find me patient” with whatever I see of your affairs, “and I will not disobey you in aught.” means, ‘I will not go against you in anything.’ At that point, Al-Khidr, upon him be peace, set a condition: “Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything” do not initiate any discussion of the matter, “till I myself mention of it to you.” meaning, ‘until I initiate the discussion, before you ask me about it.’

{71. So they both proceeded, till, when they boarded the boat, he (Khidr) damaged it. Musa said: “Have you damaged it wherein its people will drown? Verily, you have committed a thing Imr.” 

72. He said: “Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?” 

73. He said: “Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you).”}

Damaging the Boat

Allah tells us that Musa and his companion Al-Khidr set out having come to an agreement and reached an understanding. Al-Khidr had made the condition that Musa should not ask him about anything he found distasteful until he himself initiated the discussion and offered an explanation. So they went on board the ship, as described in the Hadith quoted above – the crew recognized Al-Khidr and let them ride on board free of charge, as an honor to Al-Khidr. When the boat took them out to sea and they were far from the shore, Al-Khidr got up and damaged the boat, pulling out one of its planks and then patching it up again. Musa, peace be upon him, could not restrain himself from denouncing him, so he said: “Have you damaged it wherein its people will drown?” The grammatical structure of the sentence in Arabic implies that this was the consequence, not the purpose, of his action. “Verily, you have committed a thing Imr.” About Imr’, Mujahid said: “An evil thing.” (At-Tabari 18:72) Qatadah said, “An astounding thing.” (At-Tabari 18:72) At this point, reminding him of the previously-agreed condition, Al-Khidr said: “Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?” meaning, ‘this thing that I did deliberately is one of the things I told you not to denounce me for, because you do not know the full story, and there is a reason and purpose for it that you do not know about.’ “He said”, meaning, Musa said:“Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you).” meaning, ‘do not be harsh with me.’ Hence it says in the Hadith quoted above from the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him:

“In the first instance, Musa asked Al-Khidr because he had forgotten his promise.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:262)

{74. Then they both proceeded till they met a boy, and he (Khidr) killed him. Musa said: “Have you killed an innocent person without Nafs? Verily, you have committed a thing Nukr!” 

75. He said: “Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?” 

76. He said: “If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.”}

The Story of Killing the Boy

“Then they both proceeded” means, after the first incident, “till they met a boy, and he (Khidr) killed him.” It has been stated previously that this boy was playing with other boys in one of the towns, and that Al-Khidr deliberately singled him out. He was the finest and most handsome of them all, and Al-Khidr killed him. When Musa, peace be upon him, saw that he denounced him even more fervently than in the first case, and said hastily: “Have you killed an innocent person?” meaning, a young person who had not yet committed any sin or done anything wrong, yet you killed him “without Nafs” with no reason for killing him. “Verily, you have committed a thing Nukr!” meaning, something that is clearly evil. “He said: “Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?” Once again, Al-Khidr reiterates the condition set in the first place, so Musa says to him: “If I ask you anything after this” meaning, ‘if I object to anything else you do after this,’ “keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.” ‘you have accepted my apology twice.’ Ibn Jarir narrated from Ibn Abbas that Ubayy bin Kab said: “Whenever the Prophet mentioned anyone, he would pray for himself first. One day he said: “May the mercy of Allah be upon us and upon Musa. If he had stayed with his companion he would have seen wonders, but he said, ”If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.” (At-Tabari 18:77)

77. 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 set it up straight. (Musa) said: “If you had wished, surely you could have taken wages for it!” 

