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Saint Khidr
Khidr, depicted here in a Muslim miniature
Mystic, Green One, Teacher of the Prophets
Born c. 1600 B.C.E.
Venerated in Islam
Influenced Countless future sufi saints and mystics

Khidr or Al-Khidr (Arapça: الخضر‎ "the Green One", also transcribed Khidr, Khidar, Khizr, Hızır, Khizar and Persian: خضر, Turkish: Hızır) is a revered figure in Islam, whom the Qur'an describes as a righteous servant of God,[1] who possessed great mystic knowledge.[2] He was contemporary with Moses,[3] but is not identified as living in Israel or being an Israelite. Although the Qur'an does not mention Khidr as a prophet, other sources list him as one.[4]

Khidr is best known for his appearance in the Qur'an in the 18th chapter, known as The Cave. Although not mentioned by name in the Qur'anic verse, Khiḍr is named as the figure that Moses accompanies and whose challenging actions disturb Moses, leading to Moses violating his oath to not ask any questions. This incident and others have led to the description attributed to Khidr of being a "teacher to the prophets", even though Islamic literature only records in detail his encounter with Moses.

In some parts of the Islamic world, including Turkey,[5] Syria[6] and Palestine,[7] Khidr is considered a parallel to Saint George.

Quranic narrativeEdit

In chapter 18, verses 65-82, Moses meets Khiḍr, referred in the Quran as "one from among Our servants whom We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves",[8] at the junction of the two seas and asks for permission to accompany him so Moses can learn "right knowledge of what [he has] been taught".[9] Khiḍr, realizing that Moses had the Torah and divine knowledge to draw upon, informs him in a stern manner that their knowledge is of different nature and that "Surely you [Moses] cannot have patience with me. And how canst thou have patience about things about which thy understanding is not complete?"[10] Moses promised to be patient and obey Khiḍr, and they set out together. After they board a ship, Khiḍr damages the vessel. Forgetting his oath to follow quietly, Moses says, "Have you made a hole in it to drown its inmates? Certainly you have done a grievous thing." Khiḍr reminds Moses of his warning, "Did I not say that you will not be able to have patience with me?" and Moses pleads not to be rebuked.

Next, Khiḍr murders a young man. Moses again cries out in astonishment and dismay, and again Khiḍr reminds Moses of his warning, and Moses promises he will not violate his oath again, and if he did he than he would excuse himself from Khidr's presence. They then proceed to a town where they are denied hospitality. This time, instead of harming anyone or anything, Khiḍr restores a decrepit wall in the village. Yet again Moses is amazed and violates his oath for the third and last time, asking why Khiḍr did not at least exact "some recompense for it!"

Khiḍr replies, "This shall be separation between me and you; now I will inform you of the significance of that with which you could not have patience." Many acts which seem to be evil, malicious or somber, actually were merciful. The boat was damaged to prevent its owners from falling into the hands of "a king who seized every boat by force. ... And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them." God will replace the child with one better in purity, affection and obedience. As for the restored wall, al-Khiḍr explained that underneath the wall was a treasure belonging to two hapless orphans whose father was a righteous man. As God's envoy, Khiḍr restored the wall, showing God's kindness by rewarding the piety of the orphans' father.

Reports in the HadithEdit

Dosya:Khidr and elijah.jpg

Among the strongest transmitted proofs about the life of Khiḍr are two reports, one narrated by Imam Ahmad in Al-Zuhd whereby Prophet Muhammad is said to have stated that Elijah and Khidr meet every year and spend the month of Ramadan in Jerusalem and the other narrated by Ya'qub ibn Sufyan from the 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz whereby a man he was seen walking with was actually al-Khiḍr. Ibn Hajar declared the chain of the first fair and that of the second sound in Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 6:435). He goes on to cite another sound report narrated by Ibn 'Asakir from Abu Zur'a al-Razi whereby the latter met al-Khiḍr twice, once in his young age, the other in his old age, but al-Khiḍr himself had not changed.

