January 13: Servant of God

So they journeyed on until they met a boy, and Khizr slew him. Musa (Moses) said: “You have killed an innocent person though he had killed nobody. Surely you have done a horrible deed!” Qur’an 18:74

Read: Qur’an 18: 65–82

Moses was sent by God to seek out one of Allah’s most blessed prophets. He often goes unnamed in many translations but has been called Khidr or Khizr in some translations. The story that follows won’t be found in the Tanakh but has some interesting events with an interesting conclusion.

When Moses encountered Khidr, he asked him if he could accompany him so as to learn some of the knowledge that Allah had bestowed on him. Khidr replied to Moses that he would not be able to tolerate him because it would be difficult to be patient about matters that Moses wouldn’t understand. Nevertheless, Moses was insistent, saying that if Allah decides for Moses to be patient, then he will be. Khidr concedes but requests that Moses not ask him about anything that he does until Khidr explains it. I have to pause here to question why Moses would not simply take responsibility for himself and decide to be patient. Does he not want the knowledge?

As they journeyed together, they came upon a boat. Khidr made a hole in the boat and Moses could not help but question Khidr about it. Khidr reprimanded him and Moses took back his question. Later, the two came upon a boy and Khidr killed him. Again, Moses cannot help himself and questioned why Khidr would do such a thing, even rebuking him. Khidr reminded him of his instruction and Moses again recants his question. Later still, they came upon a town and asked for something to eat but were refused by the people. Then they found a wall on the brink of collapse and restored it. Moses, again, can’t help but say something which causes Khidr to end his journey with Moses. This is a decent story as it leaves one to wonder why Khidr did the things he did, especially murdering the boy.

Khidr explained that the hole was made in the boat which belonged to poor fishermen because a king was seizing boats. The child was killed because he was a nonbeliever and rebellious, and would bring grief onto his parents. The wall belonged to two orphaned boys who had a treasure buried beneath it. Because their father was righteous, Allah wanted them to attain their treasure.

Sadly, this interesting tale ends with a pathetic conclusion. Firstly, if Khidr was trying to prevent the king from seizing their boat, how is making the boat sink a sensible thing to do? If the boat is already floating on the water, the boat will sink. If it is on land, it will have to get fixed and then the fishermen will go in the water and have their boat seized anyway. As for the boy being killed, it sets a dangerous precedent. Unbelief, which according to the Qur’an is something outside of one’s control, can get you killed. It is no wonder why many non-Muslims fear that Muslims may kill them. However, I cannot understand why the boy could not simply have been made to fear Allah like his parents did. Why was murder the only solution? Lastly, if the wall is falling down, wouldn’t that have made the excursion of the treasure easier? How is strengthening the wall going to cause them to dig?

Khidr, the very holy servant of Allah was said to be blessed with knowledge, but that certainly was not demonstrated in this story. And, lest we forget, the story does not exist in the Jewish Tanakh.