78. He said: “This is the parting between you and I, I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were not able to be patient.”}

The Story of Repairing the Wall

Allah tells us that, “they both proceeded” after the first two instances, “till when they came to the people of a town” Ibn Jarir narrated from Ibn Sirin that this was Al-Aylah. (At-Tabari 18:78) According to the Hadith; “When they came there, the people of the town were mean.” (Ahmad 5:119)  i.e., miserly “they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them. Then they found therein a wall about to collapse and he (Khidr) set it up straight.” means, he fixed it so it was standing upright properly. We have already seen in the Hadith quoted above that he set it up with his own hands, supporting it until it was standing straight again, which is something extraordinary. At this point Musa said to him: “If you had wished, surely you could have taken wages for it!” meaning, because they did not entertain us as guests, you should not have worked for them for free.“He said: “This is the parting between you and I” meaning, because you said after the boy was killed that if you asked me anything after that, you would not accompany me any further. So this is the parting of the ways between me and you. “I will tell you the interpretation” meaning explanation, “of (those) things over which you were not able to be patient.”

{79. “As for the boat, it belonged to 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 boat by force.”}

Interpretations of why the Ship was damaged

This is an explanation of what Musa found so hard to understand, and the appearence of which he condemed. Allah showed Al-Khidr the hidden reasons, so he said, “I damaged the ship to make it faulty, because they used to pass by a king who was one of the oppressors, who “seized every boat”, i.e., every good, sound boat “by force.” ‘So I wanted to prevent him from taking this boat by making it appear faulty, so that its poor owners who had nothing else could benefit from it.’ It was also said that they were orphans.

{80. “And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared he would oppress them by rebellion and disbelief.” 

81. “So we intended that their Lord should exchange him for them for one better in righteousness and nearer to mercy.”}

Interpretation of why the Boy was killed

Ibn Abbas narrated from Ubayy bin Kab that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said:

“The boy Al-Khidr killed was destined to be a disbeliever from the day he was created.”

It was recorded by Ibn Jarir from Ibn Abbas. (Muslim 2380, At-Tabari 18:85) He said: “his parents were believers, and we feared he would oppress them by rebellion and disbelief” Their love for him might make them follow him in disbelief. Qatadah said, “His parents rejoiced when he was born and grieved for him when he was killed. If he had stayed alive, he would have been the cause of their doom. So let a man be content with the decree of Allah, for the decree of Allah for the believer, if he dislikes it, is better for him than if He were to decree something that he likes for him.” (At-Tabari 18:86) An authentic Hadith says;

“Allah does not decree anything for the believer except it is good for him.” (Ahmad 3:117)

And Allah says: “and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you.” (2:216). “So we intended that their Lord should exchange him for them for one better in righteousness and nearer to mercy.”

A child who was better than this one, a child for whom they would feel more compassion. This was the view of Ibn Jurayj. (At-Tabari 18:86-87)

{82. “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 be patient.}

Interpretation of why the Wall was repaired for no Charge

In this Ayah there is a proof that the word Qaryah (village) may be used to refer to a city (Madinah), because Allah first says, “till when they came to the people of a town (Qaryah)” (18:77), but here He says: “it belonged to two orphan boys in the town (Al-Madinah)” This is like the Ayat: “And many a town (Qaryah), stronger than your town which has driven you out We have destroyed” (47:13) and; “And they say: “Why is not this Qur’an sent down to some great man of the two towns (Al-Qaryatayn)” (43:31) meaning Makkah and At-Ta’if. The meaning of the Ayah (18:82) is: “I repaired this wall because it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and underneath it was some treasure belonging to them.” Ikrimah, Qatadah and others said, “Underneath it there was some wealth that was buried for them.” (At-Tabari 18:90) This meaning is apparent from the context of the Ayah, and is the view chosen by Ibn Jarir (may Allah have mercy on him). “their father was a righteous man,” indicates that a righteous person’s offspring will be taken care of, and that the blessing of his worship will extend to them in this world and in the Hereafter. This will occur through his intercession for them, as well as their status being raised to the highest levels of Paradise, so that he may find joy in them. This was stated in the Qur’an and reported in the Sunnah. Said bin Jubayr narrated from Ibn Abbas: “They were taken care of because their father was a righteous man, although it is not stated that they themselves were righteous.” (At-Tabari 18:90) “your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure” Here will is attributed to Allah, the Exalted, because no one else is able to bring them to the age of full strength and puberty except Allah. In contrast, He said about the boy: “So we intended that their Lord should exchange him for them for one better in righteousness” and concerning the ship: “So I wished to make a defective damage in it” And Allah knows best.