Al-Khiḍr is believed to be a man who has the appearance of a young adult but a long, white beard. According to some authors like Abdul Haq Vidhyarthi, al-Khiḍr is Xerxes (not to be confused with Xerxes I), who disappeared after being in the lake regions of Sijistan or Sistan that comprise the wetlands of the Irano-Afghan border today, and after finding the fountain of life, sought to live his entire remaining life in service of God and to help those in their path/journey to Him.

Imam Bukhari reports that al-Khiḍr got his name after he was present over the surface of some ground that became green as a result of his presence there. There are reports from Al-Bayhaqi that al-Khiḍr was present at the funeral of Prophet Muhammad and was recognized only by Abu Bakr and Ali from amongst the rest of the companions, and where he came to show his grief and sadness at the passing away of the Prophet. Al-Khiḍr's appearance at prophet Muhammad's funeral is related as follows: A powerful-looking, fine-featured, handsome man with a white beard came leaping over the backs of the people till he reached where the sacred body lay. Weeping bitterly, he turned toward the Companions and paid his condolences. Abu Bakr and Ali said that he was Khiḍr.[11]

In another narration al-Khiḍr met with Ali by the Kaabah and instructed him about a supplication that is very meritorious when recited after the obligatory prayers. It is reported by Imam Muslim that during the time when the false Messiah appears and as he approaches at the outskirts of the city of Medina, a believer would challenge him, whom the false Messiah will slice into two piece and rejoin, making it appear that he caused him to die and be resurrected, to which this man would proclaim the falsehood of the Dajjal who would try again to kill him (or make show of it) but would fail and thus his weakness and inability being made revealed. According to the commentators and transmitters of this narration the person who will challenge the Antichrist and humiliate him will be al-Khiḍr.

In SufismEdit

To Sufis, al-Khiḍr holds a very dear place. Although amongst the Sunni scholars there is a difference of opinion about him being still alive, amongst Sunni Sufis there is almost a consensus that al-Khiḍr is still alive, with many respected figures and shaykhs, and prominent leaders claiming having had personal encounters with him. Examples of those who had claim this are Ghawth Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Imam an-Nawawi, Muhyideen Ibn Arabi, Sidi Abdul Aziz ad-Dabbagh and Ahmad ibn Idris al-Fasi. Ibn 'Ata' Allah in Lata'if al-Minan (1:84-98) states that there is consensus among the Sufis that al-Khiḍr is alive. In fact there are orders that claim origin with al-Khiḍr himself, or that al-Khiḍr was part of their chain, for example some of the Naqshbandiyya, the Muhammadiyyah, the Idrisiyyah, and the Sanusiyyah are tariqahs that had al-Khiḍr as one of the central figures connecting them to the spiritual outflow of the Prophet Muhammad.

In Sufi tradition, al-Khiḍr has come to be known as one of those who receive illumination direct from God without human mediation. He is the hidden initiator of those who walk the mystical path, like some of those from the Uwaisi tariqa. Uwaisis are those who enter the mystical path without being initiated by a living master. Instead they begin their mystical journey either by following the guiding light of the teachings of the earlier masters or by being initiated by the mysterious prophet-saint al-Khiḍr.

Al-Khiḍr has had thus gained enormous reputation and popularity in the Sufi tradition due to his role of an initiator. Through this way come several Sufi orders which claim initiation through al-Khiḍr and consider him their master. Al-Khiḍr had thus come to symbolize access to the divine mystery (ghayb) itself. In the writings of Abd al-Karim al-Jili, al-Khiḍr rules over ‘the Men of the Unseen' (rijalu’l-ghayb)—the exalted saints and angels. Al-Khiḍr is also included among what in classical Sufism are called the abdāl (‘those who take turns’). In a divinely-instituted hierarchy of such saints, al-Khiḍr holds the rank of their spiritual head.

Sufis draw many analogies supporting natural theology from this Qur'anic passage, such as the need for earthquakes to act in contrast to earth's stability, disease to contrast good health, and countless other analogies. The question of accountability raised by some is answered through the fact that al-Khiḍr was acting as God's envoy and not according to his personal judgment.