Was Al-Khidr a Prophet?

“as a mercy from your Lord. And I did them not of my own accord.” Meaning, ‘These three things that I did, come from the mercy of Allah for those we have mentioned, the crew of the ship, the parents of the boy and the two sons of the righteous man; I was only commanded to do these things that were enjoined upon me.’ This is proof and evidence in support of those who say that Al-Khidr, peace be upon him, was a Prophet, along with the Ayah which we have already quoted: “Then they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us.” (18:65)

 

Why was he called Al-Khidr?

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said concerning Al-Khidr؛

”He was called Al-Khidr because he sat on a barren Farwah that turned white, then it turned green (Khadra’) beneath him.” (Ahmad 2:312)

Imam Ahmad also recorded this from Abdur-Razzaq. (Ahmad 2:318) It was also recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari from Hammam from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“He was called Al-Khidr because he sat on a barren Farwah and it turned green (Khadra’) beneath him.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:499)

The meaning of Farwah here is a patch of withered vegetation. This was the view of Abdur-Razzaq. (Ahmad 2:318) It was also said that it means the face of the earth. “That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not be patient.” meaning, ‘this is the explanation of the things which you could not put up with or be patient with until I took the initiative of explaining them to you.’ When he explained them and made them clear and solved the confusion, he used a milder form of the verb, “you could” When the matter was still confusing and very difficult, a more intensive form was used, “I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to be patient with” (18:78). The intensity of the verbal form used reflects the intensity of the confusion felt. This is like the Ayah: “So they (Yajuj and Majuj) were not able to scale it” (18:97) which means ascending to its highest point, “nor are they able to dig through it” (18:97) which is more difficult than the former. The intensity of the verbal form used reflects the difficulty of the action, which has to do with the subtleties of meaning. And Allah knows best. If one were to ask, what happened to the boy-servant of Musa who appears at the beginning of the story but then is not mentioned. The answer is that the objective of the story is what happened between Musa and Al-Khidr. Musa’s boy-servant was with him, following him. It is clearly mentioned in the Sahih Hadiths referred to above that he was Yusha bin Nun, who was the one who became the leader of the Children of Israel after Musa, peace be upon him.

{83. And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnayn. Say: “I shall recite to you something of his story.” 

84. Verily, We established him in the earth, and We gave him the means of everything.}

The Story of Dhul-Qarnayn

Allah says to His Prophet,“And they ask you” O Muhammad , “about Dhul-Qarnayn.” i.e., about his story. We have already mentioned how the disbelievers of Makkah sent word to the People of the Book and asked them for some information with which they could test the Prophet . They (the People of the Book) said, ‘Ask him about a man who traveled extensively throughout the earth, and about some young men who nobody knows what they did, and about the Ruh (the soul),’ then Surat Al-Kahf was revealed.

Dhul-Qarnayn had great Power

 “Verily, We established him in the earth” means, ‘We have given him great power, so that he had all that kings could have of might, armies, war equipment and siege machinery.’ So he had dominion over the east and the west, all countries and their kings submitted to him, and all the nations, Arab and non-Arab, served him. Some of them said he was called Dhul-Qarnayn (the one with two horns) because he reached the two “Horns” of the sun, east and west, where it rises and where it sets. “and We gave him the means of everything.” Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Said bin Jubayr, Ikrimah, As-Suddi, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and others said, “This means knowledge.” (Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah 2:106) Qatadah also said, “and We gave him the means of everything.” “The different parts and features of the earth.” (Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah 2:106) Concerning Bilqis, Allah said, “she has been given all things” (27:23), meaning all things that monarchs like her are given. Thus too was Dhul-Qarnayn: Allah gave him the means of all things, meaning the means and power to conquer all areas, regions and countries, to defeat enemies, suppress the kings of the earth and humiliate the people of Shirk. He was given all that a man like him would need. And Allah knows best.

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