The Sri Lankan Sufi Bawa Muhaiyaddeen gives a unique account of al-Khiḍr. Al-Khiḍr was on a long search for God, until God, out of his mercy, sends the Archangel Gabriel to guide him. Gabriel appears to al-Khiḍr as a wise human sage, and al-Khiḍr accepts him as his teacher. Gabriel teaches al-Khiḍr much in the same way as al-Khiḍr later teaches Moses in the Qur'an, by carrying out seemingly unjust actions. Al-Khiḍr repeatedely breaks his oath not to speak out against Gabriel's actions, and is still unaware that the human teacher is actually Gabriel. Gabriel then explains his actions, and reveals his true angelic form to al-Khiḍr. Al-Khiḍr recognises him as the Archangel Gabriel, and then Gabriel bestows a spiritual title upon al-Khiḍr, by calling him Hayat Nabi, the Eternal Life Prophet.

The French scholar of Sufism, Henry Corbin, interprets al-Khiḍr as the mysterious prophet, the eternal wanderer. The function of al-Khiḍr as a 'person-archetype' is to reveal each disciple to himself, to lead each disciple to his own theophany, because that theophany corresponds to his own 'inner heaven,' to the form of his own being, to his eternal individuality. Accordingly, Al-Khidr is Moses' spiritual guide, who initiates Moses into the divine sciences, and reveals to him the secret mystic truth.

In AhmadiyyaEdit

Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that the Quranic passage of Moses’ encounter with the "Servant of God" is closely linked, contextually to the subject matter of surah Al Kahf in which his story or parable is cited. According to Ahmadi exegesis on al-Kahf, which draws upon external and internal, religious and historical evidence to show that Moses' journey towards, and his experience with the "servant of God" was not physical but by way of vision, unlike Mi'raj (ascension) of Muhammad, which Muslims believe was physical.

The righteous 'servant of God' otherwise known as al-Khiḍr is not believed to be a historical figure but rather a symbolic figure who signifies the person of Muhammad whom Moses had desired to see and whom he saw in this vision. Muhammad has been called the 'servant of God' in many places within the Qur'an and is believed to be the servant of God par excellence who has been called a mercy to the whole world;[Qur'an 21:108] he is also believed to have been vouchsafed divine knowledge in a very large measure.

The place of the meeting of the two seas signifies the time when the Mosaic dispensation meets the Islamic dispensation, i.e. when the Mosaic dispensation will be superseded by the Islamic one.[12]

The first action of "the servant of God" of making a hole in the boat is interpreted as signifying the commandments laid down by Muhammad which would, as it were make a hole in the boat, which in spiritual terms denotes worldly riches, i.e. he would see to it that wealth is fairly distributed and does not accumulate in the hands of a few. The "poor people" to whom the boat belonged represent the Muslims, and making a hole in it means that Islam would exhort its followers to spend in the way of God by way of Zakat and charity that would seem to be a source of economic weakness, but in fact would be one of economic strength and prosperity.

The tyrant king who confiscates the boats were the Byzantine and Persian Empires who would have seized Arabia had it not seemed to them a poor and barren land not worth conquering. Thus the Arabian land in which Muhammad was to appear, represented as the damaged boat had been safeguarded from being conquered or "taken by force".

The youth, is interpreted as ignorance, strength and wild impulses, thus the second action of the "servant of God", the killing of the youth signifies that the teachings of his religion would require its followers to bring about a veritable death over their carnal desires and passions. The source of these carnal desires, impulses and passions is the human body and soul combined, from which all moral qualities spring. Islamic theology holds that every human is born virtuous, thus because his parents have been called "believers", this means that the believers may be dragged into vice by the impulses represented as the "youth". Islam seeks to eradicate these impulses and leaves man with the soul and body combined to develop along beneficent lines to achieve the high purpose of human life.

Then Moses and the "servant of God" approach a town, ask its people for food and are refused to be accepted as guests. This signifies that both Moses and Muhammad would seek co-operation from Jews and Christians but it would be denied. The two orphan boys to whom the wall belonged are Moses and Jesus and their 'righteous' father is Abraham. Their treasure was the true teaching bequeathed by them to their peoples, which was in danger of being lost due to the latter’s irreligiousness. Thus the third act of the 'servant of God' (Muhammad) of rebuilding the wall signifies that the treasure or true teachings were to be safeguarded in the Quran, so that they (the people of Moses and Jesus) may accept it after having awakened to a realization of the truth of the Quranic teachings.[13]

Relation to other figures and storiesEdit

In many parts of the Islamic world, including Turkey, Syria and Palestine, Khidr has been identified with figures of Christianity and Judaism, notably with Elias of whom he is considered a reincarnation, and with Saint George, whose day, the Feast of Saint George, together with the associations of his tomb at the Church of Saint George, Lod, he has taken over. The characteristics Khidr has borrowed from St. George include the reputation of a dragon-slayer, which St. George himself may have borrowed from the pagan god Hadad. See also Saint George#Interfaith Shrine.

Al-Khiḍr also figures into the Alexander Romance as a servant of Alexander the Great. Al-Khidr and Alexander cross the Land of Darkness to find the Water of Life. Alexander gets lost looking for the spring, but al-Khiḍr finds it and gains eternal life (see Alexander the Great in the Qur'an).

Some scholars suggest that al-Khiḍr is also represented in the Arthurian tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as the Green Knight.[14] In the story, the Green Knight tempts the faith of Sir Gawain three times. The character of al-Khiḍr may have come into European literature through the mixing of cultures during the Crusades.[15]

It is also possible that the story derives from an Irish myth which predates the Crusades in which Cuchulainn and two other heroes compete for the champion's portion at feasts; ultimately, Cuchulainn is the only one willing to let a giant—actually a king who has magically disguised himself—cut off his head, as per their agreement.

The story is also similar to one told in the Talmud of a journey made by the prophet Elijah and Rabbi Jochanan.[16] The first house where they stay the night belongs to a pious old couple who give the prophet and the rabbi the best of their food and beds. However, the couple's cow dies in the night. Elijah later explains that the Angel of Death came and he persuaded the angel to take the cow instead of the wife. The next house, as in the al-Khiḍr story, is that of a rich miser, and Elijah repairs his wall so that he will not, in having it repaired, find the treasure hidden under it.

Many Shī‘ī Muslims believe al-Khiḍr accompanied the Twelfth Imām, Muhammad al-Mahdi, in meeting one Sheikh Hassan ibn Muthlih Jamkarani, on 22 February 984 CE (17 Ramadan 373 A.H.) and instructing him to build a mosque at that site of their meeting, known as Jamkaran.[17][18] The site, six kilometres east of Qom, Iran, has been a pilgrimage destination for the Shī‘ah for some time. In the last few years, however, it has become very popular, particularly with young people, and drawn crowds of tens of thousands. [19]

See alsoEdit


  1. Qur'an, 18:65
  2. Qur'an, 18:65
  3. Qur'an, 18:64-65
  4. Stories of The Prophets, Ibn Kathir, The Story of Khizr
  5. El Khidr in the Popular Religion of Turkey, F.W. Hasluck Christianity and Islam under the Sultans 2 vols. Oxford University Press, 1929 pp. 319-336 Chapter 2: Koranic Saints
  6. The Arab world: society, culture, and state By Halim Barakat
  7. St. George The Ubiquitous, Written by Helen Gibson
  8. [Qur'an 18:65]
  9. [Qur'an 18:66]
  10. Şablon:Quran
  11. Ibn al-Jazari, 1994, p. 228
  12. The Holy Quran
  13. The Holy Quran
  14. Lasater, Alice E. (1974). Spain to England: A Comparative Study of Arabic, European, and English Literature of the Middle Ages. University Press of Mississippi.
  15. Ahmad, Hadhrat al-Hajj Mirza Bashirudeen Mahmood - Khalifatul Masih II. Tafsir e Kabir iv. (10 Volumes. Rabwah, 1962).
  16. Polano, H. (1876). The Talmud: Selections.
  17. English (click on "Brief History")
  18. History of Jamkaran Mosque
  19. Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, (Norton, 2006), p.220


External linksEdit

ar:الخضر de:Al-Chidr es:Al-Khidr fa:خضر fr:Al-Khidr id:Khidir ru:Хизир sv:Al-Khidr ta:அல்-கிதர் tr:Hızır ur:خضر علیہ السلام

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